Hawaii is a very scenic state, and you can bet that stunning vistas abound on all of the Hawaiian islands. One of the best ways to take in the breathtaking Hawaiian scenery is by car, and there are a bunch of good scenic drives that will provide you with ideal sightseeing avenues. Scenic drives in Hawaii can see you taking in waterfalls, soaring mountains, inviting beaches, and so much more. Just remember that driving in Hawaii can often be difficult, especially if you veer off of the main roads. For those who are interested in more rugged Hawaii scenic drives, renting a 4x4 vehicle is definitely recommended.
Big Island Scenic Drives
The landscape on the Big Island
is quite diverse, and since it is the biggest island in the state, there's plenty
of it to take in. Renting a car on the Big Island is definitely recommended,
and if you're up for a good scenic drive, then Alii
Drive is worth considering. This waterfront road is rather renowned and
is without question one of the top attractions in Kona.
Shops, restaurants, and cafes line Alii Drive in town, and there will be some
interesting historical sites worth noting as you continue on towards Keauhou
It can be argued that every drive on the Big Island is a scenic drive, and you'll definitely enjoy some stunning sights on a Mauna Kea summit drive. You can drive to the top of Hawaii's tallest mountain to enjoy sweeping views of the island, and these drives can start in either Hilo or Kona. Since the Mauna Kea summit drive will take you up to an altitude of 13,796 feet, it is recommended that you stop for at least a half an hour at the Visitors Center to help acclimate you to the relative lack of oxygen. The Mauna Kea summit drive can be accessed from Saddle Road, which is the main road that connects Kona to Hilo.
Maui Scenic Drives
Driving in Hawaii can be a joy, thanks to roads like the Hana Highway. The most renowned of the Maui scenic drives, the Hana Highway is a 110-mile coastal road that offers quite a diverse range of fantastic sights along the way, including the dormant Haleakala volcano. In addition to cruising on the Hana Highway, those who are interested in Maui Hawaii scenic drives will also want to consider circling the West Maui Mountains on the West Maui Circle and Iao Needle route. You can pick this loop up in Kahului, and if you drive it entirely, you will cover some 62 miles before returning to your starting point. The West Maui Circle and Iao Needle route generally follows the coast, and you might stop along the way to enjoy some hiking, whale watching, or fishing, among other activities. Attractions that can be found in this area include the Iao Needle, Lahaina, and the Olowalu petroglyphs.
Oahu Scenic Drives
Unless you are interested in interisland travel, driving in Hawaii is arguably
the best way to get around, and it's no different on the island of Oahu.
Renting a car on the island of Oahu will allow you to venture outside of the
Honolulu boundaries with ease, and there are plenty of great destinations that
you can drive to. When scenic drives in Hawaii are your aim, driving along Oahu's
North Shore is always
a good way to go. You might start your North Shore drive in Oahu at Turtle Bay.
From there, you can continue on for about twenty miles until you arrive at the
northwestern end of the island. In addition to the beautiful, and often rugged
scenery, those driving along the North Shore can enjoy visits to sacred sites
like Puu O Mahuka Heiau, stop at Waimea Bay to watch the surfers, or even visit
Waimea Falls Park to do some camping, snorkeling, and surfing of their own.
The southeast side of Oahu is also ideal for Hawaii scenic drives, as is the eastern windward coast, so you will want to keep that in mind. Driving through the Koolau Mountains on the Pali Highway is sure to please, and among the top area attractions are Sea Life Park and Hanauma Bay.
Kauai Scenic Drives
While you can't drive along the stunning and rugged Na Pali Coast, there are scenic drives in Kauai that will still take your breath away. Highways 50 and 56 are the main roads on the island of Kauai, and they are ideal sightseeing avenues that you will likely find yourself on. Starting in Lihue, you can take Highway 56 all the way around the eastern and northern sides of the island. Along the way, you'll pass a couple inviting waterfalls, including Wailua Falls, not to mention nine different beach parks. The coastal scenery along this highway is mesmerizing, and you're bound to have some trouble keeping your eyes on the road.
Seeing the beautiful Waimea Canyon is something that many Kauai visitors hope to do, and if you're up for some scenic drives in Hawaii, the Makaha Ridge Road passes right through the Waimea Canyon State Park. This nineteen-mile road descends some 2,000 feet down towards the Pacific Ocean, and there are plenty of Waimea Canyon lookouts that you can stop at to savor the views.
Lanai Scenic Drives
The most popular of the Lanai scenic drives is the Munro Trail, and you'll definitely need a 4x4 vehicle if you are interested in taking this trail on. The Munro Trail is a dirt road that leads to the 3,370-foot summit of Mount Lanaihale. While the road is only about seven miles long, it takes between two and three hours to drive, thanks to the relatively rough conditions. On the way up, you'll pass through rainforests and there will be lookouts that you can stop at should you please. If you prefer hiking, the Munro Trail is also ripe for hiking adventures.
Molokai Scenic Drives
Molokai is not exactly a large island, and as is true of the other islands, its main, paved roads are what most drivers stick to. If you are interested in driving in Hawaii and you find yourself on the island of Molokai, you can traverse the core of the island on Highways 460 and 450. These highways essentially connect in the middle of the island, with 460 covering the western side and 450 the eastern. Since Molokai is agriculturally based, be prepared to get stuck behind at least one tractor when enjoying scenic drives in Hawaii here. Starting at the airport and heading east towards the Halawa Valley on Highway 450 is arguably the best scenic drive on Molokai. It passes through desert-like terrain before hitting lusher and greener coastal lands. Perhaps you'll for a swim or to go snorkeling at Murphy's Beach during your drive. There are also some interesting historical sites to take in, such as the 1876 St. Joseph's Church.