You’ve landed in Hawaii and have your rental car ready to go. But, now what!? It’s time to take a scenic drive (or a few, for that matter), so you can go at your own pace and see the scenery on your terms.

Here’s a look at our favorite Hawaii scenic drives — grab your keys and join us!

Ka Iwi Coast (Oahu): Located on the East side of Oahu, this is a scenic drive that will (now) be maintained for many years — despite pleas by developers, the community, city, and state all contributed funds to preserve the coastline and prevent development. That being said, as you round the coast from Hawaii Kai toward Waimanalo, make sure you get out your camera. The scenery is pristine, beautiful, and dotted with places to stop:

  • Makapuu Lighthouse and Trail
  • Lanai Lookout
  • Halona Blowhole
  • Sandy Beach

Road to Hana (Maui): Driving the famous Road to Hana is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t want to miss, especially if this is your one and only trip to Hawaii. It would be impossible to stop at ALL the sites and waterfalls along the road, but here are some stops you’ll want to make:

Road to Hana

Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

The Road to Hana is full of twists, turns and spectacular views.
  • Paia Town
  • Twin Falls
  • Wailua Valley State Wayside
  • Kahanu Garden and Piilanihale Heiau
  • Waianapanapa State Park
  • Hana Bay Beach Park
  • Hamoa Beach
  • Wailua Falls
  • Oheo Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools)
  • Back Side of Haleakala

Kamehameha Highway (Oahu): Visiting the North Shore of Oahu, especially during Winter when the surf is high, is one of the highlights for many visitors looking for Hawaii scenic drives. During Winter, you can often look out the window and see big wave surfers. And, even in summer, you’ll often see the amateurs or professionals looking to practice. Here are some stops along the way:

  • Famous Surf Spots (Waimea, Pipeline, Sunset beaches)
  • Laie and Polynesian Cultural Center
  • Kahana Bay
  • Kualoa Ranch
  • Heeia State Park (fish pond)
  • Hana
  • Ka Iwi Coastline on Oahu

    Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

    The City and County of Honolulu recently teamed with conservationists to preserve Oahu's Ka Iwi coastline from any further development.

Mamalahoa Highway (Big Island): This drive stretches from Honokaa to Hilo and takes you through some of the most lush rain forest in the state. There isn’t a ton of development along the way, so make sure you bring the necessary supplies, but you’ll be glad you make the trek. Here’s where you should stop:

  • Waipio Valley
  • Hamakua Coast (past plantation towns like Hamakua)
  • Akaka[/haw] Falls
  • Rainbow Falls in Hilo Town

Queen Kaahumanu Highway (Big Island): The West side of the Big Island is a wonder to behold! Book a Big Island Off-Roading Tour or a Kona Coffee and Culture Tour for the most comprehensive Big Island tours available. But, if you choose to go it by car, check-out these jaw-dropping stops along the way:

  • Lava fields
  • Majestic ocean views
  • Lava tubes off road
  • Gold Coast resorts (Hualalai, Waikoloa, Mauna Lani, Mauna Kea)
  • Kekaha State Park (just outside Kona)
  • Hapuna Beach
  • Puukohla Heiau State Park (near Kawaihae — THIS HWY ACTUALLY ENDS AT KAWAIHAE ALTHOUGH THE TRIP PAST TAKES TO GREAT VIEWS)

Put that rental car to good use, and take these Hawaii scenic drives. You can go at your own pace, stop where you want, and take as much time as you need. Happy trails!


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