There are not many roads on Maui, but what little roads we do have offer some of the most visually breathtaking and exciting rides you can experience. Most of the major roads and highways have a shoulder or bike lane, as indicated on the Maui County Cycling Map (just assume that any road marked “most suitable” has a shoulder). That being said it doesn't mean those are the "best" roads to ride on.
The Maui County Cycling Map lists the heavily traveled divided wide shouldered four lane highway between Lahaina and Kapalua as “most suitable for cycling.” Conversely, once the shoulder narrows on the upper reaches of north west Maui, this smooth road normally almost devoid of cars is designated “unsuitable for cycling.” Perhaps “suitable for cycling” conditions on Maui are almost totally evaluated by width of a road shoulder. This doesn't mean that you should stick to only riding the "most suitable" roads. As a matter of fact some of the best cycling is not listed on this map as "suitable" and happen to be beautiful narrow roads winding through the countryside.
Maui weather and how it affects you
The weather on Maui can change every mile that you ride. It can go from sunny and beautiful and before you know it you are in a tropical downpour, wait 15min or 3-5mi and you'll be back in the sun. There is a dominant trade wind that always blows around. It is a constant wind that fluctuates from a gentle 5mph to 30+mph. There are some areas that have more wind than others. The map below will give you an idea of the direction the trade wind blows. Since there is always rain and wind somewhere, that means there is always some debris on the shoulder of the road. So keep your eyes on the debris and avoid it when possible so you don't get a flat. The dirt that we have here is a clay base so when it gets wet it is very slippery. In the rainier areas on the island it is common to have some red dirt runoff on the road. If you see this while out riding be cautious and slow down, it is very slick and you don't want to slide out if you can avoid it.
Here a few things that you can expect:
- Expect to be hot (being in the equatorial zone it tends to feel warmer than it is)
- Expect to have some wind from every direction (you're on an island and your direction changes)
- Expect to have some climbs (you're on the side of a volcano)
- Expect to have some descents (10,000' being the longest)
- Expect to be really cold (at the top of Haleakala)
- Expect to go home with a tan or a sunburn if you didn't protect yourself
- Expect to see a rainbow
- Expect to take a lot of good pictures (both mentally and digitally)
- Expect see amazing sunsets/sunrises
- Expect to end your ride with a big smile on your face
Some road etiquette tips
When riding on Maui it is always wise to assume that you don't always have the right of way on the roads. This doesn't mean it is not safe, just ride with more awareness of your space. When out on some of the roads with little to no shoulder it is good practice to:
- Always move over as far as safely possible
- Ride single file unless the shoulder provides enough safe space
- Use hand signals especially when riding with someone behind you (sometimes it is hard to hear with the wind in your ears)
- Most importantly wave on cars that hesitate to pass, this will help alleviate traffic on narrow winding roads
- Always wave or "shaka" kindness goes a long way
Keep in mind that this county map is very outdated at this time. So use this as a "loose" reference to get a base understanding of what Maui has to offer for cycling.