I will attempt to make your ride to the summit a little less daunting. The summit of Haleakala is 10,023 ft above sea level. The official ride route covers just a little longer than 36 miles beginning in the towne of Paia (Baldwin avenue and Hana hwy).Read More
Scott has been a steady fixture here at the store from our very beginning over 20 years ago! We have been asking and he has finally sat down and gave us what we need to know on some of the best rides on Maui, if not the world.
The Bicycle Ride to Hana
Aloha. So you think you want to ride a bicycle from North Shore Maui Towne of Paia to the eastern Maui Towne of Hana. Well, let me tell you, this is one of the most beautiful bicycle rides I have ever ridden. The sights, the smells the views are some of the best on this planet. The effort, (both physical and logistical) are more than worth it.
On this island, bicycle routes and rides have everything to do with timing. I mean, beginning the ride start time coinciding with vehicle traffic patterns. If you are doing the ride to Hana, on the Hana hwy., Start early. Summer months, 5:30-6:30am. Winter months, 7:00am. Any later and you will encounter heavy visitor traffic headed to Hana. This is my philosophy. Most visitors are staying on either the Westside or Southside of Maui. Both approximately 30 miles from my two suggested starting points. Tour busses and vans usually pick up passenger around 7-8am. These groups usually arrive in Paia around an hour after they leave. Most visitors driving their own rental cars ( I have heard, up to 15,000 rental cars on island) also leave around 8am. You figure, not many visitors are goingto get the family up, dressed, fed, packed and ready to get on the road much before 8am. Now they arrive in Paia around 9am. If you leave near sunrise, this gives you a 2 hour head start on the throngs of vehicles headed to Hana. On a good day, it takes a passenger vehicle to drive the 45 miles from Paia to Hana 2hrs30min. On a good day, that is a really good day, it takes me just over that to ride to Hana. I'm short, fat, Old and not in perfect shape. LOL...Just stop by West Maui Cycles and see for yourself. You make the call. Now, LMAO. Seriously though. If you are a fairly fit cyclist, (and you should be to attempt this ride) 2hrs30min to 3hrs is a realistic time. If this is your first time, you will want to make many, many, many stops to take in the views and smell the Plumeria. Just awesome. I still do. SO, Leave Really EARLY to avoid the traffic. You will encounter some traffic early from residents driving into Kahului to get to work. Be courteous and respect all the rules of the road and most of all, our traffic laws. We have lots of local riders that would love ride without having to make amends for some poor bike habits of others. The same probably goes in your area as well. Aloha and Mahalo for this respect.
I will be referring to Mile Markers (mm) a lot in this essay. Every part of this ride is on the Hana hwy. On Maps you might see Hwy 360/330 and 36. These all encompass the Hana hwy. Pay attention. There will be a test at the end.
There are three main starting points for doing the road to Hana. The Towne of Paia (mm6.5). This makes a round trip to Hana proper (Hasegawa general store) 90 miles. You will have a vertical gain of about 8300ft. Second place to start is the Haiku community Center (mm11.5). This will net you an 80 mile ride and lower your vertical gain by about 700ft (7600ft total). The third starting point is Twin Falls (mm2.5). Mm2.5. What, the road goes backwards. NO, the road changes from one Hwy number to another just after mm16.5. So, Kahului airport is about mm1 of the Hana hwy. As you head east, the mile markers begin at "0" at Kaupakalua rd. and Hana hwy. By the way this road is a great 7 mile climb to the Towne of Makawao. Half mile up this road is the Famous Surfboard fence. That is another ride area well worth exploring. But, back to the ride to Hana. There is a Hana group ride that leaves from Twin Falls on Sunday mornings (6am summer and 7am winter). Some Sundays they do the full 97mile loop of Haleakala. About 9900ft of vertical gained.
With all of that in mind, let's get to riding. I will start my ride in Paia so you get the full Monty (lol).
Parking in Paia is a bit tricky for the all day trip. The first parking lot you encounter I don't recommend. Lots of sketchy folks hanging around. I have had friend’s cars broken into there. Leave your vehicle somewhere in plain sight. Open to lots of viewer traffic.
Head east out of Paia. The roadway for the next 12 miles has a modest shoulder. Usually 4-7ft wide. First fantastic sight is the world famous Hookipa Beach Park (mm9). Surf, windsurf and kite boarding. A gentle climb out to Maliko Gulch (mm10.5). Your first climb of the day. Just a warmup. On the right at mm11.5 you will see the Haiku community center. My favorite place to start the Hana ride. Good parking and restrooms in the ballfield just behind the building. As you descend past mm12 be very careful. The road usually never dries out and there is a concrete ditch just next to the bike (kinda) lane. Lots of our local riders have fallen in this area. The ground is very slippery and slopes to the right. I broke 4 wrist bones riding UP the hill out of this area (10mph and seated). The bike just disappeared out from underneath me. Never saw it coming. Damn that hurt. Prices we pay for beautiful rides. You will be climbing up to the Peahi area (aka Jaws, mm13). Lots of rollers out to mm16 and on to Twin Falls (mm2.5). Porta Potties are located at Twin Falls. For the next mile or so, the same slippery effect in on the road is in play. Lots of canopy keeps the road from fully drying. Be cautious. Pay attention to the weather. Rain squalls happen often and can leave the road quite slippery.
About mm3.5 the road necks down to two lanes in each direction and little to no shoulder. This is where you need to be cautious and courteous. Again, Mahalo. I still want to keep riding the road to Hana without angry local drivers hating on cyclist. In about a mile or so you will come to Huelo fruit stand. Remember this. It is a great stop for a fresh coconut water and snack on the way back. Just past mm6 you encounter 180deg right turn. This turn has rock walls on both sides and is very narrow. Just wider than a car and a half. About 100yards in total. Stay to the right. Now comes one the really fun parts of this ride: MM7 to mm17. Winding through some of the prettiest scenery ever. You are in a tropical rain forest. It rains and the road can be slippery when wet. Being that parts of the road does not get a whole lot of sun, moss, yes I did say MOSS, grows across the entire surface of the road. Some days you can see the faint tint of green on the whole roadway surface. Just think riding on Black Ice. Be careful. I am not trying to scare potential riders, I am just letting you know the Truth. There will be many places trough this section where water oozes up from the roadway and many places where water runs across the road all year long. Pay attention always. But remember to look up and take in the wonderful sights.
At mm12 there is Kaumahina Park that has restrooms. Water is NOT drinkable. I have been there later in the day and it can be so packed with tour vans and visitors, there is a line for the restrooms. LONG lines. Yikes!!! Again, Leave Early. You will be descending (mostly) to the area of Keanae (mm16.5). Many, many spectacular views along this section.
If you need food, Keanae Landing is the spot. Make a left and head down a very narrow bumpy road for about a mile. You will see Aunt Sandy's Keanae Landing. If you get there late in the day (after noon) they will be out of the BEST hot banana bread ever. As much as I have ridden around this island in 23 years and tried every stop, this is the BEST. There are restrooms a little farther down the road near the ballfield. Definitely ride out to the end. Awesome scenery. Head back to the Hwy and turn left to head to Hana. This is also a great place to turn around for a shorter out and back ride. Paia to Keanae and back is 54 miles. Great ride in itself.
The next 6 miles are epic. From cliff edge views to waterfalls (small ones) you can put your hands in as you pedal, to feeling you are riding in the mountains. Just spectacular. A few places to stop and take the ultimate selfie. The only drawback is the 1300ft of steady climbing you have to endure. Not steep, just steady. At the top of the climb you will find Pua'a Ka'a Park (mm23). Restrooms. Water is Not drinkable.
Now for the real FUN. 12 miles of twisty descent into Hana proper. Lots of narrow one lane bridges and plenty of swoopy corners. A cyclists Nirvana. Enjoy. But remember you have to make that climb back to the park.
On the way down to Hana you will pass Nahiku (mm26). A small enclave with food and water. Remember this for your ride home. Damn good Hot Dogs. In recent years there have been a few other food stops come and go. The one at mm26 has been there for as long as I can remember. You will pass the famous Waianapanapa state park at mm32. Here you will find the Black sand beach. Pretty cool. It is about a mile off the hwy. Keep heading east from here and Hana is near. You will come to a fork in the road (mm33.5). The Hana Fire station is in the middle. Take the left and you will be on the north side of Towne near the ocean. The harbor is at the bottom of the hill. Take the right and you will head toward the business district of Hana. At mm 35 you will find Hasegawa general store. Plenty of snacks and drinks. Just look around and you will see all of the restaurants and other markets. Hasegawa's is my stop. Quick and easy place to get in and out and back on the road. If you want to head past here you can take in the sights of the famous Pools of Ohe'o. They are about 7 miles past Hasegawa's market on the same road. The road narrows at a few places on the way. Be careful.
Congratulations. You have now ridden a bicycle to Hana. Way better than driving a car. Now you just have to get back. One good thing about heading back, the normal trade winds will be pushing you. Remember all the places you past on your way for food and water stops. They will come in handy. Trust me.
Aloha and Mahalo for reading my essay. Hope will be helpful.
Scot at West Maui Cycles
The West Maui Loop is one of a Trio of Bucket List rides here on the Island of Maui. The Haleakala Crater climb and the Hana Highway out and back complete this Trio. Here I will be describing the West Maui Loop in some detail. Read, then ride and enjoy! Aloha.
This West Maui Loop (WML) begins for West Maui Cycles (WMC). Most of the roads and highways on Maui are marked with small green mile markers (mm). Most of these are accurate, but some are way off. I will use the highway names and not the highway designated numbers; it’s easier for us islanders.
WMC is located at mm 21.5 on Honoapiilani hwy (30) in the towne of Lahaina. Honoapiilani hwy has a wide shoulder from the Towne of Wailuku (mm0) to mm31.
Leaving the shop and heading North (towards Kapalua) you will have numerous traffic lights and intersections until you get to mm29 (Napilihau St)This is a great place to get coffee; try the ‘Peaberry’ it’s may favorite! You will be climbing for the mile to mm30 at the top of Kapalua (office road across the street) the elevation is about 300ft. Now you descend to mm31 where the shoulder narrows and the traffic lessons- unless the surf is up!
Note of Caution:
Here the road becomes quite rural and narrow. There’s not much pavement to the right of the white line and the two-way traffic is divided only by a double or single yellow line. From this point to Wailuku please be mindful of local traffic and respect that the residents do have places to go like school and work. Ride as far to the right as is safe and wave traffic by when possible. RESPECT all traffic laws, stop signs and lights! Bicycles riders are vulnerable on the roadways. We want to encourage mutual respect that will keep us a little safer. Smile, Shaka and show your Aloha!
As you wind past outrageous ocean and coastal views you will pass the World famous Honolua Bay (mm33-34) This bay has some of the best and most sought after waves for surfing Worldwide. Winter surf is better at this spot and there are a few turnouts for safe viewing.
The next highlight, depending on one’s point of view or your love of climbing, is “The Wall” (mm36.5) or as our Canadian friends have dubbed it “Mr Steepy”. This is the steepest climb on the entire WML with an average of 16% and a high of 19%; it is less that ¼ of a mile long. You round the corner at 220ft of elevation. If you are riding at a snail’s pace, it’s only two minutes of your life. I guess the fastest time is around a minute- I’m sure this was achieved by a genetically superior human or a rider who has no pain receptors. After the right turn at the top you get a couple of hundred yards to breathe before the next short and steep 100ft vertical climb, then rest for 1.5 mile of rolling hills.
Nakelele Point is the most Northerly point of land on Maui and the Blowhole is just past mm38.
Now you are in for 12 miles of interval style riding and relentless climbing and descending. Be careful at the bottom of the descents. You will notice lots of dust and dirt in the turns on a dry day, be cautious! Be extra careful when it has rained; our dirt is clay based and so is very slippery when wet!!
The mile markers change direction after mm42. The road changes from Honoapiilani hwy to Kahekili hwy. You will see mm16 after mm42 (if it’s still there). Funny, mm42 gets run over all the time; it’s on the outside of a bottom lower left hand turn and it’s not there more than it is.
About mm15 you will see a giant 8ft round rock on the mountain side of the road. They call this ‘Bell Rock’ It’s said that if you put your ear to it and tap or rub the rock with a small stone you can hear it ring. Just ahead of here the road narrows to ONE, 7-10ft wide, lane. You are entering the Kahakuloa area. This one lane road lasts for about 2 miles through the fishing village of Kahakuloa (mm13). There are a few places to get water and snacks, the two most talked about are Lorraine’s and Julia’s. Lorraine was mentioned in an earlier blog, she has tubes and other emergency things. You will cross a metal bridge at the bottom of the valley-extremely slippery when wet. Now you encounter a steady and beautiful climb out of Kahakuloa.
A big yellow house at the top of the top of the first part of the climb (about a mile) has a gallery that sells Hawaiian crafts and more snacks! Stop in and say Aloha to the ladies. They always have big smiles and the coldest drinks in the fridge by the front door. Just across from the gallery is Kahaloa head, a major landmark in the area.
Leaving the gallery you will climb for about another mile, then the last big rollers will be ahead of you. Just past mm10 you will find the famous ‘Turnbull Gallery’ with a wooden giraffe on the ocean side of the road. You can get more food and water 300 yards later at ‘Curly’s fruit stand. Mile Marker 9 is the highest elevation on the loop (about 950ft) You are now on the back side of this ride.
Prepare for Mini rollers to mm7 and then a two mile decent to the bridge at mm5. Be careful at this point as there tends to be a lot of dust and debris on the mountain side of the decent.
sights along the way!
Contrary to most maps, Kahekili hwy does not end into Waiehu. Do not make a left at Waiehu Beach rd. At mm3 continue to follow the double yellow line fading to the right. You will encounter a slight climb into the towne of Wailuku. Don’t make any major turns once you reach the first set of businesses, you will know you’re still on the right road when you see Takamiya market on the right. The roadway is narrow with heavy traffic in this area. Stay alert.
Just up the hill from Takamiya market you will encounter a stop sign; across the street you will see a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign. This is the intersection of Market Street and Vineyard st. Take a right on Vineyard. Take a left at the second street, this will be High street. About a 100 yrds ahead is the intersection of Main St. and Hononapiilani hwy (mm0) Straight through the intersection and 21.5 miles later you will be back at West Maui Cycles.
You will have traveled 58 miles with a vertical gain of about 3800ft. You have done ‘The Loop’ as we call it. Congrats!
I have been doing this ride for 23 years. The first time was an adventure. I had no information about this ride except for a map. Having done it so many times, I now know it very well. My girlfriend calls me Maui’s Human GPS. When I first did this ride all those years ago there were less than 5 stop light, no there are 25! Progress? Who knows!
For the past year the County and the State have been repaving the road from mm35-mm42 and mm16 to mm7, it is now PERFECT!
I am partial to an out-and-back travelling from Lahaina and enjoy this shorter ride often. A great turn around point is Kahakuloa (mm13) on short days and Waihee golf course (mm4) on long ride days. The turn-around at Waihee will get you an extra 2700ft of climbing for that day- so about 6000ft total!
Now the big question! Which direction is best to do the Loop? Some base the decision on wind direction and some base it one getting the climbing out of the way early on in the ride. Clockwise from a Lahaina start gets the climb over combined with a downwind (tradewind days) rest from Wailuku to Maalea this seems to be the most popular. I personally like to do the Loop counter-clockwise. I like to be on the Oceanside of the roadway. It can be a bit scary at points, but the views are spectacular-lots of valley view’s down to the water. The winds (tradewind days) are not too bad from Maalea to Wailuku. Usually when you get to mm4 by the Kahili Golf course the trees break the wind.
There is a saying here on Maui. "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes or drive five miles". Well if it is raining on the westside of Maui (Olowalu to Kapalua) some of us will head Upcountry.Read More