My grandparents' hotel is in Wailea, but they fancy driving the Southern Road to Hana.

  1. Is Google Maps beneath correct? Must they truly waste gasoline and time to drive the circuitous meandering loop?

  2. If Google Maps is correct, why hasn't a direct road been built? The land between Wailea and Highway 37 looks flat, unbroken? Does the cost outstrip the potential amount of traffic?

enter image description here

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    That whole patch where you wrote "No direct shorter straight-line route for automobiles?" is all private land. There are various routes across it, but according to Google street view all are fenced off with "private property" or "no trespassing" signs. – Nick Nov 5 at 22:17
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    Even if the road existed it would save you 30 minutes tops. Hardly a major problem :) – JonathanReez Nov 5 at 23:48
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    @JonathanReez Thanks! It looks longer on the map, but I'm also mingy with gasoline and time. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Nov 6 at 5:01
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    @JonathanReez At the speed limit, it's far more than 30 minutes. It takes me an extra hour, hour and a half with traffic. – Quasi_Stomach Nov 6 at 17:00
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    You, or your grandparents, are taking a vacation to Hawaii. Enjoy the drive. See the sights. Don't be in a rush to get from A to B. If it's clogged with traffic, well, roll down the windows and enjoy a traffic jam in paradise!! (Note that this is similar to, but distinct from, a cheeseburger in paradise.) – FreeMan Nov 6 at 20:08
up vote 25 down vote accepted

It turns out that there is a road, but you can't use it. See The Deal With Oprah Winfrey’s Private Maui Road for more details.

And not just any road, either: Oprah’s road is concrete and asphalt 12 feet across. Goodfellow Brothers paved it in December 2010. The road stretches from the water tank at Kealakapu Road near Piilani Highway in Kihei to Keokoa, near Haleakala Highway. It’s a road locals have been waiting for 40 years — a potentially golden road that could radically ease traffic congestion in Central Maui.

That is, if the public could use it, which it most certainly cannot. “The paved road, drainage swales and detention ponds will be privately maintained,” stated a June 2009 Drainage Report on the effects of paving the road prepared by Wayne I. Arakaki Engineer LLC for OW Ranch, LLC, (the initials reportedly stand for “Oprah Winfrey”) and kept on file with the Maui County Planning Department. “This is a private roadway and will not be open to the public.”

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    "I get a shortcut, I get a shortcut, you all get no shortcut!" – insidesin Nov 6 at 2:20
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    12 feet wide is not a road. It's a mountain way with "grades over 12%". I've driven those things, they are VERY slow, fairly challenging and they only work because there are so few cars on them. Using one as a major pubic thoroughfare is totally unworkable. – Harper Nov 6 at 8:58

If you switch Google Maps to topology view you'll see that where your arrow lies goes from sea level to 600 meters (2000 feet) in the distance of 5km

enter image description here

That's a 12% incline for 5 kilometers. It's probably not too much of an issue going up that hill, but going down it you run the possibility of cooking your brakes over such a distance. Most people don't know how to shift down a gear to ease up on the braking.

Secondly, I'm not sure why Google Maps has given you the route that it did as going clockwise around the island appears to be a much shorter journey

enter image description here

Perhaps there was bad traffic on the day you planned the journey?

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    'Secondly, I'm not sure why Google Maps has given you the route that it did as going clockwise around the island appears to be a much shorter journey' : It didn't. It recommended the northern route, but I deliberately chose the southern route. My grandparents fancy taking the other route rather than repeating the same road back. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Nov 5 at 22:13
  • Ah, I didn't see the waypoint you had added to the bottom of the map. I just assumed Google had suggested the same route your grandparents wanted to take. If you compare the two routes their preferred route is only 20km longer which in the grand scheme of things isn't very much time or petrol. – Mark Henderson Nov 5 at 22:17
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    The experience is very different for the 2 routes. I recommend both for different reasons. – Quasi_Stomach Nov 6 at 17:01
  • @Quasi_Stomach - YES. This is extremely important. The alternate route is The Road To Hana and is extremely daunting for inexperienced drivers (meaning, if you don't drive that specific route all the time). – BruceWayne Nov 6 at 17:29
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    @BruceWayne I would say that the back way that the OP is asking about is the scarier route. The high cliffs and extremely narrow road at the Kipahulu end, while short, is hair-raising, and not for the faint of heart. I usually recommend the back way (if at all) for the return trip, so at least you're on the "inside". – Quasi_Stomach Nov 6 at 17:35

There seems to be a 5 km dirt road between Wailea and Route 37:

road

Google calls it "Unnamed Road" and it's marked as a trail, but cars and trucks can be seen driving on it, and there are no gates at either ends that would prevent it from being accessed from the main roads.

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    This appears to be the private road mentioned in this other answer There are are gates at both ends and it is private property. You can see the gates on both ends as well as the "No Trespassing" sign at the eastern end in Google street view. – Doug Lipinski Nov 6 at 14:19
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    @DougLipinski: This answer shows a different road than Oprah's road. But as you say, it's also a private road, probably for access to the substation in the middle. – Greg Hewgill Nov 6 at 19:36

If your grandparents have never driven the road to Hana, then itʻs best to take the normal route along the Hana Highway. Traffic will be an issue everywhere so that should not be a factor. Depending on when they leave, the "alternate route" will get them to a section where in most cases, they will have to have some skills as drivers coming the other way will not expect them, causing a good deal more stress. As the tour vehicles come around the island, they will have to back out of the way in some cases which, depending on where they meet them, will be harrowing.

To appreciate the "alternate route" you should really know what you are missing on the normal route so you have a better idea of what to expect.

The road on the backside itself is under constant repair. A minor storm can make sections of the road impassable until the county crews get out to repair it.

There are things to do while on Maui to make the day more enjoyable and if you follow them, no matter which way you go to Hana it will be better.

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