Everything You Need To Know About Driving in Maui

Relax when driving on Maui—not only do you want time to take in the view, but locals (and speed limits) are also slower than drivers on the mainland.
Written by Jasmine Kanter
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
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Maui, Hawaii rewards drivers who rent a car and take a relaxed approach to cruising the island's highways, which shouldn’t be hard with the abundance of beautiful scenery. 
Crystal waters, gorgeous views, and sunny skies—you’d be forgiven (and encouraged, in fact) to slow down and take it all in on Maui. You might have heard of Kahekili Highway, the “Death Highway of Maui,” but the moniker has only grown more dated with the introduction of modern, paved roads since the ‘70s. 
So take a breath, ease off the gas, and you’ll be fine—although it never hurts to pick up some
rental car insurance
, just in case. We've got you covered with a guide to the ins and outs of driving in Maui!
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What is driving in Maui like?

The highways of Maui are no bigger than two lanes (one in each direction), the bridges no wider than one, and posted speed limits never top 55 mph. All of this should give you an idea of Maui’s attitude to driving: relaxed. Your best preparation before driving will be to resolve to go slow, be courteous, and remain alert.
There’s a good reason that a calm, collected approach to driving has prevailed in Maui. It has to do with the island’s unique features.

Roads

Speed limits vary between 25 and 45 mph but never top 55. It might seem like a snail’s pace, but it plays an important role in curbing reckless behavior where visibility is obscured by vegetation or traction is affected by rain or mud. Locals know that road closures can happen for a host of reasons—from wildfires to wildlife to weather—so they keep their eyes open and their speed low.
Speaking of which, when it rains or floods, you’d best follow the local saying: “Turn around, don’t drown.” And even when it’s done raining, keep an eye out for mudslides. 
Before you decide to force your way through a torrent of water, just remember that many roadways skirt the ocean, making a loss of control that much more dangerous.

Parking

Visitors will probably be most familiar with the paid parking lots outside of shopping complexes, hotels, and resorts in Maui. While there is free parking available on the street and near the beach, it fills up fast. 
You might have an easier time finding parking spots in the country, but keep an eye out for signs or ordinances with special parking restrictions wherever you go.
MORE: How to find a parking spot in a city

Weather 

On a tiny island, the forces of nature have a supersized effect—yet another reason to take it slow. Give yourself ample time to react to natural hazards like mudslides, rain, flooding, and debris torn loose by wind. 
Here’s what to keep an eye out for year-round:
  • Rainy season: November to March marks the rainy season in Hawaii, meaning slippery roads and more washouts. Driving on the north or south side of the island (or at high or low elevations) can also make a big difference in temperature. Resort locations tend to reflect the pockets of weather across the island: beach resort-style hotels will hug the southern, low country. Meanwhile, outdoor adventure-oriented lodges prefer the higher, northern terrain.
  • Non-rainy season: June to October welcome less frequent rains—but more destructive storms. Hurricanes may occur. Always check the weather report and head for leeward roads when conditions start to turn.

Traffic and transportation options in Maui

As workers and tourists head away from the beaches, traffic begins to swell. Since the island is dominated by two-lane highways, it doesn’t take long for cars to slow to a crawl. 
Rush hour on Maui happens regularly around 4:00 PM and won’t clear until after dinner. The next morning, the same thing happens around 7:00 to 9:00 AM.
To plan your trip effectively, make use of tools like the
online Maui road closure schedule
, which will tell you which routes are under construction on a given day. KHVH 830 AM radio provides traffic updates and the “Directions” tab on Google Maps is also fairly reliable for tracking heavily congested areas around the island.

Should I rent a car in Maui?

Renting a car on Maui is highly recommended. The island is beautiful and scenic, with many famous driving routes like the Pilani, Hana, and Haleakala Highways. Even drivers under 25 can take to the road as long as they pay the young driver fee. 
But if you’d like to devote more of your attention to the journey, there are plenty of tour buses whose practiced drivers offer safe and stately cruises around the island’s roads.
There are 13
public bus routes
servicing the island of Maui, 10 of which originate in Kahului. They run seven days a week, starting as early as 5:30 AM and ending as late as 11:00 PM. You’ll have no trouble getting to any part of the island except the west, where many of Maui’s permanent residents live. One-way tickets start at $2, with a day pass beginning at $4.
If you prefer a private ride, taxis on the island generally charge $3 per mile, making short rides between hotels, shopping centers, and beaches the most economical choices. You’ll find Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing services all operating in the area, while hotels offer shuttle services to the airport.
Finally, the inter-island ferry departs several times a day for the small port of Lanai.
Lanai Expeditions
charges $60 for adults and $40 for children, with one-way tickets costing half as much. 
MORE: How to get a car rental discount code
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Local driving laws in Maui

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you won’t be driving fast on Maui. Locals usually show slow, courteous driving behavior, reserving their car horns only for emergency situations
Who knows? By the end of your trip, you might grow to love the island’s laidback driving philosophy.
By contrast, breaking the following rules isn’t just frowned upon, it’s downright illegal:
  • Littering on Maui could net you a fine between $500 and $1,000. The island is not only beautiful, but also home to many rare and endangered species of wildlife whose protection Hawaii takes very seriously.
  • Driving with a cellphone in hand on Maui is illegal. While drivers over 18 are allowed to use a hands-free device in the car, nobody is allowed to check their email or texts while driving without incurring a fine and other penalties.
  • Driving with an open container of alcohol on Maui could result in a fine of up to $2,000, plus a DUI conviction. An open container is usually defined as a vessel containing a full or partial amount of alcohol that has been unsealed from its factory condition. Furthermore,
    the container can’t be stored within reach of the driver,
    meaning the glove box, center console, and backseat are all off-limits. Put alcohol in the trunk to avoid penalties.

Crime rate in Maui

No driving guide would be complete without a summary of the crime index in Maui and what it means for your driving experience and locals’ car insurance rates.
The crime rate in Maui is 28.62 per 1,000 residents, placing it in the 68th percentile for safety among U.S. counties (meaning only 32% are safer, while 68% are more dangerous). These aren’t terrible odds, but it still pays to take some precautions when it comes to locking up your vehicle at night.
Over several months in 2020,
the number of stolen cars in Maui ranged from 6 to 21 in a given week
. Police advise to pick a safe and well-lit parking location (like a locked garage), to avoid leaving valuables in your vehicle (including second sets of keys and important paperwork), and engaging your parking brake so the car is difficult to tow. Naturally, busy and more occupied areas make vehicle theft more difficult than dark and seldom-traveled country roads. 

How to find car insurance in Maui

Leave more time for the beautiful island scenery by searching for car insurance with
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Over 50 top, name-brand insurance companies partner with Jerry to offer you an overview of their most competitive quotes. Using providers like Travelers, Progressive, Nationwide, and AAA, our users have saved an average of $887 per year on car insurance—and that’s without making any phone calls or filling out long forms!
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