The distance from the Kahului airport to Napili is roughly 36 miles, but be forewarned: depending on the time of day, this short trek can take close to 2 hours. Hate to say it, but on Maui, there is pretty much only one way to get around; one road to take, and the traffic on State Highway 30 can be especially heavy during the rush hours of 6am to 8:30am or so and then again from about 3:30pm to 6:30pm. On a positive note, other than the tourists who are always in a huge hurry to get from point A to point B, the locals do not seem to share this sense of urgency so road rage isn't a frequent occurrence. As you traverse this highway (which is only really a two lane road, one lane each way but considered a highway by local standards), you will be hugging the cliffs of the West Maui mountains out the passenger side of your vehicle while looking out over seemingly bottomless drops into the Pacific Ocean on the driver's side. A word of caution: do not take your eyes off the road in front of you. There are many tight twists and turns and I have personally witnessed what can happen if you look away for even the slightest moment. We were heading towards the airport early one morning when suddenly, a van coming the other way veered slightly to it's right, proceeded to veer up onto the cliff side, roll over onto it's roof and slid right past us, spattering our rental car with rocks as it passed and eliciting some words of fear from me! My sister held onto the wheel and hit the gas, hoping to avoid being bumped by the careening vehicle and knocked off the side of the cliff into the ocean. As you can see, her quick reaction was effective....I'm still here to tell about it. So, just be extremely cautious as you drive this road. We wouldn't want your first trip to Maui to be your last!
Having issued what I feel are all the mandatory warnings, I have to say that this harrowing drive can also be breathtaking. It's almost as if you're being transported back in time. Because of the island's mountain terrain, there is not really any room for expansion so things haven't changed all that much over the years. Yes, you will pass the newly constructed homes of several celebrities, but even they aren't the monstrous structures you'd expect to find. These people are truly paying for the view. The terrain on this side of the island appears rather dry because the rain rarely makes it over the massive West Maui Mountains.
As you can see, however, the place where the mountains and the clouds meet provides a stunning backdrop, including beautiful rainbows (if you're lucky). In contrast, the view out your driver's side window gives you the feeling like the sky goes on forever. It's often hard to discern where the sky ends and the blue of the Pacific Ocean begins.
The view of the coastline from just offshore
State Highway 30 winds along the coastline, as seen from our snorkeling boat, just off shore.
One humorous note is worthy of mentioning at this point. There is one spot along Highway 30 that seems to be a favorite of the locals, who spend hours sitting on their surfboards, staring out at the vast expanse of water, patiently waiting for "the big one" to come along and give them the thrill of riding the waves. I swear it seemed as if those patient souls would be out there with their boards if we passed at 7am and still there when we came back by twelve hours later. To us, I suppose that sounds like a rather boring way to spend the day. The more I thought about it, however, I began to realize that maybe the Hawaiians know more about how to truly live life than we do.....take it as it comes, one wave at a time....why worry about what we can't control?
You'll pass through a small town or two before reaching your final destination of Napili. Take some time to explore if your schedule allows...but if not, it will still be there tomorrow, just waiting for you to discover all the little things that will make lasting memories! Mahalo!