Story by Lehia Apana
Hairpin turns . . . single-lane roads . . . sheer cliffs. This road is not for the squeamish, but rugged beauty and thrilling discoveries await those who dare. Start from Nāpili and you’ll hug the mountain—and still see plenty of breathtaking scenery.
9 a.m. Don’t be misled by its simple moniker—The Coffee Store in Napili is that, and a whole lot more: You’ll find plenty of house-made baked goodies and savory breakfast bites at this locally owned cafe. Eat in or savor at the next scenic stop. 5095 Nāpilihau St., Nāpili; 6 a.m.–6 p.m. daily; 669-4170; NapiliCoffeeStore.com
10 a.m. Never mind the Bellagio Fountains; the Nākālele Blowhole is the real deal. Ocean currents blast through a hole in the lava shelf to create this salty geyser. Many people hike past the “stay clear of the blowhole” signs and down a rocky cliff to get a closer look, but don’t follow suit. Conditions can be treacherous, even on a calm day. Instead, enjoy the scene from a perch overlooking the blowhole, and you’ll also score lofty panoramic views. Honoapi‘ilani Hwy. (Rte. 340), near mile marker 38.5.
11 a.m. Stretch your legs along the nearby ‘Ōhai Loop Trail and Overlook. Walk this easy 1.2-mile trail in a counter-clockwise direction, and you’ll saunter past lush emerald vegetation that eventually opens to glorious ocean views. Honoapi‘ilani Hwy., between mile markers 40 and 41. HawaiiTrails.hawaii.gov/trails
Noon The road narrows as you approach remote Kahakuloa, home to the famous lime-green “treehouse” also known as Julia’s Best Banana Bread. A free sample will surely convince you to buy a loaf . . . or three. 4625 Kahekili Hwy.; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily; JuliasBananaBread.com
12:15 p.m. Island-inspired souvenirs mingle with fine art at Karen Lei’s Gallery, which sits on a ridge overlooking Kahakuloa village. Savor the 360-degree views and fresh bites, including tacos and poke bowls, at the gallery’s new Bay View Café food truck. Kahekili Hwy., near mile marker 13; 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily; 244-3371; KarenLeisGallery.com
2 p.m. The creative streak continues at Turnbull Studios & Sculptures, where towering wooden giraffes entice passersby. Step inside, and you may catch Christine or Steve Turnbull chipping away at their next masterpiece. Outside, a sculpture garden is as beautiful as the views. 5030 Kahekili Hwy., near mile marker 10; 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily; 244-0101; TurnbullFineArt.com
Here’s where our formal itinerary ends and your choice of route back to Nāpili begins. Returning the way you came takes about an hour, and you’ll be on the sometimes-precarious side of the road. Continuing on Kahekili Highway and circling West Maui (recommended) takes about fifteen minutes longer, and is a lot easier on the nerves.
5:30 p.m. Filipino and local food shines at Joey’s Kitchen, where the namesake chef turns locally grown ingredients into culinary masterpieces. The beef short ribs will have you licking the plate. 5095 Nāpilihau St., Nāpili. Dinner 4–9 p.m. daily; 214-5590; JoeysKitchenHIMaui.com
6:45 p.m. Grammy-winning George Kahumoku Jr. hosts the weekly Masters of Hawaiian Music Slack Key Show at Napili Kai Beach Resort. He gets a little help from his friends, too—local music legends routinely share stories and the stage at this laid-back outdoor jam session. 5900 Lower Honoapi‘ilani Hwy., Nāpili. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.; show at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays; 669-3858; SlackKeyShow.com