Many people will tell you Hawaii is perfect for road trips. Just throw in your towels, sunscreen and boogie boards and away you go. *** beaches are fine, *** landscape dramatic and for sustenance, quirky food trucks will keep you both satisfied and entertained.
But *** majority of travellers here are from *** US. As a road trip destination, would Hawaii match up? For them, such a journey means crossing state lines, passing roadhouses and racking up mileage. It means starting at A and arriving at B.
In Hawaii *** islands' interiors are mountainous and relatively unpenetrable. Most visitors loop *** islands along *** coast until someone gets dizzy.
But don't think a road trip around Maui is dull. There are vast contrasts - and surprises.
Our own expedition begins at *** Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria resort in *** coastal town of Wailea, in Maui's southwest. Development of *** town began in 1970, and you can tell: many of *** buildings are relics of that era.
Some say *** island of Maui is shaped liked an elephant. We head up its front leg and around it's head, to *** historic town of Lahaina to be precise, which is *** elephant's eye, gazing out across *** Pacific for all eternity.
Lahaina, once an important whaling port, was *** original capital of Hawaii; Honolulu was awarded *** status in 1845. And thank goodness for it. While Honolulu has grown into an ugly mini-metropolis, Lahaina maintains its vintage charm. Front Street is a parade of creative cafes and tiny shopfronts, colourful and quirky, while *** street's town square is home to *** biggest Banyan tree I've ever seen.
*** problem is that everyone hits *** road in Maui and 80 per cent of visitors to *** island pass through this town. It's busy, hard to park and, among *** independent boutiques, there are a few too many American chain outlets. All pit and no stop. Do we really have to cram so much in to make it a destination?
We drive on. *** scenery quickly alternates between extremely desolate and stunningly picturesque. Our narrow road winds through bamboo forests and along sheer cliffs. Occasional houses stand down dizzying drops. We're perplexed. How do residents get home? There can't be a driveway? Do they have to walk down steep steps in *** dark with shopping?
It's wonderful to be so remote but we start to feel hungry. We consult our map because, take note, GPS signals here are often blocked; there are steep volcanos in *** middle of Maui that play havoc with signals. *** paper in our lap tells us Kahului is not too far ahead so we make that our destination.
Kahului, in *** crook of *** elephant's neck, boasts Maui's main airport, a deep harbour, light industrial areas and shopping centres. It's a little run down and ugly and we struggle to find a decent spot to eat, settling for an American burger bar. This is not a tourist destination.
After lunch *** kids can't face an afternoon of driving so we slip back through *** interior to *** Grand Wailea's incredible water slides.
*** next day we attempt to scale *** elephant's back, first of all by traversing *** neck.
We pass through abandoned fields that used to be stuffed with sugar cane, which of course attracted *** Americans to Hawaii in *** first place. Pu'unene Sugar Mill, Maui's last sugar mill, closed at *** end of *** 2016 growing season. But tourists can still visit *** A & B Sugar Museum. *** sugar may be gone, but *** Americans are still here, and their hunger for sugar has only grown.
We soon reach *** north coast, *** famous Road to Hana. It's a 67km delicious drive of waterfalls, freshwater pools, hiking trails and renowned beaches, including *** legendary surf spot Jaws.
Here, *** road is *** destination.
Maui's pineapple industry was also born here and today, roadside snack shacks offer *** tasty treats as *** perfect pick-me-up for weary road trippers.
*** cliffs along this road gleam with tricking water but every so often a group of parked cars indicates something bigger and more impressive. Twin Falls takes *** cake - a picture-perfect waterfall that tumbles over a prehistoric-looking cave dripping in vines. Some people are scaling *** falls, sitting in *** rock pools at *** top before it spills, or diving into *** spray in *** bottom pool.
Just a short way further along *** road, we arrive at Kahaku's Smoke Shack, where Pete is cooking up *** perfect Hawaiian BBQ. There is chicken, pork belly, a salad made of greens from *** vibrant hills above us, and stewed banana in coconut cream
. *** dish is served up in a large, carved out bamboo stem and washed down with water straight from *** coconut. *** fragrant outdoor kitchen even provides a hula hoop, which keeps *** girls happy while we take some chill time.
But Maui is known for its beaches so wasn't it time we found one? So far *** road has been our destination but then, on *** southwestern shore, we discover Kamaole Beach.
*** beach is gold market price
and if *** sky is clear at sunset you may see *** famous "green flash", which occurs when *** bending rays in this dense atmosphere reflect *** sun's final light. Sometimes *** flash is dramatic, I am told, but today there are mottled clouds hovering in an early evening sky that's glowing a brilliant red and bronze.
A crowd has gathered to watch *** sunset. Some are swimming, some swaying in hammocks, some taking photos on *** sand. Cars rest up on *** edge of *** highway. No matter their journey today, they're here because nature has made this place *** perfect final destination. Like us, they've arrived.
IF YOU GO
GETTING THERE: For flights to Maui's Kahului Airport
via Honolulu, and travel all over *** Hawaiian archipelago, Hawaiian Airlines is your one-stop shop. For more, website
You're spoilt for choice for car hire companies at Kahului Airport.
STAYING THERE: Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, lies on Maui's southwestern shore. It's a stunning hotel with an incredible water park for *** kids and adults-only pools and *** most opulent spa I have ever experienced for *** grown-ups. Prices vary. Visit website
For more information on Maui, visit website
*** writer travelled as a guest of Hilton and Hawaiian Airlines.