Aerial view of the old and new Pali Highway over the tunnel.
Over the years I have driven the “Pali” from our home in Ka’anapali to “the other side” more times than I can remember, and I am always overwhelmed by Maui’s natural beauty.
But sometimes natural beauty can distract a person from discovering something interesting about the history and culture of our island.
The next time you drive between the Pali tunnel and Ma’alaea Harbor, look on the mountain side of the road and you will spot remnants of the old Honoapi’ilani Highway. Stacks of lava rock, intact bridges, and culverts that were all built by hand and a big part of Maui’s history.
Old Honoapi’ilani Highway
In the 1930s, Lahaina’s old Honoapi’ilani Highway was called “the Amalfi drive of Maui” because it was so curvy, but it also followed an ancient roadway that circled the island.
The name Honoapi’ilani Highway came from the 15th century when Pi’ilani was the chief who ruled the bays as well as our neighboring islands of Moloka’i, Lāna’i, and Kaho’olawe.
When I drive the “Pali,” I am always attracted to that old road and can imagine horses, buggies, and people on foot making their way to and from “the other side.”
A trip to Lahaina, Ka’anapali, Kapalua, and Napili on the highway today will be almost as curvy as in the old days, but now you will pass through a tunnel on your way through Olowalu and on to your destination.
New communities have been developed and built over the years, but our culture and the tradition of aloha on the Lahaina side remain the same.
For a newcomer to Maui, the Lahaina side offers some of the best beaches, activities, weather, and places to live in Hawaii. Maui is truly a beautiful place to live, but it is the history, culture, and people of Hawai’i that make Maui what it is today.