What is the best way to get upcountry? Isn’t there a short cut?
Well…. unless you have access to the key to Oprah’s private road, or the private ‘windmill road’ in Wailea, you (and the rest of us) get to drive the long way. You drive from Kihei, all the way to Kahului, turn right at Hansen Road (by the Sugar Mill), which connects with the Hana Hwy, then turn right on Haleakala Hwy which becomes the Kula Hwy. I hope you do check it out when you are on Maui – upcountry is beautiful!
|Where Oprah’s Road and the Piilani hwy connect|
Wait a minute, Oprah’s Road? Yes, Oprah Winfrey has land (organic vegetables anyone?) and a house upcountry and several years ago obtained an easement across private ranch land for a more direct (4 mile vs 30 mile) route to Wailea. This ‘Oprah’s Road’ is an existing (but improved) ranch road that leads from near Sun Yat Sen Park (close to Grandma’s Coffee House) down to South Kihei (it connects to the Piilani Hwy between Alanui Ke Alii and Keonekai Rd). It’s a 4 mile paved stretch of road, with steep grades and numerous gates. And it’s private. I’ve heard anecdotes of bicyclists being chased off the road for trespassing and threatened with damage to their bikes should they return. Well, it is a private road, with gates and no-trespassing signs. What did they expect?
Some Maui residents (and tourists) have been longing for such a road for the past 40 years, though it is highly controversial among others.
|photo from the MauiWatch facebook news page|
A few days ago (on March 29th) some of Maui’s residents and tourists were lucky enough to drive the private ‘windmill road.’ Lucky depends on your sense of adventure…. due to torrential downpours on the 29th, a portion of the Kula Hwy was taken out near Grandma’s Coffee House, which meant residents/tourists would have had to drive the back road to Hana to get back out (this drive can be an all-day affair with poor road conditions on some stretches). The windmill road is a private road that was used two years ago when the Auwahi Wind Farm was being constructed. At the time it was apparently easier to move the big wind turbine parts through Kihei/Wailea and then up, rather than the usual upcountry route. Thankfully Ulupalakua Ranch opened up this road to allow traffic. According to those who drove it, it’s rough (and not paved like Oprah’s Road). Here’s a photo posted by a tourist to the popular MauiWatch facebook news page.
As to the status of the Kula Hwy, I haven’t heard if it’s been re-opened. Let me know if you know more on that.