How Bad is Traffic in Maui?

Most visitors go to Maui to avoid traffic and have a relaxing time. But, most visitors find it difficult to get around in Maui.

There have been many complaints from both locals and tourists alike about how congested and busy life can get when you live in or visit Maui.

But there are ways to deal with traffic and plenty of helpful hints for enjoying your vacation spot even more. Below we’re sharing the best tips on how to avoid traffic jams and get around Maui.

Time laps bulb exposure of Honoapi'ilani Highway.

How is the traffic in Maui?

When you consider the fact that the island of Maui is home to more than 150,000 residents as well as hundreds of thousands of visitors and tourists each year, it’s no wonder that traffic can get a bit hectic.

Generally, the traffic in and around Maui gets a bit hectic during the busiest tourist seasons (high season is almost always packed, and Christmas and New Year’s and holidays are even worse), and particularly during morning and evening rush hour.

There are also some treacherous bottlenecks in some areas, such as the section of highway between Paia and Kahului on the Paia side. This road is one lane each way, and a large number of people use the road.

Also, the traffic on the road between Kihei and Wailuku and Lahaina can be horrendous even on a slow day. There’s a new highway you can use to skip some of the congestion that people on the regular highway encounter as they enter Lahaina heading north.

Where are the worst traffic spots in Maui?

The worst traffic zones in Maui are Lahaina and Paia, due to the large number of people who want to park their cars and then visit the stores.

Lahaina is especially bad because it’s a small town. There are numerous parking lots but only a few entrances, so people tend to park wherever they can find a spot, including on sidewalks and other places where they are not supposed to be parked.

Paia has the same problem as Lahaina, except that it is even smaller. Paia is basically one main street with stores on each side, which makes it easy for people to walk around, but the problem is that there simply is not enough room for all of the cars that try to park and shop.

If you do not have to go into either of these towns during busy times (for example, before 8 p.m.), then you’ll avoid the traffic.

If you must go into one of these towns during rush hour, then make sure you know where you want to park beforehand. Also, be prepared for the possibility of having to circle the parking lot for five minutes or more before finding a spot.

What are the ways to avoid traffic in Maui?

The best way is to avoid driving between the hours of 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. This is rush hour time in Maui and major roads leading into town get clogged up with cars waiting for the traffic lights to change. This leads to massive traffic jams, which can sometimes take hours to clear up.

If you absolutely must drive during these times, use the westbound Kahekili Highway or Hana Highway instead of Pi’ilani Highway or Kuihelani Highway, which are often gridlocked with traffic at these hours.

Take advantage of the public transportation system. Maui’s is one of the best systems in the country and will get you to your destination without having to worry about traffic problems or parking spots.

When vacationing in Maui, consider taking part in a guided tour that will take you to key attractions and keep you away from heavy traffic areas throughout the day.

If possible, avoid scheduling your flight back home during rush hour time as well.

Other tips for avoiding traffic include…

  • Planning your vacation around days when many people are likely to stay home from work due to holidays or other events, such as a major sporting events.
  • Traveling during off-peak times of the year.
  • Exploring less-traveled areas of the island by renting a car or booking an excursion with an experienced tour guide who can take you off the beaten path.

What is the best way to get around Maui?

By far the best way to get around Maui is by scooter or motorcycle. They go fast and they’re fun (wear a helmet!). Also, they are small enough that you can fit in almost any parking spot.

Another good option is to rent a car. You can get them at the airport, and you have lots of options with this one. There are many different sizes and styles of cars available, so you should be able to find something that fits your needs perfectly.

If you don’t mind spending a bit more money but still don’t want a scooter or motorcycle then try taking a taxi or shuttle bus instead.

The Maui Bus is a great way to get around the island, especially if you don’t have a car. It has two different routes that run both north and south on the west side of the island.

  • One bus goes from Kahului airport up to the Ha’iku area and back.
  • The other bus runs between Kihei and Lahaina.

Taxis and shuttle vans are available at the airport. They are regulated by the county’s Taxicab Authority. All taxi cabs are required to have meters, but some drivers have been known to refuse passengers when they discover that their destinations are not going to be profitable for them, such as the Road to Hana.

Maui is Packed, But Paradise

Ultimately, traffic is a side-effect of the island’s popularity. It’s hard to avoid massive crowds in any kind of tourism hotspot.

But the experience can still be rewarding and worth planning for if you know what to expect.

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