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"Backside" of Road to Hana and fear of heights

Hillsboro, Oregon
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"Backside" of Road to Hana and fear of heights

Hello! I have a pretty bad fear of heights, but I was surprisingly OK with the Road to Hana when I went years ago. My husband is absolutely stuck on the idea of driving the whole way around (knowing full well of the rental car issue), so my questions are:

- How much worse are the drop-offs/cliffs on the "backside" of the road?

- Does the right side of the road hug the mountain for the entirety of the drive? I'm generally OK if the cliff is to the left and I'm in the passenger seat on the right. In fact, if this direction allows us to hug the right side of the road the entirety of the way, I may feel SAFER than if I was on the road back from Hana.

- Does anyone know how the current conditions of the road are? We're headed to Maui in just a few days.

Also, please know that we are spending the night in Hana, so we will be able to drive back during daylight hours.

We're headed to Maui on our honeymoon, so I'm having a particularly tough time with this issue. On the one hand I don't want to deny my husband a chance to see more of Maui (it's his first time in Hawaii), but on the other hand I deserve to enjoy myself as well (and not be scared out of my mind)!

Thanks in advance for any help! I know there are countless posts about the backside of the Road to Hana as well as countless posts about fear of heights and the Road to Hana, but I couldn't find any comparing the drop-offs of the two (other than I know there are some sections on the backside that include drop-offs and unpaved road).

45 replies to this topic
Kapaa, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Maui, Hana, Oahu
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47,330 posts
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1. Re: "Backside" of Road to Hana and fear of heights

Cliff side will be on the drivers side. The Hana Hwy and the area itself has see a lot of rain in the last month or so. The paved portion of the highway is in pretty bad shape in spots. I can't imagine what the rest of the road looks like. I personally wouldn't drive the backside, even in my own vehicle until it dries up!!

Hillsboro, Oregon
4 posts
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2. Re: "Backside" of Road to Hana and fear of heights

Thank you so much for your response! I'm sure if it looks rough on the way to Hana I'll be able to convince him to go back the way we came. :)

Maui
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for Ka'anapali, Haleakala National Park, Maui
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3. Re: "Backside" of Road to Hana and fear of heights

Most of the backside didn't get much rain at all. It's from near Kaupo into Kipahulu things are bad....but really bad. The road and the bridges back there have had [problems for more than a year, and it's worse now-not better.

Though you would be somewhat "shielded" from the cliff views, I would think twice. Maybe go on google view and "drive" it with your husband from home? It won't be like it is now, but will give you a good idea.

Edited: 10 January 2017, 08:19
hudson valley
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4. Re: "Backside" of Road to Hana and fear of heights

As above, you can see the entire route in street view, though I'm not sure it gives you an accurate idea of what the exposure will really feel like. The satellite view will give you a pretty good idea of how much of the road is actually close to steep drops and whether or not there's an unobstructed view or if there's vegetation. Here are two examples:

https://goo.gl/maps/8bDnz2vbSTM2

https://goo.gl/maps/gFbwuzX6fRS2

If you go to Hana by way of the backside then the passenger side will be away from the drop offs. Doing that late in the day would result in meeting lots of people coming the other way as they take the back way home, but if you go early in the day you probably won't encounter much traffic going the other way.

Maui
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for Ka'anapali, Haleakala National Park, Maui
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5. Re: "Backside" of Road to Hana and fear of heights

Actually, a lot of locals take the back way *to* town in the mornings, to avoid the tourist traffic on the "front" side.

The photos on google are old, and pre-date the fires on the backside over the last couple of years. It doesn't look the same as those; there's much less vegetation in huge areas.

Edited: 10 January 2017, 23:41
Hillsboro, Oregon
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6. Re: "Backside" of Road to Hana and fear of heights

Thank you, everyone! I think I have successfully convinced him NOT to take the backside. I really appreciate the input, and the Google Street View suggestion! I think if the road were in the same condition as it is in the street view I'd have no trouble stomaching the drop-off sections... but if it's a bit more treacherous right now I think we'll steer clear!

PS. You have a GORGEOUS dog, AkamaiNick4SW!

Alaska
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7. Re: "Backside" of Road to Hana and fear of heights

I'm happy your new husband-to-be listened to you, and decided doing the Hana drive wasn't necessary, for your honeymoon. I used to love that drive, but my husband was never a fan. After all the rain Maui has been getting, I have no interest in ever going on that drive again because I do not trust the road. Doesn't take much to turn easy flowing streams into raging water flows, if it is raining, and potential flooding or roads crumbling make me nervous. Add to that the tailgating by impatient drivers and folks hogging more than their side of the road and I have decided the frustrations outweigh the reward. There is so much to do on Maui that you will have a wonderful time doing activities you both enjoy! Deb

Maui
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for Ka'anapali, Haleakala National Park, Maui
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8. Re: "Backside" of Road to Hana and fear of heights

Glad to help! The front side is much safer *overall*, since it's regularly and constantly maintained..........to the point that there's been construction and work on it nonstop for over 2 years. The issues on the front are still under study, and may result in some major changes soon. If so, I will post them as I can.

The Wonder Dog says "Woof!"

Alaska
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9. Re: "Backside" of Road to Hana and fear of heights

P.S. Not sure where I saw "honeymoon" in your post. Been reading too many honeymoon posts! Take care, Deb

Birmingham, Alabama
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10. Re: "Backside" of Road to Hana and fear of heights

Do not let him talk you into driving around the west maui mountains :) ... you want dropoffs ... it's got dropoffs!! With shear, about-to-come-tumbling-down-on-your-head rock cliffs on the other. The vast majority of the back side of the Hana Highway is flat without steep dropoffs (especially as you get into Kaupo). But since you've talked him into doing it your way ... that's probably the best. Happy wife, happy life :)

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