Rough, arid terrain is what you’ll see upon arriving into the Kaupo area. The lush rainforest seems to disappear in an instant. Withered grasslands appear to be overtaken by the basalt (volcanic) rock. It’s an illusion created by Haleakala’s rain shadow, which prevents moisture from accumulating often enough to sustain the area’s plant life year round. It’s “paniolo” (cowboy) country out here and you may see cows grazing but not much else.
Out past Kaupo village the lovely paved road disappears and the dusty dirt road quickly becomes rough and difficult to navigate. It’s a potholed, patchworked, neglected pathway that becomes more challenging than any video game. Hit a few of those craters and you’re stuck, literally. Without a couple of extra tires, some great shocks, and preferably a 4WD, it may be a long, rough trip back. Also, there are no businesses and very few residents out there so it may be futile to even try to get help. It truly is the “flip-side” of the wet, lush environment we experienced earlier in the day on the Hana Highway, along Maui’s northern coast.
Also, it is not uncommon for this route to be closed due to events like unpredictable rock slides and crazy gale force winds. It is important to note that most car rental companies forbid you to take their rentals down this route. You should expect that you will have to sign a release stating that either you will be directly responsible for any and all damage or you simply will not drive that route on the island. If you don’t sign this waiver, they won’t rent to you. They’ve simply had too many cars badly damaged to allow their rentals to go here.
It’s not a problem with VIE’s specially-designed Comfort Cruisers! (We only travel this road when weather and safety conditions allow.) We made sure that these luxury vans were designed with durability and comfort in mind. It’s a pleasure to ride on the bumpy back side of Haleakala because we’ve got a great shock/suspension system and with our extra large viewing windows you won’t miss a thing! Some have even said that it’s like a “nice chair massage”. It’s because our seats are so big and comfy. VIE takes every opportunity to show you Maui – in style and comfort!