Hawaii Highways Closed For Accidents, Infuriating Residents and Visitors

Hawaii Highways Closed For Accidents, Infuriating Residents and Visitors

In Hawaii, and it seems more than in other places, the highway can be suddenly closed for various reasons. Our thoughts always go out to those injured. The frustration is likened to flying across the Pacific, where diversion points are limited. Driving isn’t always carefree, as pictured above yesterday on Maui. During those times, you may have no choice but to turn off your motor and make new friends. During a recent highway closure we experienced between Lihue and Poipu, people started handing out frozen treats that were melting.

All this comes on the heels of our article Friday about Driving In Hawaii 2023 | “The Worst State.”

While on Oahu, there are generally alternative routes to escape traffic delays, that’s not always true on the neighboring islands. Now that I’ve said this, today may be an issue on Oahu for those trying to attend the huge-wave-driven “Eddie” at Waimea Bay on the north shore. Which we would love to have attended had we not been totally fearful of getting there and back unscathed.

The highway from West Maui to Kahului closed Saturday.

Yesterday a dump truck on Maui overturned on the Pali of the Honoapililani Highway that goes from West Maui towards Kahului. Emergency units arrived at the accident at approximately 9:30 AM on Saturday. Police were eventually able to set up a shared one-lane access while the accident scene was cleared. That took nearly six hours to be completed.

Visitor Glenna was stuck in the accident traffic. She reported (excerpted): “We left Kaanapali at 10:30 this morning on our way to Kihei. We are still not in Kihei – it’s 2pm. This is ridiculous. We heard that a dump truck flipped over somewhere ahead. Who knows. People are missing flights. Got out of the car (this is standstill traffic) and chatted with someone who left three hours ahead for their flight at 3pm and they will miss it now. Plus, they’re running out of gas. Taking this long to clear an accident is not ok.”

Editor Jeff, not long ago, also took the drive from Kaanapali to Kahului to catch a flight. He planned for the 27-mile drive to take a solid two hours (and he stopped for coffee and food before taking off). Well, wrong, it took nearly three hours, and he just about missed his flight. There was no accident, just incredible traffic. It was completely nerve-wracking.

The road to Waimea Canyon And Kokee State Park was closed Saturday too.

Yesterday your editors were heading to cover an event in Kokee State Park. It was late in the day, and we were surprised that there were simply no cars exiting the park. We learned that a tree fell across the road early in the day, which resulted in a widespread power outage in the parks and the only road in until about 4 PM. The event we attended was a pop-up dinner at Kokee Lodge, starting at 6 pm, that almost got canceled.

Were you caught in one of these delays on Saturday?

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61 thoughts on “Hawaii Highways Closed For Accidents, Infuriating Residents and Visitors”

  1. Thank you for all your information we’re traveling in Hawaii “island hopping” 9/6-9/18/23. 2 tours reserved but will attempt Road to Hana ourselves???? Looking forward to visiting Leonard’s Bakery. 4days in Kaui, again on our own. I’m a senior traveling with my Adult Special Needs son. He’s so excited, so am I!!

  2. Hawaii’s public services are incompetent. Accidents happen but they have no plan to clear them. I sat for 3 hours today for a dump truck that turned over 2 hours before I got into traffic. You get a get a government that cares about its citizens it’s visitors and its reputation. I can’t believe that this is a state. They are incompetent head to toe.

  3. Forgive me for excessive responses, but I just received a response-the Maui to Molokai race was the “Pailolo Challenge”. Cancelled last fall tho. Beyond that, who knows….but, good news, there are like minded individuals out there –smiles–

  4. Traffic that we have to put up with because of too much people over filled our islands; and than expect it to stay the same.
    While our lively hood spikes upwards higher & higher….
    You’re illusionary idea, isn’t close to what hell it’s become to have to tolerate why we suffer the same unreasonable things, all for the love of thees islands!

  5. We were on the road that day to Haleakalā. We too, we’re stopped on the highway. What a beautiful view to see when your stopped.

  6. We left Kahana Beach at 10:45 w/plans to eat lunch, gas up, return the car, and arrive at the airport 2+ hours prior to our flight. Our 45-commute turned out to be 3 hours & 45 minutes, so we skipped lunch and gas. We return the car (now late), took that tram, got through security, and boarded 10 mins prior to the original departure time. Our flight waited a little more in hopes that passengers would make it. I think we allowed plenty of time🤷🏻‍♀️ We spent most of those extra hours planning “what ifs” about hotel, what to do, etc. and looking out into the beautiful waters. Delay increased our rental by $80.

    We shared on FB, so 1 couple who’s coming in February booked their final night at an airport hotel to avoid this potential problem

  7. Aloha! Was suppose to drive from West Side Lahaina to Kahului that mid-morning for an appt, and as always checked iPhone Maps to see how traffic was flowing…a friend alerted us via “MAUIWatch Road Warriors” screen shot about the Pali Closure- not sure what App it was. Maps updated fairly quickly to 2 1/2 hours+. Thankfully all were safe, which is really the main issue. Maps did direct an “alternate route” through the backside, but I don’t think that is a viable or realistic route to take and that showed 2 hours+. We rescheduled appt. I always have water/snacks in our car ready for any need, and if we ever got stuck I am sure the “view” will be just beautiful, and one can chill for a bit, enjoy God’s creations, and pray that all our well

  8. Boo hoo to the lady visitor on Maui that had so much to say. “People are missing flights!”. That’s your problem. The world and traffic accidents don’t revolve around anybody, you should be hoping that everyone is ok. Plus could have just gone the other way, duh.

    1. To the person suggesting that they “could have just gone the other way”: did you mean the dangerous one way road from Kapalua to Kahului that no car rental covers? What a mess that would have been, drivers turning around on the highway to reach that road …??? so much more dangerous than driving the route to Hana!

  9. Highway closures have been happening in the route from Lahaina to Kahului for decades. It’s only getting worse with more traffic now. I recommend that people stay in the central or south shore the last night before they depart. Just be sure they’ll make their departure flights. Just comes with the territory of living on an island that has limitedroutes to airport, from the west side, one.

  10. I am sure if you would have informed the police ( who im sure were eating donuts and drinking coffee ) you are a visitor and felt terribly inconvenienced by the sheer selfishness of the truck driver for wrecking his truck, that they would of just pushed it off the road to let you pass. I am sure the couple of 3 hours you were held up is/ was waaay more important than the drivers health and safety as well as all the nonsense of investagating what happen and assuring no one else is hurt or killed by passing vehicles.put yourself in the first responders shoes , what would u do ??? This is hawaii,, slow down chill, enjoy the scenery thats what you came here for.

    1. I don’t believe the story was about an inconsiderate tourist as you make it sound to be. It was about the fact that when there is a road closure, everyone is stuck because of the lack of alternative routes and perhaps how traffic is managed. That is a fact on every island.
      Not fair to attack someone for understandably being frustrated about being stuck in traffic for 6 hours and for people who missed their flight even though they reasonable planned ahead. I’m pretty sure you would be too. Who wouldn’t be?

      1. Well said, but the people who put those comments probably don’t even have jobs, therefor have all the time in the world and no money to fly.

    2. I agree with you except, the drivers need to slow down. They also need to train these employees how to drive these big trucks. I know it is difficult to find good help these days, but training should be priority. So yes, I understand why the lady was p.o. I’m pretty sure we all have empathy for anyone in an accident. SOmetimes, posting comes across wrong.

  11. It’s an island and on the water. Same way anywhere on the planet. Key West to Cozumel. Stop complaining or stay home. Service always sucks close to water

    1. What about Oahu? The last time I checked, it was still part of the Hawaiian Islands and do have more than one route to get to the airport. Yes, it’s crowded, but there are more than 1 Million people living there (+tourists) and I don’t think they would miss a plane because of one accident on the road …

  12. After visiting Maui for 4 weeks last month, I will never return. The state government is totally useless in caring for the infrastructure and has decided to have the visiting tourists pay for their fiscal irresponsibility. Imposing daily occupancy taxes and exorbitant parking fees for tourist stays at resorts, timeshares and hotels. Parking $25day and occupancy taxes from $15-$20/day. All added to your $200/day room charges. All parks and now some popular beaches have admission fees but still no bathroom facilities. Parks and popular tourist attractions require a 15 day reservation window to visit. Visited Maui 2 years ago and paid $70 per person for a Luau. Last month it was $400 per person for a pulled pork buffet.Recommendation Stay home

    1. I’m local , have Ohana there. Haven’t been back to island for ages. I do miss Maui . But if I return there would be probably just too see relatives and leave. Yes everything change and prices hiked up , along with Beautiful Kauai. I rather visit my kids on Oahu and Mom spend most my time at the Ocean reminiscing with my Dad resting Peacefully In Heaven with my Siblings there and enjoying the beaches there with my Grandkids if I’m going to pay any high prices of my own state 😊…🙏

      1. trying to figure that statement out ….either you are selfish and want the place all for yourself or you are afraid that someone comes to get you ….or takes something away from you? I understand that we are frustrated about some tourists, but let’s not generalize and keep the Aloha spirit alive!

    2. Hi Tony, Maui is getting more and more expensive including for people who live here. Of course, we don’t go to a Luau for $400 …that’s crazy! However, which beach did you go to that you would have to pay? There are plenty of beaches in Maui and all are free including parking and bathrooms. I heard that you have to reserve to enter Haleakala, but that’s a “National” Park! I also heard that they now require reservations for the black beach in Hana, so may be that is what you are referring to? Personally, I like to swim in the ocean, watch and listen to the whales, go with friends to see turtles at sunset on the beach. It’s all free. I do pay for food and drinks while listening to local musicians and leave a tip because they make me happy

      1. Big Beach was charging parking, always was free. Two port-a-johns at big Beach to accommodate everyone has not changed in the 20 years since I started visiting. Peruse Bay charging parking for tourists only, previously free. Mile marker 14 to see the falls, $ 15.00 to park on the shoulder of the road, not even a lot but the grassy shoulder. Previously parked on that same shoulder for free and hiked back to the falls. The park on the way to Hana needed reservations and charged admission. Always was free, accessible and peaceful resting point on the way to Hana. No more, must make a reservation a month in advance if you want to rest on the way to Hana. All to rip off the tourists. Sorry

      2. Only need to reserve Haleakala if you are entering 3:00-7:00AM, and I think it’s $1. However, it is $30/vehicle all the time (good for 3 days apparently) but free for certain holidays. We went on MLK Day 🙂

  13. We had similar experience to what you mention trying to get from Kahului to Kapalua. After goofing around town, lunch and dinner at the mall, we went to the Maui police station and asked what the status was. They shrugged their shoulders and said they thought it might be open. When I asked what heard from officers at the scene, they shrugged their shoulders again. Obviously didn’t care or want to care. That was our last vacation stay on Maui. Thanks so much for bringing the topic up. Can’t understand the lackadaisical attitude when both visitors and locals are so terribly inconvenienced.

  14. We are traveling with my daughter’s family ORD- LIH July 13-28, firm dates with her vacation time, and finding airfare is crazy @ $1600 RT., economy plus @ $2,000, we can usually get a fare for around $1000, is this the new reality? Should we wait closer in to our departure date( we are a party of 7 and usually fly economy plus)?
    Please offer any advice, thank you!

    1. Hi Jim.

      On your dates, AA is the best bet. Under 12 hours total time, $1045 economy, $1197 extra legroom, $2445 bus./first. That price is fair.


    2. Wait. I usually start looking 6 weeks before my trip. But lately I have started looking for airfare 2 mounths out. Try using an app like Hopper to track airfare. I use it but always buy direct from Hawaiian Airlines as we can usually get the best prices from where we live.


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