Renting a car is, in my opinion, a must for visitors to Maui. While public transportation is better than in the past, it is still sporadic and the routes limited.
All of the major car rental companies have locations at the Kahului Airport and it's just a short shuttle ride to their offices from baggage claim. Unfortunately rental car rates are higher on Maui than on the Big Island and Oahu but generally less than you'll pay on Kauai. The rates vary widely from one company to another, so be sure to shop around. Deals can often be found by booking your car rental along with your airfare or hotel.
Maui is world famous for it's beautiful scenery and since so many visitors rent vehicles, traffic can be a problem, especially if you try to drive from Central Maui to West Maui in the late afternoon. The Honoapiilani Highway is one lane for most of its length and any accident or brush fire can shut down the road for hours. Driving to South Maui is generally a bit smoother, but traffic can also back up if you decide to drive through Kihei on South Kihei Road. If you're heading for Wailea or Makena, a better choice is the Piilani Highway.
Despite the traffic, you'll soon discover that Maui offers some of the most beautiful driving opportunities anywhere in Hawaii.
The most popular drive on Maui, and in all of Hawaii, is the Road to Hana with 54 bridges in 56 miles along a winding lava shore, through old plantation towns, past miles of beaches and through towering forests. A drive to the summit of Haleakala is also a must. One of my favorite drives is along the northern part of West Maui from Kapalua to Wailuku and you'll certainly want to drive through Upcountry Maui from Paia through Makawao and Kula to Ulupalakua Ranch and Maui's Winery.
Related Features About Driving on Maui
Read our feature on the Road to Hana and Beyond.
Read our Driving Tour of Upcountry Maui.
Read our feature on West Maui's Rugged North Shore.