Motoring Around Maui Part 3: The Dry Side

Series by staff writer Betsy Villanella. Photos Copyright © Betsy Villanella.

[smartads] My previous two articles covered the beautiful west coast of Maui, and driving the Hana Highway over to the east coast. Since we wanted to see as much of Maui as we could,  and since our plane didn’t leave until the evening of our last day, we planned one last tour on the way back to the airport.

When we left Hana, instead of driving back the way we came, we drove south down the east coast, and around the volcano, Haleakala. I had read that the southeastern side of Maui is much different than what you would expect from a tropical island. It’s dry and arid and not very populated.

I was intrigued, and assumed that side of Maui must be harsh and uninviting, but after seeing it I will say it has its own kind of beauty and it’s very peaceful too.

Tiny road, Maui

Tiny road

Umbrella-like tree, Maui

Maui has very interesting trees. These look like an open umbrella.

Maui coastline

You can see the road we took to the bottom left

Ocean cliffs, Maui

Beautiful ocean cliffs

Maui arid coastline

It's starting to get dryer and flatter, but still very beautiful!

Maui landscape

Looking inland at the not-as-green landscape

We also wanted to find the gravesite of Charles Lindbergh at the Palapala Ho’omau Church in Kipahulu where he made his home. We found a church, but I am not sure if it was the right one. There were no signs. I had seen pictures of it and they didn’t look like this church.

Old church on Maui

We were looking for the Palapala Ho'omau Church and Charles Lindbergh's grave

As opposed to the other sides of Maui this side had a lot of scrub grass, and more browns then greens. The lava rock went right down to the rough ocean waves and the black stone beaches.  

Desert-like landscape, Maui

This reminded me of New Mexico or Arizona

Open space, Maui

Just cows (left and center) and open space

Arid beach, Maui

Brown grasses all the way to the water

Maui - net fishing off the shore

Net fishing off the shore

A natural volcanic rock bridge, Maui

A natural volcanic rock bridge

Maui, lava rock shore

No good places to swim on this side of the island

In the most remote spots, we would encounter livestock resting in the road. Cattle and horses are free range. With cliffs on one side and the ocean on the other, I guess the owner doesn’t have to worry about them running off.

Free range horse, Maui

This horse could have stuck his head in my window if we stopped

When we arrived from our tour around the southeast side of volcano, we drove up Haleakala to see the sights from its summit.  Haleakala was a mixed bag of interesting things. The higher we drove (over 9000 ft. up) the lower the clouds got, until we were looking down through them. It’s a strange feeling, for sure.

Road to volcano in the clouds, Maui

Lots of hairpin turns snake up the volcano

Haleakala Observatory

Our first sight of the Haleakala Observatory. Public not allowed.


Looking down into Haleakala. Looks like another planet.

Another strange thing: As we made our way along the path for our view inside Haleakala there was still a burning smell, even after so much time. Another interesting thing there is a plant known as silversword. The only place in the world it grows is on the sides of Haleakala. It will grow until it flowers and then it dies.

Silversword, volcanic region, Maui

Silversword. This is the only place in the world it grows.

Volcanic plant life, Maui

A rosette will grow from 5–20 years before flowering, after which it dies

It was an eerie place, but again it had its own beauty. It was time to head down the way we came and find the restaurant I had been waiting the whole trip to experience. I was told by many that Mama’s Fish House was the best place on Maui to have a meal! After our meal I will agree with everyone and say I think was the best and most enjoyable meal of our trip, and a great way to end it.

Mama's Fish House, Maui

Best meal of the trip. Great way to end it!

My pictures don’t do justice to this beautiful island gem. The sights are spectacular, but to really know Maui you have to experience not just the beauty. You have to hear the soft rustle of the palm fronds as they sway in the warm breeze, and feel it too, across your face and moving through your hair.

Sitting on the beach in the evening you can hear the bird’s calls as they settle in for the night, and you smell the sweet perfume of the flowers. A wonderful aroma I will always take with me and one of the many things I will never forget about Maui.



Motoring Around Maui Part 1: Honoapiilani Highway

Motoring Around Maui Part 2: The Road to Hana

My Dream Vacation in Maui


Betsy Villanella

Our Disney specialist Elizabeth Villanella has lived in the Montrose, Pennsylvania area most of her life. Betsy married her high school boyfriend in 1973. As an Air Force wife, she has lived in Texas, Italy, and Virginia. Between the two of them, her sons have given her fourteen grandchildren and counting. Betsy and her husband currently live with Albert K. Ninestein, a mini Schnauzer who’s as smart as his namesake. She loves to travel and wants to experience (and share) as many places in this world as she can! Betsy tweets as @betsy_v.



  1. Wow, that does look like another planet. I like the title here, the dry side sounds so cute.
    Really like this article as well, I’m definitely wanting to pack right now and head out there!

  2. Its a great vacation destination for sure! A lot of different landscapes on one small island. Thank you for reading and commenting. I love the feedback.

  3. That is SO cool! I had no idea that Charles Lindburgh was buried in Hawaii! The umbrella style tree is incredible.

    • Thanks Ann!
      Yep, I read about Charles Lindburgh living and being buried on the remote side of Maui before we went. The site also has his best friend Sam Pryor, with Sams pet gibbons buried in between them. A very interesting story. Here is a link that tells of it.

      Too bad we didn’t have more time to try to find the site. I would have loved to see it.
      Thank you for commenting, I love to read feedback!.

  4. I agree, other-worldly! Could be good inspiration for a sci-fi story 😀

    Glad you had such an amazing holiday Betsy, looks like everywhere else has a tough example to live up to 🙂

  5. You are right about finding something as grand as our Maui vacation is going to be hard, but I’ll keep looking, and if I find a place as good or better I’ll start looking for a place even better then that…
    Its an ongoing job, but I’m up to it! ;o)
    Thanks for reading and commenting. <3

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