The Manawainui Gulch under the Piilani Highway was formed by Haleakala’s waters carving out a deep chasm into the earth. The Manawainui Gulch is often dry unless there’s heavy rainfall, but the views of the southern slopes of Haleakala alongside the massive chasm are stunning. This area is very windy and it’s dangerous to get too close to any of the cliff edges. As you can see, were now on the dry side of the Island.
Piilani Highway is a road with bad reputation. We found it fun to drive. The road is rough and unpaved at times. It’s a good idea to honk around blind corners. Hawaii Route 31 is 61 km (38 miles) long, running from Kipahulu to Ulupalakua. It’s a twisty, up and down roller coaster. The toughest section of the road is about 10km (6 miles) long, where the road sometimes narrows to a single lane in sharp bends. In some areas (such as at Lelekea Bay) it’s just a one-and-a-half lane bumpy road hugging the sea cliff around a blind curve. The hairpin bends are completely blind, but there is almost no traffic. Occasionally the road is closed to traffic due to landslides. Traffic is light.
Piʻilani (“ascent to heaven”) was born ca. 1577 and ruled as Mōʻī of the island of Maui in the later part of the 16th century. At the time Maui was an independent kingdom within the islands of Hawaii. He was the first Aliʻi to unite the island under a single line.