ALALOA – The Long Road:
CONSTRUCTION STARTED OVER 500 YEARS AGO
Maui is the only island on which alaloa – long road, completely circled the coastline. Only two sections of the original road remain, the Pi`ilani Trail near Hana and the Hoapili Trail near Makena. The original trail was paved with smooth rounded lava stones, many of which are still in place today.
In the 15th century Pi`ilani, one of the most powerful chiefs in Hawaiian history, set out from Hana to conquer the central plains in Wailuku, then marched to Lahaina and united Maui. The visible islands along the route — Kaho`olawe, Moloka`i, and Lana`i — completed Pi`ilani’s vast dominion. His reign ushered in a long period of peace, stability, prosperity, and a recognition of Maui Nui as a model Kingdom. Under his reign Maui experienced the development of roads, fishponds, and irrigation systems. To improve transportation, Pi`ilani initiated construction of the far-reaching alaloa, long road. Four to six feet wide and stretching 138 miles, this rockpaved thoroughfare, also known as the King’s Highway, connected villages and heiau – sacred spots, facilitated both peace and war, and simplified travel and communication throughout the extended realm. It became the only ancient highway to circle any of the Hawaiian islands.
The present Honoapiilani Highway, built in 1927 using convict labor, traces the ghost of the alaloa. Today nearly half of Maui’s highways still bear Pi`ilani’s name. The recently completed junction of Mokulele and Pi`ilani Highways was the final phase of the six-year, $87 million Mokulele Highway road-widening project.
Maui remains the only island with a complete coastal road.