Once you pass the Ritz Carlton in north Kapalua, the road becomes instantly rural. One of the first stops is the Honolua Bay Marine Preserve. Tour boats take paying customers here, but you can snorkel for free.
A short trail enters a jungle gardenscape. You should know: The beach is rocky, and a stream will muddy the waters after it rains. Roadside parking fills up early.
The point on Honolua's north tip is one of the better—maybe the best—surfing wave on Maui. Forsure, it's one of the better places to watch surfers in Hawaii. A dirt road reaches the point and a short walk takes you to a ringside seat on a cliff.
The Nakalele Blowhole is a popular roadside attraction—or rather, a short hike from the road. There are two trails. The stupid thing to do here is get close to the opening or stand with your back to the surf. People have died here. Same goes for the Bellstone (Olivine) Pools, which are just down the road. Any day when surf breaches the reef is a dangerous day. Watch for 15 minutes before determining safety. No kidding.
Few visitors visit the two trails that lead into the mountains—the best-kept secret on this coast. The Ohai Loop Trail, along the ocean bluffs, is on the tourist radar—though seldom crowded.
Kahakuloa Head ("tall lord") lords over the small village of the same name. The road down is a narrow, white-knuckler. You'll want to avoid the school bus coming up. In town are a couple quaint churches and tasty banana bread stand. Driving up from Kahakuloa Village (more narrow road) gets you to a trail leading to a whale watching nook below the head—in its saddle with the little pu'u (volcanic cone). Turn-out parking is unsigned.
Due to the number of tourists on the road, you will want to go with the flow, i.e, drive in the clockwise direction, north from Lahaina. The narrow, cliffside highway continues to Kahalui. Avoid the north shore during rains.
Maui Trailblazer has the details on the best way to visit the rugged north coast.