thoughts:The Road to Hana is a must do daytrip when visiting Maui!
as far as you want and visit the attraction along the road. You can’t do all attractions/activities
this road has to offer in one day so try to plan prior your trip what you want
to see and where you want to spend time at.
to do only one day trip but after the first day we came back again, even when
having two days we did not manage to see and experience everything this section
of the island has to offer.
Road to Hana is a "famous" road, it starts from the central valley of
Maui and travels along the northeast coastline all the way to the town of Hana.
Many people consider the Hana Highway to continue 12 miles beyond Hana, all the
way to the Oheo Gulch.
the road is named the “Hana Highway” and on maps will be listed as hwy 36 and hwy
blog will cover the road all the way to Oheo Gulch, the and Kīpahulu park
itself is covered by another blog post.
The Road to Hana is famous
It is short but long:
It is only
35 miles long from mile mark zero to Hana but in order to discover and visit all
attractions along road it will take more than a day. Most people will set a
full daytrip to this road and cover only some of the attractions along the road.
Short but narrow:
road is very narrow and winding, at some places one lane wide. It has about 620
sharp bends and curves, 59 old one-lane bridges and almost no places to stop on
of the above, there is quite a lot of tourist traffic that stop near road
attractions. Even if you plan to drive without stopping you should plan for at
least an hour and a half drive.
“it's the journey, not the
phrase that appears a lot in the context of this road, even though the small
town of Hana has its charm as well as beautiful beaches the town of Hannah is
not a special destination. Your trip memories will probably be from the “The road
to Hana” itself and less from Hana.
the way there are many waterfalls and swimming pools, some of the waterfalls
can be seen from the car. There are rocky beaches, few options of hiking in the
lash jungle as well as state parks.
Our Road to Hana Trip Itinerary:
a whole day to this trip, we left relatively early in the morning but still did
not manage to see or do everything we wanted to.
As a reference
this is what we manage to do at one day:
·Start the drive at around 9am
·Short stop at Ho'okipa beach lookout,
big-wave and surfers
·We stopped at several waterfalls
just to take pictures
·Visit Garden of Eden Arboretum (~1.5
·Hike the Btanical gardens trail (less
·Short visit at Ke'anae Peninsula
·Visit Waianapanapa Black Beach
Nature Reserve (1 hr)
·Short stop at Wailua Falls
·A short visit at Oheo Gulch, due to
the late afternoon hour we did only the Kuloa loop trail and the Pools of Oheo
·A short visit at Koki Beach.
·From Oheo Gulch we drove back to
our hotel without any stop, it was already starting to be dark when we drove
the winding road back to our hotel.
·If you are planning to swim in the waterfall’s
pools or at the beaches (Black Beach is recommended) you probably won’t have
time to drive past Hana. We decided to skip the swimming activities.
we did not manage to see and do what we planned in one day, we decide to come
back the following day, this is what we did the second day:
·Tween falls hike (1 hr)
·Jungle hike at Waikamoi Nature
Trail (1 hr)
·Short visit at the town of Hana and
·The main activity of the day was Pipiwai
Trail hike at Oheo Gulch (3hr)
·Driving the “Backside of Haleakala”
(hwy 31) (~2 hr)
·In order to avoid the crowd at Pipiwai
Trail at Oheo Gulch we you need to be early. We started the second day much earlier
(7am at mile mark 0), we came back to the central island section at 5pm.
it to your phone prior starting the drive (no cell connection at the road), it
totally worth the 7 $.
Use it as
you drive the road for best recommendations, explanations and to know where you
are, on your way back at the afternoon, usually without stopping, learn about the
interesting Hawaiian history.
Other Tips (not sorted):
·Mileage marking: most of the
attractions along the road has their mileage marker but the numbers can be
confusing because the “road” is using mixture of roads and mile markers. Highways
36, 360 and 31 are the official roads but they flow into each other and each
has its own mile markers. After Hana Highway 360 changes to Highway 31, mile
marker sequence continues to go up until mile marker 50, as you continue, they
begin to go back down in numbers.
·If possible, I will recommend sleeping
one night at Hana. This will allow you to spend more time at attractions along
the road and really enjoy the special atmosphere and less on driving.
·Usually most people visiting
attractions on their way driving in the morning and at the afternoon on their
way back drive without any attraction stops.
·If you are planning to drive back the
same day: decide if you want to drive the winding road section after dark, if
not, plan your day and leave your last destination at list one hour before
·Start as early as you can, if you
start later in the day, expect a lot of traffic and a more crowded experience
due to tourist congestion. I did the road twice, two days in a row, and when I started
driving at 7am it was a much better experience, a lot less cars and people.
·There is no need for 4x4 or
anything special, even if you plan to drive the road beyond the Oheo Gulch. Any
regular car will do. There are some side roads that do need 4x4, most people
will not do them.
·Driving the highway in a
convertible (or Jeep and remove the top): remember that it may rain along the
drive in short but intense bursts.
·When driving I will advise to stick
to the highlights places you planned to stop at. If you are swimming at
waterfall pools, try to time your stop. Just to find parking, getting out the
car, going down to the waterfall pool, draying and getting back into the care
is at list 45-minute stop.
·For most activities along the way sandals
or flip-flops are fine, you may want to bring hiking shoes if you are planning jungle
·Bring cash with you: some attractions
entries as also the fruit and smoothie stands, may only take cash.
·There is a gas station at Hana, but
I will recommend getting out to this drive with full fuel tank.
·Bring the food for the day with you.
There are food stands and places along the way to eat (mainly near the town of Hana)
but it is better to have lunch/sandwiches/fruits for the day with you so you
will stop only for “refreshments”.
Below list is things
we did on our trips and a short description for each one of them.
end I will also list other Road to Hana places and attractions that we did not
had time to do.
Ho'okipa beach lookout
(just before the official starting point of the road)
passing the town of Paia you will see on your left an entrance to Ho'okipa
beach and lookout.
the bluff viewing point, you can watch the surfers in the bay below. In the
winter, the waves can get massive here. Do not surf here unless you know what you
Sea Turtles: At the afternoon/evening you may spot many sea turtles that use Hookipa sandy beach as their place for the night. I do not know if you can see them every day but when we were there 20 turtles were resting on the east side of the beach, just when you get into the lower beach parking.
Road To Hana Mile Marker
the spot where the road to Hana officially begin.
Twin Falls (Mile marker 2)
mile marker 2 on the Hana Highway you can find Twin Falls (large parking place is
on the right side of the road). You can find here several waterfalls one after
the other connected by well-maintained easy short trails. To reach the bottom
of the first waterfall turn left into one of the narrow trails that will take
you the pool below the waterfall.
Falls park is a recommended stop if you want to view several falls with easy
trails that is good for small kids. The waterfalls are not as big or in the
jungle as many other falls along the road. At any other location Twin Falls will
be top must-do attraction but on the road to Hana they have competition. If you
are not coming early, this park can be very crowded.
the end of twin fall, Wailele Farm park section there is a ¾ mile trail that
will take you to the tall Caveman Falls. I did not hike this route but looks
like this is a more difficult path due to uneven, rocky and slippery terrain.
If you will go all the way to Caveman Falls plan for a much longer visit at
sure this is a must stop on your way but if you start your drive early in the
morning you can walk to the nearby falls and come back to your car in 30 min or
Waikamoi Nature Trail
(mile marker 9.5)
past mile 9 on the Road to Hana keep your eyes open for the small parking lot on
your right side (parking may be full so you will need to skip this hike).
a nice hike in the jungle going up the ridge. It has 30-minutes hiking loops
that can be extended by additional 30 minutes’ walk up the ridge, all the way
to a picnic table. At the end of the trail you will find opening in the jungle
and a picnic table, from this place you can find unmaintained trail that is
going down into the dense bamboo forest, I started to walk down this trail, it
was fun walking down this path, squeezing among the bamboos trees but after 10 min
of going down not knowing where this trail is leading to I had to turn around and
go back (also because of lack of time).
rain the Waikamoi Trail can be muddy, but it's a nice hike through the jungle trees
and good opportunity to stretch your legs.
was the most rewording nature hike I did along this section of the road to Hana,
so it is on my recommendation list, plan to be here for 1 hr.
Garden of Eden Arboretum
(mile marker 10)
past mile marker 10, you'll find The Garden of Eden Arboretum & Botanical
Garden entrance on your right.
private nature garden (15$ per adult) that has many local trees and flowers. It
is nice and well-maintained botanical garden, friendly for small kids.
not a jungle experience, a well maintained “sterile” and a clean garden with
everything “in place”, I’m not sure it’s worth the time (and the money). If you
decided to visit here, plan for at least one hr visit.
Ching's Pond (mile marker
large pool is right below the bridge, need to find a place to park your car and
go down to the poll below.
Ke'anae Arboretum Trail (mile
half-mile beyond mile marker 16 on the Hana Highway you'll see a sign on the right
side of the road marking the entrance to Ke'anae Arboretum.
road-side parking is right after the sharp turn on the left (other) side of the
road, be careful when driving in/out the parking because this section of the
road has no visibility for incoming cars.
Ke'anae Arboretum trail is and easy leveled 0.6-mile hike that will take you to
the terraces that were built hundreds of years ago by Hawaiians for growing Taro.
You will walk through an open Jungle section following the stream.
not consider this as a must-stop (especially if you visit Garden of Eden
Arboretum) but rather a place to do some hiking and enjoy the tropical plants
flowers and the view of the large “painted eucalyptus” trees.
Ke'anae Peninsula (mile
after leaving Ke'anae Arboretum parking look for an exit road on the left side
of the road, take it.
peninsula is surrounded by dark lava rocks where the ocean wave crashing on.
Down the road you can find parking lot, park here and explore the nearby church
and the rocky waterfront. As we saw in our hike to Ke'anae Arboretum Trail,
also here they are growing the Taro plant.
is not recommended on the Ke’anae Peninsula, as the rocky shoreline is very
tragic history of this village is that 1946 tsunami hit the place and 24 school
students and teachers were lost in that event.The only remaining building of the village was the old stone church that
was built in 1856, you can still see church building today.
the visit drive out the same way you entered this peninsula and turn left on
the main road to Hana, as you continue to drive east on the main road there is
a viewing point on the left side of the road. From here you can get a good view
of the village below, the fields of Taro and the peninsula.
Halfway to Hana Stand (mile
have many other options for fresh baked banana bread and smoothies along the
Road to Hana but, this stop is probably the nicest and largest among all.
Upper Waikani Falls (mile
fall also known as the 3 Bears, near the bridge you can find enough room only for
2-3 cars, but it's a no parking zone, you need to park up the road and walk
down to the bridge and from there down to the falls.
falls are nice, and you have a swimming pool at the bottom of the waterfall.
Waianapanapa State Park
(mile mark 32)
State Park features a black sand beach nested in an area where lava rocks meet
the ocean, you can also see a sea arch and lava cave. This is one of the must
stop attractions of the Road to Hana.
not only black sand beach with turquoise ocean water that is good for swimming
but also the area around the beach is nice to hike and explore. There are a few
small caves and lava tubes, one is just on the right side of the beach.
very popular stop just before reaching Hana, people come here manly to enjoy
the black sand beach and explore the surrounding, plan for at least 1hr stop at
The town of Hana
a very small sleepy town, looks like it did not change much for many years, but
this is it’s charm.
of Hana is considered as the "Real Hawaii" experience. You can’t find
many stores or other “tourist attractions” in town. This area is rich in Hawaiian
history and culture, nice, not crowded, beaches and many other things to
are reaching Hana as part of your day trip is the perfect spot to stop and
recharge (gas, food).
town is located above the large ocean bay, there is a road leading to the ocean
front and the Bay Beach Park, a black sand beach and picnic tables as well as a
large boat pier at the end of road.
south side of town, you can find the Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach. You need to park
your car where it allowed, the short hiking trail is a little difficult to find
at the grassy section. A short hike down to the small secluded cove covered
with the red send. There is a natural lava barrier that protect the beach from
the storming ocean waves.
Hamoa and Koki Beach (mile
Beach is located about 2.2 miles outside of Hana town traveling south. The
access road is located just south of a large cinder cone. When coming from Hana
turn left into Haneoo road and after short drive you will arrive at Koki Beach
(parking is on your left) additional short drive will take you to Hamoa Beach.
dark red sand at this location is a result of the erosion of the nearby cinder
cone volcano. Koki Beach is famous Hana surf beach for the local surfer’s
community. This beach is not recommended for swimming due to the rip tides and
front of Koki Beach there is a small island called Alau. This pyramid shaped
island has several coconut palms on top.
the best sandy beach near Hana and preferable and safer place to swim. Although
it has sand, the beach is not protected by the reef so the waves that do get in
there may outlet water current. So make sure you watch the wave condition when
Beach has street parking, but make sure to look for street signs that dictate
where you can park.
St Peter Church (4 miles
much to do here except taking picture of this nice church and nearby graveyard.
You can drive up the church from one side and keep going from the other side that
connects back to the main road.
Wailua Falls (mile marker
45, markers started getting down in this section of the road)
mile 45 on the Hana Highway, after it changes into Highway number 31 you'll
reach one of the most gorgeous falls in all of Hawaii, Wailua Falls.
Falls cascades 80 feet through the jungle just near the road. You can see it
from the bridge and there is a small parking lot on the left side right after crossing
the bridge. There is a short walking path to the base of the falls, it starts
near the bridge.
Oheo Gulch (mile marker 41)
Oheo Gulch, also known as the Kipahulu Area, is the lower ocean side section of
Haleakala Volcano National Park.
Oheo Gulch region is home to lush jungle landscapes, few hiking trails, many
waterfalls, river pools, volcanic rocks, ocean coast, and more.
Trail that is in this park section is one of the most rewarding hikes and it is
among my best Maui highlights list.
dedicated a separate blog to this park.
Additional places to
explore before Hana (we did not visit):
·Secret Lagoon off Hana Highway
·Secret Lava Tube Cave
·Pua'a Ka'a Falls
·Secret Lava Tube Cave
·Hāna Lava Tube
·Kahanu Garden, National Tropical