Honomanu Bay delights Hana Highway drivers from top-down pullouts, but many miss the rewarding first-hand experience of its black-sand beach. That’s on account of its unmarked, somewhat-rough access road and lower-profile status compared to many other Road to Hana attractions. But it’s well worth sparing a bit of time to visit, given the secluded vibe and lush beauty.
To the clockwise-traveling driver on the Hana Highway, Honomanu Bay offers the first direct ocean access along the route since the famous windsurfing hotspot of Hookipa Beach Park. But the anonymity of the access road means many drive right on by. Shortly after nabbing some stirring views of the bay itself, you’ll find the turnoff at about mile marker 14.
The road down to Honomanu Bay’s beachfront cove is partly pavement, partly dirt. A little on the rough side, it’s best suited to 4WD vehicles, though carefully handled regular passenger cars often manage it just fine. (As anywhere on Maui’s windward coast, major rainstorms may complicate things.) If you’re unsure, park along the Hana Highway pullouts near the start of the Honomanu Bay road and just walk it down. There’s also a designated Hanauma Bay Parking Lot: here.
In fact, walking rather than driving the roughly half-mile-long road is arguably the better way to go about your visit altogether: It gives you the chance to stretch your legs along your mostly car-bound Road to Hana odyssey, after all. Luxuriant tropical vegetation—including some bamboo stands—hem in the road, heightening your anticipation of hitting the surf.
Honomanu Bay’s dark and cobbled beach lies at the mouth of the Honomanu Valley, which strikes in a steep-walled fashion off the northeastern slopes of Haleakala. This significant chasm was an important agricultural and religious landmark for Native Hawaiians, and its interior reach includes heiau burials.
The stream draining the Honomanu Valley meets the Pacific at the Honomanu Bay beach. The freshwater pool marking the mouth is a popular place for families with young kids to splash around. The actual waters of the bay are rocky and on the rough side, especially in winter, and can include significant rip currents. You won’t find lifeguards here, either, meaning Honomanu Bay isn’t really a big-time swimming destination.
Practiced surfers, however, find enticing and challenging breaks here. And you’ll often see locals fishing.
Don’t expect much in the way of sand-between-your-toes R&R here. The gravelly, bouldery bayfront is not really a place to whip out the beach towel. Instead, Honomanu Bay is a spot for soaking up Road to Hana beauty. The scenery, after all, is superb: rugged and verdant slopes easing down to the Pacific breakers, forming a narrow, dreamy coastal nook in the process. Set aside a little time for this detour!