If you want to take a quintessential road trip through paradise, Road to Hana is the way to go. On this 64-mile trip, you get to enjoy the untouched beauty of Maui, seeing for yourself just why the preservation of Hawaiian land and culture is so important. With the right approach, the experience lets you enjoy the magic of a simpler time and truly immerse yourself in all the island has to offer. Ready to get started? Use this guide to plan out your perfect Road to Hana adventure.
All You Need to Know About the Hana Highway
Perhaps better known as the Road to Hana, the Hana Highway goes on for over 64 miles, stretching from Kahului to Hana. Much of the route passes through the island rainforests, although you’ll also get to see the waterfront from time to time.
The speed limit stays at 25 MPH or less, allowing you to take in all the wonderful sights, sounds, and smells of paradise. The low-speed limit also helps everyone stay safe while navigating the narrow, winding roads. It’s also helpful to go slow, so you’ll be ready to navigate the 59 old bridges. Most of them were built in 1910 or earlier and only allow one car to pass at a time.
Without any stops, the trip takes about two and a half hours. All the stops along the way are a must, however, so you should at least plan to spend the day exploring this route. Better yet, make it a weekend trip by booking overnight accommodations in Hana. With that move, you get to explore all Hana has to offer before heading back to town.
On your return trip, you can either go back the way you came. Or loop around the rest of the island by heading south on the Hana Highway. The first option lets you stop by any areas you missed the first time around, while the second treats you to a whole new array of amazing views. So, there’s no one right choice.
What to Bring on Your Road Trip Through Paradise
Preparation is key is making the most of your travels down the Road to Hana. To get ready to have the time of your life, you should fill up the gas tank of your rental car all the way. Then, get money out at an ATM because most of the stops only take cash. After that, grab a map just in case your phone doesn’t cooperate on any given stretch of the drive.
Other things to bring on your road trip include:
- Light jacket
- Hiking shoes with good socks
- Reef-safe SPF 50+ sunblock
- Sunglasses with UV protection
- Wide-brimmed sunhat
- Locally sourced bug spray
- Camera in a waterproof case
- First aid kit
Don’t forget to pack plenty of water for the road, so you can stay hydrated between stops. Snacks are also a good idea. You cannot always count on farmstands, eateries, and the like being open when hunger strikes. Pack protein-rich deliciousness, like protein bars, trail mix, and nuts, plus fresh fruit. Then, aim to replenish your snack hoard at whatever farmstands you encounter on your travels.
Most Popular Accommodations Near Hana Town
For a truly leisurely Road to Hana experience, book your accommodations before heading out on your trip. You have many excellent lodging options, including resorts, bungalows, and condos.
The most popular places to stay near Hana Town include:
- Bamboo Inn on Hana Bay
- Hana-Maui Resort
- Heavenly Hana Paradise
- Hana Ocean Palms Bungalow
- Hana Inn Maui
Since rooms fill up fast, especially during the tourist season, keep an open mind while booking your room. You’re bound to have a wonderful experience no matter where you land – and you’ll be back out exploring before you know it anyway.
Can’t Miss Experiences Along the Road to Hana
As you travel the Road to Hana, you’ll encounter many interesting stops, such as:
Paia Town (Mile Marker 0)
As you head out of Kahului on the Hana Highway, you’ll quickly make it to Paia Town. Since it’s the last town you’ll encounter until you make it to Hana, take a moment to fill up your gas tank. Then, set out to fill up your belly with a tasty breakfast to start your day outright. After that, you just need to grab drinks and snacks for the road, and then get on with your travels.
Twin Falls (Mile Marker 2)
Twin Falls is a popular landmark that sets the tone for the rest of the trip. The hike down to the falls is less than a mile, so it won’t take much time out of your day. Upon arriving at the bottom, you’ll see two gorgeous cascading waterfalls pouring into a secluded pool surrounded by ferns and other tropical plants.
Waikamoi Ridge Trail (Mile Marker 9.5)
Waikamoi Ridge Trail is a great place to stretch your legs a bit and explore paradise. The dual loop trail will take you on an hour hike through the spectacularly beautiful rainforest. As you hike along, you’ll get to see stunning eucalyptus trees, bamboo, and so much more. Birdsong often fills the air, plus you might even get to see geckos and other wildlife that call the island home.
Garden of Eden Arboretum (Mile Marker 10.5)
Although you have to pay for admission, the Garden of Eden Arboretum lets you see all the best sights in paradise. Lush rainforest vegetation serves as the star of the show, of course, especially the old mango tree at the center of it all. Beyond that, you get to enjoy exquisite views of Puohokamoa Falls and the oceanside.
Kaumahina State Wayside Park (Mile Marker 12)
If it’s time for a bathroom break, a stop at Kaumahina State Wayside Park is a must. With its full facilities, this park gets a lot of action, but the restrooms, picnic tables, and trash cans are not the only reason. The walking paths are fun to explore, too, especially if you want yet another chance to gaze in awe at the oceanside.
Upper Waikani Falls (Mile Marker 19)
Lovingly known as the Three Bears, Upper Waikani Falls beautifully lives up to its name with its triple waterfall display. The three 70-foot-tall waterfalls gently cascade over the rocks and into the green pool below. Beyond that, the waterworks sit framed by ultra-vivid vegetation, creating the perfect backdrop for all your photos.
Puaa Kaa State Wayside Park (Mile Marker 22)
Puaa Kaa State Wayside Park gives you another chance for a bathroom break, plus an opportunity to swim in a stunning waterfall pool. After paddling all around the pool, you can climb out for a picnic lunch before continuing on your way. Although it’s usually only used as a quick stop, you’ll undoubtedly feel tempted to stay for the entire day.
Kahanu Gardens (Mile Marker 31)
At the Kahanu Gardens, you get to see even more tropical vegetation growing at its best upon paying the price of admission. Then, the land takes you on an in-depth exploration of the history of the region, complete with a view of an ancient temple. Want to learn all you can about Hawaiian history? Pay for the guided tour.
Kaeleku Cave (Mile Marker 31)
Have you always wondered what it’s like to walk through a lava tube? If so, you’ll want to stop at Kaeleku Cave. You’ll need to pay admission to enjoy the full experience, but it’s well worth getting to see the power of the Earth up close. If you have little ones in tow, they’ll love to conquer the maze as well. Be sure to use their bathrooms before hitting the road once again.
In addition to all the attractions along the Hana Highway, don’t forget to pay tribute to the many bridges you cross. These ancient structures make the trip possible, of course, plus they often have waterfalls and other amazing features in their midst.
Where to Fuel Up for More Island Adventures
Whenever you start feeling snacky, keep your eye out for these awesome stops where you can fuel up for more island adventures.
- Maui’s Own Fresh Fruit: 1961 Hana Hwy, Haiku 96708
- Pe’ahi Farm Stand and Café: 3454 Hana Hwy, Haiku 96708
- Huelo Lookout: 7600 Hana Hwy, Haiku 96708
- Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread: 210 Keanae Rd, Ke‘Anae 96708
- Aloha Aina BBQ: 2250 Hana Hwy, Haiku 96708
- Halfway to Hana: 13710 Hana Hwy, Haiku 96708
- Uncle Harry’s Marketplace: 14175 Hana Hwy, Haiku 96708
- Hana Harvest: 800 Hana Hwy, Hana 96713
- Coconut Glen’s: 1200 Hana Hwy, Haiku 96708
- Jaws Country Store: 4320 Hana Hwy, Haiku 96708
- Nahiku Marketplace: 1546 HI-360, Hana 96713
- Hasegawa General Store: 5165 Hana Hwy, Hana 96713
Keep in mind that new farmstands and eateries pop up along the Road to Hana all the time. So, go on your trip with an open mind and explore all the fantastic spots you discover.
As for literally fueling up your vehicle with gas, you’ll need to start by getting a full tank in Paia Town. Then, fill back up once you get to Hana, so you can continue on your travels without an issue.
Top Things to Do When You Arrive in Hana
Upon arriving in Hana, you’ll find a whole world of amazing things to see, do, and experience. You might want to start with a meal at one of the many excellent restaurants in town, like Thai Food by Pranee, Kilo’s Kitchen, or I Lava Tacos. If you’re too worn out for all that, you can always grab a meal at your accommodations of choice, and then simply enjoy the gorgeous views all around.
Once you’re re-energized for more adventures, you might enjoy:
- Exploring the Hana Lava Tube while learning about local history and culture
- Visiting the ultra-gorgeous Black Sand Beach in Waianapanapa State Park
- Going on an educational journey at the Hana Cultural Center & Museum
- Joining a snorkeling tour to see all the ocean wonders in Hana Bay
- Swimming, building sandcastles, and sunbathing at Hamoa Beach
- Gazing in awe at the Seven Sacred Pools located in the Oheo Gulch
- Spending hours upon hours exploring the Hasegawa General Store
Don’t forget to take lots of photos at every stop. You’ll definitely want to capture your memories of exploring the Road to Hana. Then, when you do it all over again in the future, you can recreate the photos and marvel at how well they preserve this wonderful stretch of paradise.
Tips for Making the Most of Your Road Trip
If you want to have a fantastic time without getting into any trouble, keep all these things in mind:
- Take it slow and aim to simply explore while enjoying the history, land, and culture
- Abide by the posted speed limits and watch for oncoming cars when going over the bridges
- Stick to the trails and do not disturb any plants and animals while exploring the parklands
- Act as a steward of the land – aka pack out whatever you pack in plus extra trash you find
- Always watch for no trespassing signs and abide by the warning to stay off private property
- Never swim at the base of a waterfall due to the danger of falling rocks and lost buoyancy
- Apply reef-safe SPF 50+ sunblock at least every two hours during your trip to avoid a sunburn
Worried about missing anything along the way? Consider using an app offering self-guided audio tours of the Road to Hana. Shaka Guide offers a Classic Road to Hana Tour that leads you through all the top spots to visit along the route.
As you go on your Road to Hana adventures, keep this guide handy as well, so you know just where to find all the top attractions, lodging, and more. But stay open to impromptu excursions just in case you see other amazing opportunities for fun explorations. With that approach, you’re sure to make memories to last a lifetime mile after mile.