How to Drive along the Road to Hana in Maui
One of our favorite things to do in Maui is drive the Road to Hana. The road, also known as Hana Highway, stretches around the East coast of Maui entering through the town of Paia. Stops vary from hiking, waterfalls, gorgeous breathtaking views and even some Hawaiian history. We’ve gone a few times and have come up with some of the best places to stop!
Before you go, check out everything you need to pack for Hawaii here: Packing Checklist for Hawaii
Get your FREE Road to Hana guide by clicking here: FREE ROAD TO HANA GUIDE
Before you Begin
Print or save this post in your notes, or something you can access offline, at some points the cell service is enough to make a call (sometimes there is "no service" available) but too low to access the internet, let alone search for your next stop.
When getting your rental car, grab a tour guide with a map in the back and map out about 6 stops. We have more stops below, but you can't do all of these in one day. We highly recommend to stop at the following and amount of time you should spend:
Coconut Glen's ice cream (15 mins)
Lava Tubes (30 mins)
Black Sand Beach (30 mins)
Red Sand Beach (30 mins)
Haleakala National Park (2 hours - if you do the long hike)
Make sure you bring water (especially for the hike) and snacks for the car. Go for a swim! Don't forget to bring towels, swimsuits, sneakers, flip flops, and sunscreen.
TRY OUR FREE ROAD TO HANA GUIDE - INCLUDES A PACKING LIST: CLICK HERE
Start early and come back before dark, the roads aren't well lit at night. Jeeps are the best for driving some of these trails. Total drive time is about 5 hours driving to Haleakala National Park and back. Of course, with so many amazing stops and fabulous views, it doesn't seem that long!
We've driven around Hana both ways. The rental car companies advise you not to come "the back way" to prevent wear and tear on the unpaved, rocky, jagged roads. Here’s what the back way to Hana looks like (before it gets extremely bumpy for 20+ minutes):
I also used these sites to guide us along the highway:
http://mauiguidebook.com/ - great info for Hana, and all things Maui
It rains more often on Hana Highway, make sure you check the latest weather predictions and Road Closures - before you head out.
FIRST STOP: HALFWAY TO HANA
Before you even start, the Halfway to Hana stand has great banana bread, if you want to give it a try!
BEST SIGHTS TO SEE ON THE ROAD TO HANA:
The numbers below represent the mile marker on the road to Hana (they are markers you'll see along the side of the road).
#2 Twin Falls
Park in the lot and you can hike down to the falls. If you keep to the left split you'll find Ho’olawa li’ili’i, if you head up to the top, there is another waterfall Ho’olawa nui.
The Twin Falls have split waterfalls and a rope was put in between them so you can swing into the water! Many people love to swim here during the day, the water is pretty cold, though!
Parking: Has a small parking lot, or you can park along the road. Make sure you turn in your mirrors, those roads are narrow and we've seen them get knocked off! Don't let it happen to you. They also have a snack stand and porta-potties.
#7 Rainbow Eucalyptus
The largest grove of rainbow eucalyptus is located near mile marker 7. They can be seen along the Highway but these beautiful trees are scattered throughout the drive. Some other locations include the Ke’anae Arboretum and some areas right before Hana town.
Per wikipedia: Patches of outer bark are shed annually at different times, showing a bright green inner bark. This then darkens and matures to give blue, purple, orange and then maroon tones. The previous season’s bark peels off in strips to reveal a brightly colored new bark below. The peeling process results in vertical streaks of red, orange, green, blue, and gray. The colours of the bark are not as intense outside the tree's native range.
The bark on the trees are bright colors no need to stop, but look out for the alongside the road.
#19 Upper Waikani Falls - 3 Bear Falls
You can see from driving along the road (pictured above). There are so many waterfalls, I don't think this one is worthy of an actual stop.
Parking: There are spots to pull over on the side of the road.
#27 1/2 Coconut Glen’s Ice Cream
Organic, vegan ice cream made with coconut milk from coconuts found in the jungles of Maui. I was skeptical of the words "vegan" and "coconut milk" but it was quite delicious. Also, they serve their ice cream in coconut shells! We went here on our way back, just note their hours when you go.
Check out our full review here: ICE CREAM REVIEW: Coconut Glen’s Ice Cream
Parking: Has a parking lot.
#31 Lava Tubes or Ka'leleku Cave
Just past mile marker 31, turn left onto Ulaino Road. Drive 0.4 miles to the “Hana Lave Tube” visitor center entrance. The entry fee is $12 (bring cash) and you are providing a quick overview with a map and a flashlight.
The tube is about 1/3 mile long, formed when massive lava flows cool off on the surface, creating an insulating conduit with lave flowing underneath. During eruptions the cave served as a channel for the lava to travel along underground until it reached the ocean. In the tubes, you will find lavacicles, stalacites, and a few skylights along the way. We spent about 30 minutes to the end and back.
Above ground, there is a maze full of ti plants (a maroon color) that you can try out!
Parking: There is a parking lot.
#31 Kahanu Garden - National Tropical Botanical Garden
Address: 650 Ulaino Rd Hana,HI
Just down the street from the Lava Tubes (Just past mile marker 31, turn left onto Ulaino Road) lives a lush botanical gardens with waterfalls & coastal views. Per their website: Plant collections from the Pacific Islands are the focus here, particularly plants of value to the Hawaiian people as well as other cultures of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. Kahanu Garden is situated in the storied land of Honoma'ele and home to Pi'ilanihale Heiau, a massive lava-rock structure that is believed to be the largest ancient man made structure in Polynesia.
You can take a guided tour or just wander around (which we did for about 30-45 minutes). Tour info per their website:
Tour Times: 11:00 a.m. Monday – Saturday. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day
Tour Duration: 2 hours
Ticket Prices: Adults (13 and older) - $25 | Children (12 and younger) - free
#32 Waianapanapa State Wayside Park - Black Sand Beach
This is the main black sand beach with a few sea caves to explore. It’s really different to see the black sand between your toes! There are a couple of paths that you can get a little hike and take a moment to stretch your legs! You can even bring food and eat at the picnic tables.
Parking: There is a parking lot and bathrooms!
Hana Town stretches for a few miles and here are some sites you can't miss!
#50 Hamoa Beach
One of Hawaii's most spectacular beaches hidden on the beautiful Koki Peninsula.
Parking and Directions: Drive south on Hana Hwy. Drive past Hana and turn left on Haneoo Road which your drive along through a neighborhood until you see the ocean and an area with cars parked along the road. Park and walk down the hill to the beach.
Lunch @ Hana Ranch
Address: 5670 Hana Hwy, Hana, HI 96713
The Hana Ranch Burger Food Truck is located on this cute ranch serving delicious burgers and smoothies. Also, this might be a good restroom stop, they have porta-potties in the back. There are also a bunch of horses hanging around the ranch!
Parking: There is a parking lot.
Kaihalulu: Red Sand Beach
A gorgeous private red sand cove that requires a quick steep hike. Some parts of the hike are very narrow, take it slow and easy, be mindful of where you are stepping. Also, this can be a nude beach, everyone was fully clothed when we went.
How To Find Red Sand Beach:
There aren't any signs to guide you to the beach, so here are step by step directions (see map below):
Heading South on Hana Hwy make a left onto Hauoli Road.
We parked in front of the Hana Youth Center on Uakea Road - 5091 Uakea Rd, Hana, HI 96713
From the Youth Center, walk South on Uakea Road to a small field on your left side. Go across the field and look for a trail - many have caught onto this path.
Head down towards the water and after you make it down a steep incline, take the path on your left that goes up and wraps around to the Red Sand Cove on the other side.
The trail is covered with pine needles and is slippery (I slipped), and there are several points where a slip could result in catastrophe. I highly recommend wearing sneakers to get up and over, but have your flip flops ready for the red sand!
Right around here there was a Shave Ice truck! Be on the lookout!
#41 Haleakala National Park - Kipahulu
Continuing past Hana you will find the entrance for Haleakala National park to the Kipahulu Visitor Center. There is a lot to do here, it was a better visit when we went the non-traditional, back way Road to Hana. Here you can stop for a few hikes, including one to Waimoku Falls (if you are up for it and have enough daylight) or a visit to the Seven Sacred Pools.
We opted to hike the Pipiwai Trail, which is a 4 mile roundtrip hike through the bamboo forests, ending at the falls.
PIPIWAI TRAIL - BAMBOO FOREST
I would consider this a more advanced hike as the terrain varies wildly filled with stunning sites and you spend some part of it walking through thick bamboo forest (Pipiwai Trail through Bamboo Forest). I loved the sound of the bamboo stems hitting each other in the wind.
Once we arrived towards the end of the bamboo forest there was closed sign due to the fallen trees along the trail ahead. Apparently if you get caught you get a $100 fine but EVERYONE was doing it. Sometimes a ranger patrols the post to prevent people from passing.
There were signs to follow a trail to get to the fall. There were quite a few places where you had to cross streams and jump onto rocks, but that just added to my "adventurous" life status. At the end you'll stand in front of a huge 400ft waterfall that is Waimoku Falls.
#42 'Ohe'o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) - in Haleakala National Park
Around mile marker 42, look real quick to catch a glimpse of ‘Ohe‘o Gulch, a cleft in the island that has layered pools and numerous waterfalls on the east end of Haleakala National Park. Enter through Haleakala National park to the Kipahulu Visitor Center and take the Kuloa Point Loop trail to hike down to them. The few times we've made it here always fell after a rainstorm which was great for the waterfalls, but deemed to dangerous to swim in due to rockslides.
Heading Back Before Dark
After Haleakala, we went back the way we came, stopping for ice cream halfway at Coconut Glen’s (see above Mile Marker 27.5) and then had dinner at Mama's Fish House (make a reservation ahead of time on Opentable). You can continue on the road to Hana from Haleakala National Park, but the roads are very bumpy, narrow (1 lane most of the time) and unkempt.
TRY OUR FREE ROAD TO HANA GUIDE: CLICK HERE
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