The Ultimate Guide for the Road to Hana

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The road to Hana is a 65-mile stretch of road that runs from the coast of West Maui to East Maui, one of the Hawaiian islands, and it is full of lush greenery, seascapes, and waterfalls.

The cliff views on this drive are unbelievable and the stops along the road make driving the road to Hana quite an experience, however, it can also be treacherous if you aren’t well prepared.

With this guide, you will feel confident to drive the Road to Hana when in Maui as this is a great 1-2 day excursion that you and your family can explore.

How to Prepare for the Drive on the Road to Hana

Where and When to Start on the Road to Hana

Mile marker zero starts just past the little town of Paia near Kahului airport. Depending on your starting point, the drive on the road to Hana can be 7 to 9 hours round trip because this road is full of 620 curves and 59 one-lane bridges (crazy!).

Starting the drive at mile marker zero before 8 AM should beat most of the traffic, otherwise your drive-time may be extended if you want to hit all your must-see sights.

You also don’t want to leave so early that you miss out on some of the delicious banana bread stands, which is what we did, oops!

You can also gas up and buy last-minute snacks in Paia before heading out on your trip as this is the last place for gas before hitting Hana.

A map depicting the Road to Hana, mile by mile map.

Guides and Maps for the Road to Hana

Keep in mind that there is little to no cell phone service on the road to Hana so make sure you do a quick study of the map to drive all the way through to the town of Hana.

You can also download the app called Gypsy Guide and purchase the Hana Guide under the Hawaiian islands to narrate your drive as you go; this app has a built-in GPS that can be used without cell service.

It also has recommended places to stop on the way to Hana as well as Hawaiian history on the way back to West Maui. In my opinion, this narration guide is so worth the purchase!

Two Cell phones, one displaying the offerings for the Gypsy guide and the other showing how Gypsy utilizes the GPS system

Stops and Safety for the Road to Hana

There are stops for bathroom breaks as well as little shops for banana bread or coffee.

When pulling over for a view, make sure to get over as much as possible and watch out for cars as some will speed through those curves. Cars will yield or slow down when they get to a one-lane bridge, but it’s hard to see around the corner with the narrower curves.

For a 1-day round trip drive, you need to head back to West Maui before or at 4 PM; do not drive this road in the dark.

A view of the menus in one of the coffee shops along the road to Hana

Packing Tips for the Road to Hana

On our drive back to West Maui, there was a downpour of rain most of the way. Take precautions and pack a raincoat or a poncho just in case it rains on you during a stop on the road.

Motion sickness is a real thing for this drive-you may be very uncomfortable as some of the curves are very narrow and windy.

Even though I don’t have motion sickness, I cautiously prepared Bonine just in case but never needed it.

While on the trails, you’ll want to apply sunscreen and insect repellent. If you plan on swimming, pack a swimsuit.

5 Must-See Sights on the Road to Hana

As you do your research and plan for the road to Hana, you can choose if you would like to see all five of Gypsy’s recommendations (the app) or create your own itinerary for your drive. Here I will provide my noteworthy stops.

Side note: These stops are listed for a 2-day itinerary and will be noted on which day we stopped, but if you are planning to do a round-trip drive in one day, make all your stops on the way to Hana so that you can just head straight back to West Maui when you leave.

1. Ke’anae Peninsula (around mile marker 16)

Before the halfway mark to Hana, you will come upon the Ke’anae peninsula where you can park your car, get out and walk around to see the lava rock that sticks up like fingers. You will need to veer off the road to Hana to get to the peninsula.

Historically this area used to produce a lot of taro, which is a root vegetable used in Hawaiian cuisine.

On April 1, 1946, the whole area was almost completely destroyed by a tsunami. Because it was April 1st, the villagers didn’t believe that the tsunami warning was true, and they thought it was just an April fool’s joke.

Unfortunately, this caused the little village to lose children and teachers’ lives. The only building left standing was a church that was built with lava rock.

Today it has a very small population. Auntie Sandy also has a banana stand here that is said to be really good and you should check it out. Unfortunately, we got here too early and the shop wasn’t open yet.

Ke’anae Peninsula was our first stop on the first day to Hana.

This church was built with lava rock and was the last building standing during the tsunami of 1976. Found when turning off the road to Hana.

2. Wailua Falls (mile marker 45)

if you are going to stop for any waterfalls, Wailua Falls is the one. There is a nice parking area just a few feet after the falls.

You can get out of your car and take a picture in front of the falls or even walk on the little trail to get a closer look. Wailua falls is definitely a favorite in Maui.

This was our second stop on the first day.

A view from the the road to Hana of Wailua falls

3. Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala National Park (mile marker 42)

After you visit the Wailua waterfalls, you will want to head straight to the Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala National Park.

Pro-Tip: You should start this 4-mile round-trip hike around 1 PM at the latest because there may be rainfall and you do not want to be up here in the dark.

You do have to pay a $35 fee for parking, but this ticket is good for three days if you decide to do the sunset or sunrise at the Haleakala summit.

Make sure to wear nice hiking boots or non-slippery shoes because when there is rainfall the trail becomes very muddy and slippery. For someone who is not an avid hiker, I would categorize this hike as moderate.

On the Pipiwai Trail, you will see mango trees (not sure if they’re edible, but we saw people trying them), and you will come across an old and very large Banyan tree (yes, it can hold your weight if you want to sit on it), and you will walk through a bamboo forest to get to Waimoku Falls.

After the falls, you will then turn around and hike your way back to the parking lot. My favorite part was listening to the bamboo trees bump against each other; the sound was so relaxing!

4. Koki Beach (mile marker 51)

On the way back to Hana after the Pipiwai hike, you can stop at Koki beach. This is not the beach to swim in because of its choppy waves and lack of lifeguards, but it does have red sand which attracts tourists to its sandy shores.

There is also a food stand here where you can get Huli Huli chicken or ribs and have a picnic with a view of the ocean. Looking out into the ocean you can also see a tiny island called Alau that is cone-shaped with a coconut palm tree on top.

5. Wai’anapanapa State Park (mile marker 32)

The biggest draw to the Wai’anapanapa state park is the black sand beach. Even though it is referred to as black sand, it actually looks more like little black pebbles, which makes my heart happy as you know I’m not the biggest fan of sand.

The color of the sand or pebbles was created by volcanic materials and lava fragments several hundred years ago.

This beach also has strong waves and jellyfish so it may not be best for swimming. But you can explore the area as there are hiking trails, a blowhole, and sea arches. The panoramic view of the whole beach is beautiful and worth a picture.

Keep in mind that you now have to make reservations for the state park and pay a $20 fee.

We went to this state park on our second day on the road; it was our first stop on the way back to West Maui.

If you are planning a one-day round trip drive, plan this park before heading to the Pipiwai Trail.

Other Excursions if You Have Time on the Road to Hana

If you have time left in your one-day round-trip on the road to Hana here are two additional stops that can be fun for anyone. For a two-day itinerary, you can plan this into your trip on the way to Hana or on the way back to West Maui. I will note when we stopped.

Hana Lava Tube (mile marker 31)

The Hana Lava Tube is located about 10 minutes west of Hana. It was created by lava spewing underground and flowing towards the ocean and is now a cave-like tourist attraction.

The fee for the Hana Lava Tube tour is $15 per person, which includes the self-guided Hana lava tube tour, a flashlight cause it’s pitch black down there, and a maze tour. To enter the tube, you have to go down 50 steps for a self-guided tour.

The temperature of the tube ranges between 66 and 72°F throughout the year, and beware it can feel a little bit claustrophobic. On a positive note, we were told that this cave doesn’t have bats!

I was able to go through this tube with cute sandals on, but I would recommend wearing shoes with some grip as it can be slippery down the steps and throughout your walk.

After finishing your self-guided tour, you can come back up to return your flashlight given at the entrance and enjoy a bit of fun through the Red Ti Botanical Maze before heading out.

We decided to do the Hana lava tube tour on our first day after lunch at Koki beach.

Garden of Eden (mile marker 10.5):

The Garden of Eden is family-owned and designed by Alan Bradbury, Maui’s first ISA-certified arborist, and landscape designer.

The 26-acre area truly is a lush sanctuary of greenery and unique flowers. There is also a duck feeding pond and a few peacocks walking around the garden as well.

We arrived at the Garden of Eden before it opened so made the decision to visit on our second day back to West Maui.

As of July 1st, 2021, the entrance fee is $20/adult and $10/child. Full disclosure, we only walked around this garden for about 20 minutes or so as the rain came down hard.

Map of the Road to Hana

Where to Stay in Hana

For a 2-day itinerary, it’s best to stay in the small town of Hana. As we did our research, we decided to go with Airbnb as it was the most cost-effective for us. We stayed at the Hana Inn which provided a secure room and an ensuite bathroom. The owner was very communicative and provided check-in details before our trip.

Depending on your preferences, there are hotels, inns, and Airbnbs available to choose from. As always, make sure you plan as our reservations were one of the few left when we looked.

Places to Eat in Hana

  • Hana Ranch Restaurant: Hana Ranch is part of the Hyatt resort area. It is American food with an island twist – serving burgers, steak, ribs, poke, and various entrees. It is located on the Hana Highway, about a 5-minute drive from downtown Hana. Call to reserve in advance otherwise you may not get a seat for dinner.
  • Hana Food Truck Park: Right across the street from Hana Ranch is a food truck lot. Here, Ae’s Thai Food Kitchen sits, as well as a Poke Bowl truck. Ae’s does have Thai cuisine from Pad Thai to spring rolls, but they also have a separate truck for burgers, sandwiches, smoothies, and other offerings. We decided to eat at Ae’s food truck and it was delicious!
  • Thai Food by Pranee: We saw signs everywhere for this restaurant. Although we decided to go with the food truck, this restaurant was also high on our list. The reviews and pictures of this restaurant were highly rated. If you’re looking for a sit down restaurant for Thai food, Pranee’s may be the place for you!
  • The Bamboo Hale: We stopped here for coffee and a cute Hawaiian painting. The Bamboo Hale is a restaurant beside the coffee shop. They serve pupus, plates from the farm with pulled pork and BBQ beef brisket, and wood-fire pizza. This is definitely a unique restaurant to eat at.
A view of green bananas hanging on a wooden rack, waiting to be ripe.
Drinking coffee with bananas at The Bamboo Hale

Read Next: Best Restaurants in Maui

Wrapping Up The Ultimate Guide for the Road to Hana

When you make it back to West Maui, it may be time to grab a bite to eat. Before heading back to your hotel in West Maui, you can take the chance to explore the little town of Paia.

You can walk around the main street and enjoy the shops as well as restaurants. We got lunch from Paia Fishmarket, which was delicious, and shave ice dessert from Ululani’s Shave Ice restaurant.

However, if you’d like to just head straight back to your hotel, then this is the end of the road to Hana for you.

Have you driven the road to Hana? What was your favorite stop? Anything else to recommend? Comment below.


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My Favorite Travel Tips + Resources

Here is a quick glance at all my go-to travel tips and resources that I use to plan every trip! For more information, check out my travel resources page.

  • Booking flights: I use Google Flights to check all routes and find the best flights. Then I compare them with Expedia (for reward points) and Skyscanner (for the lowest prices) before I book.
  • Accommodations: I love budget-friendly rentals or booking at a hotel where I can earn points. For hotels, I go through Booking.com or book directly with Marriott (for points + rewards). When I travel internationally, I’ll book through Hostelworld for very budget-friendly stays. For vacation rentals, I usually look through Airbnb, but you could also use Vrbo. Expedia also has some great bundles for hotels, flights, and car rentals altogether.
  • Transportation: For travel in the United States, I love renting through Expedia with Enterprise or Thrifty. They have been consistent and provide the best customer service. For international travel, I’ll book through Rome2Rio or Eurail for trains or bus fares.
  • Travel Credit Card: I book all my travel (flights, hotels, car rentals) through my favorite travel credit card. I also use this card for everything on my trip including dining, excursions, and souvenirs. Apart from earning 5x more points towards free travel, there are amazing benefits: no foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement (so I can book worry-free), fraud protection, emergency assistance – it’s really a great deal! Check it out here!
  • Vaccines and Medications: Check the CDC website for updates on necessary vaccines to enter a country, including updates on Covid-19 and recommended places to visit. I recommend getting all the vaccines you need before you go!
  • Tours + Experiences: I absolutely love my tours! Everything from eerie walking ghost tours to food tours, I’ll usually book something every trip either through Viator or GetYourGuide. I also love LastMinute.com for very affordable tickets to theaters and other experiences in Europe.
  • What to Pack: I almost always travel by backpack. For products I like, check out my packing guide page for all the things I take with me on different trips.

3 Comments

  1. Hi Jenny, thank you so much for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed the read!

  2. Loved this place. Great stops.

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