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Exploring the Road to Hana

Paia, Hawaii

4.3/5
based on 8 reviews

Description

Added by Matt Ford

Amazing views. A unique driving experience. Duration: the whole day. Waterfalls. Beaches. Fields.

Start near Paia on Highway 36 and head east. The road is famous for its many twists and turns, so consider taking lots of breaks to get some fresh air and avoid getting car sick. There are many stops along the way, from ice cream to medium length hikes.

Some of the Best Stops:

  • Coconut Glen's: the best coconut milk ice cream you will ever have. Glen serves up healthy, tasty ice cream from his unique location at mile marker 27.5.
  • Wai'anapanapa State Park: explore the lava tubes and swim at Black Rock Beach.
  • Pools at Ohe'o: enjoy a short hike through a bamboo forest before arriving at the falls of Mahahiku, you can also swim in the pools below the falls.
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Features

Chillin
Photography
Swimming
Hiking
Beach
Family Friendly
Picnic Area
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Swimming Hole

Reviews

First, do not attempt to do the Road to Hana in one day if you truly want to experience it's magic. There are so many wonderful beaches and hikes that two days minimum is required in my opinion. Staying in Hana allows you to take your time and truly enjoy this remote paradise. Second (and especially if you only have one day) start as early as possible! Especially if driving from west Maui. One tip we received that was helpful was to start at the top and work your way down. Most people do the opposite of course. There are too many wonderful spots to review here but the "Maui Revealed" books are very helpful with descriptions and tips for visiting this area.

If you like very touristy things with lots of traffic and crowds, then this is for you! If you are amused by a 10ft waterfall with 27 people taking pictures in the middle of the road, this is definitely for you. We started on the north side to get to Hana and came back to town via the south road. The roads are cool and not as sketchy as people say. Coconut Glen's is a place to stop on the north side for some coconut ice cream. Going to the beach and hiking the Makahiku trail to the waterfall was the best part of the 8-10 hr day. There's better things to do on Maui than sit in a car all day!

The ‘Road to Hana is a gorgeous journey along the wilder coast of Maui. Yes it is a bit touristy and yes it can be quite busy but there are just too many sights to see that you will not want to miss. There are numerous overlooks and waterfalls, the black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana Lava Tube, the red sand beach at Kaihalulu Beach, Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe’o Gulch, fruit stands, and more. It’s a full day adventure. So leave early, fill up with gas, pack a picnic lunch, and hit the road. Be forewarned about the road though. It is winding and narrow with a plethora of hairpin turns and many one-lane bridges. If you continue past Hana (about 4 miles) the road necks down to a one-lane road with many blind curves. If you plan on taking the Hana Highway and connecting with the Piilani Highway to drive all the way around the southern portion island, the section of one-lane highway lasts about 20 miles but there is section of highway sandwiched in here that is extremely narrow and is a pothole paradise. It lasts about 8 miles and varies between deteriorated, potholed asphalt and gravel. The southern portion of the island is very remote and transitions from the lush rain forest to a more arid climate. It’s beautiful in its own right plus you can escape the crowds. If you do decide to drive this rugged section of the island and have a rental vehicle, check your agreement as you might be voiding it.

The road to Hana was an experience. We bought a $15 CD at the gas station to give us a "play by play" along the way - totally worth it. The ride itself is somewhat unnerving if you're not the one driving with tight turns, often one lane, and close to the cliff edge. Otherwise, very scenic passing local spots, waterfalls, and even guys jumping out of the forest with some "Maui Wowie." The stops along the way as mentioned in the review are worth it - especially the lava tubes and state park at the end. Otherwise, Hana itself can be disappointing (but maybe because there's all this buildup all day driving to it).

When we go to Maui, Hana is my favorite place. I always wish we planned more time to spend there. I can't recommend it enough.

The drive on the Road to Hana is stunning, winding through the rainforest with lots of stops for food and for gorgeous views. Make sure to put aside the majority of the day, as it's quite long and the road is windy, so you'll want to take your time. I agree with Brian - we went the whole way around, and though it's interesting at first, the road gets difficult and there aren't many stops after the Seven Sacred Pools (this was my favourite stop on the way through though!). I recommend turning around here and heading back. Try to leave early to beat the traffic, as it's very popular! Mahalo!

The Road to Hana is not for the faint of heart, as parts of it is one lane and has hairpin turns. However, this is not to say it's a difficult drive. Exercise caution, obey the signs, and you will be fine. This is a very popular road for tourists, and you will see a lot of small shops on the way aiming at reeling some tourists in. Overall, though, it is a very beautiful drive with dozens of waterfalls and hikes. I recommend driving it from Paia all the way to the Kipahulu Visitor Center, which is the start of the Pipiwai Trail to the Seven Sacred Pools and Waimoku Falls. Do not go any farther than this (onto the Piilani Highway) unless you are prepared to drive even scarier one lane roads on the sides of a sea cliff that are very rugged and at some points unpaved.

I am not a huge fan of being in the car in Hawaii, but if you feel the need to go for a long drive, it does not get much better than this. Paia is one of the coolest small towns on the map, and it is surreal to be surrounded by some of the best watermen on the planet. If you are unfamiliar with this area, google "Jaws"...the wave.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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