The Ultimate Road to Hana Guide: Helpful Tips + The Best Stops on the Road to Hana

Apr 22, 2020

In this Road to Hana guide we are sharing everything you need to know before you go and the best stops on the Road to Hana, from colored sand beaches, to waterfalls, to delicious food. Ready to experience one of the most beautiful drives? Keep on reading!

The island of Maui holds a very special place in our hearts. We visited for the first time together on our honeymoon back in 2014 and then again in 2018 and each time we have fallen more in love with the island. Similar to the other Hawaiian islands, we love the endless beaches, cute towns, hikes, and delicious food. But the thing that makes Maui stand out to us is the Road to Hana.

Keanane Peninsula

In one (long) day, you can see a crazy amount of beauty on the island, from huge waves, to bamboo forests, to red and black sand beaches, to cliffs and waterfalls. While the drive may not be for everyone, we absolutely love it and during both times driving it, we have found new spots to explore.

However, driving the Road to Hana takes a little bit of research and prep work beforehand. If you start the drive unprepared, you may not enjoy the experience, as some of the best stops on the Road to Hana are hidden, there are limited resources along the drive, and the road itself is a bit of an experience.

But we’re here to help! In this Road to Hana guide, we are sharing important information to know before you go, tips to prepare, and the best stops on the Road to Hana to have an epic adventure!

Heading to Oahu, Maui, or Kauai? Check out our other Hawaii guides:

Reminder: Leave No Trace

Before starting your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave the places you explore even better than you found them.

  1. Plan ahead and prepare: Know the regulations, prepare for different weather conditions, and pack the 10 essentials.
     
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces: Travel on designated trails and camp at designated sites at least 200 ft away from water sources.
     
  3. Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out. Carry ALL trash with you and dig a 6-8″ cat hole for human waste, 200 ft away from water.
     
  4. Leave what you find: Take only pictures, leave only footprints.
     
  5. Minimize campfire impacts: If fires are allowed, use established fire rings. Keep fires small and put out fires completely.
     
  6. Respect wildlife: Do not approach or feed wildlife, keep pets under control, and store your food properly.
     
  7. Be considerate of others: Yield to hikers going uphill and keep noises down.

Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!

About the Road to Hana

The Road to Hana is a 64.4 mile drive along Maui’s East Coast, connecting the town of Kahului to the town of Hana (and beyond!). Despite the drive being only 64.4 miles one way, it takes about 2.5 hours to reach Hana due to the nature of the road, which has 620 curves, 59 bridges (46 of which are one way!), and is very narrow in some spots. 

The road is jokingly nicknamed the “Divorce Highway” because of the nerves and stress it can cause some. But don’t worry, we’ve never had any fights while driving it! And even as a nervous car passenger, I (Kathryn) have never been too scared while driving on the road.

Along the drive, you’ll find many pull-offs with waterfalls, different beaches to explore, roadside stands selling banana bread, and endless lush scenery. And while the drive is called the Road to Hana, Hana isn’t technically the final destination for many. In fact, a handful of the best stops on the Road to Hana are after the town of Hana itself. 

It’s an all day adventure driving the Road to Hana, but for most it’ll be one of the highlights of your trip to Maui! 

How long does the Road to Hana take?

Road to Hana Map

From where we’ll suggest to start the Road to Hana, to where we’ll suggest to end, the drive is around 2.5 hours one way. This does not include the time it takes to get to this starting point from your hotel or Airbnb, all of the stops you’ll make, any traffic, or the drive back. 

When we have done the Road to Hana, it has typically been a 12-15 hour adventure. We would leave before sunrise so that when we reached the beginning of the drive, the sun was rising, and we’d return to our Airbnb in the dark. It’s a crazy long day, but we have always had such a blast! 

While you’re guaranteed to spend about 5 hours driving the Road to Hana, you can make the day as short or as long as you’d like by skipping stops or not driving the entire way. However, as we mentioned above, some of the best Road to Hana stops are after the town of Hana, towards the end of the drive.

PS: Want to drive in style? We highly recommend renting a convertible or jeep for the Road to Hana. It’s extra fun with the wind blowing in your hair!

Staying overnight in Hana

Photo credit: Travaasa Hana

Most people do the Road to Hana in one day, but if you want to experience the Road to Hana without rushing or having to skip many stops, we’d recommend splitting up the drive into two days and staying the night in Hana. 

If you decide to go this route, here are some suggestions of where to stay in Hana! Warning: Hana is not a huge town, so options are a bit more limited.

Airbnbs

  • Option #1: A studio with a small kitchenette 
  • Option #2: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom loft with a full kitchen
  • Option #3: A cute 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom cottage on a farm

PS: If it is your first time staying at an Airbnb, click this link to get $40 off your first stay!

Hotels

Camping

  • Wai’anapanapa State Park: A beautiful black sand beach park close to Hana with cabins and campsites to choose from. Camping permits are required, so plan ahead!
  • Kīpahulu Campground: This campground is located at Haleakala National Park, right at the end of the Road to Hana. It’s first-come, first served, so no reservations are required, but there are only 50 spots, so try to arrive early.

Rent a van!
Our dream for the next time we drive the Road to Hana is to rent a van and split up the drive into two days. As full time van-lifers, we can’t think of a better place to van life than Maui!

We recommend checking out Outdoorsy to find the perfect van rental for you!

Our top Road to Hana tips

There are quite a few things to know before venturing out on the Road to Hana to make sure that you have a safe and fun adventure. Below are our top Road to Hana tips to help you prepare for your trip!

Get an early start! 

As we mentioned above, this is a long day of driving (likely around 12 hours), so it’s important to get an early start, not only to have enough daylight, but to help beat the crowds and tour busses at the popular stops.

We always start the drive in the dark from wherever we are staying on Maui and try to hit the actual Road to Hana right around sunrise. This has given us enough time to drive the entire road, make a bunch of stops, and avoid driving in the dark.

Speaking of driving in the dark, you will not want to drive on the Road to Hana in the dark. With the windiness, drop offs, and narrow sections, it would be a bit dangerous in the dark. Make sure you arrive at your final stop with enough time to make the drive back early enough.

Understand the road conditions

We apologize for being so repetitive, but the Road to Hana is very windy. If you get car sick easily, the Road to Hana may not be a ton of fun for you. We’d suggest taking some dramamine or ginger beforehand to help with any sickness or consider skipping the Road to Hana.

Be flexible

It’s impossible to see everything the Road to Hana has to offer in one day and it’s important to be flexible in case there are traffic jams (very common), it rains (also very common), you make unplanned stops, or if some stops take longer than you thought. 

While we try to go into the Road to Hana with a solid list of places we want to see, we try to be as flexible as possible and just see where the day takes us! 

Know the driving etiquette

There are a handful of driving rules to follow when driving along the Road to Hana to not only stay safe, but to respect the locals that live in the area. 

Honk around sharp turns
There are many twists and turns along the Road to Hana and some are difficult to see around. To help others going the other direction know that you’re coming, let out a honk so that everyone can make the turn safely.

Drive slow
Even though you may be in a fun convertible, drive slow. The roads are narrow and windy, and driving fast can make the road dangerous. You’re on island time, so just relax and enjoy the drive!

Be prepared for traffic jams
During our first time driving the Road to Hana, we got stuck in a traffic jam for 30 minutes. There was some construction going on and we couldn’t move. Some people thought they closed the road (which wasn’t the case) and they turned around, but we stuck it out and got back on the road eventually.

While it caused us to lose a little bit of time, it’s hard to complain when you’re stuck in such a beautiful place! 

Take turns on one way bridges
46 of the 59 bridges on the Road to Hana are one way, so make sure to take turns with the cars driving from the other direction so that everyone can safely and efficiently get across the bridge.

Let people pass, especially the locals
Even though we said to drive slow, some people drive too slow and cause a traffic jam. If you have a long line of people behind you, there are turnouts on certain areas of the road that you can use to safely pull off and let them pass.

And although the roads are flooded with tourists, there are locals that use this road to get to and from work, so please be a kind visitor and let them pass. 

Be friendly
There may be times you’re frustrated with the slow speeds or extra slow drivers, but try to avoid road rage…you’re on beautiful Maui after all! 🙂

Don’t trespass
While not a driving rule per se, something important to mention is that you should not trespass on land, even if you read online that there was a cool waterfall behind it. There are some spots that used to be accessible by the public that are now private property. Obey the signs and respect the locals!

Be prepared

While you do go through some small towns on the Road to Hana, there are very limited resources along the way. Make sure to load up the car with everything you need before you go! We suggest having:

  • A full tank of gas
  • Snacks and/or a packed lunch
  • Plenty of water
  • Car phone charger
  • Rain jacket or umbrella
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Towels
  • Bug spray for any hikes
  • Dirty shoes you don’t mind getting muddy

No matter what you bring with you, make sure to hide belongings, especially valuable ones, when making stops. Although you’re in paradise, car break ins can still happen!

It may rain on your parade

Both times we have driven the Road to Hana we have gotten rained on, but that’s just part of the fun! Compared to the west side of the island, the east side receives a lot more rain, which is why it is so lush.

It rains everyday on the Road to Hana, but typically for just a quick shower. However, if it is going to rain the entire day, we’d recommend saving the Road to Hana for another day. The roads can sometimes flood and the experience will not be enjoyable in nonstop downpours. We recommend checking out this website for Maui’s weather forecast to see which days would be best for you to drive the Road to Hana.

And while we mentioned earlier that having a convertible or Jeep makes the drive extra fun, keep an eye out for those rain clouds so you can put the top back up and avoid getting the car soaked!

Download Offline Google Maps and the Road to Hana App

There is no cell phone service along the Road to Hana, so we highly suggest downloading offline Google Maps of the entire Road to Hana area so that way you can still navigate even without service.

We’d also suggest downloading the GyPSy Guide Hana app ($6.99, but worth it) to navigate you on the road. Even when you don’t have service it knows where you are and provides commentary and history about the area, as well as alerts you when to stop for specific sights and which Road to Hana stops you can likely skip. The app is fun to listen to and the narrator feels like a fun friend in the car with you!

Where to start the Road to Hana

Paia

While your Road to Hana journey will technically start at your hotel or Airbnb, we recommend starting the official Road to Hana drive from the north in Paia. This is the typical way to do the drive and a lot of the roadside stops will be on the right side of the road, making it easy to pull off.

For this Road to Hana guide, we will be listing all of the best stops on the Road to Hana in order, starting from Paia so you can follow this guide easily along your drive!

The Best Stops on the Road to Hana

Now that you know a bit about the Road to Hana, what to bring, and where to start, it’s time to start planning out your day! While there are many stops you can make, we’re sharing the 15 best stops on the Road to Hana that we have loved during our two times driving the road.

While you could likely squeeze in all of these spots in one day (depending on the sunrise and sunset times), it would be a bit jam packed and you wouldn’t have much time at each spot. While we typically love busy days on our vacations, the Road to Hana is best explored at a more carefree pace, especially in case it rains or there is a traffic jam.

We’d suggest picking 5-8 stops you really want to make and then if you have any time on the drive back, you can add in stops you missed before.

We’ve listed each stop below in order of when you’ll find it along the drive and we’re also including a link to Google Maps, how long the stop should take, any costs to visit, and some tips if you’re short on time, such as if you should prioritize the stop, skip it, or any ways to make the stop shorter.

No matter which stops you make, you’ll get to see a beautiful and lush side of the island of Maui, enjoy local treats, and have an amazing day! 

Ho’okipa Lookout

Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: 15-30 minutes
Cost: Free!

The Ho’okipa Lookout is an incredible first stop on the Road to Hana overlooking Ho’okipa Beach, a popular spot for windsurfers and surfers. The waves are pretty crazy here and it is so much fun to watch the surfers on the water, see the amazing views of the island, and maybe even see some sea turtles!

If you do plan to visit this stop, you’ll need to get here at sunrise in order to have enough time for the stops the rest of the day. 

Short on time? Skip this stop and visit it on another day of your trip, pairing it with the town of Paia, which is our favorite town on the island!

Jaws Country Store

Jaws Road to Hana

Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: 15-45 minutes 
Cost: $10-$15/person

Need a quick coffee or breakfast before the Road to Hana? Or maybe just some snacks for the day? Jaws Country Store is a super cute little shop at the beginning of the Road to Hana with coffee, breakfast and lunch items, smoothies, snacks, and items you may have forgotten for the day (like sunscreen). 

The inside of the store is more of the shop, while outside on the right side of the building is where you can order food. They have a great outdoor seating area as well! 

Jaws Country Store opens at 7 AM, so we’d recommend getting there close to when they open so you have a shorter wait and can get back on the road.

Short on time? If you are running behind or have already eaten, we’d suggest skipping this stop or just grabbing a quick coffee. 

Twin Falls 

Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: 1-2 hours depending on how far you go
Cost: Free for the falls, $5-$10 for treats

Twin Falls is located just down the road from Jaws Country Store and is home to a farmstand and waterfalls. To get to the falls, you’ll park by the Twin Falls Farmstand and enter the trail to the left of the stand. 

Twin Falls Map
Photo credit: TwinFallsMaui.net

A few minutes in, you’ll come across some port-o-potties (the locals would appreciate a donation if you use these to help maintain them) and you’ll want to go towards the left to reach the first waterfall overlook area.

After the first waterfall viewing area, continue back on the gravel road. You should see a gate up ahead and right before the gate, go towards the left to see the second waterfall viewing area. Both this waterfall viewpoint and the one before are super quick to access. The falls aren’t that impressive in our opinion, but it’s a fun little adventure for all ages!

Depending on how much time you have, you can head back to the car, or continue on the gravel road towards the gate you saw earlier. If you enter this gate, you will go to Caveman Falls. We haven’t had a chance to check out Caveman Falls, but we hear they are much more impressive than the other falls on the path.

At the gate, it will warn you that only expert hikers should pass, but we have heard that it’s not that much harder than the trail you have already been walking on. Although, you do have to cross a river to get to the falls and depending on the conditions, it may not be safe, so please use your best judgment. If you do continue, you’ll reach Caveman Falls and be treated to a much larger waterfall and a nice area to swim in.

Note: Sometimes the trail is closed due to unsafe conditions. We’d also make sure you have some shoes you don’t mind getting muddy for this adventure!

Once you’re back at the farmstand, make sure to grab a fresh coconut and some coconut candy! We love munching on coconut candy as we drive the Road to Hana. The farmstand takes credit cards and opens at 8 AM, but you can access the falls beforehand. 

Short on time? If you’re arriving later than 8:30 AM, we’d suggest skipping the falls and just grabbing some treats for the road! There are other pretty waterfalls later on in the drive to get your waterfall fix.

Since Twin Falls is not far from Paia, you could also come back and experience the falls another day during your trip when you have more time!

Aloha ‘aina BBQ

Aloha ‘aina BBQ
Photo credit: Tracy Chan/HAWAII Magazine

Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: 30 minutes
Cost: $20-$30

Aloha ‘aina BBQ, formerly called Ka Haku’s Smoke Shack (you can read tons of reviews here), is an amazing roadside food stand with some bomb Hawaiian BBQ and views! We suggest ordering the $20 platter (meant for two people) which comes with a variety of barbecued meats and sides, served on a banana leaf and on bamboo platters. 

Aloha ‘aina BBQ is open from 9 AM-2:30 PM (when they usually sell out) everyday except Saturdays. Depending on how many stops you’ve already made, we suggest stopping here for a very early lunch. But if you aren’t hungry yet, there are more places to eat on the Road to Hana, like Nahiku Marketplace, Hana Farms, Braddah Hutts BBQ Grill, or Da Fish Shack

Short on time? If you’re hungry, it’s definitely worth making a stop to eat some local food, whether it is here or elsewhere!

Rainbow Eucalyptus trees at the Ke’anae Arboretum

Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: 30 minutes
Cost: Free!

One surprise stop we didn’t plan on during our second time on the Road to Hana was the Keanae Arboretum to see Rainbow Eucalyptus trees. This is a free attraction and the trees are so tall, unique, and colorful and worth a stop if you have time!

This stop is super easy to miss, especially because the entrance is on a curve, so make sure you’re keeping your eyes open! The parking area is very small and is just a pull off on both sides of the road, so please be careful parking and crossing the road. (This Google Maps link takes you right to the parking area and entrance.)

After parking, you’ll walk down a paved road into the arboretum. While there are many different types of plants to see here, if you just want to see the Rainbow Eucalyptus trees, it’s a relatively quick stop. We spent a few minutes snapping photos of the trees before heading back up to the car.

Short on time? If you got a late start, we’d suggest skipping this stop. While it’s beautiful, some of the best stops are up ahead and you won’t want to miss them!

Ke’anae Peninsula

Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: 30 minutes
Cost: Free!

Just down the road from the Ke’anae Arboretum, on the left side, is one of our favorite stops on the Road to Hana, the Ke’anae Peninsula! 

This half mile long peninsula is home to a traditional Hawaiian Village known for its taro fields. In 1946, the area was hit, and almost fully destroyed, by a tsunami and the only building left standing after the tsunami was the church that is still standing today.

While there isn’t a beach to lay out here, as the coastline is rocky and the waves are rough, there are two viewpoints that have beautiful views of the coastline, cliffs, and ocean and are definitely worth the little detour off the Road to Hana.

Short on time? You can cut down some time on the Keanae Peninsula by just staying in the car, but this is one of our must-see stops, so don’t miss it!

Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread 

Keanane Peninsula

Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: 15 minutes
Cost: $6.25

Banana bread is one of our favorite treats to have while on Maui and Aunt Sandy’s is one of the best! While listed after the Ke’anae Peninsula on our list, Aunt Sandy’s actually located on the Ke’anae Peninsula, between the two viewpoints we mentioned above. 

This little stand has some amazing banana bread, plus some other quick foods to enjoy, like smoothies, hot dogs, and Kalua pork. You can even buy their banana bread mix to make at home! We’d suggest just grabbing banana bread here and waiting for other stops for lunch.

Short on time? If you’re hungry, or just want a snack for later, this quick stop is worth it! 

Upper Waikani Falls

Three Bear Falls Maui

Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: 10 minutes to just stop and see the falls, longer if you hike down
Cost: Free!

Upper Waikani Falls, also known as Three Bears, is a super quick stop on the side of the road with three waterfalls right next to each other, two which flow a bit more, and one (the baby bear) that flows a little less.

As you approach the bridge and falls, you’ll notice a very small pull off spot that can maybe fit one car. But if you keep going over the bridge and up the road, you’ll find a pull off on the left side of the road that you can park on and walk down to the bridge to view the falls. Be very careful if you do this, as you will have to walk on the road. 

Viewing the falls and snapping a few photos only takes a few minutes, but you can also hike down to the falls if you’re feeling adventurous. To get down to the bottom, you will enter a super steep trail at the end of the bridge (on the side opposite of the waterfalls and towards Hana). The first part is the steepest and if you feel comfortable making the trek, it’s a great place to swim!

Three Bear Falls Map

A couple things to note: Do not just stop your car in the road to take photos, as you’ll hold up traffic in both directions. Also, if it has been raining a lot, the waterfalls flow rapidly and sometimes turn into one big waterfall. 

The last time we drove the Road to Hana, the waterfalls were three distinct smaller falls on the drive to Hana and on the way back, after lots of rain, the waterfalls had gained so much water that they had become one massive, rapidly flowing waterfall.

Short on time? Seeing the waterfalls is super quick and we recommend making this stop if you can find a place to park! You can also just see them from the car if you don’t want to stop.

Coconut Glen’s 

Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: 15-30 minutes
Cost: $7/person

If there is one food stop you have to make on the Road to Hana, it’s Coconut Glen’s. This vegan ice cream stand is not only super cute, but the ice cream is amazing (even if you aren’t vegan)!

We have stopped here both times we have driven the Road to Hana and it’s taken a lot of self control to not stop both on our way to Hana and on the way back. A scoop (which can be split into two flavors) is $7, so it’s not cheap, but it’s high quality and delicious!

Coconut Glen’s is cash only and open 10:30 AM-5:30 PM, so make sure to stop on your way to Hana (it’ll be on the right side of the road) so you don’t miss the chance to try it!

Short on time? Don’t skip this spot! It’s a great sweet treat 🙂

Wai’anapanapa State Park 

Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: 30 minutes-2 hours
Cost: Free!

Another one of our favorite Road to Hana stops is Wai’anapanapa State Park, also known as the black sand beach (Pa’iloa Beach). The black sand, made from volcanic rock, against the blue water and lush, green scenery is absolutely gorgeous!

There is one main beach area to explore here, as well as a smaller beach, multiple overlooks, tons of lava rock, and a sea arch. All of these spots are super easy to access and make for a quick stop, although they are a bit busy with tourists. However, there are more areas to explore here, with less crowds, if you have more time!

Waianapanapa Map
Photo credit: RoadtoHana.com

Kipapa O Kihapi’ilani Trail
There is a beautiful coastal trail that you can access by going to the left once you’re on the black sand beach. This 2.1-2.75 mile trail (we have read conflicting mileage) will take you along the rugged, lava rock cliffs, burial sites, coves, and to Pukaula Point, which is a sacred site with burial mounds. Due to time constraints, we just walked a little bit of it, but if you have time, definitely check it out!

Lava Tube
As soon as you get on the black sand beach, look to your right and you should see an opening in the rocks. Enter this opening and after a few seconds you’ll see the opening on the other end, which is out to the ocean!

Freshwater Caves
A short walk from the parking lot are two freshwater caves, one of which was the scene of a sad Hawaiian legend. It is said that a Hawaiian princess named Popalaea escaped to this cave to get away from her horrible husband, the Chief Kakae. Chief Kakae discovered her hiding spot and killed her and during certain times of the year, red shrimp fill the pool and turn the water red. It is said to be a reminder of the blood of the princess.

Short on time? This is one of our must-dos! Even if this is as far as you’re able to drive, it’s worth it to see the black sand. If you’re in a hurry, checking out the beach really quickly is worth making the stop, but if you have 1-2 hours to spend, we recommend checking out the caves, lava tube, and walking part of the trail too!

Kaihalulu Beach

Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: 1 hour
Cost: Free!

If you thought the black sand beach was cool, get ready to see a red sand beach! We had no idea red sand beaches existed until we saw a photo of Kaihalulu Beach a few years ago. And during our most recent drive on the Road to Hana it was one of our must visit stops! 

Kaihalulu Beach was formed from a collapsing red cinder cone, which gives the sand a unique, deep crimson color. It’s unlike any beach we have ever seen! To get to the beach, we parked right here (make sure there are no “no parking” signs) and then walked across the grass until we found the trail. 

Red Sand Beach Map

The trail is only 0.4 miles round trip, but it is dangerous if you’re not prepared or careful. We hesitated even including this stop on this guide, but it’s very unique and we really enjoyed it, so we are including it with a warning. 

Warning: We would not recommend this stop to anyone without steady footing, appropriate hiking footwear, or for children. The trail is very slick and steep, narrow in some spots, and has drop offs on the side. We have heard that due to a landslide, the trail is even more dangerous than when we went, but still doable. If it has been raining or you’re not careful, you could get seriously injured…or worse. If you feel unsafe, please turn around! 

We’re not trying to scare you, we just want to be honest and make sure you’re prepared. We suggest reading some recent reviews before you go to see others’ experiences. 

Once you reach the beach, there is a protected cove you can swim in, but swimming beyond this is dangerous, as the waves can be rough. We have also heard that nudists frequent this beach, so don’t be alarmed if you see a bit more than planned! 

When we visited, it started to rain right after we reached the beach, so we quickly snapped a few photos and then headed back up the trail to avoid getting into too slippery of a situation. Although our time was short here, we are so glad we visited!

Short on time? If you are comfortable making the slick and sort of sketchy trek to this beach, you’re prepared, and the conditions are safe, we’d definitely add it to your list! 

Hamoa Beach

Hamoa Beach
Photo credit: Travaasa Hana

Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: This can be a quick photo stop or longer depending on if you want to lay out 
Cost: Free!

Hamoa Beach is said to be one of the best beaches on Maui. Its wide and long crescent shape means lots of space to lay out and its larger surf makes it a great spot for surfers and boogie boarders.

To get to Hamoa Beach, you will park on Haneoo Road and then take the stairs down to the beach. It does get busy though, so parking can be a bit tricky. 

When we visited, it was rainy out, so the beach was a bit dark, but from the photos we have seen online, it looks gorgeous on a sunny day!

Short on time? If you’re running behind or it’s rainy, we’d suggest skipping this beach. You could also visit on your way back, as there are still a couple must-visit stops ahead!

Wailua Falls

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Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: 10 minutes
Cost: Free!

Wailua Falls is a beautiful 80ft waterfall off the side of the Hana Highway. There are many areas to pull off and park right by the bridge, making this an easy and quick stop to view the falls. It is a popular spot though, so don’t expect solitude, and sometimes there are vendors selling items as well. 

You can hike down to the falls by entering a trail on the right side of the bridge (if you’re looking at the falls). It’s a quick, but slick, walk down to the falls and a great spot to cool off!

Short on time? We’d suggest observing these falls from the car and then stopping by on your way back if you have time. Our next suggested stop has an incredible waterfall that will make up for missing this one!

Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls

Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: 2-3 hours
Cost: $30 to enter Haleakala National Park. This fee lasts for 3 days, so make sure to plan your Haleakala Summit visit within 3 days of the Road to Hana to avoid paying twice!

Towards the end of the Road to Hana, you’ll reach Haleakala National Park (yes the same one as the summit you may have ventured to during your trip!). Unlike the summit of Haleakala, this area of the park is lush, green, and located on the ocean.

And in this area of the park lies one of our favorite stops on the Road to Hana, the Pipiwai Trail. This 4 mile trail takes you through forested areas, along streams and waterfalls, and an epic bamboo forest before ending at the 400ft tall Waimoku Falls.

The entire trail is beautiful and scenic, but the bamboo forest and Waimoku Falls are the biggest highlights. The bamboo forest is unlike anything we have ever experienced before and as you wander along the boardwalk, the forest is filled with the crackling sounds of the bamboo swaying in the wind. 

Just when you think it can’t get much better, you will finally make it to Waimoku Falls, which is probably the most epic waterfall we have seen on Maui. Unfortunately you cannot swim under these falls, but they are still breathtaking to admire.

This hike has a 800 ft elevation gain, which makes it a moderate hike for all ages, although a bit muddy. When we hiked the trail, it was raining most of the time, so we got drenched and dirty, but it only made the experience more memorable, and possibly less busy for us (it’s a popular hike!). It was the perfect way to end our day driving the Road to Hana!

Short on time? This hike is a must-do in our opinion and we’d heavily prioritize it!

Pools of ‘Ohe’o

Location: Google Maps
Length of stop: 30 minutes-1 hour
Cost: $30 to enter Haleakala National Park. This fee lasts for 3 days, so make sure to plan your Haleakala Summit visit within 3 days of the Road to Hana to avoid paying twice!

One of the most popular sights along the Road to Hana is the ‘Ohe’o Gulch and the Pools of ‘Ohe’o (also known as the Seven Sacred Pools). This spot is home to several tiered pools with waterfalls, surrounded by lava rock and lush plants.

While the pools are sometimes swimmable, they are often closed for swimming due to flash floods. During our first trip on the Road to Hana we were able to get into the pools, but they were closed when we visited the last time. We suggest checking their status beforehand so you aren’t disappointed. But regardless if you can swim or not, the falls and pools are beautiful to see!

Short on time? If the pools are open, it’s worth the quick stop to see them! We recommend prioritizing the Pipiwai Trail over the pools though.

The drive back from the Road to Hana

After a long, but fun, day driving on the Road to Hana it’s time to head back to the main part of the island! There are two different routes you can take, each with pros and cons.

Go back the way you came

Going back the same route you came is the most common option to get back to your hotel or Airbnb. We have always gone this way because of the rougher conditions of the second route, although we do want to try that route next time.

By going back the way you came, you can possibly see some sights you missed the first time, if you have enough time. We typically finish our final stop a bit late and try to book it back to Paia before dark. We have found that we typically finish adventuring later than the tour buses and other tourists, so the traffic going the other direction is a bit lighter, so you typically can get back without a ton of stops or traffic jams.

The downside of going back the same way you came is that you miss seeing different scenery by going the second route. 

It will take you about 2.5 hours to reach Paia after your final stop (assuming it’s the Pipiwai Trail or Pools of ‘Ohe’o). Once you reach Paia, we highly recommend grabbing dinner at Paia Fish Market, one of our favorite restaurants on the island.

Backside of Haleakala

Backside of Haleakala

Driving the backside of Haleakala to your hotel or Airbnb is another option if you want a change of scenery. To go on this route, you would turn left out of the parking area for the Pipiwai Trail instead of going right (the way you came). This route is about the same length as going the traditional way, but gives you the chance to see a whole other side of the island.

This route is much less traveled than the traditional way and will take you along the ocean, through grasslands and farmland, and through a drier climate, before ultimately reuniting with more lush scenery. Some say this part of the drive is the highlight because of the scenery and less touristy feel. 

You may be thinking, “if this route is so scenic, why is it less traveled?” Well, that’s because the road is a bit rough. The road starts out okay, but around mile marker 37 the road turns into a mix of gravel and dirt for about 10 miles. The road can be narrow and one-way only in spots, with some drop offs, but from what we hear, any car is capable of making this drive (no 4WD is needed). 

There is a rumor that driving on this road will void your rental car contract, but in both times renting cars on Maui, no one has ever told us to not go on this road. We have heard that it won’t technically void the contract, but if you get into trouble out there, you’re on your own.

The road does sometimes close due to landslides or flooding, so we suggest calling (808) 986-1200 (extension #2) in advance to check on the status in advance.

While we haven’t personally driven this way back to the main area of Maui, we hope to try it next time to see a different side of the island!

If you have extra time…

There are many more stops along the Road to Hana that we didn’t mention. If you’re looking for a few more ideas, here are some bonus stops to make!

Wailua Valley State Wayside Park: This little pull off has a handful of parking spots and a staircase that leads you to an overlook of the ocean and also the Wailua Valley. This free stop is easy to miss, but a great quick stop to stretch your legs. 

Garden of Eden Arboretum: The Garden of Eden Arboretum is a 26 acre park with trails, a variety of plants, and great views! We visited during our first time on the Road to Hana and it was a beautiful stop. It does cost $15 for anyone ages 16 and up, and $5 for anyone ages 5-16, which makes it a little less appealing since there are so many incredible free stops on the Road to Hana.

Hana Lava Tube: Ka’eleku Cave, also called the Hana Lava Tube, is the largest and most accessible lava tube on Maui. There’s a ⅓ mile long trail you can explore, which costs $12.50/adult and includes a flashlight.

Ready to explore The Road to Hana?

Pin this Road to Hana guide to help plan your adventure!

about us

Hi y’all! We’re Adam, Kathryn, and Kona, an adventurous married couple (+ pup!) living on the road in our self-converted sprinter van! You can often find us driving all around the US and Canada, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos and ice cream (we’re a 5+ taco and 2+ scoop household), and enjoying nature.

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