Know Before You Go Guide to Navigating Maui’s Beautiful, Legendary Road to Hana
Maui is a destination for adventurers and beach lovers alike. Whether you’re interested in finding beauty and adventure touring the infamous Road to Hana on the east side of the island, or just looking to relax on the white sand beaches in the resort area on the west side, Maui offers something for everyone. No trip could be considered complete without setting aside a day to check out the Road to Hana!
Road To Hana
Our group decided on an adventure and rented jeeps to travel the Road to Hana. Now let me just say… this is a long day. Be prepared. You need to start early in the morning as traveling the road at night canmay be treacherous. Pack a cooler with food, drink, and the works. Bring beach gear and towels, a camera and don’t forget to get a full tank of gas. You won’t find another gas station along the way. Don’t leave anything valuable in your car. Cars parked along the road have been the victims of thefts.
Know Before You Go
The first thing to mention if you’re navigating the Road to Hana is that the mile markers are, let’s say, interesting. As you begin your adventure on Hana Highway from the quaint little beach town of Paia, you’ll see that the mile markers begin at 1, but when you pass 16 they start at 1 again. Don’t worry, you didn’t screw up, tthey’re just playing with you. Also, when you’ve reached mile marker 51 at Koki Beach, the markers start going backward.
If you’re renting a car, most car rental companies will tell you that you’re not insured if you pass Hana town and go full circle around the island. This is due to the back road being unpaved, narrow and a little hard to navigate, but the scenery is beautiful!! Important to note is that there is only one road around. You need to commit to turning back or going forward, there are no options.
That being said, we ran into a brush fire along the back road coming back from Hana (yes, we chose to live dangerously), and were not able to pass until the fire was under control. We were way too far along to turn back without being stuck in the dark so we decided to wait it out. Thankfully, we had a full cooler to bide our time. The locals said that this was a common occurrence. You can’t say I didn’t warn you!
ROAD TO HANA THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
It’s all about the journey, not the destination.
Plan to go slow and make many stops. There are so many sites to see. Magnificent tropical vegetation, breathtaking waterfalls, interesting local food stands, and some of the most wondrous views you’ll ever see.
Mile Marker 2 – Twin Falls
The parked cars on the side of the road will be the first clue that you’ve arrived. Take a short hike to the lower falls. You can swim in and around the falls. There’s a food truck at the entrance if you’d like to grab a smoothie and some banana bread.
Mile Marker 7 – Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees
You’ll see the Rainbow Trees on your left just before mile marker 7. This is private land with no parking available. Regardless, you’ll find people parked along the right side of the road getting out to take pictures. I wish I had… I had to borrow someone else’s picture.
Mile Marker 9 – Ho’okipa Lookout
A beautiful bluff where you’ll be able to watch surfers, windsurfers and kiteboarders if the conditions are right. The waves can be massive, so unless you’re experienced, it’s not a good idea to try it yourself.
Mile Marker 9.5 – Waikamoi Ridge Trail
This is a pretty hiking trail with a picnic area. There are two loops to the trail. One about 10 minutes long and the other 30 minutes.
Mile Marker 10 – Garden of Eden Aboretum
Bring a camera. This arboretum is well-kept and impressive! You’ll see some beautiful trees and the Puohokamoa Falls.
You’ll be able to see a great view of the coast from the lookout, but most important to note is that there are restrooms here!! You can also choose to hike some of the trails at this stop.
Mile Marker 16.7 – Ke’anae Arboretum
RAINBOW EUCALYPTUS! It’s important to note that the entrance to this arboretum is very misleading. You’ll see a sign at a bend in the road on your right just above the entrance. This is your only clue. The entrance is gated so no vehicles can pass. We weren’t sure of it, so we passed and planned on stopping on the way back, but in the end decided to take the back road and not go back that way. This was a huge disappointment for me as the rainbow trees were high on my priority list of things to see, but with a group, you can sometimes be overruled!!!
Mile Marker 17.3 – Halfway to Hana Stand
Here’s a good place to stop for a snack. Try the banana bread. It’s awesome!
Mile Marker 19 – Upper Waikini Falls
These falls are also known as the 3 Bears. Parking is a little tricky. You may have to park a little further along the road and walk back.
Restrooms and a picnic area.
Mile Marker 24 – Hanawai Falls
You’ll have to park on the side of the road, but just over the small bridge here are some beautiful falls.
This is where you’ll want to stop for lunch. There are several choices of food stands. I recommend the kalua pork tacos. Soooo good! There’s also a pretty little gift shop if you’d like some souvenirs.
Mile Marker 31 – Hana Lava Tube
If you’ve never seen a lava tube, get your flashlight out and check this out. I never realized how huge they are! Hot lava just keeps building up to create caves! Who knew? Make a left on Ula’ino Road and it’s on the left about 1/2 a mile down. On this same road, a little further down, is the National Tropical Botanical Garden. From here you can see Pi’ilanihale Heiau, the largest temple in Hawaii which sprawls over 3 acres.
Mile Marker 32 – Wai’anapanapa State Park & Pa’iloa Black Beach
There are some amazing views here. Pa’iloa Black Beach is gorgeous. There are also fresh water caves down the trail.
Mile Marker 34 – Hana Town
You’ve reached your final destination! You’ll find a sleepy little town here with a waterfront area. Nothing to really write home about… As stated, it was about the journey, not the destination.
You can decide to turn around or go forward at this point, if you choose to go forward;
Mile Marker 50 – Hamoa Beach
Park along the road and make your way down the steep incline. This is the beach to visit for swimming and to relax for a while before you continue on your way.
Mile Marker 45 Wailua Falls
These are some of the best falls that you’ll see along the drive. Just past the bridge, you’ll find an area to park.
You’ve made it to Ohe’o Gulch AKA Seven Sacred Pools. This is one of the more popular attractions along the way. You’ll have to hike a bit to get to the pools so be prepared. In addition, you’ll also find a visitor center, restrooms, and some ancient ruins.
Mile Marker 41 – Palapala Ho’omau Church
Once you’re done with the Road to Hana, you might want to visit the beautiful beach at Ho-okipa Beach Park! What a gorgeous beach. It seems that the locals aren’t that thrilled with tourists! Don’t worry about, they won’t bother you. Unless you try to go near a turtle that is!