The Complete Guide to Driving Maui's Road to Hana

Aerial View Of The Road To Hana

Ron Dahlquist / Design Pics / Getty Images

The Road to Hana road trip has attracted adventurous travelers to Maui since the Hana Highway was first paved in 1962. This side of the island has remained beautifully undeveloped, allowing visitors and residents the opportunity to experience Maui’s wildly lush landscape. You will stop to marvel at stunning coastal views, uninterrupted nature, historic wayside parks, unique beaches, and some of the most picturesque waterfalls on earth.

Navigating this portion of the Hana Highway, with all its 52 miles, 620 curves, and 54 bridges, is both intimidating and exhilarating. Drivers and passengers should be well-versed in the schematics of the land, the weather patterns, and the available attractions of the drive to get the most out of the journey. Even a little bit of planning can go a long way, as you may not want (or have the time) to stop at each spot.

Most drivers choose to turn around in the town of Hana and head back the same way they came, possibly hitting some of the spots they may have missed on the way down. There is also the option of continuing past Hana and returning via the backside of Haleakala, though this road is even less developed than the Road to Hana.

If you have the time, consider staying for a night in Hana town to break up the trip—it will give you more time at each stop and decrease the chance of having to rush back on the narrow highway in the dark. Remember that stopping at all of the designated spots along the Road to Hana (listed below) might not be entirely realistic, depending on your situation and time.

attractions along the road to hana
 TripSavvy / Nusha Ashjaee

Twin Falls (Mile Marker 2)

A short, easy, 5-minute walk from the parking lot will take you to one of the most famous waterfalls on Maui. Don’t forget to hit the Twin Falls Farm Stand to stock up on fresh fruits and banana bread to fuel up for the long drive ahead.

Huelo Point Lookout (Between Mile Marker 4 and 5)

An adorable little fruit stand with a beautiful ocean view will greet you here. The smoothies made from locally-grown fruit are a particular favorite.

Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees (Mile Marker 6.7)

If you’ve never had the chance to see Rainbow Eucalyptus trees, pull over to the side of the road in between mile marker six and seven to catch a glimpse at some of these beauties. The multi-colored peeling bark is the stuff of fairy tales.

Waikamoi Ridge Trail and Falls (Mile Marker 9.5 and 10)

The perfect place to stretch your legs and enjoy a quick hike before getting back on the road, this stop offers a 0.8-mile loop that takes you past some lush greenery. Hop back in the car and travel another half mile to see the waterfall.

Garden of Eden (Mile Marker 10)

You may have to pay an admission fee of $10 to get into the Garden of Eden, but the 26 acres of rare Hawaiian plants and flowers is worth it. You could easily spend hours here wandering around the trails and snapping photos, so keep the time investment in mind if you want to experience more of the Road to Hana’s gems.

Keanae Peninsula and Arboretum (Mile Marker 16.5)

If you’re already in the mood for another small hike by mile marker 16, Keane Arboretum will take you past some unique Hawaiian flora for about half a mile. Or, pull into Keane Peninsula to take in the coastal views situated along black lava rocks and sand.

Upper Waikani Falls (Mile marker 19.5)

Also known as “Three Bears Falls,” this trio of waterfalls come together to form the perfect little grotto peaking at 70-feet tall and cascading into Wailua Nui Stream below. There isn’t a ton of parking near the falls, so some drivers choose to park further ahead about a tenth of a mile and walk across the bridge to see them—do so with caution.

Pua'a Ka'a Falls and State Park (Mile Marker 22.5)

This little park is one of the best on Maui, and not just because it has one of the only restrooms along the Road to Hana. There are picnic tables, an easy hiking trail, and an accessible waterfall inside this park as well.

Hanawi falls,Road to Hana,Hana,Maui,Hawaii,USA
Peter Unger / Getty Images

Hanawi Falls (Mile Marker 24)

One of the best places to view these falls is from the Hanawi Bridge, and there are a couple of narrow pull-outs both before and after to park and get out.

Nahiku Marketplace (Mile Marker 29)

A charming stop to find a variety of food options, this marketplace sells everything from Thai food and tacos to coffee and seafood.

Kahanu Garden and Pi'ilanihale Heiau (Mile Marker 31)

This garden is home to the largest heiau (religious structure) in Polynesia, dating back to the 16th century. You can also find a plethora of Hawaiian tropical plants, fruits, and vegetables inside the botanical garden.

Kaeleku Cave (Mile Marker 31)

Also known as the Hana Lava Tube, this stop is one of the drive’s most unique. Explore a third of a mile’s worth of caverns and enjoy a cooler, darker environment that differs from the Hana Highway’s tropical surroundings. Entry is $12 and includes entry into the outer ti leaf maze.

Waianapanapa State Park (Mile Marker 32)

A significant highlight of the Road to Hana, this park is not-to-be-missed on Maui. The freshwater pools, volcanic coastal views, and hiking trails are phenomenal, but don’t leave without setting foot on Pailoa Bay aka “Black Sand Beach.”

Hana Town (Mile Marker 34)

While you can absolutely spend some time relaxing at Hana Bay or hitting the Hana Cultural Center in the town of Hana, there are a few more stops outside of town along the highway that are worth a visit as well.

Pipiwai Trail (Mile Marker 41.5)

Give yourself ample time to tackle this 4-mile hike through mysterious bamboo forests and tropical rainforests within the Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park. The reward at the end is the 400-foot Waimoku Falls, one of the most epic waterfalls on Maui by far.

Wailua Falls (Mile Marker 44.8)

Besides the view of a gorgeous waterfall tucked away into the jungle here, you’ll also find plenty of parking beside this waterfall—a rarity along the Hana Highway.

Hamoa Beach (Mile Marker 51)

Consistently named one of the best beaches on the island, Hamoa Beach is what you think of when you imagine a stunningly secluded Maui beach. Famous for snorkeling during calm weather and bodyboarding when the surf is high, Hamoa may require a bit of a detour (by way of five minutes), but it is worth every second.

Expert Tips

  • Filling up your tank with gas in Paia before starting the drive is imperative, as there are no gas stations between the small surfing town and Hana.
  • Plan your stops ahead of time. It may be more exciting to venture out unprepared, but you will get the most out of the road trip if you decide which stops you want to make and which ones are worth passing on.
  • If you tend to get car sick, you may want to reconsider this drive. Stock up on ginger chews and make a lot of stops if you are worried about car sickness.
  • Pack appropriate footwear if you plan on doing any hiking along the way, as well as rain gear, bug spray, and a light jacket. The east side of Maui tends to be much wetter than the others, meaning the mosquitos are out in full force and the rain can be unpredictable.
  • If you don’t want to be burdened with driving and missing out on all the sights along the way, opt for an organized tour. Companies such as Valley Isle Excursions and Temptation Tours offer a variety of options with expert drivers and guides.
  • Leave early and head back early if you’re planning on doing the entire drive in one day. Fifty-two miles may not seem like much, but add in the multiple scenic stops, slow-moving traffic, and numerous switchbacks, and the journey can easily eat up more time than you’ve predicted. Try to leave Paia by 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. and plan on being back in Paia before dark.
  • If you are enjoying the sights and driving at a leisurely pace, be mindful enough to pull over and let local drivers pass. This road is also part of the daily commute for Maui’s residents, so drive with aloha to avoid any frustration.
  • One lane bridges are abundant on the Road to Hana. You will probably be yielding for people much more than you may be used to, so be patient and understanding. Never stop on a bridge or walk into the road to take photos.
  • Remember that the Road to Hana stretches across residential areas, so keep in mind that some spots along the highway are off-limits. If a sign says “keep out,” “private,” or “kapu” (the Hawaiian word that means “sacred” or “no trespassing”), please be respectful.
  • Above all else, drive safely!