The Road to Hana is probably THE most famous and popular highlight on Maui. Probably everyone who visits Maui also drives on the adventurous coastal road to the small town of Hana. Accordingly, it can get crowded here. But what is there to see on the Road to Hana? Which highlights do you have to see? How long does it take to cover the distance? And should you just drive on after Hana? We will now tell you the most important tips for your Maui road trip.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Road to Hana on Maui
The Road to Hana is not only the most popular sight on Maui, but probably also the road with the most curves in Hawaii. There are a total of 600 curves to master on the almost 100 km long stretch. And mastering is the right expression here. Because there are no hairpin turns to be driven here, but still the many curves are very very exhausting.
Mathematically, there is a curve every 166 meters. In addition, there are 59 bridges on the route, 46 of which have only one lane. As you can see, the Road to Hana is no walk in the park, especially if you get motion sickness quickly.
Nevertheless, the Road to Hana is one of the top highlights on Maui and probably every tourist drives at least once over this spectacular coastal road.
The Road to Hana (also Hana Highway or Highway 360) begins in northern Maui at an inconspicuous sign next to the road. But you will not realize that you are driving on the Road to Hana until about 5 km later, because then the many curves begin.
What to expect on the Road to Hana
Apart from the many curves you will drive through dense Hawaiian rainforest. The road is lined with tall trees with wild lianas dangling from them. You almost feel like you are in Costa Rica, because not only is the dominant color here poison green. The atmosphere here is also humid and muggy, which is of course also due to the rain that frequently whips across the island.
There are some big and many smaller sights on the way, where it is either worth stopping (more about that later) or where you drive by slowly and in amazement. Often you can’t stop at all, like at the numerous waterfalls you’ll encounter along the way. Not infrequently, the areas before and after a waterfall are designated as no-stopping areas, so that the highest of feelings is to drive by slowly in the car.
But that’s not a bad thing, because there is so much to see anyway that you can’t stop everywhere. In our opinion, the highlight is the road itself. The feeling of driving through pristine and dense rainforest – best of all in a convertible – is really indescribably beautiful.
The southern part of the Road to Hana | After Hana just drive on
In many travel guides and blogs you read that you should drive the Road to Hana only to the small town of Hana, which is located in the very west of Maui.
Many people claim that it would not be allowed by the rental car companies to drive further than Hana. Or that it would be too dangerous or only feasible with an off-road vehicle. We cannot confirm either of these.
Quite the opposite! We can only expressly recommend you to drive the complete loop past Hana. Because the route behind Hana is not only completely different in terms of landscape, but also extremely beautiful.
The landscape south of Hana
It’s true that the route south of Hana consists partly of heavy gravel roads. But these are only short stretches that are absolutely doable even with a normal rental car if you drive carefully.
In return, you get a landscape that is hardly overgrown, but still very spectacular. You drive short stretches directly on the cliff and over large parts the panorama is extremely extensive and you can see as far as the beaches of Mākena State Park.
You should definitely drive beyond Hana to not miss this scenery.
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Napili Sunset Beach Front Resort
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The Best Things to do on the Road to Hana
We now present you the best and most beautiful stops on the Road to Hana from north to south.
Ho’okipa Beach Park
Parking is free of charge and there are plenty of spaces.
Parking costs $10 per car, there is no entrance fee per person. From the parking lot you walk only a few hundred meters to the first waterfall.
A few hundred meters further there is another thundering waterfall to see. If it has rained a lot then the way here is often closed.
In our opinion this sight is not worthwhile, because there are more beautiful (and free) waterfalls to see on the further way.
Garden of Eden Arboretum
The Garden of Eden is a kind of botanical garden with various exotic plants, some peacocks and nice walking paths. You can spend about an hour here if you want to see everything.
However, the entrance fee of $20 is quite expensive, so we skipped the park.
You have a great view of the sea and black rock formations in the water, which were created by volcanic eruptions.
You only have to stay here for a short time to enjoy the view. However, it is very worth it in our opinion. Parking and entrance are free.
Hana Lava Tube
Here you have to do with an underground lava cave, which can be visited on your own. The entrance fee is 15$ per person and must be paid in cash. At the entrance you get some information and a flashlight per person.
The cave itself is not illuminated. And what sounds a bit strange at first is one of the highlights of the lava cave. You walk without a guide and mostly without many other tourists through the completely dark cave and have to light your way with the flashlight.
In about 30 minutes you have walked through the cave and have learned a lot about the cave and its formation on numerous information boards.
Waiʻānapanapa State Park | The Highlight of the Road to Hana
One of the biggest highlights of the Road to Hana is certainly Waiʻānapanapa State Park. Attention: You have to reserve tickets online (5$ p.p. at www.gowaianapanapa.com) and this is best done days or weeks in advance. You reserve a time window of 2-3 hours in which you have to enter the park.
In the park itself there is a rough coastline with a lot of cooled lava rock and a black lava sand beach. The sea here is really very rough and therefore not really suitable for swimming. You can spend a good 1-2 hours here exploring the coastline and the wild sea.
For most visitors, the small town of Hāna is the destination of their journey along the Road to Hana. However, you should not turn back here, but continue your journey. Why, we have already described above.
The place itself is not very spectacular and has not much to offer except some restaurants and hotels. If you don’t want to eat or spend the night here, then you can safely drive through.
Beaches south of Hana
South of the town there are some nice beaches, which are suitable for a visit in good weather.
Small and rather unknown beach made of red pebbles. There is no official parking here, you have to park on the road and walk down to the beach. There is little swell here because there is a small offshore reef.
Koki Beach Park
Here you will find a fine sandy beach with some rocks in the water. Just like Kaihalulu Beach, the sand is reddish brown and you can swim here if the weather is good.
Large beach with lots of fine sand. There are also toilets, showers and plenty of parking spaces. The swell is a bit rougher here, so be careful.
The Pipiwai Trail hike is one of the most popular in all of Maui. The hike leads to the Waimoku Waterfall, which is located in the Haleakalā National Park and therefore costs $30 entrance fee per car, no matter how many people are in it. You can buy tickets online here.
From the official parking lot, it takes about an hour to reach the end of the hike, the spectacular Waimoku Waterfall. On the way you will pass the ʻOheʻo Gulch waterfall, a huge banyan tree and a bamboo forest.
The Pipiwai hike is not difficult to walk, but when it rains – which is relatively common on Maui – it is extremely muddy. So you should wear sturdy shoes.
The waterfall itself is really beautiful, and when it rains it often consists of several watercourses that pour down into the valley side by side from a height of over 120 meters. A real highlight on Maui.
Read also: All about the Pipiwai Trail on Maui
The many Waterfalls next to the Road to Hana
On the way you will encounter (mostly north of Hana) a lot of waterfalls. There are too many to mention here individually. But nevertheless they will be an important part of your Road to Hana trip. As mentioned above, it is very difficult to stop at the waterfalls, sometimes it is even completely forbidden.
Since often only one-lane bridges lead past the waterfalls, you can drive by here anyway only slowly and enjoy the view.
The Best Itinerary for the Road to Hana
You have theoretically 3 possibilities to drive the Road to Hana. You can drive from the north to Hana and turn around, you can drive from the south to Hana and turn around again. Or you can drive from north to south (or the other way around) and do all the highlights in one day.
Our tip: We recommend to do the whole loop in one day. And in our opinion you should start from the south, because then you can do the Pipiwai Trail first and are almost alone on the hike.
If you have a lot of time on Maui, you can of course spend 2 days on the Road to Hana. But since it is a long way from central Maui, we would recommend you to stay overnight in Hana. Otherwise it is just too much driving.
Option #1: From the North to Hana and back
With this route you drive from the north in the direction of Hana. This is the “normal” route that most tourists take. And most of them take the same route back. On the route you see the typical Road to Hana with all its highlights and also the 600 curves.
Variant #2: From the South to Hana and back
This is the rather untypical route, because you approach Hana from the south. This route is scenically totally different from the northern route. There is no tropical rainforest waiting for you to pass through. Instead, you will see wide green landscapes in the beginning and narrow coastal roads directly at the sea later on.
Variant #3: Drive the Complete Loop | Our Recommendation
If you don’t have much time on Maui, we recommend you to drive the complete route from the north to the south. This sounds like a lot at first, but the distance traveled is just as long as if you take the northern route to Hana and back.
If you just keep driving after Hana, you will really see all the highlights of the Road to Hana, experience 2 completely different landscapes and still not drive unnecessarily much.
Overnight Stay in Hana
If you have enough time on Maui, it is worth to spend 2 days on the Road to Hana. There are not only many sights to see, but also the road is very long. The only possibility to stay overnight on the Road to Hana is in the small town of Hana.
Hotel Recommendation in Hana
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At this charming accommodation* in Hana, you'll stay in beautiful studios in the middle of the Maui jungle.