If you enjoy a good road trip, coming to Maui should include a trip on the Road to Hana. Its a scenic tour of some of the most breathtaking views to be found on Maui.
Driving the Road to Hana is roughly the same drive time as say the drive between Dallas and Houston—about four hours. The difference is you’ll drive about 275 miles between the Dallas and Houston, while the Road to Hana is less than 70 miles. Unlike most US interstate highways where nearly everything is mostly straight driving, the Road to Hana is anything but. It is the winding turns that force the driver and his lucky passengers to take it slow and enjoy the ride.
The Scenic Route
The Road To Hana is a mountain road and it can be challenging as it is a far cry from the well-paved roads on Mainland interstates. Whether you drive it yourself or take a guided tour, it’s a road trip that can take all day and requires some preparation. You’ll be on “Island Time,” meaning slow and easy. The point is to see and experience incredible scenery and sights that are unique to the Valley Isle.
Starting in Pa’ia near the Kahului Airport, the Road to Hana winds around the northeastern side of Maui all the way down to the southeastern area where Hana is located. It is a combination of state highways 36 and 360 and travels mostly through areas that are largely undeveloped and pristine.
The highway is narrow and includes 620 curves and 59 bridges. Of those bridges, 49 are one-lane only. That’s why this scenic drive must be done slowly and carefully. The posted speed limit is 25 miles. There is no speeding this up to go faster. The point is the journey, not the destination. The trip is dotted with lush jungle land views, waterfalls, and beautiful beaches.
Many travel guides and bloggers suggest getting on the road early. Some suggest starting the drive at 7:00 am. Also do begin your return trip back early enough to avoid driving in the dark!
Packing For Your Trip
Even though there are places to eat along the way, those who have “been there, done that” suggest packing a picnic lunch and snacks. Eateries along the route are only open from about 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and they sell out quickly. The trip is four to six hours going depending on local traffic, and three or so hours returning, so make sure you and your traveling companions have plenty of refreshments for a 7-9 hour day. This is especially important if you leave later in the morning. You may want to maybe pack a bathing suit and towels if you think you may be moved to take a dip along the way. Make sure you have cell phone chargers.
By the way, it is possible to take a guided bus tour instead of driving yourself. Touring allows you to learn more about Maui’s culture, see more sights, and enjoy the trip stress-free. One tour bus can eliminate as many as twelve cars on the highway. Check with your local touring company regarding provisions and stops.
Where To Stop
Before you go, it’s a good idea to do some research on where you want to stop and visit. You won’t be able to see absolutely everything, so pick where you want to go the most and make your list.
Some of the main attractions along the route include:
• The Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees
• The Upper Waikani Falls
• Hamoa Beach
• The Garden of Eden
• Pua’a Ka’a Falls and State Park
• Huelo Lookout
• ‘Ohe’O Gulch (aka The Seven Sacred Pools)
• Ke’anae Arboretum and Peninsula
• Wailua Valley State Wayside
• Hana Farms Roadside Stand
Selecting your stops ahead of time instead of just going without a plan will make the trip easier and more enjoyable.
Local specialties like banana bread are especially popular among locals and tourists. Places like Aunt Sandy’s located just past Mile Marker 16 (turn left at Keanae Road) on the Keanae Peninsula offer freshly-baked banana bread and other Maui delicacies. Look for the fish tacos, coconut candies, and other Maui favorites.
Rest At The End Of The Road To Hana
The round trip Road To Hana is a long. Make it easy on yourself and consider adding stay a night or two in at the beautiful Hana Kai Maui resort before returning.
Hana Kai Maui’s comfortably designed beachfront condos on Waikaloa Beach are ready to meet you when you reach our friendly little town. Whether a romantic getaway for two or a family vacation, we’re ready to make your Maui visit the best.