For anyone planning a trip to Maui, a "Road to Hana" journey happens to be the top most priority. A 53 mile road stretching over more than 50 bridges and 600 hairpin turns through lush tropical rain forests. The drive features beaches, lava tubes, waterfalls, valleys, gardens and many hidden treasures, therefore making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Maui.
A "Road to Hana" drive was our top priority on our trip to Maui as well. And so we decided to do this on our first day on the island. Though the distance is not much, many stops on the highway made this an all-day trip. What we didn't do was start early to beat the crowd which made it simply impossible to find parking spaces. So we had to skip many spots hoping we could cover them on our way back, but that never happened either, because there was just not enough time.
Scroll to the end of the blog post for a full list of stops on "Road to Hana" and some useful information before you go.
Now lets talk about the highlights of our drive.
Huelo Lookout fruit stand (Mile #2):
The first thought that comes to mind before heading on any drive is - what are the food options. There is no shortage of fruit stands and food trucks on the Road to Hana. Huelo Lookout, which comes at the beginning of the drive itself, sold warm fresh baked banana breads, smoothies and fresh sugarcane juice. A short trail next to the stand goes down to a lookout where there is a table and another stand.
Garden of Eden (Mile #10):
It was our second stop, after Huelo Lookout. It is a small sectioned out garden easy to walk around. There were flowers, different types of trees, there were lookouts for waterfalls and ocean views, peacocks and their babies walking around as well. The garden was full of edible wild strawberry guava trees. A fellow tourist was kind enough to point it out to us so we got to taste it. It really was like eating a strawberry and a guava together.
There was a Garden Cafe taco truck at the garden entrance which also sold fresh coconuts.
Wailua Valley State Wayside Park (Mile #18):
It is a lookout with amazing views of Ke'anae Valley and Wailua Village. What a stunning view of taro fields and the ocean.
Lava tube (Mile #23 approx):
This came out of nowhere. We saw cars parked at a turnout and people walking around, so we decided to stop and check it out. A small group of people walked out of the trees behind a rock mountain wall. We saw another group walk right into the wall through a small opening. We realized it was a lava tube and followed them with our flashlights. It was a short, very dark cave, wet and bumpy that opened into a wooded area at the back. It was only a short hike but not easy (and potentially dangerous).
Hanawi Falls (Mile #24):
It is one of the many waterfalls on this drive and could be seen over a bridge from our car itself. There was no space to park for a long distance anyway, so we tried getting this picture from our moving car.
Coconut Glen's (Mile #27.5):
Coconut Glen's is a funky stand which sold dairy free coconut base ice creams and other coconut goodies. We got to try some flavors and they were pretty good.
Wai'anapanapa State Park (Mile #32):
It is a very popular park, the one with famous Pa'iloa black sand beach. The beach and the views were gorgeous. Apart from the beach this park has some unique features like lava arch, lava tubes, blow holes and caves.
Read our full post on Wai'anapanapa State Park.
Red Sand Beach/Kaihalulu beach (Hana):
It was our most favorite spot on this drive. We have never seen a red sand beach before so this was really exciting. It is a beautiful secluded beach that took an adventurous (fairly short) hike to get to, but so worth it.
Read our full post on Red Sand Beach.
Thai food by Pranee (in Hana):
We stopped there after visiting red sand beach, super hungry and just before closing time and it still was super crowded. Thai Food by Pranee is a small Thai food truck and the best we ever had.
Haleakala National Park (Mile #42):
On this side of the island the park looks very different from the west side. It is more green and foresty. We hiked the 0.5 mile Kuloa point loop trail to 'Ohe'o Gulch or Seven Sacred Pools. The views were just breathtaking. Then we started our 4 mile roundtrip hike to Waimoku Falls. We were very tired already and the elevation gain wasn't easy on us, so we turned around after the first stop (0.5 mile mark) Falls at Makahiku. The falls was absolutely dry btw.
The road further is restricted by rental car companies and would have resulted in a violation of our rental agreement, so we turned around and drove our way back. It was already getting dark at this point and we were super tired so we decided not to make anymore stops.
It was a long drive back to Ka'anapali. We ended this beautiful day spent in nature by grabbing passionfruit and taro ice creams from Island Cream Co. in Lahaina.
Now that we have talked about what we saw on our trip, here is a list of all attractions on "Road to Hana". I hope I didn't miss any spots, and if I did please leave a comment and let me know.
List of attractions on "Road to Hana:
- Paia Town.
- Ho’okipa lookout and Ho'okipa Beach Park.
- Mile #2 - Twin Falls.
- Mile #4.5 - Huelo Lookout Fruitstand.
- Mile #9.5 - Waikamoi Ridge trail.
- Mile #10 - Garden and Eden.
- Mile #12 - Kaumahina State Wayside Park.
- Mile #14 - Honomanu Bay.
- Mile #16 - Ke’anae Arboretum.
- Aunty Sandy's Banana Bread/Smoothies.
- Mile #17 - Keane Peninsula.
- Mile #18 - Wailua Valley.
- Mile #19 - Upper Waikani Falls.
- Mile #22 - Pua'a Kaa State Wayside Park.
- Mile #24 - Hanawi Falls.
- Mile #27.5 - Coconut Glen's Icecream.
- Mile #29 - Nahiku Marketplace.
- Mile #31 - Hana Lava Tube.
- Mile #31 - Kahanu Garden - Nice Garden.
- Mile #32 - Wai'anapanapa State Park - Black sand beach.
- Mile #34 - Hana Town
- Red Sand Beach in Hana.
- Thai food by Pranee in Hana.
- Mile #50 - Hamoa Beach.
- Alau Island on Haneo’o Rd.
- Mile #45 - Wailua Falls.
- Mile #42 - Haleakala National Park, Kipahulu - Pipiwai trail and 'Oheo Gulch.
- Mile #41 - Laulime Farmstand.
Where to stay: We stayed in Ashton Mahana at Ka'anapali. Check out accommodations in Paia. Check out accommodations in Hana.
Time to spend: One day may not be sufficient time to see all the spots on this drive, so plan for 2 days atleast or do some research to pick your interests in advance and go just there.
Getting there: Pick up a map from the airport or your hotel so that you don't miss any spots on the way. GPS is not reliable in this case.
What to bring: Sturdy shoes for hikes, flip-flops, bathing suit, mosquito repellent, rain poncho, water, and a camera.
Other things to know before going:
-Definitely rent a car, you will miss out a lot on a tour.
-Start early to avoid traffic and beat the crowds.
-Some of the attractions have open/close timings and entrance fees.
-Fill up your car full tank.
-Prepare for driving through mountain roads.
-Pay attention to mile markers, they tell you where to stop.
-Manage your time. Do not stop everywhere and do not spend too much time at one spot no matter how much you love it.
-Look out the window, the drive is breathtaking.