One of the most scenic drives in the world, the 70-mile trip to Hana is full of cascading waterfalls, lush jungle, and breathtaking Pacific Ocean views.
Sometimes called the Hana Highway, the Road to Hana connects Kahului with Hana in east Maui, a secluded, quiet town. If you're visiting Maui, it is well worth the trip to see all the wild beauty the island has to offer.
If you take a little time to prepare for your trip, you'll be rewarded with an experience you won't soon forget. However, if you don't know what you're doing, you might end up hangry, stuck in traffic, frustrated, or nauseated.
Take some time before you leave to get ready for your trip on the Road to Hana, and you'll have an amazing road trip on one of Hawaii's most scenic drives. Here's some tips to get the most out of your experience!
Tip #1: Consider Spending the Night
You can take the Road to Hana in one day. However, if you don't need to, don't rush it. Consider staying a night in Hana, even two nights, in order to get the whole Road to Hana experience.
Places to consider along the Hana Road include:
- Travassa Hana: It’s the main hotel and spa in Hana. It offers beautiful accommodations, but can be pricey.
- Hana Kai: The sweet condos offer great ocean views.
- Airbnb: Find great accommodations for whatever your needs or price range!
- Camping: Wake up right on the beach at one of Hana’s campsites!
Since you're off the beaten path there are not a ton of hotels or accomodations to choose from so book/ plan early.
There are many, many beautiful stops and things to see on Hana Highway. You won't regret giving yourself extra time to enjoy it all. Not only will you be able to see more along the road, but you'll avoid the stress of traffic and running out of time on your trip. You'll have time to stop at many more places and see more of what the Road to Hana has to offer.
Tip #2: Get a Guided Tour
Experts can help guide you through the Road to Hana to make sure that you stop at all the must-see locations. You can download an app, such as Gypsy Guide, to get the most up-to-date information and the directions you need. Hana Highway is notoriously poorly marked, so it might not be easy to find that perfect waterfall that everyone is talking about. Instead, Gypsy Guide relies on GPS so you can find your way even without a signal.
You can also choose to use a guidebook to give detailed directions and insights into the best places to start. However, keep in mind that guides may not be up-to-date. As many tourists get the scoop on the local spots, the crowds have forced some of the hidden gems to be fenced off and guarded against visitors.
Another great option is taking a bus tour. It is much better for the environment and means fewer cars crowding out the Road to Hana. Not only is it great for Maui, but you don't have to stress about planning the trip and deciding where you need to go. Local bus tours will make sure you see all of the best places while offering useful information and interesting tidbits about the area. You won't have to stress about driving the windy roads, and you'll see more scenery sitting up high with large bus windows.
Tip #3: Pick What You Want to See Ahead of Time
If you decide not to use the bus tour route, you need to prioritize exactly what you want to see. With all of the breathtaking views, it's not possible to see it all. Internet access is also cut off for most of the drive, so searching along the way isn't a good option. Plus, reading in the car might make you nauseous!
Some great choices along the way include:
- Paia Town
- Twin Falls
- Upper Waikani Falls
- Seven Sacred Pools
- Hana Lava Tube
- Hanawi Falls
- Red Sand Beach
- Black Sand Beach
- Ohe'o Gulch
Also, don't plan to do anything else the same day as Hana Highway. It is a day packed full of activities. In fact, many families with children stated that they needed a day or two to recover afterward and had to cancel plans.
Many people expect it to be a small road trip. However, give yourself time to enjoy the Road to Hana by clearing your schedule.
Tip #4: Load up on Supplies
Much of Hana's charm is in its quiet, secluded nature. However, that also means that there are not many food stops or supplies along the way. While there are some delicious roadside stands along the road to grab a quick bite (see our recommendations below!) it's a good idea to pack some water and snacks since some of the stands may be closed, and many are cash-only.
Bring some substantial food along for the journey to keep you from getting hungry. That way, you can enjoy the fruit stands but still have something to keep everyone happy.
Also, there are no gas stations until you reach Hana Town, so fill up your tank before you take off.
Keep in mind that the Road to Hana is on the “wet” side of the island. It rains frequently, even during the dry season. Be sure to anticipate by packing for rain. Hiking boots, ponchos, and umbrellas are all helpful for the weather. Also consider bringing a change of dry clothes for when you reach your destination.
Road to Hana stop recommendations (and official Hana Tonic vendors!):
- Jaws Country Store
- Nahiku Ti Gallery
- Halfway to Hana
- Garden of Eden
- Aunty Sandy’s
- Coconut Glen’s
- Hana Harvest
- Hana Farms
Tip #5: Start Early
As Maui becomes a top vacation spot, it has become more crowded. Because it's a 2-lane highway, there's no room for passing, and the popular stops can be overwhelmed with too many people. Also, don't try to drive the highway when it's dark. The windy road is a beast during the day, and it can become downright scary at night.
When driving during the day, make sure you honk your car horn when going around any hairpin turns with limited visibility. The only advantage to driving in the evening is that you're able to see car lights coming.
Because of all the above reasons, it's important to start as early as possible in the morning. The ideal time to leave is 6 am, although 7 o'clock is also much better than going at later times. You'll beat the crowds and won't stress about making it to your destination on time.
If you're making the trip in one day, you should aim to hit Ohe'o Gulch no later than 3 pm to make it back before dark. If you plan to hike it, get there even earlier around 1pm.
Tip #6: Respect the Locals
The local people of Maui are friendly towards tourists and happy to share their island's beauty with others. However, they can get understandably frustrated when tourists act carelessly, so be considerate towards the people who live there. They may not want to spend 10 minutes stuck behind you ogling the waterfall you've stopped to see!
Here are a few general rules to keep in mind:
The Hana Highway is a one lane windy highway that often gets crowded. There's no way to get around someone unless they pull over to let you pass. How would you feel if tourists were keeping you from getting to your doctor's appointment or work on time? If you see someone behind you who is clearly more comfortable on the road than tourists and seems in more of a hurry, pull over to let them pass. They'll be grateful.
Likewise, don't park on bridges or otherwise block the road, even for a "quick stop." It's considered rude and you'll probably get honked at quite a bit!
Mind the "Kapu" Signs
Much of the land along the Hana Highway is private. Don't trespass on other people's property, even if your guidebook says there's a waterfall nearby. Kapu means "off-limits," so stick to the public stop and respect the local's privacy.
Also, respect the guardrails along the sheer cliffs. They were put there for your safety -- do not climb over them to take pictures, as there are often sheer drop-offs masked by foliage.
Listen to Local Advice
If locals are telling you that it might be a bad idea to get into the water, they're not trying to ruin your fun. The fact is, they know the tell-tale signs that the water is not safe. Whether because of brown water, rains, or something else they know, take their advice. There's plenty of places to swim in Maui, but none are worth getting hurt over.
Tip #7: Stay Safe
There are certain general rules to follow on the Road to Hana that will help keep the trip fun and everyone safe. The first is not to swim under waterfalls. Although it might ruin that perfect picture you were planning on having, hanging out under waterfalls can be dangerous. Rocks and trees often come down waterfalls along with the water, and you don't want to risk getting hit.
Also, stay on the trails. They are well-maintained to keep you safe. Not only is it bad for the environment to tromp through the vegetation, but people often get lost straying even just a little. The thick and lush landscape is beautiful, but it can be dangerous if you don't know where you're going.
There have been many cases of hikers getting lost or turned around, so always pack your cell phone, water and snacks when going on a hike, and be sure someone knows where you are.
Next, keep in mind that there are bacteria in the water. Avoid swimming in brown water and never drink it. Avoid the water in the rain as well. There can often be a sudden rise in water levels, which is often very hazardous.
Lastly, protect your belongings at all times. Sadly, break-ins are common, and rental cars, in particular, are regular targets. Take your belongings with you when you leave the car and leave valuables at the hotel.
Tip #8: Protect Yourself Against Motion Sickness
Road to Hana boasts over 600 hairpin turns. Although the views are breathtaking and it's one of the most beautiful drives in the world, the twists and turns can make even the most iron-clad stomach queasy. Take some reasonable precautions, such as keeping your eyes on the road. Many people find that if they are the driver, and not the passenger, they don't get sick. If you're starting to feel sick, don't look down at maps or try to read. If you think you might end up feeling nauseated, consider volunteering to drive.
Also, be sure to drink plenty of water. Between the sun, tropical weather, and fun activities, it's easy to get dehydrated. A bit of water can help settle your stomach and keep your energy levels up for the drive.
Keep your stomach happy by not over-or undereating. Often light foods that are plain, such as crackers or bananas, are ideal for the drive if you’re feeling a little sick.
Last, take some Hana Tonic to keep motion sickness at bay. It's full of natural ingredients known for their nausea-busting qualities and will have you feeling better fast. Plus, it's an all in one convenient shot so you don't have to slow down on your fun vacation.
You can find Hana Tonic all over the island of Maui or the road to Hana. Check out our store locator for exact locations!