Road to Hana, Maui

When in Maui, it’s the one thing everyone says to do. You need to do it. You must do it. It’s the Road to Hana.

Tropical rainforests, beautiful plants and flowers, a black sand beach, lava caves, waterfalls, and more. Every mile there seems to be an attraction to pull over and see. It’s definitely a full-day experience.

What is the Road to Hana?
Hana Highway (Highway 36, which becomes Highway 360) runs 60+ miles from Kahului to the town of Hana. Most visitors continue on past Hana to the Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park–don’t miss it!

Oh yeah, hope you don’t get car sick. The Road to Hana features over 600 curves and almost 60 bridges (many of them one lane).

The Road to Hana, Maui

The Road to Hana, Maui


  • You can either rent a car like we did, or you can go with a tour group (Valley Isle Excursions were the most frequent tour buses we saw). Since we wanted the freedom to stop and go when we wanted to, the rental car worked best for us. However, the driver needs to stay focused on the road, so maybe you would like an organized tour better. Your call.
  • Start early! It will be a long day. We were on the road from our hotel in Kihei by 6:30am.
  • Locals use the road too! When possible, pull over and let locals pass. Do not hold up traffic trying to take photos out the car window.
  • Ignore the time of arrival estimates on your car’s GPS or your smartphone. The drive can be slow (you can see the scenery!) and you’ll be pulling over to see the sights along the way.
  • May sound like common sense, but make sure you have a full tank of gas when leaving the Kahului area.
  • Stop! Pull over for fresh fruit, banana bread, smoothies, and coffee.
  • Bring your swimsuit for stopping along the beaches. Also bring shoes if you plan to do some hiking.
  • Pay attention! Many parts of the road go down to one lane as you cross bridges or come around blind corners. Drive safely.

After we left our hotel in Kihei and made the quick drive up to Kahului, we were off on the Hana Highway! Unfortunately, Mother Nature wasn’t giving us blue skies and sunshine for our trip. We knew we were on the “wet” side of the island, but we had clouds and rain for most of the day. The upside? The waterfalls were fantastic!

In Paia, we stopped in for breakfast at Anthony’s Coffee. Then it was back on the road.

Our first big “wow” moment on the drive was Upper Waikani Falls. So much so that a county highway worker asked *us* to take *his* picture at the waterfall!

Upper Waikani Falls, Road to Hana, Maui

Upper Waikani Falls, Road to Hana, Maui

Next up was Ke’anae Arboretum. We parked along the side of the road and hiked down a paved trail to beautiful plants and wildlife. My favorite were the multicolored rainbow eucalyptus trees!

Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree, Ke'anae Arboretum, Road to Hana, Maui

Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree, Ke’anae Arboretum, Road to Hana, Maui

Then we spent a good chunk of time at Waianapanapa State Park, home to a beautiful black sand beach and lava caves.

black sand beach, Waianapanapa State Park, Maui

black sand beach, Waianapanapa State Park, Maui

After that, there were some more spectacular waterfalls, like Wailua Falls.

Wailua Falls, Road to Hana, Maui

Wailua Falls, Road to Hana, Maui

Then we wrapped up our adventure in the Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park to do some hiking. The ‘Ohe’o Gulch (aka Seven Sacred Pools) loop trail and the Pipiwai Trails are a must do.

'O'he'o Gulch, Road to Hana, Maui

‘O’he’o Gulch, Road to Hana, Maui

Heading back: We backtracked on the Road to Hana to return to the hotel. That’s the recommended way. Some tourists continue on the back road from Hana. A several mile section of it is unpaved. Because of the heavy rains, we didn’t want to chance it–although everyone says it’s a beautiful, if tooth-rattling, drive!

For more pics, check out my Flickr album.

2 Comments on “Road to Hana, Maui

  1. Pingback: You Had Me at Aloha: Hawaii – Trip in Review | Journey Collector

  2. Pingback: Hawaii on a Budget | Travel on the Side

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