Everything you need to know about the Road to Hana
Maui’s “road to Hana” is a curvy coastal road with views of cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, and miles and miles of lush rainforest. It’s a well paved road, but you do need to keep your wits about you when you drive it because of the many sharp curves and one-lane bridges.
Despite how the name “road to Hana” implies that it’s simply a road that gets you to the little town of Hana — it’s so much more.The objective of this scenic drive is not just to get to the small town of Hana. It’s more about the journey itself and enjoying the beauty along the way.
To many people’s surprise, the adventure that is called “the road to Hana” doesn’t finish in the town of Hana. The beauty doesn’t just stop there as there’s plenty more to see beyond Hana! We’ll explain that more as you progress through this guide to the road to Hana.
What’s the route for the road to Hana?
We’re going to define the road to Hana the way we believe it ought to be defined. It’s to Hana and beyond and back.
The road to Hana begins as Highway 36 at Kahului, continues through Paia where it eventually turns into Highway 360. The drive continues on Highway 360 road to the town of Hana, but, the joy of this drive doesn’t stop there. Just past the little town of Hana, the road becomes Highway 31. Continue on Highway 31 until you get to the Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park. At this point, we recommend you drive back to your accommodation the same way you drove in as the road beyond Kipahulu is prohibited by the rental car companies.
In addition to driving highways 36, 360 and 31, there will be some scenic diversions off these highways, too. We’ll identify those in further down in this article.
Note that the Kipahulu area past Hana is part of Haleakala National Park, though it is separated from the summit of Haleakala by many miles and thousands of feet of elevation. At first glance, visitors may assume that the summit of Haleakala and the Kipahula area of Haleakala are near each other. Some assume that sunrise on Haleakala and the road to Hana can be easily enjoyed on the same day, but we do not advise you attempt both in the same day.
Consider whether you want to drive the road to Hana independently or take a tour.
While the road to Hana offers many beautiful scenes, it’s quite a challenging drive. Highway 360 alone has 620 curves and 59 bridges and quite a few single-lane sections! On top of that, it can be difficult finding some of the scenic stops to enjoy the beauty.
Driving the road independently allows you to move at your own pace and stop where you want to stop. With all that comes some stress, too.
Taking a guided tour let’s you and all those in your group sit back and enjoy the scenery. You don’t have to navigate to find the best stops. The guides know where to go, plus they provide lots of interesting commentary about the area and history, too.
We’ve driven the road ourselves several times and we’ve also taken a couple of guided tours. Both were very enjoyable. For more thoughts on these options, see our article detailing the advantages and disadvantages of each method — Touring the Road to Hana Independently vs. Guided Tour.
Planning ahead to enjoy the road to Hana
Now, if you’ve chosen to drive the road to Hana independently, let’s now review some very helpful and practical tips for enjoying your drive. Let’s start with what to plan and consider well in advance of your day driving the road to Hana.
- If you are prone to carsickness, then this drive may not be for you as it literally includes hundreds of curves. If you get motion sickness either consider whether you want to take this drive at all or what options you might have to prevent getting sick — such as medication, supplement and/or acupuncture remedies.
- Take a little virtual drive on the road to Hana via Google Maps to get familiar with the territory. We randomly selected a section of the Hana Highway on the streetview of Google Maps at this link that you can explore.
- If you are unsure if the road to Hana is for you or if you have enough time, check out our mini-guide to the road to Hana with three scenic stops.
- NEW starting February 2021 – a new reservation system has been implemented for visitors wanting to see the black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park. At the time of implementation, reservations can be made up 30 days in advance, but no later than the day prior. See our article covering this new reservation system along with our suggestions. Also note that a further entrance fee became effective April 2021.
- Plan to make a whole day of the drive there and back.There is so much to see and do that you can’t see it all in one day. We’ve driven the road to Hana about six times now and still haven’t had the opportunity to do everything listed in guidebooks. Ideally, an overnight or longer stay in the town of Hana allows you to see and do more in the area.
- Get a good Maui guidebook that will detail what to see along the way. Find one that provides references by mile markers. (We’ve used Maui Revealed in the past and found it was a good reference. Just make sure you never trespass or do any hiking or swimming that are beyond your skills. If it looks dangerous, it probably is! When in doubt, don’t go out!)
- As you are planning your Maui itinerary, you may want to plan to drive the road to Hana within three days of when you plan to see sunrise from the summit of Haleakala, but not the same day. The reason being is that your entrance fee is valid for both the summit and the coastal, Kipahulu area. Check the park’s website for current fees and policies.
- Make a list of all the spots you definitely want to see off the road to Hana. Make a note of their location by mile markers. The location of most spots and diversions will be identified as between such and such mile markers. That will be about the only landmarks that will guide you to the stops. Note that mile markers change depending on what road you are on. Though it may seem like the same road, you’ll actually be driving on three separate highways – 36, 360, and 31 and they each have their own mile markers and it can get kind of confusing. From Paia, the mile markers for highways 36 and 360 count up. Then, just past Hana, the road becomes Highway 31 with the mile markers counting down from 50. If you don’t have the time or interest in researching all there is to do on and off the road to Hana, just check out our guide to the best stops, which we’ve listed further in this article.
- Plan to share the driving time with your travel companions, if possible. The drive can be stressful for one person. Consider whether you should add an additional driver onto your rental car contract as most contracts only allow one driver as a standard. Additional drivers can be usually be added for a fee, though with some deals it can be free. If you know the specific day you’ll be driving the road to Hana, most rental car companies allow you to add the additional driver for that specific days only and thereby limit the cost.
What to bring and wear for your road to Hana adventure
You’ll definitely want to be prepared for the activities you want to enjoy on the road to Hana.
- If you think you might do any swimming, then wear a swimsuit and bring beach towels.
- If you have quick drying clothes, wear those and/or bring a breathable waterproof jacket as it wouldn’t be unusual to find yourself in a brief shower as you’ll be in a rainforest.
- Wear a comfortable walking shoe that’s good for walking on muddy or uneven terrain. This type of shoe is great for the short treks and waterfall hunting on the road to Hana.
- Wear and bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent.
- Wear a visor or hat for additional sunscreen protection.
- Bring water.
- Consider bringing snacks if you like, but you will find roadside fruit stands. Some of them are open for pay by the honor system. So, bring cash to pay at the roadside stands.
- Don’t forget your camera with lots of film/memory and fully charged batteries.
- Once again, if you are prone to carsickness, bring any medicines and other remedies that you know help you to avoid getting sick.
- Don’t forget your list of the places you researched that you want to see.
- It’s helpful to bring a small backpack to store and carry items with you.
Tips for the day you drive the road to Hana
- Make sure you have a full tank of gas before you start the drive. Gas stations are few and far between!
- Check for road closures on the Maui County road closure notification website. Though road closures along the Road to Hana is not an everyday occurrence, it’s not too uncommon for a section of the road to be closed for a rock/mud slide.
- Try to get an early start. It makes a huge difference. You’ll avoid traffic with an early start. Ideally plan on leaving the South or West Maui resorts areas at or near sunrise. Most of the places to stop along the road to Hana only have room for one or two cars, so the earlier you get going, the more likely you’ll be able to find a place to pull off to look at the waterfalls and views.
- Roll down your window for fresh air and to hear the birds and waterfalls when the car is in motion. Just make sure you roll them up when you park the car and/or leave it unattended — even if just for a few minutes as you don’t want mosquitos hitching a ride with you.
- As you plan which day you are going to drive the road to Hana, carefully consider the weather forecast for Hana and the windward Haleakala area. (See this link for the current forecast.) I’ve driven the road on a beautiful sunny day and on a mostly cloudy and partly rainy day. Of course everyone would prefer the sunny day, right? Well, of course, we all do, but since I’ve had the opportunity to see the contrast, I can tell you that on the road to Hana, the weather makes a huge difference. The colors of the scenery are much more vibrant with the sun. Unfortunately, with the new reservation system for visiting Wai’anapanapa State Park, you may not have much of a choice.
- Do not block traffic or park in the road. Make sure that you park legally. Take note of road signs identifying where you can and cannot park. This road are patrolled to ticket violators.
- If you notice a local driving behind you or a long line of cars, please be considerate and pull over to allow cars to pass as soon as you find a safe spot to do so. (See more tips about driving with aloha.) Another important point I should highlight is that you should probably be prepared that you could encounter some unwelcoming locals. We’ve mostly had pleasant experiences on the road to Hana, but once we encountered a local bully. I hope your experience is a good one.
- Avoid driving a long distance on the road to Hana at night. Check ahead to know the sunset time for Hana.
- Always lock your car if you are going to be leaving it even for a minute or two. Never leave valuables in your car.
The best stops on and off the road to Hana
We’ll list some of the best stops in the order that you’ll encounter them as you drive the road to Hana. With each stop, we link to an article with more details about the stop and getting there. We provide detailed tips for visiting each spot along with the mile markers, so be sure to click each link to learn more.
- Keanae Point is a gorgeous diversion off the road to Hana that gives you beautiful views of the East Maui coast. See our post on Keanae Point for more details. Note our recommendation for a banana bread stop that’s here. The turn off for it is located between mile markers 16 and 17 of Highway 360.
- Waikani Falls is a pretty waterfall that’s right beside the road. It’s between mile markers 19 and 20 of Highway 360.
- At Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park, there are two small waterfalls that are easy to view. It’s located between mile markers 22 and 23.
- Waianapanapa State Park is one of Hawaii’s the most beautiful black sand beaches. As previously mentioned, make sure you have a reservation to visit this black sand beach. The turn off to go to this park is between mile markers 32 and 33.
- Take a stroll in the town of Hana, if you want. It’s a very small town, but there are food trucks, restaurants, a gas station, hotel and a general store.
- Just past the town of Hana, the road changes to Highway 31 and note that the mile mark sequence changes as well. Note also that instead of counting up, the mile markers will be counting down. Look for and turn off at Haneoo Road on the left, towards the ocean. This short road that connects back to Highway 31 had some delightful beauty to behold! Note that the thick sand has a red color. This is not the famous red sand beach of Hana, but it’s much easier and safer to see. Haneoo Road takes you to views of Alau Island and the red sand along the shore line. If you continue on Haneoo Road, beautiful Hamoa Beach will be below a cliff on the left. Look for cars parked along the road and then take the path down to the beach or simply admire it from above. Haneoo Road is u-shaped and will connect back to the highway for you to continue onwards.
- Wailua Falls is another beautiful waterfall located just off the road. It’s between mile markers 45 and 44.
- The Kipahula area of Haleakala National Park visitor center is located right around mile marker 42. See the Oheo Gulch (also known as the Seven Sacred Pools) with the cascading pools. Some people enjoy taking a swim in one of the cascading pools, if it is open. Always check in at the visitor center for swimming advice. Spend a bit of time walking around this area. If you have the time (between 2 to 2.5 hours), a hike on the Pipiwai Trail through a bamboo forest up to the towering (approximately 400 feet) Waimoku Waterfall is well worth doing. Note that this area is part of Haleakala National Park. So, when you purchase entry into the park, it is valid for both entry points for 3 days from purchase. See more about visiting the Kipahulu area.
- Another popular point of interest just beyond the Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park is the gravesite of Charles Lindbergh at the beautiful, little Palapala Ho’omau Church. It’s tricky to find Look for the a paved, one-lane road on the ocean side of Highway 31 just after mile marker 41.(There’s also might be a private property sign, but that refers to the property itself, not the road.) This is a great place to turn around and enjoy the views of the road to Hana from the other direction. Also, if you happened to miss a spot earlier in the day, you may be able to catch it on the way back.
- If you have daylight time remaining, on your way back to your hotel or condo, don’t miss watching the windsurfers at Hookipa Beach.
Looking for other great things to see and do on Maui? See our Seven-Day Maui Vacation Itinerary.
We enjoyed our Road to Hana day. We did Haleakala sunrise on our 1st day & Road to Hana on our 2nd day in Hawaii. Since we were still on East coast time, it was quite easy to get a really early start. I am prone to car sickness but I did very well. I did have on a Relief band so it was either that or the fresh air (converible) that helped. The only part that did bother me a bit was the road between Hana & Oheo Gulch.
Hi Lissete – I’m glad you were able to enjoy the Road to Hana even though you are prone to car sickness. That’s good to know that the Relief band helped do the trick.
I totally agree with you on planning the early morning stuff for the first days. I come from Eastern time, too and it’s a piece of cake to get up early. In fact, it’s hard not to get up early. So, you might as well make good use of those early days.
I too get carsick and airsick but have found a wonderful remedy which has to be prescribed by a doctor: a patch you put behind your ear that works for 3 days. It’s miraculous. Works on the twisty road to Hana. Please Note: I recommend you do not use the Maui Revealed. It has a very bad reputation on the island and is outdated and badly in need of an editor. Flash floods are not uncommon and full of bad and dangerous advice. Alternative to Road to Hana if you don’t have an entire day to spend on th road: Twin Falls Trail. It’s right at the start of the Hana Highway. There’s a series of waterfall fed lagoons along a mile trail. Nice people run it. It’s free and there’s a fruit stand where you can buy fresh fruit and smoothies.
A nice open convertible will usually relieve car sickness along with a baggie of crystallized ginger to chew on. Remember if you’re taking Dramamine to take it at least 30 minutes prior (like if you’re leaving from Lahaina, take it then so it kicks in by the time you get to the beginning of the highway)
The road past Hana to Oheo Gulch is very narrow so if you’re going up to a blind turn, give your horn a quick little honk to alert anyone on the other side. I can’t count how many times we’ve encountered big dump trucks or big govt vehicles in the middle of an already narrow road. Gets the heart pumping! 🙂
Watch for flash floods at Oheo Gulch. It’s green on this part of the island because of rain and inland rain easily and quickly sweeps down the falls. So be aware of changes in water levels in your pool.
Remember as of right now you can’t go all the way around so if a trip to the Kaupo Store was on your trip, I believe the road is closed from the 2006 earthquake a mile or two before it.
Great post Sheila!
Renee & Angie – thanks for adding your thoughts and tips.
We noticed locals making it all around to Kaupo but they said it required four wheel drive. They’re saying the slides won’t be cleared until 2009. Most important on Road to Hana is letting locals by so they can go about their business. They will appreciate and acknowledge your good manners. Ditto on Maui Revealed comments. A diservice to this beautiful island, cheapens it. I recommend staying in Hana overnight and soaking up the sun on Hamoa Beach and taking a walk along the Wainapanap Coast. There’s a beautiful trail that hugs the shore.
Jon – I totally agree on letting the locals pass, so that’s why I made sure to mention it in the list of tips. I didn’t grow up in Hawaii, but I grew up in a touristy area, so I know what it’s like to have to follow slow driving sight-seers.
I appreciate all this first hand advice. I have printed it out for my upcoming trip. Thanks Sheila.
LilliAnne – I hope you have a wonderful time in Maui. The Road to Hana is really, really beautiful! I hope you’ll enjoy it!
I would stay overnight and enjoy it the way it was meant to be. Hana is so beautiful and natural. Make sure to respect the locals!!
Could I get an idea of just how much time to allow for the trip to Hana and back? Is it feasible to take the Super Ferry from Oahu (arriving around 9:00 am), rent a car, take the drive, visit a red sand beach, and return before the Ferry leaves for the return to Oahu (8:00 pm)? If I had to make a choice between the red sand beaches on the east of Maui, or the south of Maui, which is the better choice?
Thanks to all who offer assistance!
That’s a very good question. Here are my thoughts:
The road to Hana is best enjoyed on a leisurely pace. The roads are very curvy and there are many one lane bridges along the way that require you to yield to oncoming traffic. There will be many times you’ll want to pull over to look at the views and take photos. The road to Hana is more about soaking in the scenery than it is to zoom past it.
I’d be afraid that you’d be too pushed for time if you tried to fit with the Superferry schedule. Bear in mind that the ferry suggest you be at the dock 60 minutes before scheduled departure. So you’d need to have your rental car turned in and make your way back to the dock by 7pm.
As an alternative, consider flying to Maui for the day. Take an early flight that gets you there at about 7am and plan a flight that departs around 8pm. That should give you some more breathing room.
Another idea is to take the ferry and plan to stay one night in Hana and go back the next day. The Hotel Hana is highly rated and very nice, though a bit on pricey side.
I hope this helps.
I agree, I would not try to cram it all in and the Superferry hasn’t always been reliable if you’re planning ahead. If the seas are choppy at all, they can cancel it with little to no notice.
Have we done it in less time than the time you’ve alotted? Yes. But it’s because we got started early. It really is a beautiful drive and one we never get tired of but it’s one to be taken in.
I would recommend spending a night there if you can. There are a lot of lower cost vacation rentals if you’re trying to stick to a budget.
Hotel Hana Maui is very nice and luxurioous but VERY expensive.
Thank you Sheila and Angie. Your advice is very much appreicated. I will have to consult with my traveling companion (my daughter who lives in Oahu) and see what she wants to do. We will probably only have the one day to visit Maui, so I want to get the most bang for my buck, if ya know what I mean.
I will look over the web sites y’all provided and give this adventure some serious thought.
Thanks again for everything!
You’re welcome, Carol. I hope it works out that you get to take the road to Hana. It’s very, very beautiful. The scenerly you will see on the road to Hana will be quite a bit different than what you’ll see on Oahu. So, taking a day trip over to Maui is a good vacation/memory investment, in my opinion.
If you might be prone to getting car sick, then it might make the road to Hana even more challenging if you come over on the ferry.
Le me know what you decide to do and how it all works out.
Happy planning and travels!
Thank you so much for this great advice!
My husband and I are visiting Hawaii next April on our honeymoon and can’t wait to drive The Road to Hana.
Just have a quick question – can we fit The Road to Hana and Kipahula Falls into one day? We’re staying at the other end of the Island and so it would be a lot of driving to do it twice. We don’t want to rush either!
Thank you very much!
I’m glad you’re finding some good advice here.
I have to say, I’m not entirely sure that I know of Kipahula Falls. Might you be referring to the cascading waterfalls at the Oheo Gulch which is part of the Kipahula area of Haleakala National Park? If that’s the case, then yes, you’ll have time to see that on the same day you are driving the road to Hana. If that’s not what you’re talking about, can you provide a link or any other point of reference so that I can take a look?
Realistically, how long would the drive to Hana take from Lahaina. I will be coming in on the ferry from Molokai and picking the car up around 8:30-9:00 AM, but I have to be back at Kahului airport by around 9:30 to catch my 11:00 PM flight back to the Mainland. Keep in mind, I am not one to take many stops, as I am very comfortable being in a car for long distances.
Hi Bobby – First, I assume that you’ll be dropping your car off at the airport and not back in Lahaina. If that’s the case, you should have plenty of time to drive this scenic drive. Enjoy it!
Yep! I will be dropping off the car at the airport (and surprisingly not paying a different drop-off fee) so thanks for putting my worries to rest, Sheila. What a great way to end my Hawaii trip, and what a great vacation to start off the new year!
Just came back after a fabulous trip to Maui. The road is beautiful and challenging. We ended up coming back in the dark…don’t do it! Leave early before sunset. We were bummed that the road to Charles Lindbergh’s grave was washed out, so we couldn’t make it there. I have a question…we stopped at two black beaches – one was black pebbles and was a steep drive down a slope on the way there. I can’t find the name of it anywhere – not sure it was in any of our books. We also made it to the black sand beach at the state park. Does anybody know the name of the pebble beach??
We will be driving a convertible with all luggage and possessions in the trunk,as we will be staying in Hana. Having heard about theft along the way, do we dare leave our car at various stops?
@ Bobby – that’s great that you won’t have to pay a drop off fee for your rental car. Just another piece of advice – please pay attention to how long it is taking you to get to certain points along the drive so that you’ll know if you need to turn around. Also, since you won’t be getting an early morning start, it would probably be best to avoid long stops as you drive towards Hana so that you’ll be able to better judge your available time for stops when you turn around towards the airport.One stop I would not miss is Wai‘anapanapa State Park https://www.govisithawaii.com/2012/06/04/road-to-hana-stop-at-black-sand-beach-waianapanapa-state-park/ As it has one of the most beautiful black sand beaches in all of Hawaii! After you return, please stop back by and let us know how your trip went.
@ Cathy – You’re right, driving the road to Hana in the dark creates a bigger challenge. Plus, you miss out on the scenery. I always advise getting on the road as soon as possible in the morning. I’m traveling at the moment, but when I get home, I’ll check my guide book to see if I can figure out the name of the black pebble beach. Do you recall if a waterfall fed pool was nearby?
@ Jane – Lucky you that you’ll be staying in Hana! Oh my, theft can be a problem, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I have personally never had a problem with having anything stolen. In fact,when I last drove the road to Hana, we had a Jeep Wrangler and we stopped a couple of times for about a half hour and the souvenirs that I had purchased in Hana were in the jeep and weren’t stolen. Here’s a couple of thoughts for you:
– If you do have your luggage in the trunk, NEVER open the trunk or give any indication that there’s anything at all in the trunk. Even at stops where it appears that no one is around…don’t be tempted to open up the trunk. I’ve actually heard people say that the trees have eyes….meaning that thieves know where to hide that you’ll never know they are there, but they’re on the look out for signs that valuables are in the car.
– Can you leave your luggage (locked) at you Hana accommodation while you sight see? Even if you have to double back an by a half hour, the peace of mind that you’re valuables are safer.
@ Cathy – would the black beach be at Waioka also known as Venus Pool?
If we are planning on driving the road to Hana leaving from the Maui airport…how long do you think it would take us to make the drive (one way)?
I think our flight gets us into Maui at 3:45pm so I guess we’ll probably start the trek around 4:30pm? Do you think we’ll have enough time to make it to our hotel in Hana before it gets too dark? If not…should we be concerned?
Thanks for your help….
@ Jeff – It will probably take you about 2 hours to drive to Hana.
Now, if you get there before sunset depends on what time of year you go as sunset time varies from about 5:45pm to about 7:15pm. Here’s a link to a sunrise and sunset chart from Maui’s Haleakala: http://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/sunrise-and-sunset.htm One point to bear in mind is that much of the drive is on the east side and in the shadow of Haleakala, so that area will probably be darker a bit sooner.
Sounds like if you do end up driving in the dark, there’s a good chance it won’t be for too long. Just take it slow.
Sheila you are the best! We are staying in a house on Hana for a week. I would like to make alot of plans to travel on the other more populated sides of the island but i am feeling a little like the drive to and back will be too much to do each day. What are your thoughts? Also we are planning on attending a Luau but because of the night driving i am a little scared. Isn’t there a airport in Hana and is it reasonable to fly back and forth?
Hi Melanie – thanks for the kind words!
A week in Hana sounds like bliss! Not many people get the chance to explore that area as thoroughly as you will, so count yourself lucky!
You have presented a challenge about seeing the other areas of Maui from Hana. There is an airport in Hana and it has the code HNM. Pacific Wings and Mokulele tends to fly to the smaller airports in Maui.
Since you’ll have the additional cost of another rental car and flights if you fly to either Kapalua (JHM) or Kahului (OGG), you might be better off staying in West or South Maui for a night and concentrate your sightseeing on the other side of the island over two days – scheduling your luau on the night of your stay away from Hana. With this option, you’ll probably save money and your valuable vacation time. Hope these thoughts help.
Hey Sheila, It looks like it might rain the 2 days I’m in Maui. But I really wanted to see the black sand beaches. Any advice on how to get there. Is it safe to drive in the rain? Im staying in Kihei and wont get in until 1pm.
Donyale – don’t try to drive the road too fast and you should be fine. I wouldn’t attempt to drive it the day you arrive since you won’t be getting in until 1pm so that you won’t risk driving the road in the dark.
The black sand beach along the road to Hana is called Wai‘anapanapa State Park and it is really, really pretty. You’ll get to it before you get to Hana. https://www.govisithawaii.com/2012/06/04/road-to-hana-stop-at-black-sand-beach-waianapanapa-state-park/
You may want to skip the Kipahulu area (past Hana) since it’s subject to flash floods.
Thanks Sheila! You Rock! Thanks for the advance! I’ll let you know how it goes!
You’re welcome. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the rain holds off for your Road to Hana drive.
we will be on maui for 2 days as part of a cruise. we plan on taking the hana drive. we want to do it in one day which means driving both ways on the same day. is that doable? looking for the best waterfall and maybe a place to swim/picnic along the way. thanks.
dave – yes, it’s very doable. In fact, that’s what 95% of the visitors do. You’ll see waterfalls along the drive. At the Oheo Gulch in the Kipahulu area there’s some cascading waterfalls. Some people swim there when the conditions are good. You can read a little bit about that area here: http://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/kipahulu.htm
Sheila, thanks for all the great advice. I am looking to do a one day trip as well. I want to do the two mile hike at the end to see some of the best highlights. I will be in Kaanapali and I can leave bright and early. Anyway, what are all of your can’t miss stops? I would leave at say 7am and plan to make the entire loop around the island. So what are the can’t miss attractions and are any of the stops after Lindbergh worthwhile? Thanks.
Jim – I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but all of the major car rental companies like Avis, Budget, Hertz, etc. tell you that you shouldn’t drive beyond Lelekea Bay. Now there’s not a rental car cop stopping you from driving it 🙂 but if you should have an accident or your rental car breaks down on unauthorized roads, your rental contract is void. So, if you drive it, you are taking that risk. Honestly, I think that the scenery doubling back on the 360 and 36 is worth seeing again.
Okay, thanks I wasn’t aware of that. If I go and double back about how many stops do you think I can make in one day? I know it is a tough question depending on how long I stay at each stop but do you have any list of the “can’t miss” stops on the Road to Hana? I don’t want to stop at them all and then find out I missed out on some of the better ones.
Jim – I sure wish I had a cheat sheet, so to speak, about all the must stops and that’s a great idea for a future post.
What I like to do, is try to drive all the way to Kipahulu with just a few stops along the way — stopping for a waterfall view or beautiful coast scene. The reason I like to drive all the way to Kipahulu is that I’ll know how to pace myself on the way back. Now, it’s inevitable that you’ll see a beautiful scene on the way to Kipahulu that you just can’t resist stopping for and that is fine. In general, those stops will take you less than 5 minutes.
For the most part, the stops are going to be obvious and just off the road to Hana. You’ll see pull outs for most of these places. I do think that the black sand beach at Wainapanapa State Park is a little less obvious, so do take note of that. It’s near mile marker 32.
Have you purchased a good guidebook yet? Maui Revealed is one of the top rated ones and does a good job of telling you the stops by mile marker. It would be a good idea to get a good guidebook and read the road to Hana section before you go to Maui and then you can decide on the diversions that sound best to you and you want to make the time to do.
Some cautions about the Revealed Guides — by in large the advice is good, but I have found a few times that these books tend to take you on a wild goose chase. So, if it feels like a wild goose chase, chances are it is. A second caution is that if the guide book tells you to take a trail or road, but the trail or road is on private property and marked with no trespassing signs, please honor the signs. A final caution is to be safe!
I hope this helps. Just remember that the road to Hana is more about the journey than the destination and you’ll enjoy.
Very interesting! I’ve never been there!
We did the Pride of Hawaii Cruise and spent 2 days in Maui – Our day on the Road to Hana was one of our absolute favorite!
Couple of tips – bring snacks, bathing suit, lots of water, and take your time.
We even purchased “I survived the Road to Hana t-shirts!”
We had one of the best hamburgers ever at the Hotel Hana for lunch! It was awesome – the views were incredible!
We will be in Maui for 7 glorious days! Do you think that it is better to drive the Road to Hana on a weekday or on a weekend?
Hi Susan – that’s a good question. From memory I’ve only driven the road on weekdays, so I don’t know how weekends compare. I would guess that perhaps there would be less large trucks on the road on weekends, assuming that they are not working on the weekends, so perhaps that could be a plus. I’m not sure it would matter much either way.
In my opinion, the weather is the biggest concern, so check the weather reports for Hana when you arrive on the island. Mostly sunny weather makes a huge difference in the scenery and overall experience.
Me and my boyfriend are going to Maui for christmas and I definetly want to do the road to Hana and visit the seven sacred pools but I’m a little worried because I don’t know the area and want some advice on where to go and what to do there. I need some help! lol. I’v read most the posts but if there’s anything else we should know then it would be helpful :]. Thanks.
I am going to Maui for my honeymoon at the end of September. I am renting a Harley for a few days. Do you feel taking the road to Hana on a motorcycle is a bad idea? Should we just explore other area on the motorcycle and take the car for the road to Hana?
Just realized I never followed back up. We rented a Harley Ultra Classic. I drove the complete loop including the back side on the bike. The back side is an adventure especially on a bike. With the steep loose gravel hills it made for some changeling riding. I have been riding dirt bikes & motorcycles since I was little so its wasn’t anything I hadn’t encountered before. Just great views and crazy roads.
@Samantha – the only other thing I might add is that you don’t want to wear shoes that you would be upset if they got muddy. This type of shoe is perfect for the road to Hana https://www.govisithawaii.com/2009/02/23/these-shoes-were-made-for-walking-in-hawaii/
@Ryan – you’ll probably find that you’ll be doing a lot of gear changing and breaking on the road to Hana. Also, check the weather and/or be prepared for a rain shower, just in case. Other than that, you’d probably enjoy the fresh air and scenery on a motorcycle.
We did the road to hana in August of 2008…
It was beautiful-do it. If you get carsick-ride in the front seat or do the driving. Stop as many times as possible. Many of these posts tell you not to use Maui Revealed, however, this was the BEST thing we purchased. It was spot on for the attractions and the reason the islanders do not like it is b/c it deters sales of the CD’s and guided tours. The worst part of the drive is from Hana to the Oheo Gulch but it is well worth it. The roads were very narrow and having the tour buses trying to use the one way bridges coming at you was a bit “stroke” worthy. You will be happy you went on though. Plan for an entire day. The way back from Hana takes about 2.5 hours but the way there should take you around 4-6 depending on the stops you make. The stops are why you make this trip so don’t rush! Good Luck!
My wife and I will be doing the drive in early November of this year. What will the weather be like at the time of the year and is the road any more challenging and narrower than the Pacific Coast Highway in California? Can we drive as far as the Lindbergh grave in a rental car?
We are planning to travel the road to Hana in early November, can you tell us what the the weather is generally for this part of Maui at this time of year.
In general November weather is still quite pleasant, though a tad more likely that you’ll encounter rain. See this link for Maui’s historical weather averages: http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USHI0031?from=search
I highly suggest that you check the weather forecast when you arrive and aim for clear day if possible. I’ve been on the road to Hana on cloudy and clear days, and the scenery is so much nicer on clear days.
I have only been on short sections of the PCH in California and the road to Hana is more challenging and narrow in comparison.
You can drive as far as the Lindbergh grave in a rental car. In fact, that’s not a bad turn around point.
Good points, I’d like to comment on “lock your car” – I suggest the opposite. Leave it open and bring your valuables with you. Your window will get smashed without second thought if the door is locked. Better to lose non-valuables, than to have glass everywhere, no window to roll up when it rains, and maybe a big bill from the rental car company.
Aloha Mark and mahalo for that alternative idea. Hmmm… a reverse psychology trick? It just might work. 🙂
Actually, it isn’t reverse psychology – it is the sad fact that the scum that breaks into cars here do not hesitate to smash windows. So if they have decided your car is the target, they will open the door with or without smashing the window.
Trust me on this one. I lost one window, and some stuff (that cost less than the window) about fifteen years ago. Haven’t lost a single thing since.
That is an interesting twist in thinking, yet sort of logical. I You might start to have a bug problem after a while, though, I’d imagine. Like people that rent convertibles and leave the tops down overnight at their hotels. Eeeek.
I’ve left the top down on our Jeep for 5 days now, and have not had a single problem with bugs or thieves.
Just returned from Maui and we did the “Road to Hana” it was beautiful but a bit disappointed that all of the falls weren’t ‘turned on’ LOL!! There hasn’t been enough rain lately so some were dry and the few that did have water were difficult to get to unless you’re an avid hiker. By the time we got to 7 sacred pools it was over crowded (by our standards) so maybe coming from the back side would be better (maybe next trip). The drive after along the south side was SO worth the effort. Not as treacherous as some say – but if your not a confidant driver, I wouldn’t reccommend it – as its not all paved and can be very narrow. Locals were fine as long as you give them room to get around you and just use commons sense! Shakah always helps!
We just returned from Maui and thoroughly enjoyed the Road to Hana, although it rained most of the day. Since Hurricane Felicia was approaching, we thought it best to go ahead with our plans and it was beautiful. We SWAM in pools with waterfalls during the rain, a very unique experience, and possible since there was no lightening as with Oklahoma rainstorms.
The Seven Sacred Pools were fabulous but crowded, compared to the other stops. It put us behind and we had to return to Central Maui in the dark, which was no fun.
Halfway to Hana had some great snacks and we made a lunch of it. Maybe we were really hungry but they were the best dogs and burgers we had had in a while.
Use Maui Revealed guidebook. It is by far the best of the three I purchased, and gave some wonderful tips for this excursion. Do NOT attempt this trip without some sort of guidebook or you will simply be following the herds and will miss some great views. Aloha.
Aloha Robin – two points I’d like to make – first is you’re absolutely right you need some guidebook in Maui. Maui revealed is a good book in many ways – especially in conveniently landing visitors at places where they can do damage to the environment, cultural resources and themselves without telling you how to minimize those impacts.
Which brings me to my second point: don’t swim in the pools when it is raining heavily (like it was when you were here) as flash floods are common, and people *regularly* drown and/or are pushed over waterfalls during these times. A young woman visiting Maui died just a few months ago falling from a waterfall. Every year there are drownings in this manner.
Point well taken. I should have clarified….Hurricane Felicia (which was downgraded to a tropical depression) was headed toward the islands but still a few days out. So, the rain we experienced was simply light showers and was actually very pleasant, although there was no sunshine. We did take our guide book’s recommendation not to swallow any of the water when swimming and not to swim with open cuts or sores, which I understand is especially important during the rain.
I thought Maui Revealed did a good job in warning the readers of various dangers, although we followed their less adventuresome recommendations, as we were traveling with my fit but 70 year old mother. We did not stray too far off the beaten paths. I can only comment on our experiences, which was very enjoyable and did not damage the environment or cultural resources in any way.
Hi Robin – Thanks for sharing your experience from the Road to Hana. I’m glad you enjoyed it despite the bad weather. If you ever return to Maui and can catch a sunny day along the Road to Hana, try it again. It’s even better on a sunny day.
As you probably read in my post, I think the Maui Revealed Guide is the best I’ve found. The milemarker detail is very helpful, though there’s still an element of adventure in finding certain stops.
We are planning a trip this September to the islands. We will be on a NCL cruise. Do you have any suggestions or pointers about car rentals at the various ports?
Are there shuttles that provide transportation to the car rentals from the ports?
Is there anything to do within walking distance of the ports?
The ports are…
Kahului, Hilo, Kona, and Nawiliwili
Thanks in advance for any info
You can get shuttles from each port for rental cars. But, you might want to consider this time saving tip: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2008/09/29/a-hawaii-cruise-time-saver-tip-skip-the-rental-car-shuttle-bus/
You may want to get a quote from these guys: http://www.discounthawaiicarrental.com/cruiseshipreservation.htm
I’ve written a series on what do do one each island with only one day. You’ll find a lot of advice with each one of those posts included in this link: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2008/06/02/i-only-have-one-day-in-hawaii-what-should-i-do/
There’s mostly just shopping at each port and in some locations, not much of that. So, do consider taking some of the excursions or renting a car and seeing the spectacular island scenery.
Hi again Colleen –
Your question inspired today’s post. 🙂
Check it out for a few more pointers: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2010/08/05/cruising-hawaii-and-renting-a-car/
My hubby and I’ll be flying to Maui from Canada in December for two weeks. We’ll be doing a circuit of the island staying in B&B’s on our way. We are looking forward to trekking the Hana Highway and appreciate the tips. Have read all these articles on Go Visit Hawaii and find them most informative. Thanks!
Hi Alison – Two weeks in Maui in December? Sounds fantastic!
I’m glad you are finding the articles at Go Visit Hawaii to be useful. I write from my own experiences and I’ve learned a lot from my trips to Hawaii.
Thanks for taking the time to provide your kind feedback!
Kool! I’ve never subscribed to a blog before. Thanks for your reply. Our plan is to drive from Wailuku to Napili via Lahaina, travel along the north shore through Paia to Hana, then Keokea, then Kehei finally retracing our steps to the Kahului airport. Since sending my note of Aug 26, I’ve read your articles about Highway 30 and how dangerous it is making me a trifle anxious. Someone also mentioned unpaved roads. Is there a website I could go to that would give me up-to-date info on Maui highways or can you put my mind to rest somewhat about the actual road conditions? We are looking forward to an adventure but perhaps this is beyond our criteria. We both ride motorcycles so know what a tight corner can mean. Any input would be appreciated. Thx, Alison
The main part of the road to Hana is safe. It’s well paved. It does have lots and lots of curves and one-lane bridges, though, but nothing too challenging.
The article I wrote today related to driving way past the main sites of the road to Hana. At that point the road is unpaved. As long as you don’t drive past that you really don’t have anything to worry about.
I don’t know of an online map of Maui showing the unpaved areas. I sure wish I did, because it would have made my article much easier to write if I could refer to a map like that.
I’m going to have to review your route and plans and get back to you.
Will you be renting motorcycles on Maui?
Hi Sheila: Gosh! You’re quick! Thanks for your help. I’ll explain a little further about our route and stays if I may … we arrive obviously in Kahului and will spend the next 3 nights at the Old Wailuku Inn then we’ll take Hwy 30 around the SW tip thru Lahaina and stay at Napili Bay for 3 nights. We’ll tackle the dreaded NW Maui road then across the top end through Kahului then Paia and so on taking 36/360 to Hana. We stay in Hana for 3 nights then head south on Hwy 31 then north on Hwy 37 to Keokea where we stay for 2 nights taking in the volcano and the highlands then through Makawao back to Kahului then south on Hwy 311/350 to Kihei for 3 days then once again back to Kahului and our flight home. No we won’t be renting bikes to do the trip; we have way too much junk to carry around but we are going to look into scooters for a fun day trip in Kihei. Hope this makes our voyage clearer. Alison
Thanks, Alison. I’m going to have intermittent web access over the next several days plus my brain is zapped today. 🙂 Let me get back to you on the flip side of the weekend.
I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve updated this post to include a link to this great video of the road to Hana.
Hi Alison – I’ve finally had a moment to sit down with a map along with reading your plans. You probably already know this, but you will be driving some sections of road that the major car rental companies “prohibit”. Now, the rental car companies are standing guard at these roads and stopping you from going there. Some tourist can and do drive those roads, but they are assuming a bit of a risk when they do.
I see that your plans include driving around the “top” or northwest side of Maui, too. Here’s an article I wrote on that: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2007/06/01/beware-of-driving-in-northwest-maui/
If you plan to continue with your route, try to pick a “skinny” car, because some of those prohibited roads are super narrow. I would suggest a jeep, but since you’ll be carrying luggage and such, a jeep isn’t very secure.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for your reply, Sheila. Hope you had a relaxing weekend; sounded like you needed it by your August 26 blog.
Since then, I’ve called Budget in Kahului and chatted with Rose who was most helpful and gave me the skinny on kapu roads.
I’ve revamped our trip; it’ll mean doubling up on roads previously travelled but it’ll also give us a second chance to appreciate Maui’s beauty.
We are so looking forward to our trip.
Great post and discussion Sheilah! This is worth a tweet, so will do right now 🙂
Just got back from a week in Maui! Super fantastic vacation. We did the Road to Hana with a tour on Tuesday and it was so much fun. We wasn’t able to go to the pools because of the weather outlook…all the beaches in State Parks were closed due to weather. We didn’t have any bad weather the whole time we were there. Everyone was so friendly and nice and helpful. Lahaina was a blast and the dinner magic show at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel was super.
Number three “…Definitely plan to make a whole day of the drive there and back. Ideally, an overnight stay in the town of Hana.”
I made this drive back when I lived in Hawaii and loved it. It took a long time but the scenery was well worth the drive. An amazing place I must say!
my wife and i are planning a trip to maui the first week in march is it better to take the road to hana on a weekday? do you think the traffic will be lighter then? we will be staying in lahaina–about how long of a trip is it one way to the recommended turn around area? i am a very experienced driver app. how long will it take? should i buy the “mile by mile” or “maui revealed” guidebook in your opinion? any info anybody can give me will be greatly appreciated.
Russ – I don’t think the day of the week really matters much when it comes to driving the road to Hana. In my opinion, the weather forecast is far more important. So, check the weather reports when you are there and aim for the day that looks the sunniest on the Hana side.
The amount of time it takes to get to say a good turning around point really depends on how many stops you make. I would allow approximately 3 hours one way.
I’m a fan of the revealed guides, with some exceptions. (Exceptions = the book seems to encourage trespassing which I absolutely discourage & the book can send you on a wild goose chase hikes into dangerous situations.)
My advice would be to get the revealed guide before you go to Maui. Carefully read and highlight the road to Hana section. Make yourself a cheat sheet of all the stops that sound interesting and note the associated mile markers and landmarks.
thanks for the prompt response and advice we are really looking forward to the trip
what the hecks up with the weather. i checked the long range forecast as we are leaving tom. a.m. and it has rain and high winds forecast for every day we are gonna be there!!!
Russ – Hawaii’s weather can be very unpredictable. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you have nice weather!
Just in case the weather is a bit rainy, see my recommendations of what to do on Maui for a rainy day:
just got home yesterday–maui was even more beautiful than we expected. it did rain most of the day we did the road to hana so we couldn’t actually get out and do any of the hikes but all the waterfalls were full and i mean FULL. even though we pretty much had to stay in the car it was still a worthwhile adventure. it let up enough we went down to the black sand beach it was gorgeous. a good thing was we stayed in lahaina and it didn’t rain there at all. my wife and i are looking forward to returning to your paradise on earth
Thanks for the report, Russ. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed your day driving the road to Hana, despite the rain.
The best experience going to hana is renting a scooter. Just a 50cc scooter with couple of your friends. You can stop where most cars can’t and take photos. I actually find it faster then a car most of the way. Aloha
The Road to Hana on Maui is one of the things in my to do list…hopefully in the next year or two.
If you are prone to carsickness, you could try wearing those pressure point bracelets. They helped me in several occations.
Our family leaves tomorrow for Maui. The road to Hana is one of our must sees. The forecast has been showing gusty winds and some rain. Hopefully it will calm down for our trip. So excited! Your site is very helpful:)
Thanks for the feedback and enjoy the drive, Becky.
I will be going to Maui for a week around 4th of July. My first question is, I didn’t see anyone commenting on the red sand beach. Has anyone visited it? Is it hard to get to?
Secondly, I will be coming from Kihei and was planning on driving North up the Mokulele Hwy past the Kahului Airport and get onto Hana and take it east, is that the best way to go? Is it suggested to turnaround in the city of Hana and drive back the way you came?
Thirdly, I have read several articles that suggest you rent snorkle equipment for the week and snorkle different beaches. My concern is for my personal belongings. It will be 2 girls, and female bathing suits do not have pockets. I was thinking of getting a drysack to keep the car key, id and credit card in. I’m not thrilled to have to have this on my wrist at every beach, but what else can you do with your belongings? From what I read thiefs can pick out rental cars pretty easy, so I don’t want to leave stuff in there…Any other suggestions? Also, I would like to get some good pictures, but am I better off just taking throw away camera’s to the beaches?
There’s actually 2 red-ish sand beaches along this drive. I think you might be referring to Kaihalulu and it does have a challenging path to get down to the beach. Don’t even try it if it’s been raining.
There’s another beach near Hana that has bits of red in the sand and it’s easy to find. See a photo and instructions on how to get to it from this post: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2009/05/12/hawaii-in-contrasts-red-and-green-sand-beaches/
As for how to get there and where to turn around, please read: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2009/08/26/should-you-drive-the-back-side-of-the-road-to-hana/
Regarding keeping your valuables safe, you are wise to consider that. We discussed that challenge here: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2009/11/25/keeping-your-valueables-safe-at-the-beach/
Also, you might want to consider going on an organized snorkeling tour where your valuables will be much more safe on the boat.
Enjoy the road to Hana and Maui!
Thanks for the great article regarding the Road to Hana. We are coming out to Hawaii in mid-August and I want to ask you a question regarding the vehicle we should rent. We will be there for about 9 days. I am not sure if we will really need a car for 9 days (we will be on our honeymoon). I would definitely want to rent a car for a few days but I’d like to hear from you if you think having a car for 9 days would make sense? Would we really need it that much or will our resort (Wailea Marriott) and surrounding area have enough for us to do? Also regarding the Road to Hana, what vehicle would you recommend? I was looking at a convertible but I am not sure if that would be rugged enough for the drive? Could you let me know?
Sam – in my opinion, you are better off renting a car for all/most of your time. As I mention in this article, https://www.govisithawaii.com/2007/10/18/to-rent-or-not-to-rent/ Most resorts are approximately 45 minutes from the airport, so it would probably cost you a bundle just getting a shuttle to and from the airport. Plus, there’s really lots to see and do on Maui that makes the rental worthwhile.
Maui has some fantastic restaurants that are romantic and memorable for a honeymoon, but you’ll need a car to drive to them. See my post on finding the best Maui restaurants: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2008/04/28/how-to-find-the-best-maui-restaurants/
As for what kind of car to rent, personally I always opt for the smallest car that has a trunk. I also recommend you get a quote from these guys as they always seem to have the lowest rates: http://www.discounthawaiicarrental.com/ Another preference I have in Hawaii is renting with AVIS. Their cars tend to be cleaner and bug-free.
If you wanted to splurge for the road to Hana day and you’ve checked the weather report and things look clear, a convertible or Jeep is really a treat. It’s nice to have the fresh air and hear the waterfalls and birds. Bear in mind that you will be driving through a rainforest, so there’s a chance a shower could happen.
Hope that helps and have a fabulous honeymoon!
Thank you for the great tips! Also what a great link for the car rentals. I will give them a call tomorow.
Thanks again for all your help! Awesome website. Keep up the good work.
I just have returned from Maui with my parents and enjoyed it!
We did a whole day of the road to Hana ( ended up missing the first two falls ). I’d like to point out that yes, the Guided CD tour and the book ” Maui Reveled” are a good thing to ahve but to also be careful to what they tell you. Some points of the book and CD tell you about places and you go to them only to fidn that its private property! While yes, Some of the locals may not mind some will and you shouldn’t go into the property.
This happened many times and we ended up wasting gas.
I’d also like to bring attion to the grave of Charles Lindbergh. If you get the CD guide it will tell you NOT to go vist teh grave due to that his family has ASKED that you not. So please respect his family and do not vist his gravsite.
( I do not think that the book will tell you this though. )
I am hiking across Haleakala on Oct. 21 – Oct. 24. My main concern is how to get from Kahului airport to Haleakala, as I’ll be arriving between 5-6pm. Also, I’ll be coming down into Kipahulu and will need to get back to Kahului to meet some other people on Oct. 24 (Sunday). What are your recommendations for finding transportation? I don’t want to rent a car from the airport to volcano, because then I have to go retrieve it. However, I haven’t been able to find transportation from Kipahulu to even Hana (where I could rent a car potentially). I’ve been frantically searching the internet for days now, and so far your blog and responses have proven to be the most effective and thoughtful.
What would you recommend? Should I try to hire someone on Craigslist? Or, should I taxi from Kipahulu to Hana and rent a car? Should I try taking a tour bus from Kahului to get to the top?
Hi Jonathan —
You’ve got quite a challenge there and I’m afraid there’s no easy answer. Here’s some food for thought and ideas that may be of some help:
– The Maui Bus might help you get part of the way. http://www.co.maui.hi.us/index.aspx?NID=609
– Hitchhiking is a bit more common in Hawaii than on the mainland.
– I’m not aware of any cab service in Hana.
– Per this Hana airport website, Dollar Rent A Car is available with prior arrangements from the airport. http://hawaii.gov/hnm/ground-transportation
– Wonder if you could fly from Hana to Kahului?
Hope these ideas are of some help. Good luck!
First of all Thanks for responding to all my Posts. I have a few more questions/concerns before i head to Maui next week. we only rented a regular economy car for two of us since its more in our affordability range. is it ok to drive that kind of a car to Haleakala summit and on Road to Hana? i mean i have read on various other blogs that we need a 4WD. its scaring me now because i am sure all the rental locations must have ran out of all the cars by now for next week. we are planning to stay on paved roads all the time. if thats the case do you think we should be ok with our little economy car.have you any idea of how the weather is going to be in mid feb . i am worried that it could rain bad and we have to put off all our plans, driving all those scenic routes. also is it pretty safe to ride on the roads. i mean all of them in pictures look so beautiful yet isolated so i am scared of getting mobbed or something like that. Thanks in advance for your help. Highly appreciated
Sindy – you don’t need to worry at all about having an economy car for driving the road to Hana, the road to Haleakala or really anywhere else in Maui.
The only caution I would add is that you should never leave any valuables in your car.
Enjoy your time in Maui. After your trip, be sure and leave a comment to let us know how things go.
My wife and I drove the the whole loop today. We came in from the south side. What a crazy ride. We had rented a convirtible mustang and loved the adventurous drive. We had a few close encounters coming around blind corners and other people not staying on their own side of the road. The excitement of the amazing views and driving through the crazy terain will definitely be a memory we will never forget. My suggestion would be to drive the whole thing our rental company didn’t say anything about not being covered but we made it anyway! just take it easy on the unpaved roads. Aloha!
Dan – glad you enjoyed the Road to Hana and all the way beyond. Thanks for the report.
The rental car companies never say anything about driving the forbidden roads, but the maps they provide clearly indicate the unauthorized sections of road and states that driving on them is a violation of the contract. There’s some fine print in the contract as well. So, there’s definitely a risk even when the rental car agents don’t specifically speak it when you get your car.
Hana, and driving the road to get there, are among one of my most favorite travel memories. It was over 20 years ago, and my husband and I were newlyweds, and had no idea what we were doing other than we did leave very early in the morning to visit for the day from Lahania area. it was during a drought, or a dry season, so there weren’t any waterfalls. We totally missed the black sand beach, but there was a beach that was perhaps associated with a hotel that was in a perfect cove which had big waves, but no undertow – PERFECT. Would love to go back again and stay a while.
Aloha Margo – I think you;re talking about Hamoa Beach
Just finished the road to Hana and beyond. My recommendations for the best time are: plan on spending the night at Hana if at all possible – it made things much easier; rent a Jeep – we did the road beyond Hana and had no problems whatsoever.
I did it two weeks ago. Beautiful. I recommend you read all the tips from these wise people above(and the official island ones). Challenging in spots but not that bad. A couple of locals had a little fun with us at the bridges, but it IS their home. Just get out of their way. Driven a lot of “drives” but this is at the top of that list with Bear Tooth Pass in WY/MT.
Living on Oahu, we were excited to travel the Road to Hana, but unfortunately for us, the weather didn’t cooperate on the day we chose to go. I’m a very confident driver, but have learned I’m the world’s most horrible passenger. And the signs that state ‘falling rock’…they aren’t kidding. Just not a great experience for any of us, truthfully. I can see how a bright sunny, no raining day would change that around though. I’ve jumped from an airplane, but found myself frequently scooting over to the middle of the car and away from the edge. 😉 Hope everyone has a better experience! Aloha!
After mentioning that the “Road to Hana” is the one from Paia to Hana approaching Hana from the North, you also mentioned this…
That’s the majority of the road to Hana. I want to make it clear that I am suggesting that you originate your drive from the Piilani Highway (Highway 31) that brings you to Hana from the South.
This is really confusing as you are mentioning that your suggestion is to approach Hana from the South and in your follow up article that tells us about the dangerous back side of the road to Hana, you mention that it is the Pilani Highway… 🙁
Oh dear! Thanks for catching that typo, Suresh. I’ve corrected it to say that “I want to make it clear that I am not suggessting…”
I’m terribly sorry for the confusion.
I kinda guessed that.. thanks a lot for clarifying!
My wife and I just did it a couple of weeks ago and decided to spend the night in Hana…makes it a much more relaxing trip, plus you get to go see the Seven Sacred Pools in the morning (on the next day) before the hoards arrive!
Hi I am wondering if this road has sections without gaurdrails or if there are very high cliffs close to the road. I have a fear of hieghts and it reallt freaks me out when driving along cliffs like US1 along the CA coast line.
The road mostly has guard rails. Probably a good way to see what it’s like it to check out the new Google Map Street views of the road to Hana. For example, you could start with this link.
Hi Sheila! I really enjoy reading your post.
This December I will be in Maui for my honeymoon. I will stay in Maui Seaside Hotel in Kahului and I want to ask you which is the best way to start the road to Hana. Is it taking to the west via Hwy 36 or to the south via Hwy 37, then Hwy 31 to the west and the Hwy 331 to get Hana?
I will appreciate your advice to plan a great trip in Maui!
Thanks in advance.
Hi Victor — start from Highway 36! The other direction is prohibited by car rental companies as mentioned in this article and further detailed the following link: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2009/08/26/should-you-drive-the-back-side-of-the-road-to-hana/
All guidebooks and other road to Hana resources start from Highway 36 as well.
Unfortunately my ride on the road to Hana was pure hell. Mainly, because my husband is normally a fast driver..before we started I asked him nicely and politely to please drive carefully and slowly but driving fast comes naturally to him so I was a nervous wreck all through the ride, not to mention I kept imagining him crashing the rental car or scraping it along the side of the mountain, we came sooooo close to it many times..PHEW! We even got into an argument because I felt like he was driving too fast but he kept telling me to relax and that I just overreacting…perhaps I was but it was a sad, frightening experience for me although I must admit the scenery was breath taking.. just beautiful, serene and gorgeous..I would do it again but not with my husband!!
We will be coming to Maui next year on a cruise and plan on driving the road to Hana. I will be renting a Jeep (any suggestions on a good rental place would help) Bu the rest of our group want to rent motorcycles. Any suggestions for all of us would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Robbie — one thing you’ll want to do is to check which Maui port your ship will go to. It should be either Kahalui (which is close to the airport with lots of rental companies) or Lahaina (which has some rental car sites, but much more limited compared to the airport.) So, you’ll want to make sure that your car pick up point matches the port your ship will be docked.
For rental car advice along with the company that we usually find the lowest rates with — see this post: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2011/01/19/7-hawaii-car-rental-money-saving-ideas/
I’m not familiar with any of the motorcycle rental companies. Though after a quick google search with the keywords “Maui motorcycle rental” turned up several results.
Any activities you suggest after 6PM, Next week? I beleive Sunsets at 6PM in Oct, so after out road trips to Hana and Halekela, any activities to go on and best places for Shopping ?
good shopping in Lahaina and Kaanapali
We are coming on a cruise ship into Lahaina by cruise ship then getting a shuttle to a rental car by the airport. We want to ride to Hana how much time should we allow to get back to the airport by five pm
From the town of Hana to the airport in Kahalui takes about 2 hours to 2 hours and 15 minutes without stopping. If you drive beyond Hana, make sure you allow extra time.
All great posts I’m in Maui now at te 4 seasons just went to the crater and it was breathtaking My wife is an amazing photog and I believe the drive to Hana would afford her great opportunity for photos of so many different things Other than the road to Hana should we consider a drive to lahaina and to kapulua ? Or the arboretum as well to satisfy her talented eye whale watching later in the week with cap things off but would love to hear any other suggestions
Thanks for all you do !!!’
Hi Rich — yes, definitely get up to West Maui (Lahaina and Kapalua). There are some great restaurants in that area, so plan to get a bite to eat as well. See our post on the best Maui restaurants: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2008/04/28/how-to-find-the-best-maui-restaurants/
Along the way up to Lahaina, you’ll see picturesque beaches and some elevated pull out points for excellent whale watching. In Kapalua, Dragon’s Teeth offers a unique scene: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2012/09/26/dragons-teeth-at-kapalua-maui/
Thanks Sheila So as for Hana it’s solid yes then nervous wife needs confirmation lol All of your info has been great and spot on !!!! Thanks again
The road to Hana should offer many scenic photo opportunities. I’ve highlighted some of the scenic spots in this post. If you click on each link, it will provide more details for each stop.
And, please bring us a photo for our Aloha Friday Photo series: https://www.govisithawaii.com/aloha-friday-photo/
Glad to hear our advice has been helpful!
Hi Sheila! Again..superb article..just the kind of information I wanted 🙂 just want to check one thing..if I start for the Road to Hana from Kahului (close to the airport) around 9 am, and plan to stop at each of the points you have mentioned, plus do the Pipiwai trail-Is it all doable in 1 day? considering the immense photoops and time to enjoy the same! Plan is to explore the road to Hana the whole day before returning back late evening to Kanapalli. I feel I have such less time to explore Maui!
Sounds doable. If possible, get an earlier start — say around 7am and you’ll experience much less traffic.
Thanks a lot!
Hi there anyone,
Was planning driving to Hana can you continue to drive back to Kahana via Wailia on coastline if im driving a jeep instead of doubling back? Thanks hope someone can help .
Scott — there isn’t a road that connects directly from the road to Hana to Kahana via Wailea. There are other roads that will get you there, however you take them at your own risk. Read more about the roads on the “back side” of Hana:https://www.govisithawaii.com/2009/08/26/should-you-drive-the-back-side-of-the-road-to-hana/
Thanks Sheila link was very helpful.
Just drove the road today after reading your article last night. Fantastic! Thanks for the pointers on everything.
There is one thing I wanted to mention, though. After reading your article, I didn’t want to drive all the way around the southern half of the road, through the unpaved parts. But my dad (who was actually doing the driving) really wanted to, so we did.
That drive turned out to be one of my favorite parts (there were many). Sure, the road was bumpy and narrow, but it wasn’t that bad at all. Just drive slowly (very slowly) and you’ll be fine.
I just loved watching the transition from rain forest to desert and back to rain forest again. I would really recommend that others try this as well (just make sure that you have good, third party insurance on your rental).
And thanks again for an excellent writeup.
Thanks very much for your feedback Andrew.
I’m glad you enjoyed the dessert drive around the southern end and didn’t have any issues. It’s interesting that you found that to be one of your many favorite parts as it is one of our least favorite parts. We all have different tastes. 🙂 Because the road is prohibited by car rental companies, it would be unwise for us to recommend driving that road and violating car contracts. I might add that if someone is considering taking that risk to drive the prohibited section, don’t do it on a rainy day because of the potential for rock/mud slides and the road can wash out.
> don’t do it on a rainy day because of the potential for rock/mud
> slides and the road can wash out.
Yes, and also ask a ranger in Haleakala park if there are any closures before you head off.
The Road to Hana is simply the best eco-tour activity in Maui. The attractions along the way are eye-poppingly beautiful!
We’re heading to Maui in a few days and have had the road to Hana on every recommendation we’ve received. Of course we’re taking the trip; however, I am afraid of heights to the point that I typically buckle in the floor board on really high areas. Any suggestions – don’t mind curvy, dirt roads, it’s more the height. Open to anything to help b/c I don’t want to miss it.
Much of the road to Hana is through forest. There are a few short stretches where the road is kind of cliff-side, but you’re not too high up. I’m making a guess based on memory, but I think that the highest elevation with a cliff view is less than 1000 feet high.
To get a better idea of the road. Go to Google Maps. Find a position on the road to Hana, then follow the streetview. It’s like virtually driving the road to Hana.
We are headed to Maui in September for our Honeymoon. First three nights we are staying in Wailea, the next 2 nights near Haiku. Two things we definitely want to get in during this part would be the road to Hana and the Haleakala Sunrise. I read your post about not doing those two in the same day. We are renting a car and trying to figure out logistics of it all. Do you have any recommendations for how to split these up? Just curious about those two towns and what there is to do around the areas (wouldn’t want to spend a whole day missing out on the local activities/sights if there is a better way to plan it out). Would the last day in Haiku work to do the road to Hana? – We would have to do that then drive to Kapalua in the same day. Is that feasible? Any insight would be much appreciated.
Kevin, we normally advise going to Haleakala for sunrise on your first or second day in Hawaii. The reason being is that if you’re most likely going to be jet lagged and waking up way too early anyway, so you might as well take advantage of your jet lag. Read more advice about Haleakala for sunrise here: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2007/07/17/see-an-unforgettable-sunrise-at-the-peak-of-a-volcano/
Going to Haleakala for sunrise doesn’t take an entire day to do, but you’re up very early — probably somewhere around 2:30 and 3:30 am. The drive up and down Mount Haleakala the is quite gnarly. After sunrise, you can still enjoy more things that Maui has to offer — like snorkeling, sight-seeing in Iao Valley, etc. That being said, the road to Hana is another grueling, but beautiful drive that’s best done when you can get a fresh, early start and enjoy the journey with many stops along the way. That’s why we don’t advise doing both in the same day.
I recommend doing the road to Hana, when you can dedicate the entire day for the adventure. So, I wouldn’t advise that you do the road to Hana on your last day.
Hope that helps.
Do you think the road to Hana starting in Haiku would work? Do that all day and drive to Kapalua? Is that too much driving?
Are you staying in Kapalua next? If so, that’s not really too much driving in one day.
My only concern is that you’d have all your luggage in your car. Unfortunately, their are some thieves that prey on visitors by breaking into their parked cars. It’s unlikely that you’d encounter a thief, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
I am going to maui next week and your information has been invaluable in my planning! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. Very detailed and very helpful!!!!
Mahalo for the great feedback Farrah! Enjoy Maui!
Hi there! I was wondering how often the road to Hana gets closed due to the rain / mudslides in February? Is it a good idea to reserve a hotel before you know what the weather will be like? Thanks!
Luba – we haven’t ever seen any data on the number of times the road to Hana gets closed due to mudslides. It’s not very often and normally only happens after an extreme rain event.
Great Tips for Tourist visiting the Island and Locals as well. Hana is such a a beautiful place on Maui!
Hope to see more post like this, Thanks Sheila
How is the weather in Maui at the end of August?
Check our Maui weather guide for lots of details: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2015/09/29/maui-weather-guide/
Thanks for your post and helpful tips! Just wondering if it is safe to drive the road to Hana with A small size car like a Toyota Corolla? We are not planning to drive past Hana or any of the unpaved roads.
Yes, no problems at all. And, you can drive past Hana as we describe in the article. In fact, we do recommend driving as far as the National Park at Oheo Gulch. That area is all in compliance with rental car contracts.
Do it we did. In a camaro. No problems. Drive slow and cautiously.
Hello…just got back home after visiting both Oahu and Maui. Oh the Road to Hana was amazing. We drove a convertible Camaro and drove all the way around. Scary yes…speechless scenes..amazing views….I recommend everyone drive all the way. We started our road to hana day at 7am. With many stops we arrived back at the hotel around 7pm. It was a long hot scary ride it was soooo worth it.
Great blog! My family and I (husband and two teenage daughters) have put a deposit down for a condo in Kaanapali for next July (beginning of). We definitely want to do the Road to Hana and really would like to spend a night or two there. However, I’ve been hearing about all of the road closures lately. Should we add a few days to the beginning our our trip to do the RTH, double book our hotel/hana hotel in the middle, or take a few days at the end? We wouldn’t want to miss our flight due to road closures. Please advise. Also worried about the valuables in the car… We’d have all of our luggage. Do we need to stop on the Road to Hana or could we drive directly there and explore from our Hana hotel/house.
Thank you, Kerry
Road closures are unpredictable and largely tied to big rain events as Hawaii has just experienced with Tropical Storm Darby. Hurricanes and tropical storms are not common in Hawaii, though they have brushed by Hawaii more frequently than normal the past two years.
There is an airport in Hana. So, if push come to shove, you could fly from Hana to Kahului to get your flight back home. In that case you might want to rent your car from a company that has a desk at the Hana airport.
If you’re planning to make long stops and not have your car within eyeshot, it’s best to not to leave your luggage and/or any valuables unattended.
Great idea on the airport. Thank you!
It doesn’t look like there are any car rentals at the Hana airport.
That’s odd. There used to be a Dollar Rental, if I remember correctly. Check with Travaasa Hana to see if they have rentals.
That’s odd. There used to be a Dollar Rental, if I remember correctly. Check with Travaasa Hana to see if they have rentals.
Hi Sheila, we will be taking the cruise Pride of America around the islands. We arrive on Sun. Nov. 20 at 8:00 am and depart Mon. Nov. 21 at 6:00 pm. We want to rent a car and do the Hana Trail drive and there seem to be lots of rental agencies who will pick us up at the pier to take us to the rental car. However, we will take a while to disembark the ship, so probably would be 9-10 am before we could depart for the trail. We have driven all over the world on good/bad/terrible roads so that is not an issue, but I guess my question is whether we would have time to make it one way in daylight (with the stops of course) and a good part of the way back? Also, not sure what type of weather to expect that time of year. Thanks Sheila.
I enjoyed this article because Hana is a beautiful place and the drive is hands down one of the best things you can do while visiting or if your a local and want to ” feel” like your in Hawaii.
The road is a nightmare ,very dangerous and the people of Hana are far from friendly.
Spectacular views from dangerous places with very little space to stop and take in the sights .
We have been to Hawaii 3 times and enjoyed every bit except the EXTREMELY OVERATED Hana drive,there are better drives all over Hawaii.
I am visiting Maui on 21st Jan . I am planning to do drive to hana on 22nd. As per weather websites , it shows windy and rain on 22nd Jan.. Should I still plan for it?
I am travelling with my four year old son. Hence, would like to visit few important points on the drive..
I can leave my hotel at Lahina at 7.00 am. & I would prefer to return by sunset .. say 6.00 pm.
Considering the rainy day & to make it not hectic for my kid, which points should I visit.
What is the good place for lunch on the way.
I wouldn’t put too much stock in weather forecasts several days out. It probably rains somewhere in Maui every day of the year. Once you’re on the island, ask a local for advise.
We have this shorter guide of the road to Hana, but you don’t actually get to Hana: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2015/02/10/a-road-to-hana-trip-guide-for-those-short-on-time/
Thank you for your post and all the excellent comments. A question for you – we will be arriving on Maui around noon on a Friday in July. Is it feasible to make the drive to Hana that afternoon after the long flight from the mainland? Or is that asking too much? We would plan to stay one night in Hana and then spend some time the next day exploring before driving to the West side for the remainder of our stay. I’d like to stay one night in Hana but am having trouble deciding if making the drive the day we arrive is a good idea. Thank you!!
I wouldn’t advise it. We are exhausted from the day of travel by the time we arrive in Hawaii. It would be quite a challenge to have to drive such a curvy road that takes so much focus for two-ish hours. Part of the appeal of the road to Hana is the drive itself and you would most likely not have the energy to fully enjoy the journey.
We are planning doing the Road to Hana in Feb. Does the I phone map work? I planned on using that and one of the narrated tours.