A road to Hana trip guide for those short on time

Spending an entire day driving the road to Hana is both exhilarating and exhausting. If you don’t have full day to dedicate to this drive and/or you don’t believe you have the endurance for this entire drive loaded with hundreds of curves and many one-lane bridges, you can get a great taste of the road to Hana without driving to Hana or past Hana to the Kipahulu region. This mini-guide to the road to Hana, will get you to stops with excellent views.

There could be a number of reasons that you might want to consider taking this abbreviated drive on the road to Hana. Here are some examples to consider:

  • You are short on time because you are taking a day trip to Maui from another island.
  • You are short on time because you are visiting Maui from a cruise ship.
  • You are prone to carsickness.
  • You aren’t sure if you are going to enjoy the road to Hana.
A view of Puokokamoa Falls off the road to Hana from the Garden of Eden

A view of Puokokamoa Falls off the road to Hana from the Garden of Eden

This shortened road to Hana guide, goes as far as Waikani Falls. Of course, you can shorten the distance even more for you own interests and needs. For scheduling purposes, you can estimate the following drive times. Note that these drive times do not include stopping time. You will need to factor in and/or budget your own stopping time in addition to the drive times:

  • Roundtrip driving from Lahaina to Waikani Falls and back – approximately 4 hours
  • Roundtrip driving from Wailea to Waikani Falls and back – approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes.
  • Roundtrip driving from Kahului Harbor to Waikani Falls and back – approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes.

This abbreviated guide to the road to Hana starts where Highway 36 ends and Highway 360 begins. All mile marker references are for Highway 360, the Hana Highway.

Though you’ll be driving the Hana Highway, which is also known as the road to Hana, in this shortened drive, you will not actually reach Hana. With the goal of taking a scenic drive on the road to Hana, just getting to Hana is not the objective. Enjoying the road to Hana is all about the scenery of the journey, not the destination.

Though there are quite a few stops in between the following list, here are the scenic stops that we think will provide a great, shortened trip:

Garden of Eden – between mile markers 10 and 11 – This 26-acre botanical garden offers beautiful tropical blooms, rare trees and an excellent view to Puohokamoa Falls. You could easily spend an hour or much more meandering through the lush garden trails. Currently, there is an entrance fee of $15 per person. The gardens are open from 8am to 3pm. Read our review of the Garden of Eden and check out our photos from the Garden of Eden to make sure a stop here appeals to you.

3539900184_3fd1eb2094_z

Entrance to Maui’s Garden of Eden

Keanae Peninsula – turn off the Hana Highway between mile markers 16 and 17 – Much of the road to Hana carves its way through rainforest with a few intermittent views of the coast. The short drive down to Keanae from the Hana Highway offers stunning views of the east Maui coastline. This spot would make a great place for a picnic lunch. See our Keanae article for more direction information and details about the area.

Keanae Peninsula off the road to Hana offers beautiful views of the East Maui coast.

Keanae Peninsula off the road to Hana offers beautiful views of the East Maui coast.

** Please take note — if seeing Puohokamao Falls at the Garden of Eden satisfied your desire to see a waterfall and/or your time is short, turn around at Keanae Peninsula and return back towards your resort, ship, etc. **

Waikani Falls – between mile markers 18 and 19 – This waterfall is is also know as Three Bears for its the three streams of water flowing down the lava rock cliff. Please note that if the weather has recently been dry, this waterfall may only be a trickle. So, when possible, ask locals if the waterfall is flowing. See our article for more information about finding and seeing Waikani Falls.

6132010340_118470e06e_z_thumb.jpg

Waikani Falls

Waikani Falls ends this mini trip on the road to Hana. If you have time and want to see more, see our longer guide to the road to Hana with recommended scenic stops at the black sand beach at Waianapanapa, Haneoo Road for views of Alau Island and Hamoa Beach (just past Hana), Wailua Falls and finally to the Oheo Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) in Kipahulu.

Advice

– Be sure that you have enough gas for the entire drive.

– A good guidebook like Maui Revealed can provide even more suggestions for places to stop and things to see. Just be careful that you don’t trespass or go on trails that are beyond your skills.

– Wear a good walking shoe that you don’t mind getting muddy.

– Consider packing a picnic lunch to enjoy at either the Garden of Eden or Keanae.

– If you are prone to car sickness, bring or use preventatives.

– Always lock your car and bring valuables with you.

About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

5 comments

  1. My husband and I would like to do this shortened version of the road to Hana, but we don’t want to have to drive ourselves. At the same time, we’re not too thrilled about the idea of being with several people on a bus. Do you know of any other tour options that cater to smaller groups? Thank you.

  2. This guide was great, thanks! I’m 23 weeks pregnant and couldn’t imagine sitting in a car all day, plus hiking on slippery paths is becoming increasingly dangerous for me. But, we didn’t want to leave Maui without doing a little bit of the Road to Hana. We went to Paia first (from Wailea) and had lunch at Mama’s Fish House (highly recommend) – this further helped break up the drive into manageable segments. The Garden of Eden is beautiful and totally worth it if you don’t want to make a million stops along the road. Make sure you really explore the grounds and follow all of the paths – we saw plenty of people look at the Rock and upper waterfall and then be done. They really missed out on some gorgeous views and plants! We spent about an hour at the Garden of Eden and about 15 minutes at Keanae peninsula. We did go on to Waikini Falls but only stayed about 5 minutes and could have done without, but it’s only about 8 minutes from Keanae peninsula so we went on. I love that there’s an actual restroom at Garden of Eden and Keanae peninsula (again, important to a pregnant lady) and we actually stopped by Keanae again on our way back for one last restroom stop on the way home. We left Wailea around 10:30 and got back around 6 but that included getting gas, lunch at Mama’s, and shaved ice at Ululani’s in Kihei after. I think we left Paia around 12:45 and were turning around for the drive back around 4. One recommendation that should be obvious but I forgot and stressed out – take screen shots of this webpage for reference while driving. There is no cell phone service most of the way and while I had the page loaded the iPhone tends to reload pages when you open safari again so we were flying blind to Keanae – we figured it out then got one dot of service in Keanae so we could grab the information on Waikini. Learn from our mistake 🙂 We feel like we totally got the experience we wanted and don’t regret not doing anymore of the Road to Hana, this was perfect. Thank you so much!

  3. Which app would you recommend using for the Road to Hana? Shaka Guide or Gypsy? Thanks! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Please do not use keywords in your name. Please keep your comment on the topic of the article as we will not approve or address off-topic comments. Required fields are marked *

*

Scroll To Top