14 Worthy Stops on the Road to Hana in Maui

14 Worthy Stops on the Road to Hana in Maui

SHARE
The Road to Hana is one you will never forget and one you shouldn’t miss out on while in Maui.  The drive is not for the fearful though- with 52 miles of winding roads with one lane bridges, hairpin turns, and rocky cliffs, you’ll want to make sure you get plenty of rest the night before!  Highway 36 (known as the Road to Hana) is one of the most famous highways in the country and takes about 3 hours, but you’ll want the whole day to linger around and take in the fresh air of this beautiful area.  And trust me, there are lots of stops on the road to Hana you won’t want to miss!
what to see on the road to hana in maui hawaii
It is impossible to stop at all “attractions” on the Road to Hana in just one day, so it is extremely important to plan beforehand.
I was thankful I did my research and narrowed down our drive to approximately 13 stops*.  And even 13 was too many.  We were utterly exhausted and just wanted to go home towards the end.  Don’t over plan.  You’ll hate yourself for it. Just know you cannot see every plunging waterfall, every stunning landscape, or eat every delicious snack (but you can take some for the ride).
Worried you’ll miss a few planned stops?  Consider buying the Road to Hana CD Guide ahead of time.  Not only does it give you verbal directions by popping it into your CD player in your rental car (or put the audio files on your phone), but it’s a mixture of narration and music for the occasion.  With the CD, you’ll find hidden waterfalls, secret jungles, and panoramic views of sparkling coastline.  I highly regret not buying it (it’s under $15 if I remember correctly), because we were constantly on the lookout for stops and had trouble finding a few the first time around.

Stops on the Road to Hana:

Almost if not all of the stops are hard to find, so make sure you keep your eye on the side of the road for mile markers (MM).  You’ll see cars lined up on the side of the road for some of the more popular stops, but others you will have to diligently look for.  Once you pass a MM it is almost impossible, and actually rather unsafe, to go back.  Another reason to go ahead and just buy that CD Guide.   If you pass a stop by accident, just move on.  There’s lots more to see! ***The point isn’t actually to reach Hana, but to take in all the gorgeous sights along the way.

1. MM 2: Twin Falls

The first worthy stop on the Road to Hana.  Take a short (possibly muddy) walk through the beautiful foliage to the waterfall, see native plants, get some sugar cane juice from the stand, and enjoy this first 25 minutes  or so crowd-free (if you leave early enough).
Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com

2. MM 4.5: Huelo Lookout

Grab a pineapple smoothie (why not) and marvel at the views from the lookout in the back.  A super short stop on the road to Hana but worth the few minutes.
Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com

3. MM 9: Waikamoi Ridge Forest Trail and Overlook 

We accidentally stumbled upon this unintentionally, thinking this was the parking area for the Garden of Eden (ha).  We didn’t do the hike, as we had lots of other stops on our preplanned agenda, but the view from the vantage point (below) was exceptional.  Aren’t I right?
Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com

4. MM 10.5: Garden of Eden 

The garden is most popular for its debut in ‘Jurassic Park,’ where the opening sequence of the movie was filmed, specifically the Keopuka ‘Jurassic Park’ Rock which can be seen from one absolutely gorgeous lookout inside the garden.  After admiring the view, be sure to walk around the area to find some of the 500(!!!) botanically labeled plants, hidden waterfalls, and the view from Rainbow Overlook.  The Rainbow Eucalyptus was specifically gorgeous!


Be prepared to pay ~ $10 per person as an entrance fee to the park.  It’s one of those pricy touristy places, but one not to miss (open daily from 8-3).  The garden has facilities (a few bathrooms, yippy!), which are actually uncommon along the road.  Out of all of the stops on the road to Hana, this one was one of my favorites!

Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com

5. MM 17: Keane Peninsula

A short drive to Keanae Peninsula is definitely worth the diversion off the Road to Hana.  The paved drive down to this peninsula leads you to the ocean’s edge for amazing views of the Hana coast. The coastline is rocky and exposed to the elements, so you won’t find any swimming opportunities here. Don’t get too close to the edge while standing on the rocks – the water shoots pretty high against the rocks! You’ll find the turn to Keanae Peninsula on the ocean (makai) side of the Road to Hana between mile markers 16 and 17.  The turn is at the bend of a hair pin curve, so drive slowly so you don’t miss it.

Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com

6. Aunty Sandy’s (on the Keane Peninsula)

A quick stop on the Keane Peninsula, you’ll see it on the side of the road (on the right) no problem.  Make sure to get some fresh, warm banana bread, and the shave ice is like no other on a hot, sticky day.

Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com

7. MM 17.3: “Halfway to Hana” snack shop

Call me crazy, but you can never have enough snacks on the road to Hana!  You may be full from the previous snack shops, but load up on some if you’re planning on driving the entire route past Hana on the “country-no-paved” roads.  Plus, you’re half way there!  That in and of itself is an accomplishment!

Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com

8. MM 18: Wailua Overlook

Beautiful overlook with views to the historically rich community of Wailua.  Be prepared to stop, as it’s rather easy to miss this little turnout (and there is only room for about 4 cars!)

Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com

Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com

9. MM 19: Upper Waikani (3 bears)

Another quick stop on the side of the road a must stop on the road to hana.  Parkings a bit tough, but arguably the best waterfalls on the Road to Hana.  You have the option of walking down to get much closer to the falls, but with the car situation not preferable, we chose not to.  Still a great view from above!

Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com

10. MM 27-28: Nahiku Ti Gallery and Coffee Shop

By this time on the drive, we were so hungry (despite all the yummy snacking earlier!) We weren’t planning on stopping here, but are so glad we did- two words. kalua pork tacos. And bathrooms. Okay, technically four words.  The food almost outbeat my kalua pork from Aloha Mixed Plate.  And while I’m raving about it, check out 10 Things to Taste in Hawaii.

Basically, a great place to buy little gifts for family and have a superb meal.  You won’t leave hungry, that’s for sure.
Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com

11. MM 32.2: Wainapanapa State Wayside Park

This park, comprised of 122 acres, features dramatic black-sand beaches, large sea caves, volcanic tubes, a blowhole, and a coastal hiking trail. Plan to be here around an hour or so if you want to check out everything and hang by the beach for a few. Although the beach is quite small, it is beautiful and definitely worth checking out. The black pebbles make for an astonishing sight. The translation for Wai’anapanapa is “glistening water” or “water flashing rainbow hues”. It is obvious that both are perfectly accurate in describing the powerful contrast between the black sand/pebbles and the deep blue-greens of the ocean.

Plan to be here around an hour or so if you want to check out everything and hang by the beach for a few.  I wish we had accounted for more time here, but there are so many stops on the road to hana it’s hard not to seem like you have to rush through a few.

Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com

Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com
* Camera tip: it’s rather foggy inside the sea cave, making moisture get onto our lens. We didn’t realize at first, and unfortunately, some of our photos didn’t come out as crisp as we would have liked. Just be careful to wipe down your lens once you come out of the cave, or use a point and shoot while inside.

Congratulations, you have now reached Hana!  (MM 34)

However, it’s not actually worth it to stop in town (besides go the beach listed below).  The town is sleepy, and unless you are interested in the culture and history, stay in the car and drive through.
**** Transition from Highway 360 to 31: Now MM start counting down from 50

12. Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach (in Hana Town)

Albeit quite difficult to get to (a hidden trail and a rocky path down), the beach is one not to go unnoticed.  We unfortunately did not make it here (due to poor planning on my part), but it’s already in my mind for next time.  From what I’ve read and pictures I’ve seen, this red sand beach is gorgeous and rather private, enclosed by large rock formations.  The deep red sand/pebbles against the dark blue ocean make for a pretty spectacular sight.  Be aware of nudists- as it is technically considered a nude beach.  You might want to photoshop any pictures you take before posting to facebook or flickr!  And if you do go, wear sneakers.

13. MM 45: Wailua Falls

You’ll find Wailua Falls Between mile markers 45 and 44, past the town of Hana but before you get to the Oheo Gulch on Highway 31. The waterfall is literally on the side of the road and along a bridge, and is, for lack of better words, big (113 feet!!!) and beautiful. There are paths to the bottom of the falls, but it can be muddy, slippery and dangerous.

Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com

14. MM 42: Oheo Gulch (7 sacred pools) and Pipiwai Stream Trail Hike

The last and final stop on our own customized Road to Hana.  By this time, we were completely exhausted.  But being the crazy, neurotic, I’ll-probably-only-be-here-once kinda gal that I am, I insisted that we attempt the 4-mile round trip hike through the bamboo forest to the upper and lower falls, Waimoku. We didn’t end up making it all the way there, since the heat and utter exhaustion slowed us down.  However, people coming back said it was gorgeous.  I say go for it, but make sure you’re totally up for it and know what you’re getting yourself into.  And let me know how it is when you come back!  Once we finally got back to the trailhead, we were too tired to even think about trekking to the Oheo Gulch.
Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com
You pick up the trail head from the parking lot at the Kipahulu region of Haleakala National Park (near mile marker 42 past Hana) A parking fee of $10 per car is required. If you have or will be visiting the summit of Haleakala Park, keep your permit. It’s valid for three days at both sections Haleakala National Park. Plan between 2 to 2.5 hours to hike this 4-mile, round-trip to hike on the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls. I slept pretty damn well after that. And on that note, goodnight!
:)

Recommended Items:

click to purchase :)

Where to Stay in Maui

andaz maui hawaii

Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort

Book Now!

hyatt regency maui resort and spa

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa

Book Now!

Know before you go:

  • Start super early = around 6am to avoid traffic- Leave the Hana area (or your last stop) to go back around 4pm
  • Fill up on gas before the drive the night before! If you forget and your gas is low, full up in Paia, but it’s very expensive there.
  • Bring sunscreen, a cooler full of water, and mosquito repellent.  A lot of sunscreen.  And some good music (as you’ll be in the car ALOT).  Did I stress that enough?  You’ll be in the car for hours and hours between the stops on the road to hana.

Where to Stop on the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii | www.apassionandapassport.com

  • You could bring snacks if you like, but you will find roadside fruit stands between some of the stops on the road to hana. Some of them are open for pay by the honor system. So, bring cash, including plenty of one-dollar bills, to pay at the stands.
  • Pack a breakfast and lunch (or eat breakfast beforehand and eat along the way)
  • ROUTE: Begin your journey stops on the road to hana from Highway 36 from around the town of Paia. Then follow Highway 36 until it turns into Highway 360. You’ll continue on this road to and past Hana — stopping along the way to enjoy the sights. Do continue driving past the town of Hana where the road becomes Highway 31. A great place to turn around is at the Kipahulu region of Haleakala National Park. (Note that the Kipahulu region is separated from the summit of Haleakala by many miles and thousands of feet of elevation – aka DO NOT attempt to go to the crater in the same day.)  Basically it’s Highway 36 (from Paia) –> Highway 360 –> Highway 31.
  • To see the entire road and beyond Hana in style and comfort then best to take a guide.  They plan the entire day out so you hit the best spots, for the right amount of time and get you back to your hotel or condo for dinner.  No stress at all.

One Comment

  • Kristen says:

    This is great! Thank you! When I was 18 I chose this as an activity for my family when we went to HI. My father said it won't take us all day. And, he just drove it. NEVER stopping and us not knowing, us just staring out the window to the road side water falls it STILL took him hours to get up to Hana and back. This is a great in sight and can't wait to enjoy the Road to Hana 19 years later with my husband. Who will stop. :)

PASSWORD RESET

LOG IN