Maui, Hawaii – Road to Hana

My husband and I went to Hawaii on our honeymoon and spent half of our trip in Maui. One of the most popular things to do in Maui is the Road to Hana. The drive to Hana and back takes you along some crazy winding roads following the coast and through the forest. If you have a 4WD vehicle and the road is open, you can actually continue on after Hana. We saw some of our favorite Hawaiian views during this road trip.

There are many tour companies that will take you on the drive, but we opted to do it ourselves. I would recommend doing a little research ahead of time so you won’t miss anything. We used Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook, which showed the route, mile markers and all the stops we were interested in.

We left early in the morning from our hotel to try and beat the “traffic.” The last thing we wanted to do was struggle to find parking at different stops or feel like we couldn’t go our own pace because of other people on the road.

Some recommendations that we tried to follow were to bring cash, start the trip on a full tank of gas, and leave valuables at home. We also reset the car odometer once we got on Highway 360 because the mile markers start over at 0 and we wanted to make sure we knew where to stop according to our guidebook.

Our first stop was to Haipua’ena Falls, which was about 1.5 miles past mile marker 10 shown below. By the end of the day, we were tired just from seeing so many waterfalls!

As you’re driving along, there are plenty of places to pull off on and stop just to see incredible views. We stopped to see this view from the road and enjoyed watching the sun continue to rise behind the clouds.

We stopped at the Ke-anae Lookout, which was at a dead end. We were the only ones there and enjoyed the peace and quiet.

There were a few short beach stops we made to check out the volcanic rocks and waves crashing against them. The water was such a beautiful blue and created large clouds of mist as it hit the rocks.

This is just a preview of the road. There are many one lane bridges where cars take turns crossing. The Upper Waikani Falls were on the side of the bridge shown below, but there was no parking so we had to park up the road some and brave walking back to the falls. As we were leaving, quite a few more cars were starting to park and it was getting crowded.

You can actually walk down to the falls, but we just enjoyed the view from the bridge.

We stopped at the Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside park, which had two smaller waterfalls and the most important part, a bathroom.

This sign was hanging in the bathroom. This is why we can’t have nice things… As a side note, bring some hand sanitizer and maybe even some toilet paper just in case!

We took Nahiku Road, which after 2.5 miles of an even more narrow road led us to Nahiku. The road to the shoreline is no longer open, so we parked near the church and hiked through the forest shown below. The hike was short and we crossed the bridge that can no longer be crossed by vehicles. Once you see it, you’ll understand why.

At the end of the hike through the forest, we came out to this beautiful view of the shoreline. The area off to the far left is where we were just driving.

Look how beautifully lush and green the area is!

Something Hawaii is famous for is its beautiful black sand beaches. We stopped at Wai’anapanapa Park and enjoyed a walk along its boardwalk overlooking the beach. We then ventured down to the beach and went on a short trail off to the left that took us out on the edge of the rocks.

Below is a view from our hike along the shoreline. There were a lot of kids swimming in the water, but it was too cold for me!

On our walk back to the shore, we saw everyone staring out at the water and realized there was a WHALE flapping its tail like crazy for us! Luckily we packed binoculars and watched the incredible site from shore. The picture below is terrible quality, but towards the middle on the horizon you can see a small spec. That’s the whale!

We had snacks in the car, but had planned to stop at one of the many roadside stands for lunch. I honestly can’t even remember the name or how to get there, but the food was delicious. We also stopped somewhere else on our way back for some banana bread and ice cream!

After lunch we visited Paihi Falls. This was a popular one because you could easily get close and go swimming. We got there later in the day and the area was getting pretty crowded, so we just stood there for a nice picture and got moving.

We visited Haleakala National Park, Kipahulu District, which is located 12 miles past the town of Hana. This was our last stop before turning around and heading home. We wanted to see the Pools of ‘Ohe’o (aka Seven Sacred Pools), and to do that you had to pay an admission fee and enter the park. The second picture below was the closest we could get. We did walk along a nice trail to the coast and through the forest.

After stretching our legs for a bit, we hopped in the car and started driving back to our hotel. The drive back was a little rough since we did most of the stopping on the way to Hana. However, it was worth it for us to get most of our sightseeing done before the crowds showed up. It was a long, but incredible day!

Have you driven the Road to Hana? What were your favorite stops?

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