The Road To Hana is one of those bucket list items in Maui that you should definitely put on your must-do list. These Road to Hana stops will have you in awe because around every corner, there’s something new from the tons of gorgeous waterfalls and awesome beaches.
If you are unfamiliar with the Hana Highway aka the “Road to Hana” I will provide you with the best road to Hana Itinerary, best road to Hana waterfalls, and driving the road to Hana do’s and don’ts.
Trying to figure out where to stop along the Road to Hana can be more of a headache than actually driving the road to Hana. There is so much misinformation from both locals and visitors alike it’s kinda hard to know who you should listen to when it comes to trying to figure out where to stop in Hana.
I have chosen the Best Places to Stop on the Road to Hana based on my experiences and those of my readers. Keep reading as I will answer the following questions:
- How long does it take to travel the Road to Hana?
- What are the best stops on the Road to Hana?
- Best road to Hana Waterfalls
- Is the Road to Hana dangerous?
- What should you wear on the Road to Hana?
- Should you take a tour or rent a car driving the Road to Hana?
The Road to Hana has an exhausting, harrowing, and winding 617 hairpin curves and 59 scary one-lane bridges, lets not forget all of the blind spots along the way.
The speed limit is 25 mph or less the entire way, that puts the drive time around 2.5 hours without making any stops at all so if you add in stopping to eat, black sand beaches, finding the best road to hana waterfalls along with traffic or other distractions you will easily need 5 plus hours if not longer.
Road To Hana Map
Road to Hana Itinerary
There are so many little surprises, small towns, beautiful blue water, black sand beaches and dense jungle vines growing all around the road that it will make you feel as if you have been transported to into a science fiction movie.
My husband and I got to experience the unpaved, bumpy, and zigzag turn that you have been warned about in all of the books first hand. I have chosen our favorite Stops along the Road To Hana.
While most people breeze by on their early morning drive to explore the Road to Hana, I recommend taking the time to discover one of Hawaii’s coolest small towns. Grab a cup of Maui coffee and people, do a little shopping, or grab a bite to eat before making the long drive to Hana.
Items To Pack
– Everything will get wet and muddy.
– Food & Water
– Consider mosquito repellent & a simple first-aid kit
– Pocket Knife (for fruits you may find)
– Bathing Suits
– Changes of clothing
– Plastic trash bags for wet/muddy clothing
– Ziplocks for camera/phone/etc.
– Good footwear for mud and water.
– Printouts of all the articles suggested below (there is no Internet/cell service in most areas.)
Road to Hana Waterfalls
The waterfalls are found on the northeast slopes of the mountains that make up Maui just below Haleakala Volcano. Since Haleakala is so much larger and taller than the West Maui Mountains, you’ll find most of the waterfalls in Maui are on it’s slopes.
Traveling up the coast towards Hana, the land becomes very steep and the road follows a rugged coastline of cliffs and gulches. These steep gulches cut into the forest all the way up Haleakala Volcano and cradle streams which pour water down over hundreds of waterfalls on their way to the ocean.
The road to Hana passes over many of these streams during the water’s journey to the ocean and usually as the water flows down over rock outcroppings, there are wonderful jungle settings, accentuated by picturesque waterfalls. The best Maui waterfalls are found around Hana.
The biggest waterfall that can be seen from the Hana Highway is located past Hana, just a few miles before The Pools at Oheo.
It takes anywhere from 6 to 12 hours for the water to travel down the mountain to create these picturesque waterfalls so take your time pull over and enjoy the scenery. Below are a list of the most popular waterfalls:
- Twin Falls: A smaller waterfall but still worth the stop. The trail can be muddy so be very careful and take your time. Mile Marker 2.
- Huelo Lookout: This stop is super quick with beautiful panoramic views of the Island.
- Waikamoi Ridge Forest Trail and Overlook: This is a 30-minute hike and the hike is not that hard but there are not any waterfalls just gorgeous foliage.
- Garden of Eden: This is where the opening scene of Jurassic Park was shot. There are over 500 species of plants in this garden and it also gives you a nice view of some waterfalls as well. There is a $15 entrance fee and it doesn’t open until 8 am. The hubby and I decided to skip this one but it’s really a personal choice.
Road To Hana Beach
This beach is often ranked up there with the famous beaches in the resort areas of Maui, and deservingly so. A postcard-perfect 100′ wide by 1000′ long crescent.
Hamoa Beach is surrounded by cliffs, with two points of public access – stairs leading down from the hotel shuttle drop off and a small service road at the other end. (walk, don’t drive on this).
Koki Beach Park
Koki Beach changes radically throughout the year. In the summer months, a wide sandy beach is deposited, and surf and currents often mellow out to allow safe water use. In the winter, much of the sand is taken away by the ocean, leaving a mix of sand, cinder and boulders to accompany dangerous ocean conditions. Location: Hana Hwy mm 50.1 & 49.1
Red Sand Beach
Red Sand Beach is a dramatic and beautiful hidden cove unlike any other. The ocean outside the cove is almost always a deep, almost surreal Kool-Aid blue, and rages relentlessly against the dramatic and rugged coastline.
The crescent-shaped beach is cut deep into the Ka’uiki Head cinder cone, whose rust-red lava cinder cliffs supply the beach with its red sand. These cliffs of loose crumbly cinders tower almost vertically, yet somehow remain intact to impressive heights.
Part of the trail was lost to a landslide and has become more dangerous than it once was. This is not a safe hike for anyone unaccustomed to navigating cliff-edges with slippery/unsound footing. I do not believe there is a visible mile marker.
This bay is nestled inside a dramatic, verdant valley that first reveals itself from the road between mile markers 12 & 13, and there are a couple of worthy lookouts to pull over and savor the view or snap a photo before you descend into the valley. Mile Marker 12 & 13
Waianapanapa State Park
Maui’s famous black sand beach, named Honokalani and located in Waianapanapa State Park about three miles north of the town of Hana, is more than just a beach. It was historically a very important place for Hawaiians, and there are various Hawaiian legends about this place.
The park itself comprises of 122 acres, encompassing the beach, lava caves, wind-twisted foliage, Hawaii’s largest known heiau (temple), stone arches, and blow holes. The park is very interesting to hike through, and there are even a few wet, spring-fed sea caves and lava tubes.
There is a cave right on the beach and if you are not looking for it you will miss it. I snapped this photo and video inside of the cave and it’s still one of my favorite photos.
The Black Sand Beach is one of those hidden gems and should be on your Road to Hana itinerary and is a “must-see”. The black-sand beach is the perfect spot for an unparalleled photo opportunity. Mile Marker 32
Where To Eat on the Road to Hana
For the greedy traveler, the Road to Hana can be a rude awakening if not prepared. With very few places to stop and eat a full meal along the journey, Nahiku Marketplace comes as a welcome surprise for weary travelers.
Where is Nahiku Market?
Located at Mile Marker 29, approximately 6 miles before Hana Town, Nahiku Marketplace is a great place to stop, stretch your legs, shop, eat, relax, and re-energize for the rest of your journey.
Why Stop at The Nahiku Market?
Home to several excellent, low-key outdoor dining options, including;
- Nahiku Cafe
- Island Chef
- Island Style Tacos
- Hana Highway Sorbet
- My Thai
My personal favorite was the Island Style Tacos and OMG! They were so delicious! I had juice running all down my arm and I did not care that I was looking like a greedy pig. You know it’s good when nobody speaks a word until all of the food is gone.
If you’re in search of some unique Maui memorabilia to take home this is also a great place to browse local art and stock up on souvenirs for your family.
More Road to Hana Stops:
- Wailua overlooks: Just before approaching this overlook on the right-hand side there is a tiny parking lot with an awesome view of several waterfalls and the Haleakala Crater.
- 3 bears waterfall: This is a popular waterfall and it looks like three different cascading waterfalls hence the name. We didn’t stop but the hubby drove by really slow so I could get some good photos but you want to park and take a look you’ll need to drive a little further and walk back.
The Backside of Haleakala
The Seasons have changed on the Road to Hana:
If you are a fan of remote beauty, you will fall in with this part of the drive. It was one of our most favorite stops to take photos on the Road the Hana.
While most visitors turn around and drive back once they reach Hana town, I recommend exploring further and driving the back road around from Kipahulu into Kula.
While the road on the back side is partially unpaved, narrow and very steep it’s totally worth the drive and you will not be disappointed. The Road to Hana started out green and lush but the back side offers stunning views of deep valleys and long stretches of undeveloped land that is just breathtakingly beautiful.
The road on the back side is rough, narrow, prone to mudslides, and unpaved in sections.
After driving the extremely curvy road to Hana, you can easily become fatigued and that’s one of the reasons why rental car companies designate the road as unauthorized.
If you are up for I suggest you keep going because it just as beautiful as the rainy section but be aware the roads are extremely narrow and wide enough for one car. The photo below is my favorite picture from the Road to Hana.
If you ignored me earlier and didn’t stop to grab a bite to eat at Nahiku Marketplace you must add Billy’s Burgers to your road to Hana itinerary.
Billy’s Burgers is worth the trip to the back side of Hana. This little stand has a whole history that you can read about on their sign, and the current cook is the latest in the Bully legacy, upholding his family’s desire to serve fresh, local burgers right on their own ranch property.
Right before you reach the burger joint nestled on the side of the road you can usually hear or see the cattle that their beef comes from, all grass-fed and free-range. There is a lovely picnic area where you can enjoy your burger and beautiful scenery.
These burgers are without a doubt worth the wait!
Click Here To Watch My Video On The Road To Hana
Do’s and Don’ts on The Road to Hana stops:
- Don’t stop on the side of the road unless there is a parking lot. You can get hit seriously.
- Do splurge on the Jeep Wrangler It’s so worth it!
- Do go early in the morning so that you can beat the traffic and tourists. We left at 7 AM
- Do gas up, there are not a ton of gas stations.
- Do bring food, remember there are only 2 places to stop for food and water. Please grab a few bottles of water from the hotel and food to snack on.
The Road to Hana is more than just a great drive through a beautiful area of Maui. Most visitors tend to zip to and from Hana with a checklist of sights to photograph.
This is the wrong way to do it. Do your due diligence beforehand, decide on a few locations that look the most intriguing, and take your time at each location.
I decided before we left I didn’t want to Hike and that was ok to miss a few attractions in order to get the most out of our drive to Hana.
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