The road to Hana is one of those bucket list items in Maui that you should definitely put on the must-do list. The 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. The drive itself is well worth taking the all day drive around the island.
After spending a memorable 4 nights at the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort and Villa it was time to get out and explore Maui. Most travelers will take the 53-mile road to the town of Hana, then turn around and head back the same route they came. But, my husband and I are adventurous so we rented a Jeep Wrangler to take the continuous loop all in one day.
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The drive can be a bit overwhelming thanks to the 600-plus turns on this 64-mile road, you cant explore Maui without taking the road to Hana. 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 6 Top Road To Hana Stops.
The Road To Hana Stops
1. Paia Town
Since the 1970s, Paia Town has gotten plenty of recognition as the laid-back, surfer hippie town of Maui. 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.
The road to Hana is known for being a dangerous road to drive. There are a lot of blind corners, narrow bridges, and sharp turns so while it may be tempting to grab a six pack while making the drive. I would not suggest it.
For the first hour or so you will come across tons of waterfalls so have your camera ready!
Some of Maui’s most stunning waterfalls can be seen up close and are scattered all along the famous Road to Hana. The waterfalls are fed by the rains from Haleakala.
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.
- Twin Falls: A smaller waterfall but still worth the stop. The trail can be muddy so be very careful and take your time.
- 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.
3. Black Sand Beach
Wai’anapanapa State Park lives up to its Hawaiian name meaning “glistening water.” It’s Right off Hana Highway and is at mile 32. This park was by far my favorite road to Hana stops because the rock formations against the bright blue water were simply stunning.
The hubby and I left the Westin Kaanapali around 7 AM just to arrive here before the onslaught of people. When we arrived there were a few cars in the parking lot and I was able to take as many photos as I wanted without having to wait for the area to clear of people.
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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.
This road to Hana stop is a must-see because the beautiful black-sand beach is the perfect spot for an unparalleled photo opportunity.
4. Island Style Tacos
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.
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.
Home to several excellent, low-key outdoor dining options, including Nahiku Cafe, Island Chef, Island Style Tacos, Hana Highway Sorbet, and My Thai, among others that rotate in and out of the area. 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 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.
5. Backside of Haleakala
The Seasons have changed on the road to Hana stops:
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.
6. Bullys Burgers
If you ignored me earlier and didn’t stop to grab a bite to eat at Nahiku Marketplace no worries there is one more place on the road Hana stops that will have you salivating.
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!
Do’s and Dont’s 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.