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Road to Hana Guide: 16 Things to Know Before You Drive the Road to Hana

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Planning on driving the famous Road to Hana on Maui? This Maui day trip is one of the top things to do in Maui because of all the amazing stops. Scroll down to find out all the best Road to Hana tips!

What is the Road to Hana?

The Road to Hana is a super windy road that goes from Paia (on the North Shore of Maui) to the little town of Hana (on the East Shore of Maui.)

It’s a full-day trip that can even be stretched out to 2 or 3 days if you truly want to explore all the best Road to Hana stops. There are epic Maui waterfalls, incredible hiking spots, and stunning views you’ll have to see to believe.

But, it’s mostly become a top thing to do in Maui because of the road itself. There are hairpin turns, blind corners, one-land bridges, and spots that are only wide enough for one car.

In fact, the Hana Highway has 620 curves and 59 bridges, which can either make it fun or scary. There’s a reason it’s one of the best road trips in the U.S.!

That’s why you’ll see souvenir t-shirts that read “I Survived the Road to Hana!”

The town of Hana itself is a cute little town, but the big draw is the journey to get there, the Hana road trip. Keep scrolling to find out all the best Road to Hana tips to make the most of your drive.

Here is your ultimate Road to Hana travel guide!

Heading to the Road to Hana with kids? Find out the best kid-friendly Road to Hana stops!

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Road to Hana Guide: Tips to Know Before You Go

Here is your guide to Road to Hana. Use these tips to make your Road to Hana plan and have a blast during your Maui road trip.

How Long Does the Road to Hana Take?

The honest truth is that it really depends on how many Hana Highway stops you plan on doing.

How long is the Road to Hana distance-wise? The Road to Hana is about 52 miles from Kahului.

If you drive straight to Hana, it can take anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on traffic. There are hairpin turns, scenic lookouts, and narrow one-lane bridges. And the weather can also play into it.

For the average tourist who makes a few stops along the way, it’s usually a 13-hour day trip from Lahaina or Kihei to Hana and back. That’s why some people choose to spend the night in Hana.

If you plan to do the Road to Hana in one day, you might have to limit the things to see on the Road to Hana to ensure you make it back in time.

Fill Up Your Gas Tank

Because it’s such a long day of driving, you’ll want to fill up your gas tank before you head out. There are NO gas stations along the way. You don’t want to be stressed out about running out of gas.

Road to Hana bridge on Maui
One of the bridges on the Road to Hana on Maui.

Costco in Kahului is a great place to get cheap gas if you are a Costco member. Or you can fill up in Paia. There are also gas stations once you get to Hana.

Bring Cash

If you think you might want to take advantage of the cute roadside fruit stands or banana bread stands along Road to Hana Maui, make sure to bring cash with you. Most of the places will not take a card and you’ll be so disappointed not to be able to shop.

If you do happen to run out of cash, the Halfway to Hana stand does have an ATM on site.

Rental Car Tips

While it might seem romantic to rent a convertible or Jeep and take off the top, it’s not a great idea for the Road to Hana.

You’ll be driving in the mountains and there’s a good chance it will rain on you at some point. You won’t want everything to get wet (including yourself.)

Famous Road to Hana fraught with narrow one-lane bridges, hairpin turns and incredible island views, curvy coastal road with views of cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, and miles of rainforest. Maui, Hawaii

Also, there are low-hanging trees and overgrown bushes. It’s best to avoid getting scratched and stay protected in a vehicle that has a roof.

Plus, if you plan on stopping to go swimming or hiking during your drive to Hana, you won’t want to risk anything getting stolen.

You’ll also want to check your car rental contract to see if it mentions anything about the Road to Hana. Some will state that you can’t take the back way to Hana to Wailea, so you’ll want to know before you attempt that.

When Should You Go Drive the Road to Hana?

I always recommend checking the weather before you go. You won’t want to drive the Road to Hana in the rain. It can be dangerous and traffic can be brutal. This is especially true in the winter months when it tends to be a bit rainier.

As for the time of day, earlier is definitely better. Most tourists start sometime between 7 am to 10 am in order to make it back before dark.

You won’t want to get stuck on the Road to Hana after sunset. It gets very dark and the drive will be stressful.

The best day of the week to do Road to Hana is usually Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday as those are typically less busy. While you can go driving Road to Hana on the weekends, it will be very busy and you might not get to see all you want to.

Bring Anti-Nausea Medicine

If you tend to get motion sick, bring along some Dramamine so you can enjoy the scenic drive without feeling nauseous.

If you are doing the Road to Hana with kids, bring Children’s Dramamine. Toddlers who are rear-facing may feel extra sick with all the twists and turns.

And everyone should remember to stay hydrated. The Road to Hana drive has plenty of stops along the way so you can go to the bathroom.

Road to Hana Guide

Because there are SO many interesting Road to Hana stops, it’s really important to use some sort of guide so you’ll know which stops are right for your family.

You can get a Road to Hana guided tours or buy either of the two down below for a self guided Road to Hana tour.

Hawaii travel tips by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids

Shaka App

One of the most popular Road to Hana guides is the Shaka App. You can just download the Road to Hana app for this best Road to Hana audio tour to your phone and you’ll get a history lesson about Maui as it tells you which stops you should do and which ones you can skip.

It’s the best Road to Hana audio guide out there so you can do your own Road to Hana self tour! Check out the latest prices and more details.

Buy the Shaka App

Maui Revealed

Another option is the Maui Revealed book. Some of the places they recommend may be on private property, so it’s important to pay attention to any signs you might see before exploring one of their “hidden gems.” If you want a Road to Hana self guided tour option, this could be good for you. Check out the latest prices and more details.

Buy Maui Revealed on Amazon

Consider Driving the Road to Hana in Reverse

If your car rental contract doesn’t mention anything about the Road to Hana, one idea is to drive the Road to Hana in reverse. You’ll start at Haleakala National Park and drive to Seven Sacred Pools and then reach Hana.

By driving it in reverse, you’ll avoid most of the crowds at the stops and you’ll be going against the traffic. It is a fun way to see the Hawaii Road to Hana.

This is an interesting option for families who are worried about time or who want to do the Road to Hana for a second day later in their trip.

The Shaka App has a reverse guide that is really helpful.

Choose Your Road to Hana Stops in Advance

Because there are so many stops on the Road to Hana, you’ll want to figure out which ones to do ahead of time (if you aren’t using the Shaka App.)

Beautiful views of Maui North coast seen from famous winding Road to Hana. Hawaii, USA.

Each family is different and people have their own ideas of what makes a stop “worth it.” Read a few blog posts and TripAdvisor reviews to see which things to do on the Road to Hana you’d like to do most.

Tell yourself that you’ll come back to Maui and do the Road to Hana Hawaii again. That way you won’t get FOMO if you don’t get to do all the Road to Hana stops you want.

Road to Hana Food Options

Even though the Road to Hana is a top Maui attraction, the food spots are pretty limited. If you are someone who needs to eat every couple of hours, it’s best to pack a cooler with some sandwiches and snacks.

Otherwise here are a few Road to Hana food stops (bring cash):

Huelo Lookout Fruit StandLocated between Road to Hana mile markers 4 and 5, this little stand offers organic Maui fruit smoothies made with freshly squeezed sugar cane juice.

Image of a pineapple smoothie in front of the Huelo Lookout fruit stand on the Road to Hana in Maui.
Fruit smoothie at Huelo Lookout. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Halfway to Hana StandThis small food stand is hard to miss. There are plenty of Halfway to Hana signs along the highway. They sell lunch items like hot dogs and noodles, plus lots of snack items, and their world-famous banana bread. One of the top Road to Hana things to do is to visit this stand so you don’t want to miss it!

Coconut Glen’sGet some famous vegan ice cream here. Not only is the ice cream delicious, but the stand itself is very photo-worthy.

Up in Smoke BBQThis is an awesome place to get kalua pork tacos.

Is the Road to Hana Dangerous?

The Road to Hana can be dangerous if you have a hard time keeping your eyes on the road. I know the stunning scenery can be a bit distracting, so one option is to switch drivers every hour or two.

Should you do the Road to Hana with kids? We think you should definitely add it to your Maui itinerary 5 days. Image of Road to Hana on Maui.

You’ll also want to pull over to let locals pass you. Keep in mind that people live along the Maui Road to Hana and they have places to be. It’s much safer to pull over and let them pass you so you won’t have someone tailgating you.

And whatever you do, do NOT stop in the middle of the road to take a photo. It’s crazy how many tourists stand in the middle of the road to get their perfect Instagram shot. It’s very, very dangerous and you could easily get hit by a car.

This also means don’t just stop your car to take a quick photo without fully pulling over. Just be a considerate driver. Most of the Road to Hana accidents are because people stop on the road.

Can You Just Do Half of the Road to Hana in Maui?

If you are short on time or you are driving the Road to Hana with kids, you might be wondering if you have to do the entire Road to Hana to get the experience.

My personal opinion is that the first half of the Road to Hana is the most scenic, so I suggest families traveling to Maui with a toddler or small kids just do the first half of Hana Highway Hawaii.

Start in Paia, then stop at the Garden of Eden, see some Hana highway waterfalls, and then end at the Halfway to Hana stand. This is a great place to enjoy lunch, take a few photos, and grab some banana bread for the drive back.

Click here for step-by-step Maui travel planning help

Road to Hana Guide: Top 9 Best Stops

If you are planning on doing the full Road to Hana, these are some of the most popular Road to Hana stops.

These will go by the Road to Hana stops by mile markers in order. It doesn’t have all the Road to Hana sights but will have some of the best Road to Hana stops in order.

Paia Town

This adorable town is at the very start of the Road to Hana. It has a hippy/artsy vibe and it’s just super cute. There are little shops and restaurants. And if you haven’t filled up your tank, they have a gas station.

Mana Foods is a great spot to pick up drinks and even some lunch to pack to enjoy later in the drive.

Twin Falls

Located on Mile Marker #2Twin Falls is an easy Road to Hana stop where you can take a little hike to see a Maui waterfall. It’s great for doing the Road to Hana with kids.

Road to Hana Guide: 15 Things to Know Before You Drive the Road to Hana featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Twin Falls, Maui, Hawaii--Twin Falls is one of the best Maui waterfalls
Twin Falls on Maui. Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

However, there are much larger Road to Hana waterfalls later in the drive. So, if you’re pressed for time (or got a late start), you can totally skip.

But it is one of the best places to stop on the Road to Hana, especially since it has a Road to Hana hike and waterfall all in one!

Ho’okipa Beach Park

Ho’okipa Beach Park is located around Mile Marker #9 and it’s a great stop if you want to see some windsurfers or kite surfers because it can get quite windy.

You can also plan to hit this on the way back, as the sea turtles make their way to the beach around sunset.

Garden of Eden

This Road to Hana stop appears around Mile Marker #10, so you can definitely go even if you don’t want to commit to the full Road to Hana.

Road to Hana Guide: 15 Things to Know Before You Drive the Road to Hana featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Palms in tropical garden with flowers and palm trees overlooking the ocean with blue sky. Garden Of Eden, Maui Hawaii

It’s a gorgeous garden with some amazing views of the ocean, an enchanted forest, and cute photo ops. There’s even a 100-year-old mango tree that’s pretty impressive. Read my full guide to the Garden of Eden Arboretum.

Halfway to Hana Stand

Whether you are hungry for lunch or just want to stretch your legs, the Halfway to Hana stand at Mile Marker #17 is a great place to get out for a few minutes and take some photos with the sign. There’s a little parking lot, so it’s an easy stop along this Maui highway.

Hana Lava Tube

Also called Ka ‘Eleku Caverns, this Maui lava tube is located around Mile Marker #31 and is a fun adventure that can be done in less than one hour. There are handrails and you can pick up a flashlight to really explore.

The Road to Hana lava tubes are definitely a highlight on the Road to Hana with kids!

Waianapanapa State Park

Located around Mile Marker #32Waianapanapa State Park is the famous black sand beach that has sea caves and cool hiking trails. It’s a fun stop right before Hana Town.

Road to Hana Guide: 15 Things to Know Before You Drive the Road to Hana featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach on the Hawaiian island of Maui along Road to Hana, USA

Hana Town

This is where a lot of people end their Road to Hana journey, at Mile Marker #34.

If you are wondering what to do in Hana Maui, you can hang out at Hana Beach Park, check out the Hasegawa General Store, eat at Ka’uiki Restaurant, or explore the Hana Cultural Center.

There are plenty of things to do in Hana Hawaii to enjoy! You might even want to stay at one of the hotels on the Road to Hana in this town to further explore.

Seven Sacred Pools

If you choose to go further to Mile Marker #42, you’ll reach Ohe’o Gulch, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools. There’s a short hike where you can get to the pools and go swimming.

Road to Hana Guide: 15 Things to Know Before You Drive the Road to Hana featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Pools at Oheo, Maui, Hawaii--The Pools at Oheo are one of the best Maui waterfalls
Pools at Oheo. Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Kirk Lee Aeder

However, it’s important to check to see if the pools are open before you trek all the way here. Sometimes the National Park Service will close it due to flooding.

Road to Hana Guide: Top 5 Best Tours

It can be difficult to really soak in all the scenery if you are driving your own car. So, a great option is to book a Road to Hana tour where you can sit back and get the full experience.

Here are some of the best Road to Hana Maui tours!

Heavenly Hana Tour

This 9.5-hour tour takes you to some of the best highlights on the Road to Hana including Waianapanapa State Park (a black sand beach) and Palikea (the largest stream on Maui.) You will have some of the best Road to Hana tour guides too! Check out the latest prices and more details.

This tour also includes a bento box breakfast and a picnic lunch.

Book your Heavenly Hana Tour

Hana Waterfall & Beach Full Loop Tour

This 8.5-hour tour is custom-designed and you’ll get to decide if you want to see lava tubes, ocean blowholes, or ancient lava formations, or go on some of the Road to Hana hiking trails. Plus you’ll get to safely do the backside of the Road to Hana in East Maui. Check out the latest prices and more details.

While this tour doesn’t include food, they will take you to some of the top places to eat along the Road to Hana, including food trucks and roadside stands.

And you’ll get to try the famous Road to Hana banana bread!

Book your Hana Waterfalls & Beach Full Loop Tour

Halfway to Hana Tour

This 5-hour tour is the best Road to Hana tour for families who just don’t want to commit a full day to the long drive. Check out the latest prices and more details.

This tour is limited to just 7 people and you’ll get to decide if your itinerary includes top spots like Honomanu Bay, Waikani Falls, or an adventurous hike.

And with departure Road to Hana times between 8 am and 1 pm, it’s perfect for people who like to sleep in.

Book your Halfway to Hana Tour

Skyline Hana Tour

One of the most luxurious Road to Hana tours is this Skyline Hana tour, which uses a roomy climate-controlled vehicle with lots of leg room. You’ll swing by Hana Bay and Pua’a Ka’a State Park and get to play in the water. Check out the latest prices and more details.

You’ll also get breakfast at Jaws Country Store in Peahi and lunch provided by Hana Fresh.

Book your Skyline Hana Tour

Valley Isle Excursions Road to Hana Tour

Jump in a 12-passenger van and enjoy large viewing windows as you stop at many Road to Hana attractions, including the popular Oheo Gulch, a red sand beach, a bamboo forest with rainbow eucalyptus trees, and more. And you’ll do the full Hana guided van tour, including the Road to Hana backside. Check out the latest prices and more details.

This Road to Hana tour includes a light breakfast, picnic lunch, and all-you-can-drink non-alcoholic beverages.

Book your Valley Isle Excursions Road to Hana Tour

Road to Hana Guide: What to Pack

Whether you are booking a Road to Hana tour or are driving it yourself, you’ll want to make sure to pack these items to ensure a successful Maui day trip.

Road to Hana Guide: 15 Things to Know Before You Drive the Road to Hana featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Happy hiker - Hawaii tourists hiking by waterfall. Woman cheering during travel on the road to Hana on Maui, Hawaii. Ecotourism concept image with happy female hiker.

Camera: Because of all the gorgeous scenery along the Road to Hana, you’ll want to bring a camera with you. If you are planning on hiking to see waterfalls or going swimming, make sure you bring a waterproof camera like the Go ProFind the best prices here.

Otherwise, bring a waterproof phone case for cell phone pictures.

Drinks: Whether you are staying in the car the whole time or are planning to do a lot of Road to Hana adventures, don’t forget to pack lots of cold drinks.

If you are staying somewhere with a freezer, freeze a bunch of plastic water bottles and use them as ice in a little cooler bag to keep the rest of your drinks cold. As they melt, you’ll have refreshing, slushy water all day long your journey on the highway to Hana. Find the best prices here.

Snacks: Throw some sandwiches in your cooler bag along with some granola bars and other snacks to keep everyone from getting hangry.

Backpack: If you are planning on exploring the Road to Hana stops, bring along a waterproof backpack to store some towels, snacks, water bottles, and extra clothes. Find the best prices here.

Hiking Shoes: It’s not safe to hike in flip-flops. The ground can get a bit muddy, so you’ll want to wear sturdy hiking shoes if you plan to do some of the Road to Hana hikes.

Bug Spray: There are plenty of Road to Hana stops that can get really buggy. You’ll want to wear bug repellent or use essential oils (like peppermint and lemon oil) to save your skin from annoying bug bites. Check out the latest prices and more details.

Sunscreen: Even if you think you’ll be in the car or hiking through the jungle, please remember to wear sunscreen and re-apply it often. Maui sun is strong and you don’t want to spend your vacation nursing a sunburn.

Sunglasses: These are really helpful for driving and while going on adventures during your Road to Hana excursion.

Swimsuit: If you’re doing a Maui waterfall hike, you’ll definitely want to wear a swimsuit. You will be getting wet.

Extra Clothes: You won’t want to sit in the car wearing wet clothes. Bring along an extra change of dry clothes for your Road to Hana outfit.

Phone Charger: You will be taking so many photos and videos that your phone battery will drain quickly. You might even want to bring along a portable battery pack, especially if you’ll be hiking on the Road to Hana. Find the best prices here.

Places to Stay on the Road to Hana

If you think you’ll want more time than just a day trip, you might be wondering where to stay in Hana. There are actually quite a few options, from rustic to luxurious.

Waianapanapa State Park

If you plan on camping in Hana, grab a permit for Waianapanapa State Park. This Hawaii state park has a great campground and you’ll get to experience one of the few black sand beaches in Hawaii. Read our full guide to Waianapanapa State Park HERE.

YMCA Camp Ke’anae

Another Hana camping option is the YMCA Camp Ke’anae. This is set up for tent or van camping. But, they also have cabins available to rent. Be sure to book in advance, as they don’t accept same-day bookings.

Hana Kai Condos

If camping isn’t your thing, you might look into Kai condos. These have an ocean view and they are only 8 miles from the famous Seven Sacred Pools (Oheo Gulch.)

Hana-Maui Resort (formerly Travaasa Hana)

And if you are up for a splurge, book a night at the rustic (yet chic) Hana-Maui Resort.

This is a popular Maui resort perfect for honeymoons, romantic getaways, or family vacations. Check out the latest prices and more details.

Road to Hana Route FAQs

What island is the Road to Hana on?

The Road to Hana is located on Maui.

Where is the Road to Hana?

You will find the Hana Highway Maui on the Eastern side of the island. It starts in Paia and ends in Hana.

How long is Road to Hana?

So, how many miles is Road to Hana? It is about 52 miles long. But, it can take a few hours or the entire day to drive through and experience it all. Start really early in the day to see the Road to Hana sunrise and see as much as you can.

Road to Hana Highway Guide Wrap-Up

Now you know all about how to explore the Hana Highway! Be sure to start early on this epic road trip so you can fully enjoy your Hana trip!

Whether you want to see the absolutely beautiful white sand beaches, black sand beaches, and red beaches including Hamoa Beach, Kaihalulu Beach, and Koki Beach, or visit sites like Pipiwai Trail, Waimoku Falls, the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, Aunty Sandy’s banana bread, and so much more.

Enjoy your road trip with your family!

Loving this Road to Hana Guide and Looking for More Things to do in Maui?

Maui has so many incredible things to do like snorkeling, seeing sea turtles, taking a whale watching tour, exploring Molokini Crater, going hiking, tasting authentic shave ice, riding an ATV, going parasailing, doing a cycling tour, and so much more!