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!
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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 amazing 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.
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. Keep scrolling to find out all the best Road to Hana tips to make the most of your drive.
Road to Hana Guide: Tips to Know Before You Go
How Long Does the Road to Hana Take?
The honest truth is that it really depends on how many stops you plan on doing. 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.
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.
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 gas station once you get to Hana.
If you think you might want to take advantage of the cute roadside fruit stands or banana bread stands, 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 your at some point. You won’t want everything to get wet (including yourself.)
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, 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 road from 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 time of day, earlier is definitely better. Most tourists start sometime between 7am-10am 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.
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.
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.
One of the most popular Road to Hana guides is the Shaka App. You can just download it 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.)
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 ones you’d like to do the most.
Tell yourself that you’ll come back to Maui and do the Road to Hana 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 Guide: 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 Stand: Located between Mile Markers 4 and 5, this little stand offers organic Maui fruit smoothies made with freshly squeezed sugar cane juice.
Halfway to Hana Stand: This 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.
Coconut Glen’s: Get some famous vegan ice cream here. Not only is the ice cream delicious, but the stand itself is very photo-worthy.
Up in Smoke BBQ: This 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 scenery can be a bit distracting, so one option is to switch drivers every hour or two.
You’ll also want to pull over to let locals pass you. Keep in mind that people live along the 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.
Can You Just Do Half of the Road to Hana?
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.
Start in Paia, then stop at the Garden of Eden, see a few 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.
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.
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.
Located on Mile Marker #2, Twin 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Definitely a highlight on the Road to Hana with kids!
Waianapanapa State Park
Located around Mile Marker #32, Waianapanapa State Park is a black sand beach that has sea caves and cool hiking trails. It’s a fun stop right before Hana Town.
This is where a lot of people end their Road to Hana journey, at Mile Marker #34. 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.
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.
However, it’s important to check to see 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.
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.) 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, ancient lava formations, or do a waterfall hike. Plus you’ll get to safely do the backside of the Road to Hana.
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. 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 times between 8am and 1pm, 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.
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. And you’ll do the full tour, including the backside.
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.
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 Pro.
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.
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.
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 serious hiking.
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.
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.
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.
Phone Charger: You will be taking so many photos and video 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.
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.
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 advanced, as they don’t accept same day bookings.
Hana Kai Condos
If camping isn’t your thing, you might look into the Hana Kai condos. These have an ocean view and they are only 8 miles from the famous Seven Sacred Pools (Oheo Gulch.)
And if you are up for a splurge, book a night at the rustic (yet chic) Travaasa Hana. This is a popular Maui all-inclusive resort perfect for honeymoons, romantic getaways, or family vacations.
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!