Maui no ka oi translates to “Maui is the best” and we wholeheartedly agree — especially when it comes to the Road to Hana.
The second-largest of Hawaii’s eight islands, it’s no exaggeration to say Maui is hands-down one of the most beautiful tropical paradises in the US. Perfect for honeymooners, families and groups of friends, there is something for everyone: golf, beach, SCUBA, surfing, deep sea fishing and so much more.
Maui can be as active or relaxing as you want it to be. If lying on the beach and listening as the waves crash along the shore is your idea of paradise, look no further than Maui. If you’d prefer hiking, biking, fishing or other active pursuits, Maui’s your place. One of the most notable excursions in Maui is the Road to Hana, which is perfect for those seeking adventure or just beautiful scenery. A 55-mile drive along the hairpin turns of Highway 360, the Road to Hana is filled with cascading waterfalls, tropical valleys, beach views and more. There are hundreds of little sites to see on the road, and the drive can take all day … Make sure you have your road trip essentials!
How To See The Road To Hana
Most people rent a car and drive the road themselves, while some elect to hire drivers through tour companies. We recommend driving yourself so you can stop as often and wherever you wish. Most rental car companies offer convertibles and jeeps; we recommend a convertible, as the open air is refreshing and you can feel the waterfall mist as you drive. Be wary of several rental car companies who try and upsell you on the Jeeps — they may say you’ll need one to traverse some of the hairpin turns, but having personally done this drive in a Mustang convertible, I’d recommend the convertible option.
How Long It Takes
While the road to Hana is technically only 55 miles, it can take an entire day, as the best part is stopping to see what’s alongside the road: rainforests, rolling valleys, cascading waterfalls and so much more. We recommend leaving early (no later than 9 AM), as often an early start time will help you beat the rush and enables you to see everything you want to see before sunset. There’s a lovely little roadside stand at the halfway mark; make sure to stop and get some fresh banana bread!
What To Wear
If you rent a convertible, don’t forget a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen, as the sun is strong! Bring a bathing suit, too, as you’ll likely want to stop and dip in the waterfalls. While Keens and other water shoes may not be the most attractive footwear options, they’ll come in handy if you want to wade through the water at several stops. Make sure to bring a warm jacket or shirt as well, as areas of fog can add a chill to the air.
Don’t Forget …
If you have stomach problems be sure to bring Dramamine, as the turns can get rough!
Now that you know how to prepare for the Road to Hana, here’s what you’ll want to stop and see while doing the drive. There are dozens of stops you can take, so we’ve narrowed it down for you. Without further adieu, here are the top five must-see stops along the Road to Hana:
5.) Twin Falls (Mile Marker #2)
We could spend hours at Twin Falls. The falls themselves are spectacular, but the hike to get to the falls is what makes this stop so unique. Twin Falls is located on a private farm called Waiele Farm, a part of the Ho’olawa Valley, with two streams running through the farm. Ho’olaw means “to provide, to share in abundance, to equip or make available so everyone has enough.” Though private, the land is open to the public free of charge (though donations are welcomed). If driving the Road to Hana from the airport, this will be your first waterfall stop along the Hana Highway and is certainly worth stopping for. In addition to the infamous Twin Falls, there are multiple other waterfalls on the land, but Twin Falls truly is the best. We recommend hiking the entire route and celebrating with a dip in the pools of the falls to celebrate.
4.) Wailua Falls (Mile Marker #45)
Wailua Falls are often said to be Maui’s most photographed waterfall. Located alongside the road (literally, the mist will hit you should you decide to bypass the stop and keep driving), the falls cascade into two streams, dropping 80 feet below and are absolutely stunning. A refreshing plunge pool rests at the base of the falls, welcoming passersby for a quick dip. The best part? No hiking is required, as the falls are alongside the Road to Hana. You can either do a slow drive by or (as we recommend) park, take a quick plunge in the pools, then get back in your car and continue the drive.
3.) ‘Ohe’oGulch (Mile Marker #42)
The Kipahulu Area, the Seven Sacred Pools, Oheo Gulch, ‘Ohe’oGulch … There are many names for this section of Haleakala National Park and, while no one can decide just what to call it, one thing is for sure: it’s beautiful.
Located about 15 minutes past the town of Hana near mile marker #42, this tropical paradise boasts multiple pools (more than seven, making the name quite misleading) and a multitude of waterfalls. Be prepared to spend a lot of time at this stop. It’s well worth it.
2.) Hana Bay Beach Park (Center of Hana Town)
As you near the end of the Road to Hana, there’sa chance you’ll be ‘waterfalled out.’ Yes, it can happen … and when it does, the solution is a walk on the beach (and more beautiful scenery).
When you reach the crescent-shaped black sand beach of Hana Bay Beach Park, you’ll know you’ve made it to the end. Welcome to Hana! And there’s no better way to celebrate than parking your car, stretching your legs, and walking barefoot across the warm rocks and black sand. Depending on the current, you may see snorkelers, local children splashing in the water, and sun-seekers laying out and taking in the rays. Often times you’ll also be fortunate enough to hear some local musicians strum a few tunes on their ukuleles. It truly is the perfect way to end your trip along the Road to Hana, and often a great place to watch as the sun sets.
1.) Wai’anapanapa State Park (Mile Marker #32)
Translating to “glistening water,” Wai’anapanapa features warm black sand beaches set against turquoise waters and against a tropical green backdrop, ocean caves, blowholes, cliff jumping, beautiful views of the East Maui coast, and so much more. What could be better?
If you don’t feel like trekking back down the Road to Hana where you started, stay! Campsites and cabins are available.
Love waterfalls? Check out a few of our favorite waterfalls in the world!
Have you driven The Road to Hana? Tell us what your favorite stops were!