Maui’s Road to Hana is one of the world’s most insane roads to drive on. It is a winding road with 620 turns and 59 bridges. The road takes you to the remote side of the island, traveling through dense rainforests that are lined by spectacular waterfalls. Even if you aren’t a hiker, you can easily enjoy them from your car or designated pullouts.
Take your time driving and be prepared for frequent traffic stops, as many of the bridges have only a one car capacity. Here are 11 of my favorite stops on the road to Hana, and be prepared because some of them are hikes! The list will go in order traveling from Kahului to Hana and will include the mile marker stops, just make sure to park off of the road and inside lines on the shoulder.
1. Historic Paia Surf Town
This is the first stop on the road to Hana, a perfectly quaint north shore town with very chill local surfing vibes. There are a few beaches nearby town like Baldwin Beach Park and surf lookouts in the winter. This is a great place to get some souvenirs and breakfast, my favorite resultants include the small breakfast cafes, and you have to try the Thai place. Don’t spend that much time here though, because you want to beat as many of the other tourists as possible heading on on the road.
2. Twin Falls | mm 2.4
Twin falls is one of the first stops after Paia town showcasing a serene split waterfall inside of the jungle canopy. It is a relatively easy 2 mile hike, but tends to be crowded during peak tourist seasons and early in the morning. Bring your swimsuit because you can jump off of the falls, but always depth check and clear obstructions. I rarely include this on my Road to Hana itinerary because of the crows and I think there are better falls later on the road. However it is still a great place to hang out, easy to get to, and not that far along the road. If you want to avoid the crows try hitting this stop towards the end of the day on the way back, or even earlier than other tourists.
3. O’Opuola Point 100 foot Sea Cave | mm 7ish
This is a hike! I remember it taking less than 2 hours to get to the caves, but that could be variable because it involved trekking through lots of overgrown sections. This is not a very well known attraction on the Road to Hana, so it will definitely make you feel more adventurous. The trail starts on the left, after parking your car in the dugout on the right side of the road. There is a small metal barrier fence to hop over onto the trail, then it is just a matter of staying on the trail. This hike gets easier to follow the closer to the ocean you get, but early sections are muddy and overgrown with trees. There are old cars and machinery deposited at the beginning to help you know you are on the right trail.
At the end of the hike is a large sea arch, tide pools, and a small beach. People can jump off the sides of the arch but be wary of the water conditions. The cliffs to jump from range from 5 to over 100 feet tall! Along the trail you may find strawberry guava and mangos.
4. Pe’ahi Jaws Lookout | mm 13-14
The Pe’ahi Jaws lookout boasts an awesome view of the winter swell season in Maui. This is a MUST SEE if you are on Maui between December and March. You can pull over and sit for hours just watching the big wave surfing. This area is home to some of the biggest waves in the world, and Maui sees waves up to 75 feet every year!
5. Honomanu Beach and River Outlet | mm 14
Honomanu Beach is a quiet area around the corner from the Jaws lookout, and it has many native Hawaiian learning centers that teach ancient practices and life in the valley. You can learn how Hawaiians cultivate the land, grow food, and restore fish ponds. You can explore the coast while admiring the lo’i ponds and calm water, enjoying the serene trickling sound of the Honomanu river flowing into the sheltered bay.
6. Ching’s Pond | mm 17
Ching’s pond is my favorite place on the Road to Hana! This small waterfall fed pond is situated underneath a bridge, on a bend in the road. I always bring a mask and snorkel to swim around in the crystal clear water than can be up to 20 feet deep. The water is reflective and calm, totally masking the fact that there’s a road and a bunch of tourists above you. You can jump off the cliffs surrounding the pond up to 30 feet high. Try to not wear sunscreen or chemical products, as the water feeds downstream to lo’i ponds and it protects sensitive ecosystems. Bask in the sun and enjoy this little piece of paradise for as long as you want. Parking is limited so only a small number of people can enjoy this spot at one time making it less crowded and pristine.
7. Ka’eleku Cave’s Lava Tube | mm 31Also called Hana Lava Tube
Further up the road is a cool spot great for families and travelers who like to learn about where they are. It is the Ka’eleku Cave’s Lava Tube, also referred to as the Hana Lava Tube. There is a small fee at the visitor center but they give you flashlights and let you inside the lava tube to explore around. Lava tubes are formed as the ancient volcanoes erupted and undergrounds lava carved out the massive pipes. This is a great spot to get out, stretch your legs, and learn something.
8. Waianapanapa | mm 32-33
Another one of my favorite spots is Waianapanapa Beach Park. This place is one of the only black sand beaches in Hawai’i, and it is an awesome place to hang out or eat lunch at. The park is also a campsite you can reserve, although I prefer Kipahulu past Hana. The beach is on the left side of the parking lot, just walk down the stairs and you’re there. You can swim and lie on the black ‘sand’, which is actually just tiny volcanic pebbles. On the right side you can check out the unique rock formations that protrude from the bay, and if you are crazy like me you can swim over and jump off the rabbit ears pillars. This jump is almost 60 feet tall and covered in bird poop, but I think it is worth it. Definitely a place I always come back to on my trips to Maui.
9. Hana Food Trucks
Once you arrive in Hana there are only a couple restaurants, but I recommend sticking with the food trucks. There are cuisine options like Thai, fish, burgers, Oriental, and local Hawaiian favorites. My favorite is the fish trucks, because they get their fish straight out of the water and it taste unbelievable. You can save some money with the food trucks, as the restaurants in Hana are pricey, but still expect prices to be high because you’re in a remote part of the world.
10. Waimoku and Makahiku Falls | Kipahulu-Haleakala Visitor Center
This is a cool hike at the end just past Hana. You can park at the Kipahulu-Haleakala Visitor Center, which you will need to by a pass for. After crossing the road the trail will take you gradually uphill, so most people can do it. The first waterfall you come to is Makahiku Falls, only observable from its lookout. This waterfall is cool because it as rocks at the top that stop the water and make an infinity pool of water. It is sketchy to swim in thought because it is prone to overflowing and flash floods.
Past the lookout you will enter into Maui’s famous bamboo forests. The trail will begin traversing over a series of planks and a couple bridges. I have seen some people jump of the bridges, but just depth check if you are going to do that. Eventually you arrive at Waimoku falls which is much larger, extending more than 300 feet tall. If the weather is good you can walk up to the base of the falls, but keep in mind if it is raining the area is subject to floods and falling boulders. YIKES!
11. Oheo Gulch | Kipahulu-Haleakala Visitor Center
The final stop on the road to Hana is the Oheo Gulch, also known as the seven sacred pools. The access is also from the visitor center and the pools are at the bottom of the river, fed by the previous waterfalls.. You used to be able to swim in them but many people lost their live over the years due to flash floods and slippery surfaces. The pools are still cool to look at and there are points of access onto the rocks at least.
Some Road To Hana Tips
These are some of my favorite stops along the Road to Hana and stay tuned because I will be posting more ideas in the future. I have found crazy cool spots that you are not gonna find in any guide books.
Every time I go to Hana I like to leave at 8 am by the latest, to beat as many tourists as possible. I think the best way to see Hana is to split it into two days. The first day exploring al the places going to Hana and the second day exploring all the places going back. I love camping at the Kipahulu campsites or renting a place for a night in Hana. If you get an early start from Hana you will be travelling in the opposite direction of tourists traffic and the first half of your day will probably be tourist free.
Make sure you drink a lot more water than you think, the jungle is very hot and humid. I have seen people pass out from dehydration and heat stroke, and you DO NOT want to foot that ambulance bill, I swear. Be respectful of the local people, native plants, and the trails. The Road to Hana is a really special place and it is up to us to keep it that way. Also don’t be afraid to pull over and let people pass you, some local people drive it every day and are much better at it than you.
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