Driving the Road to Hana, also known as the Hana Highway, is one of the best things to do in Maui. This 600ish-turn, 64.4-mile route takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery on the island. It is loaded with hundreds of hairpin turns, cascading waterfalls, a bamboo forest and dozens of beautiful things to see.
While it is possible to drive the whole thing in less than 3 hours without any stops, we’ll miss out on lots of experiences that keep tourists coming back for more. You know what they say, the journey is sometimes more important than the destination.
Let’s check out 35 of the best stops on this scenic route, from the best photo opportunities to hiking trails to the best eats on the road and so much more that will surely make for a fun driving tour..
Mile Marker 0 — Paia Town
What better way to start your journey to Hana than at the unofficial starting place, the city of Paia? This once sugar-mill town is now a renowned laid-back windsurfing destination, with popular windsurfing spots like Ho’okipa and Spreckelsville attracting people the world over. It is also sometimes called the “Windsurfing Capital of the World.”
Trendy boutiques, restaurants, surf shops, and local art galleries, such as Nuage Bleu, Cafe Mambo, and Maui Hands, call the place their home. As this is the last town you’ll come across on your way to Hana, it’s also a great place to stock up on gas (which can get quite expensive here), snacks, toiletries, and whatnot.
Mile Marker 2 — Hana Highway (360) — Twin Falls
Hawaii is known for some of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls, and Maui is no exception. The first of many Road to Hana stops, the Twin Falls is situated in the Ho’olawa Valley. While the area around the falls is inside private property (Wailele Farm), it is easily accessible to the public. There are also different food stands where you can get some refreshing smoothies and snacks. Since this is a popular stop for many tourists and locals, parking space can fill up quickly, so make sure to adjust your schedule to work around peak times (10AM to 2PM).
There are two waterfalls along the moderately challenging 1.8-mile trail leading to Twin Falls. The first one is relatively close to the parking lot, where you’ll see a small waterfall and a natural pool you can dip into. The second one (the one often seen on pictures of Twin Falls) requires a bit of hiking but is definitely well worth it. As there are many slippery (and sometimes dangerous) spots along the way, be sure to bring appropriate footwear, like water shoes.
P.S. Don’t leave any valuables in your car, as (sadly) theft is frequently reported in the area.
Mile Marker 3.5 — Kaulanapueo Church
Kaulanapueo Church was built in 1853. At 8:45 in the morning, we were the only ones there, besides the spirits buried in the quaint cemetery, some dating back to 1940. The Protestant churches doors were locked, but the stop was worth a peak around the grounds.
Mile Marker 4.5 — Huelo Lookout
Early on the Road to Hana drive we decided that a fruit smoothie would be in order and one of the first stands was Huelo Lookout. I ordered a banana bliss smoothie, which was made with fresh papaya, coconut and bananas—if those ingredients don’t say Hawaii, I’m not sure what does.
Mile Marker 6.7 — Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees
The Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees are one of Maui’s most famous sights. While these massive trees are found in different parts of the island, the most popular spot is around mile marker 7, where you’ll see the “painted forest” along the slopes of Haleakala towards the ocean. The trees get their name from the rainbow-like inner bark that forms when the outer bark peels away (which happens several times a year).
Mile Marker 9 — Ho’okipa Beach Park/Ho’okipa Lookout
One of the best locations in Maui for recreational ocean activities is Ho’okipa Beach Park at Mile Marker 9, which includes Ho’okipa Lookout.
This breathtaking white sand beach offers some of the best windsurfing experiences on Maui’s coast, and it’s not uncommon to see the pros brave the strong winds and waves. And let’s not forget the lookout, which offers sweeping views of the adjacent coastline and an up-close look at the powerful waves that crash against the rocky shore.
Mile Marker 9.5 — Waikamoi Nature Trail
The Waikamoi Nature Trail is an easy loop hike filled with ferns, tall trees and scenic overlooks. There are two hiking options; the long route and the short. With our limited time on the Hana Highway we took the shorter of the two which was just under a mile.
Mile Marker 10.2 — Ka Haku Smoke Shack
Ka Haku Smoke Shack is one of the funkiest food huts along the way to Hana and the ten buck chicken plate comes with a free coconut. Don’t bother with the canned corn and rice sides that come with it. But the chicken, that is grilled right in front of you, is tender and flavorful. The fresh coconut juice washed it all down nicely.
Mile Marker 10.6 — Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is one of those pricey, touristy arboretums that I would typically pass up, but it is a great stop for identifying all the local plants that you will see during your Hawaiian travels. Plus, they have a couple of waterfall lookouts.
Mile Marker 12 — Kaumahina State Wayside Park
Coming in at around mile marker 12 is the scenic Kaumahina State Wayside Park. This 7.8-acre woodland/viewpoint is a great place to rest and enjoy some grub, with picnic tables and restrooms available for visitors. Breathtaking views of the northeast Maui coastline and Ke’anae Peninsula are a treat for the eyes, with tons of great photo opportunities from one of the spots on the lookout. There are also several (albeit unmaintained) loop routes going uphill, where you’ll see numerous native and exotic trees and plants.
Mile Marker 14 — Honomanu Bay Lookout
Honomanu Bay is situated between mile markers 13 and 14 of Hana Highway, on Maui’s North Shore. And what better way to take in the bay’s greatest views than at the Honomanu Bay Lookout? This pullout, which is situated just past Kaumahina State Wayside Park, offers a broad panorama of the bay and is also a popular photography spot. So whether you’re looking to take in the natural beauty of Maui or capture some amazing photos, the Honomanu Bay Lookout is definitely worth a visit.
Mile Marker 16.7 — Ke’anae Arboretum
Located past mile marker 16 on the Hana Highway alongside the Piinaau Stream is the Ke’anae Arboretum. What really sells this one to tourists and locals are the beautiful tropical plants, flowers, and trees that grow here (they have around 150 different species!) These include hibiscus, taro varieties, and the famed Rainbow eucalyptus. Entrance is free, and visitors can enjoy a nice, easy stroll along the paved paths while taking in the breathtaking beauty of the flora.
Mile Marker 16.8 — Ching’s Pond
Ching’s Pond is a popular swimming hole that many people pass by without even knowing it is there. The brave locals cliff dive from the bridge, a 25 foot drop. The less adventurous leap from the lower portions or simply watch from the sidelines. Jumping is absolutely, positively not recommended, but at that time not taking the leap was also one of my Road to Hana regrets. Not sure I’d be so brave today!
Mile Marker 17 — Keanae Peninsula and Village
Just past the Ke’anae Arboretum and mile marker 16 is a road leading to Ke’anae, a small but beautiful peninsula formed by the lava that flowed down Haleakala Crater and the soil brought by ancestral Hawaiians centuries ago.
Today, it is known for its ancient Hawaiian town, taro farms, and stunning land and seascape. With different viewpoints/lookouts in the area, you’ll always find something new to see. Plus, it’s also a great way to take plenty of photos! Be sure to check out the rugged lava-rock-filled shorelines, the historic church, and a taste of some delicious banana bread (Aunty Sandy’s).
Mile Marker 17 1/3 — Halfway to Hana
The Halfway to Hana snack shop is certainly one of those places popular due to its name and it will probably not be the best banana bread along the way, but worth the stop just to say you’ve been.
Mile Marker 18.8 — Wailua Valley State Wayside
A place to stretch your legs and get a killer view! We took the stairs on the right of Wailua Valley State Wayside to the top and were treated to a view of Ke‘anae Valley, Ko‘olau Gap and the village of Wailua. It will be a quick stop, but worth the perfect Hawaiian view.
Mile Marker 19.5ish — Upper Waikani Falls
The Upper Waikani Falls, also known as Three Bear Falls, is one of the most popular waterfalls of all the Road to Hana stops. It got its name from the three separate side-by-side falls of varying sizes, reminiscent of the original bear trio from Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It’s also a relatively quick hike to the falls right on the side of the road.
Mile Marker 22 — Pua’a Ka’a Falls/Pua’a Kaa State Wayside Park
Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park is located farther down the Hana Highway, around half a mile past milepost 22, and is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy the beauty of Maui. Visitors can take a short hike through the forest to see some of the birds and plants up close. There is also a waterfall on the property (Pua’a Ka’a Falls), which makes for a refreshing swim on a hot day.
Mile Marker 24 — Hanawi Falls
The Hanawi Falls is one of Maui’s most beautiful and photographed waterfalls, located just around mile marker 24. Continuously fed by the waters of the Hanawi Stream and surrounded by dense rainforest, the waterfalls are separated into two parts: the upper and lower falls.
The upper waterfall is a 30-foot cascade that plunges into a small natural pool found just near the bridge/roadside (which is a fantastic spot for viewing it). The lower waterfall is a 200-foot cascade accessible via a trail from the Nahiku village. Unfortunately, some parts of the trail are under private property, which prohibits any hiking.
Mile Marker 27. 5 — Coconut Glens Ice Cream
It’s not just the sights that make Road to Hana a trip worth remembering, but also the little sweet treats we get to taste along the way. And when it comes to eating ice cream, you’ll want to stop at the funky bus at mile marker 27 1/2.
Made from locally sourced ingredients, Coconut Glen’s organic vegan ice cream prides itself as the best there is in Maui, and it may definitely be the case once you get a taste yourself. With different flavors such as mint chocolate, lemongrass, and their signature coconut flavor (and more), your trip will surely be a whole lot sweeter!
Mile Marker 28.8 — Nahiku Marketplace
Nahiku Marketplace is a Hana shopping center, which consists of a tiny handful of Hawaiian product shops. This is where I discovered one of my absolute favorite Maui treats, coconut candy. The coconut is hand cut, sprinkled with brown sugar and slow baked. And it is delicious!
Mile Marker 31 — Hana Farms Roadside Stand
The Hana Farms Roadside Stand is a popular stop for travelers along the road to Hana. It is a neighborhood market where you can buy a wide variety of goods made in Hana and the farm itself, such as hot sauces, spreads, skincare products, and more.
Be sure to check out their bakery for some freshly-made breads, bagels, desserts, and their signature banana bread (comes in 4 different flavors.) If you’re looking for something heavier, you can enjoy an open-air dining while munching on their wood-fired pizzas, pupus (a type of Hawaiian appetizer), harvest salads, and more.
Mile Marker 31 — Hana Lava Tube
Located past mile marker 31, the Hana Lava Tube is one of the many natural wonders you can find on the Road to Hana. This giant tube is made from solidified lava formed when the molten rocks cooled and hardened and is big enough to walk through.
Visitors can take the self-guided tour, which takes them inside the underground lava tube. Different rock formations like stalagmites and stalactites fill the walls and ceilings, and rare ones like the Chocolate Corridor and Chockstone are definitely a must-see. If you fancy something above ground, you can instead explore and ‘get lost’ in their Red Ti Botanical Garden Maze.
Mile Marker 32 — Luana Spa Retreat
After indulging in too much coconut candy, we made a quick stop at Luana Spa Retreat to get a tour of a yurt. Why? Because I had no idea what the heck a yurt was either. Turns out it’s a fancy-smancy collapsible tent commonly used in Mongolia. But, you can sleep (or, even better, get a spa treatment) in one at Luana.
Mile Marker 32 — Nutcharee’s Thai food
Right next to Luana Spa Retreat is Nutcharee’s, a delicious and authentic outdoor Thai restaurant. Even though it is off the beaten path of the Hana Highway, this place sometimes gets so busy it has to turn away guests. Yep, it’s that good.
Mile Marker 32 — Pa’iloa Beach Black Sand Beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park
The Pa’iloa or Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach in Wai’anapanapa State Park (mile marker 32) was my favorite stop along the Road to Hana. Because of its distinctive black sand and beautiful tropical surroundings, this short stretch is a definite Instagrammable spot.
A short, steep path led us to the beach, which started with a large coal-colored rock, followed by shiny black sand with descending sizes of pebbles. Conditions-permitting (as it can often get dangerous), you can go swimming in the water, but even just the sight of it is worth the trip. There are also neighboring lava caves with freshwater lakes if you like exploring for a bit. Beautiful!
Mile Market 33 — Hana Tropicals
Hana Tropicals is a exotic tropical flower farm and orchid nursery located in the charming town of Hana in East Maui. The farm is an homage to one of nature’s most beautiful and distinct signatures around the island of Maui. The grounds are nestled away in a lush ethereal jungle, teeming with organic beauty.
They offer a free guided tour of their farm, provided by one of their passionate volunteer workers, or you may choose to explore the property at your own pace and interest.
Mile Marker 34 — Hana Town
Here at mile marker 34 lies the small town of Hana, where the whole trip is named after. It was once home to the first sugarcane plantations on the island, which paved the way to the creation of the roads coming to and from Hana.
Although it is a quiet, sleepy town, Hana’s charm lies in its rich history and the things you’ll discover once you know it a bit better. Lush rainforests, beautiful beaches, and delicious eats are just some of the many things awaiting the weary traveler, and is definitely the ideal place to pause and rejuvenate. Some must-see places include the Hana Cultural Center and Museum and Hana Bay Beach Park.
Mile Marker 35 — Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach
The red sand beach of Maui, also known as Kaihalulu Beach, is arguably one of the most stunning and scenic beaches in the entire world. The beach gets its red color from the iron-rich hill found in the area, which beautifully contrasts the ocean’s blue waters.
Something to keep in mind is that the access trail crosses private property, which is why the locals shy away from going to the beach and why you may opt out too. You may find it disrespectful if one trespasses. The hike is relatively short, but the path is steep, narrow, and dangerous, especially if you’re not wearing proper footwear. Use your best judgment if you’re planning to visit here, or if you’ll opt for other attractions instead.
Mile Marker 41 — Lindbergh’s Grave
Tying in with our previous entry, the Palapala Ho’omau Church also serves as the final resting place of aviator Charles Lindbergh, who is best known for being the first person to fly a monoplane nonstop and solo across the Atlantic Ocean. He spent his last years in Maui until he died of lymphoma on August 26, 1974 (age 72.)
His grave can be found under the shade of a plum tree and is also one of the reasons people visit the church.
Mile Marker 41 — Palapala Ho’omau Church
The Palapala Ho’omau Church is a beautiful church located just past mile marker 41 (eight miles south of Hana). In 1864, Christian missionaries built the church out of limestone coral and lava rock. Over the next century, it served as a place of worship and a center of activity for the locals. At some point, however, it was abandoned until it was restored in 1964 by Sam Pryor and famed aviator Charles Lindbergh.
Today, it attracts visitors worldwide with its stunning gardens, scenery, and seaside vistas. Add to that the peace and quiet one feels within church grounds, making it a great stop after a long drive.
Mile Marker 42 — Ohe’o Gulch — Seven Sacred Pools
Our last stop on the Road to Hana loop was the Ohe’o Gulch, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools. There are several falls that flow through Ohe’o Gulch and they are popular. By the time we got there, around 2:30pm, it was loaded with tourists.
Mile Marker 42 — Pipiwai Trail
Moving on to Haleakala National Park at mile marker 42 is one of the best (if not the best) trails in Maui: Pipiwai Trail. This 4-mile, moderately challenging route takes you to some of its highlights, such as the 200-foot tall Makahiku Falls, a massive 137-year-old Banyan tree, Maui’s most picturesque bamboo forest, and ending with the magnificent 400-foot tall Waimoku Falls.
Be sure to wear appropriate footwear as some parts of the trail can get muddy and slippery, bring lots of water, some bug repellants, and of course, leave no trace behind.
Mile Marker 45 — Wailua Falls
Wailua Falls, described as Maui’s “most photographed waterfall,” is situated right after mile marker 45 along the Honolewa Stream. This is undoubtedly one of Maui’s most accessible and magnificent waterfalls, cascading around 80 feet down the side of a lush jungle cliff into an impressive plunge pool. What’s more, you don’t even need to go on a hike to see it!
Mile Marker 50 — Hamoa Beach
After passing the town of Hana, we made a quick stop at Hamoa Beach, a beautiful, crescent public beach. This golden white sand beach is one of the best surf breaks on the island (along with Koki Beach), with the waters changing from mellow to fierce in a snap (be sure to watch your kids!)
During the calmer times, especially in the morning, you can enjoy other water activities such as snorkeling and bodysurfing. We just took a peek, but we would have spent more time sunbathing if we didn’t have to get back to Paia by dinner.
Mile Marker 51 — Koki Beach
Koki Beach is a red sand beach located on the island of Maui in Hawaii and is one of the two well-known Hana surf breaks loved by local surfers (the other one being Hamoa Beach). The neighboring Ka Iwi O Pele, or “Bones of Pele” cinder cone hill, is responsible for the dark red sand at Koki Beach.
As the waters can get pretty rough around the beach, it is not an ideal spot for swimming. However, it is a fantastic spot to relax and have a picnic while taking in the views of the surfers and the sea.
. . .
It’s undeniable that Road to Hana is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Maui. From lush rainforests and magnificent waterfalls to red and black sand beaches to delicious eats, there is so much this part of the island has to offer. While it may take some time to get through these great stops, just remember to enjoy and make the most out of your journey!
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Essential Tips for Visiting Maui and the Road to Hana
Getting There: Kahului Airport is a major hub and most airlines will fly into it. It is the only airport in Maui that accommodates direct flights from the U.S. mainland. You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner, which also has the option to choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination. Although there is an airport in Hana, there aren’t taxis, shuttle services, or car rentals at the Hana Airport, so fly into Kahului Airport and pick up your rental car, take a taxi, Uber, Lyft or a shuttle to your hotel.
Where to Stay in Maui: It’s best to stay near the airport in Kahului, close to the start of the Hana Highway. The Napili Sunset Beach Front Resort (moderate) is a great choice in Lahaina. For something a little closer, the Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono will save you some
travel time on the way to the Road to Hana. For something on the less expensive side, try the Kihei Kai Oceanfront Condos or the Banyan Tree Bed and Breakfast Retreat. For a hotel with a little more extravagance, book a room at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at Booking.com. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to Airbnb that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.
Getting Around: Renting a car in Maui is the best to really experience the Road to Hana and RentalCars.com has some great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of options. Taxis, Lyft and Uber are available all over Maui, plus most of the top attractions can be accessed with the Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley, the Hula Hula Hopper. If you are not renting a car but would like to experience the Road to Hana, check out some of the best tours that offer pick-up services from your hotel or condo below in the ‘Best Tours in Maui and the Road to Hana’ section.
City Transportation Passes: The Hula Hula Hopper Trolley offers a 2-Day all
inclusive pass for $48 that allows access to all 4 Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley lines.
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