The Road to Hana is a quintessential Maui road trip, that takes you from Paia to Hana Town, and probably the best road trip in all of Hawaii! The Road to Hana has over a dozen water falls, beautiful beaches including black sand volcanic beaches, stunning scenery and look-outs, and amazing local food to try on the way!
Before starting your journey, I recommend downloading the Road to Hana app onto your phone – the app has all the stops with information about each one and GPS built in so you can see where you are on your trip. Each stop is indicated by a ‘Mile Marker’, and you can decide to stop (or not) for each one. The Road to Hana can be completed in one day, though to really make the most of this magnificent road trip I would recommend staying the night in Hana and splitting the stops; one way you might want to schedule them is to do all the even ‘Mile Markers’ on the way to Hana and all the odd ‘Mile Markers’ on your way back. You can still split your stops this way even if you choose to do them all in one day, or you could do them all on the way to Hana and then simply drive back which will take about 2.5 hours (without stops) to reach Paia.
The Road to Hana was an amazing adventure with too many incredible spots to describe them all. In this Road to Hana guide I will highlight several ‘Mile Markers’ that you absolutely have to stop at to truly experience the best of Road to Hana!
For an extra special trip then a night stopover in Hana makes the trip even more enjoyable and also more time for each stop even unexpected surprises along the way there and back, if lucky enough to take this trip again this would be the consideration if time permitted.
Mile Marker 2: Twin Falls
- Twin Falls was an incredible sight to behold and is home to not 2 but 3 waterfalls. The walk to the first 2 falls takes about 10 minutes through the bamboo forest, but the true beauty is the 3rd waterfall which takes about 20 minutes to walk to, again through the bamboo forest. Signs on the trail will warn tourists it is a reasonable hike, but anyone who is generally fit will be able to complete this scenic route! Be sure to bring a swimming costume as there is a refreshing pool at the base of the waterfall where you can take a dip!
Mile Marker 7: Ke’anae Arboretum
- Ke’anae Arboretum is a state-owned Hawaiian park filled with giant Eucalyptus plants, but with a twist! These Eucalyptus trees are unlike any other as their trunks are colourful and look like they have been painted every colour of the rainbow! Be sure to bring bug spray with you and cover any skin exposed, or wear long sleeves and trousers, as these thick forest areas in Hawaii attract mosquitos. In fact, this is a tip for nearly all the Road to Hana stops as the amazing scenery does unfortunately come with a few unwelcome mosquito bites! I made the mistake of not taking bug spray or a long sleave option so be sure to pack carefully!
Mile Marker 17: Halfway to Hana
- You have now reached the iconic Halfway to Hana sign, though it’s more like two thirds than half, and you might be wanting to stop for a snack: the little fruit stand here has been welcoming visitors since 1982 and serves the finest banana bread on the whole island of Maui. Hawaiian banana bread is legendary and there is no better place to sample it than at the Halfway to Hana point! Also on the menu here is shaved ice (an island classic), ice cream, burgers, sandwiches and more!
Mile Marker 19/20: Bear Claw Falls or Upper Waikani Falls
- If you are only looking for a drive by of these beautiful falls then slow down as you drive past to snap a few photos. Though, if like me you want to stop and experience as much as possible, you’ll want to drive a couple of minutes past the falls where you will find a small parking area to stop in. Once you have made the short walk back to the falls, you can head straight down from the road to take a dip in the lovely pool created at the bottom. This is a great photo-opp moment as the water at these falls is incredibly clear and often (if you time it right) you may have the pool all to yourself!
Mile Marker 22: West Wailua Iki Waterfalls
- This is a beautiful waterfall nestled under a bridge within luscious Hawaiian vegetation. Parking is past the bridge – though if one person stays at the car and the other walks to stand atop the bridge (and waterfall) you’ll get one epic photo!
Mile Marker 29: Nahiku Marketplace
- This stop is a great place to satiate any rumbling tummies as there are lots of stalls selling the Hawaiian classic: fish tacos, but also Thai food, smoothies, coconut snacks and other local products. I recommend trying the fish tacos – they are an island tradition and once you’ve tasted them, you’ll be hooked! There is nothing quite like fresh Hawaiian fish prepared traditionally by local islanders.
Mile Marker 32: Hana Lava Tube
- The Hana Lava Tube is an interesting insight into how lava flowed on Maui, though it is only open from 10:30am-4.30pm so may not be possible for those driving the Road to Hana in one day. If you have time though, be sure to check out this geographical phenomenon – especially if you are not visiting the Big Island as part of your Hawaiian adventure (there are many more Lava Tubes on the Big Island to explore also).
Miler Marker 32: Waianapanapa State Park
- Waianapanapa State Park is one of the best stops on the Road to Hana and is home to an amazing black sand beach! This is also a great place for a toilet stop as the bathrooms are very clean and well maintained. Though, the pristine, volcanic black sand beach is the real jewel of Mile Marker 32, and it was formed directly from lava flow! Once parked, you can hike along the lava walls, take a dip in the ocean, and see the amazing blow hole – make sure you stand back to avoid getting drenched! You may also want to explore the ocean caves and sea arches at Waianapanapa State Park or just take some time to relax, recharge and soak up the beauty of Maui.
Mile Marker 35: Hana Town
- Hana Town is a beautiful and idyllic Hawaiian town, and for those of you who are driving the entire trip in one day, once you have seen Hana Town, I recommend beginning your journey back to Paia. There is a fuel station here for those who need it and some beautiful diners and restaurants. For those staying the night you’ll want to check into your hotel before heading out into the town!
Where to stay in Hana
- A great luxury option for one night in Hana Town is the Hana-Maui Resort by Hyatt. The resort accommodates for all family sizes, and you can book a room, suite, bungalow and even 2,000 sq. ft. family residence for the evening! This resort is set atop the hillside and overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The resort is a secluded oasis with a wonderful pool, spa services, fitness centre and multiple restaurants. This hotel really is paradise in Hana. While most guests only stay the one night on their epic Road to Hana trip, there is no reason you could not stay for 2 or even 3 nights to really enjoy the tranquillity of the resort and the authentic nature of Hana.
- Another great option in Hana Town is Hana Kai, a community of oceanfront Condo rentals in Hana that offer Oceanview accommodations with 1 to 2 bedrooms. This is a lovely complex that feels authentically Hawaiian and is set within the hillside of Hana.
Miler Marker 42: Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools)
- If you have stayed the night and are thinking of heading home, before you do why not drive past Hana Town and spend the morning at the beautiful Seven Sacred Pools. These are located within Haleakala National Park and before entering you will be charged a fee of around $20. Since 2017 the pools have been closed but visiting is still seriously worth it as you can hike the Pipiwai Trail which ends at Waimoku falls. The hike is 4 miles long, but you should allow around 2.5-3 hours to hike the full trail. After spending the morning here you can begin your journey home along the epic Road to Hana and stop off at any stops you missed or left for your way back!
Once in Paia again after having completed the Road to Hana you’ll certainly be hungry and stopping at Mama’s Fish House Restaurant is an absolute must! Mama’s Fish House is one of the best restaurants on Maui and serves fantastic dishes from fish curry to lobster! However, the catch is that you really must plan this! Mama’s Fish House book 3-6 months in advance so the best way to make sure you have a table is to talk to your Travel Specialist at Charter Travel about organising your Road to Hana trip and booking a table at Mama’s Fish House to make sure you don’t miss out on the most in-demand restaurant on the island!