Our Road To Hana Itinerary (Maui, HI)
The Road to Hana is the most well-known scenic drive in Maui and has been compared to what it would be like to drive through the Garden of Eden if it still existed. With winding roads surrounded by lush trees and flora, countless waterfalls, and jaw-dropping coastline views, it really is day in paradise. Driving the Road to Hana is an all-day adventure, so plan accordingly. The 64-mile road is almost never straight, so be sure you have a driver who doesn't get nervous with all the winding, narrow roads.
It would be impossible to see everything the Road to Hana has to offer in just one day, so I'd suggest doing some homework before you head out and picking the favorite destinations. This is also important because some of the most beautiful spots are hidden, so you could easily pass them by. We used Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook (affiliate link) by Andrew Doughty to help us navigate the plentiful options. We wanted to get a good mix of the different landscapes and wanted to do a bit of hiking too. Also, it's good to plan out, or atleast be aware, where the rest stops are at so you can find a bathroom when needed. Otherwise, it could be miles before you can stop. Same with food. There aren't too many options for food until you get a little past halfway to Hana, so it would be best to grab some snacks for the first part of the day.
There are a few different spots you can jump onto the Road to Hana. We chose to go the most common way, through the town called Pa'ia on highway 36 until it becomes highway 360 ("Hana Highway") and the mile marker starts at zero. Once you get on the highway, the mile markers are not always visible and its very questionable if they are even a mile apart. At one point, we felt like we had been driving for atleast a few miles between two mile markers.
And let me just confess now: We never actually made it to Hana. It got dark before we got to the town, so we turned around a few miles short. But we still had a full day of fun experiences.
(near mile marker 11)
A small turnout near the bridge will lead you to a very short trail that ends with a small pool and the waterfall. You'll see plenty more waterfalls, so this stop is expendable, though we still liked it.
(mile marker 14)
A bit past the mile marker, there's a side road that takes you to the gravelly beach. Not a great swimming spot, but a beautiful hidden view of the Ke'anae Peninsula.
(near mile marker 16)
Free entrance to a paved 0.5mile trail surrounded by 150 varieties of tropical trees and plants, this botanical garden was not a must-see in our opinion, but we still enjoyed strolling down the path and trying to pronounce the various names of trees and plants. Make sure to bring mosquito repellent, though!! (Check HERE for more info)
A little past the arboretum, there is a visible place to stop on the left hand side of the highway to see the coastline up close and personal. It was a bit windy when we were there with a high tide. The ocean was tearing into the black lava boulders and the huge sprays barely missed us ("mist" us, pun intended, haha).
Ke'anae Peninsula and village
(a bit past mile maker 16)
A side road on the left will mark the Ke'anae Peninsula and village. Park and then explore the gorgeous coastline view, try some of the famous banana bread at Aunty Sandy's (we loved their fresh fruit smoothie and raw coconut), use the public restrooms nearby, and walk in the stone church (built in 1856, it is the only remaining original building after the catastrophic tsunami in 1946).
(just before mile marker 17)
A short path near the bridge will lead you to a beautiful hidden pool and waterfall.
(right before mile marker 19)
Look for a sign for the wayside. Climb the narrow stairs and you'll be treated to a 360 degree panoramic view that will make your jaw drop.
Three Bears Falls aka Upper Waikani Falls
(between mile marker 19 and 20)
These three beautiful falls are easily seen from the road and a short, rugged hike will lead you to the base of the falls, where Greg went for a swim in the freezing (but refreshing) pool.
Hanawi Falls (mile marker 24)
Another beautiful waterfall is visible from the road.
(a bit past mile marker 25)
Take Nahiku Road for 2.5 miles to find, what the author of Maui Revealed travel book calls, plant heaven: "If you think the Road to Hana look lush and beautiful, wait till you see Nahiku. When plants go to heaven, Nahiku must be their destination. Everything green seems so happy and healthy, you can almost hear them giggling" (p.88). We laughed at the description -- until we drove down the road and realized how true the words were. It was absolutely breathtaking! A small, but beautiful waterfall and pool area easily seen on the right hand towards the end of the road, and then you come to the gorgeous view of the Hana shoreline. We hung out here for a bit and soaked it in.
(right before mile marker 29)
This little market of food venders has a chinese restaurant (Greg thought it was OK), a vendor of fresh and dried local fruits, the Nahiku Cafe, and Island Style Tacos (my taco was delish!).
Wai'anapanapa Park and Black Sand Beach
(mile marker 32)
A beautiful, well-maintained park that has a few different opportunities to picnic, use the restrooms, and even camp. There are spring-fed fresh water caves, a blowhole, and the volcanic black sand beach.
At this point, the sun was almost setting and we had seen a good share of beaches, waterfalls, and hiking trails for the day. We turned around and took the winding roads back the way we came. We were a bit bummed that we did not make it to Venus Pool or The Seven Sacred Pools, but we will have to save those two destinations for our next trip!
Have you driven down the Road to Hana? What were your favorite stops?