One of Maui’s most popular activities, the Road to Hana is a 64-mile road trip on the east coastal side of the island. It has over 40 stops, including hikes, waterfalls, beaches, swimming holes, views and more.
Driving the Road to Hana is an uncomfortable drive for reasons I mention below, but by splitting the drive between two days and taking the time to enjoy my stops, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey.
This post shares practical tips on driving the Road to Hana on your own and includes a map with 40 categorized stops, notes on driving and road conditions, whether it’s dangerous, what to pack and suggestions on some great stops.
- Road to Hana at a Glance
- Is the Road to Hana Dangerous to Drive?
- Road to Hana Map With 40 Stops
- Great Stops on the Road to Hana
- What To Pack on the Road to Hana
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Road to Hana at a Glance
Here is some general information on the Road to Hana:
🌺 What is it: The Road to Hana is a 64-mile coastal road trip on Maui, Hawaii that visitors drive to visit multiple waterfalls, hikes, views, rainforests and beaches. Along the road is Hana, one of the most isolated communities on the island.
🛑 Where does it stop and end: The Road to Hana starts on the north side in Kahului town on Route 36 (which is also called Hana Highway) and ends in Kaupo district on the south side of Haleakalā. You can also drive the Road to Hana in either direction.
🚗 How to visit: There are two primary ways to do the Road to Hana (you can also take a helicopter tour, but that’s a very different experience):
- Drive on your own. This allows you to pick your own adventure (see below for different itineraries and suggested stops), but you will have to do some upfront planning. This post focuses on driving the Road to Hana on your own.
- Book a Road to Hana tour. There are various tours that will provide transportation and go to specific stops. They usually cost $200, take 9 to 11 hours and have an early 7am to 8am pickup time. Here’s a very highly-rated Road to Hana tour.
⏳ Duration: The Road to Hana takes at least 7 hours from start to end. You can add an additional 2-4 hours depending on how many stops you make and how long you plan to stay at each one. I was on the Road to Hana for 13 hours over two days.
⏰ When to start: Most people suggest starting the Road to Hana sometime between 8am to 9am. You want to make sure you’re not driving on the road when it gets dark (see below on road conditions). If you split the road trip between two days (which is what I did), you can start later (I started at 2pm and 8am on day 1 and 2, respectively).
💰 Cost: The Road to Hana is free as there are no entrance fees to drive it. However, some stops have parking fees that can be as expensive as $30 per vehicle (e.g., Pīpīwai Trail, Waiʻānapanapa State Park).
This Hawaii trip cost breakdown outlines all my travel expenses. Unlike many other trips, I spent very little on attractions in Hawaii as it offers so many free natural attractions.
🗓️ Itineraries: There are several ways to do the Road to Hana:
- 1-day Road to Hana (Classic): The classic Road to Hana is driven within one day from north to south (i.e., from Kahului to Kaupo). Many visitors say that the classic itinerary can feel rushed.
- 2-Days Road to Hana (Overnight Stay): You can split the drive over two days and stay overnight somewhere along the road. This is what many people who’ve done the classic route suggest to do if you want to do over ~7 stops and don’t want to feel rushed.
- 2-Day Road to Hana (No Overnight Stay): If you don’t want to stop overnight on the road, you can split the drive over two days where you focus on the north or south side each day. This is the route I did and it entails a lot more driving.
- 1-day Halfway Road to Hana: If you need to do the Road to Hana within a day, but don’t want to feel rushed, you can drive halfway out and then back. You’ll have to pick whether you want to do just the north or south side. The north side, from Kahului to Hana, is the more iconic drive.
🎟️ Reservations: The only stop on the Road to Hana that requires advance reservation is Waiʻānapanapa State Park, which is also known as the famous black sand beach. The cost is $10 for parking and $5 per person.
Is the Road to Hana Dangerous to Drive?
Almost all visitors agree that the Road to Hana is not a comfortable and casual drive.
Having driven it, my assessment is that the Road to Hana is not dangerous, but you should be careful, follow driving precautions and have the driver be someone who’s comfortable driving under the poor and annoying conditions outlined below.
Road Conditions on the Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is almost completely paved, but here are the road and driving conditions that make it challenging:
- The lanes are narrow. The Road to Hana is a two-way road and for most of it, you’ll barely have space on each side when there’s a vehicle next to you. One of my friends had his car scraped by a passing car in one of the more narrow parts of the road.
- There are several blind turns. One of the most dangerous and scariest parts of the Road to Hana is that are several blind turns. There are even two place where not only are they completely blind turns, but they’re also only wide enough to fit one vehicle at a time.
- The roads are winding. The Road to Hana has over 600 turns and corners, so it’s not a relaxing straight drive.
- Locals will be impatient and drive aggressively. Locals live along the Road to Hana and are used to driving it, so they are known to aggressively pass tourists.
- The are no street lights. There are no lights on the Road to Hana, but this is not a problem during the day time.
Plan your trip so that you’re not on the Road to Hana once it gets dark. Since there are no street lights, it becomes very difficult and scary to drive on the road once you only have your headlights to rely on.
- Some parts of the southern section (also known as the “backroads”) are not fully paved. They’re also not well-maintained in some areas.
Driving Tips on the Road to Hana
Given the road conditions outlined above and having driven it, here are some driving tips for the Road to Hana:
- Let locals pass you. You’ll be able to recognize locals driving on the Road to Hana as they’re the most confident drivers going fast. Let them pass you or they’ll likely tailgate, honk and pass you anyway.
- Honk lightly at blind turns. During blind turns, especially ones that become one-lane, honk your horns lightly to let the oncoming traffic know you’re around the corner.
With over 600 turns, the Road to Hana is very winding. If you’re prone to motion sickness, bring some medications.
- Signal at one-lane bridges. There are over 40 one-lane bridges on the Road to Hana and the car closest to the bridge has a right of way. However, if the other person doesn’t seem like they’re paying attention, signal to them.
- Drive slowly when passing oncoming traffic in narrow areas. There are some parts where you’ll have the whole road to yourself, but there will also be tight squeezes where you’ll want to slow down and carefully pass the vehicle in the other lane.
- Download an offline map of Maui. The Road to Hana is a pretty straightforward main road, but some areas (especially the south side) have little to no cell service. Download an offline map of Maui to know where your stops are. Below is a Road to Hana Google map with 40 stops.
The south side of the Road to Hana (the road between Kaupo and Hana) usually has a rainier climate than the north side because of its location “behind” the dormant volcano, Haleakalā.
The most popular activity in Maui is to catch the sunrise or sunset at Haleakalā.
Car Rental Tips for the Road to Hana
Given the road conditions outlined above, here are some car rental tips when driving the Road to Hana:
- You don’t need all-wheel drive (AWD). Since the entire road is paved and only a few stops require brief off-roading, you don’t need an AWD rental car. If it’s raining or if you’ll feel more confident in one, rent an AWD.
- Be aware that many car rental companies do not cover accidents in the backroads of Road to Hana. Check your car rental agreement for details; many of them will say that accidents occurring on that portion of the road is not covered by the rental insurance.
- A compact car is nice for the narrow roads. You don’t have to get a compact car, but if you’re not confident with driving on very narrow roads for hours, a smaller car can feel more comfortable. Conversely, I had friends who rented a Jeep and they felt more comfortable on the Road to Hana with it since they were higher and could see better.
- The driver is more important than the car. The driver’s confidence and ability to drive with caution are more important in handling the Road to Hana than the type of car you rent.
My partner and I rented and drove a Toyota Corolla for the Road to Hana. I neither particularly recommend nor don’t recommend the car; it did the job and we didn’t think too much about it.
Road to Hana Map With 40 Stops
This Road to Hana map has 40 stops, including the most popular ones, and categorizes them as follows:
🥾 Hiking trails (3)
🏖️ Beaches (7)
💧 Waterfalls (8)
🤩 Views (4)
📍 Miscellaneous (8)
🐠 Food stops (10)
Great Stops on the Road to Hana
I drove the entire Road to Hana over two days and went to eight stops. Eight stops may not sound like many, but if you spend time enjoying your stops (e.g., hiking through the bamboo forest, having a picnic at a beach, swimming at a waterfall), you won’t have time to explore too many.
Top 3 Stops on the Road to Hana
Here are my favorite three stops on the Road to Hana and tips on visiting them.
1. Kaihalulu Beach or Red Sand Beach
🌊 What it is: Kaihalulu Beach, also known as the Red Sand Beach, is a stunning, hidden cove where the sand is red and the ocean is intensely turquoise blue. It’s also one of the more challenging places to get to, which I think adds to the adventure and experience.
Locals do not like tourists visiting Kaihalulu Beach for two reasons: (1) it’s considered a sacred beach and (2) tourists frequently get injured visiting it.
When approaching the beach, make sure to be respectful (don’t take anything except photos) and be careful so that no one has to rescue you.
🚗 How to visit: Kaihalulu Beach is in Hana, about 17 miles away (an hour drive) from Kaupo.
- Park along the Uakea Road (I parked near the Hana School).
- Walk all the way down to the south side of Uakea road to find the start of the trail.
- The trail is a narrow, short 0.2 mile down to the beach. Some areas near the beach are steep.
Be careful when walking to Kaihalulu Beach as many tourists get injured here. If you’re not sure-footed, bring hiking shoes. Otherwise, I walked in my Chacos and was fine.
⏳ Duration: You can spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours at Kaihalulu Beach. If you’re just exploring and looking at the views, 30 to 45 minutes should suffice. If you plan to swim in the cove, you can spend over an hour there.
💰 Cost: Free; Kaihalulu Beach doesn’t have any parking or entrance fee.
Most of the Road to Hana is uninhabited, so you won’t find facilities or shops. Kaihalulu Beach is located in Hana, where there are gas stations, vendors and ATMs.
2. Pīpīwai Trail and the Bamboo Forest
🎍 What it is: The Pīpīwai Trail is a 3.8-mile out-and-back, easy to moderate trail where you walk through a forest of bamboo to reach Waimoku Falls, a waterfall that you can look at from afar.
Most of the Pīpīwai Trail is flat and parts of it have a board walk. However, when it rains (and it did when I visited), the trail can become muddy and slippery. I wore my hiking shoes, but with how wet it got, I would have preferred to have been in my Chacos.
🚗 How to visit: The Pīpīwai Trail is 7 miles away (a 30-minute drive) from Kaupo, so it’s one of the first stops on the Road to Hana if you start from the south. You can park at the Kīpahulu Visitor Center and walk over to the trailhead.
⏳ Duration: The Pīpīwai Trail takes an average of 2.5 hours to hike (you can hike it in 1.5 hours if you go fast, which is what I did). I slowly enjoyed the Bamboo Forest, but ran back after the waterfall because it started to rain.
💰 Cost: The Kīpahulu Visitor Center parking costs $30 per vehicle that you can pay with cash or credit card.
A National Parks Pass will cover the parking fee for the Pīpīwai Trail. I had the annual $80 park pass, which is very worth it if you also plan to do the Haleakalā sunrise or sunset, which also has a $30 vehicle fee. All my travel expenses are shared in this Hawaii trip cost breakdown.
3. Twin Falls Hike
🥾 What it is: Twin Falls is a short, easy 1-mile hike that passes through a swimming hole where you can jump from varying heights of 10 feet and above. At the end, there’s a short waterfall that you can enjoy a swim in.
🚗 How to visit: Twin Falls is 19 miles away (an hour drive) from Kahului, so it’s one of the first stops on the Road to Hana if you start from the north. The parking lot is right off the Hana Highway and there’s a fruit stand near the entrance. Even though the trail closes at 5pm, the parking lot closes at 3:30pm.
Make sure to bring bug spray (I like this bug repellent lotion) to Twin Falls as you’ll be hiking through a rainforest with a lot of bugs.
⏳ Duration: You can spend 1 to 2 hours at Twin Falls, depending if you decide to go into the water or not. Twin Falls can get really crowded at certain times, which may extend or shorten your stay.
💰 Cost: The Twin Falls parking lot has a $10 parking fee that you can pay with cash or credit card.
For a moderately challenging hike that leads to one of Hawaii’s best snorkeling sites, consider hiking the Captain Cook trail in the Big Island.
Other Stops on the Road to Hana
Here are the other stops I made on the Road to Hana in no particular order and my quick tips on them:
- Ho’okipa Beach and Lookout is a nice, brief beach stop to watch surfers and windsurfers. It’s not a great a place to go into the water since the waves are a bit unpredictable, but you can sometimes spot sea turtles in the afternoon. There’s no entrance or parking fee, but there are bathrooms. The parking lot can get crowded and cell signal is weak here.
- Honomanū Bay is a “hidden” black sand beach that can be empty (we had the beach all to ourselves). You have to go off-roading for a few minutes to get to beach’s entrance. There’s no entrance or parking fee.
- ʻOheʻo Gulch (aka Seven Sacred Pools) is an area that’s home to several waterfalls. It’s been closed for swimming since 2017, so visitors can just look at it from afar, which I found underwhelming. It shares the same parking lot as Pīpīwai Trail.
- Wailua Falls is an iconic waterfall that you can see from the Road to Hana. Parking is limited and it was overcrowded when I went, so I just drove by it and looked at it from afar.
- Paia is a small community near the beginning of the Road to Hana (if you start from the north) where you can get souvenirs and a poké or acai bowl. You can walk the entire street in 15 minutes if you don’t stop. Parking is limited.
Food Stops on the Road to Hana
I made two food stops on the Road to Hana and here are my quick tips on them:
- Huli Huli Chicken is a chicken food vendor near the beginning of the Road to Hana if you’re coming from the north side. It was cash-only (you need to carry a small amount of cash in Hawaii). At $18 per entree, it was decently good, but not a must-have.
- Halfway to Hana is a banana bread and fruit vendor stop. Their banana bread was decent, but not amazing. Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread was the banana bread place I wanted to stop at and had heard raving reviews about, but I couldn’t get there before they closed at 2:30pm.
If you have time, my pro tip is to pack food from the Hawaiian grocery store, Foodland (they have amazing fresh poké), in advance and bring it on the Road to Hana to eat and picnic at stops.
What To Pack on the Road to Hana
Whether you’re hiking, jumping into a swimming hole, enjoying the beach, or mostly checking out some great views, here’s what to pack on the Road to Hana:
- Swimsuit. The Road to Hana has over a dozen beaches, swimming holes and waterfalls, so there’s a good chance you’ll want to get into one of them.
- Quick-dry towel. If you’re going to go swimming, make sure to bring a quick-dry towel for easy drying as you’ll be on the road for hours.
- Reef-safe sunblock. You’ll be exposed to the sun at many of the stops on the Road to Hana, so bring sunblock. If you plan to go into the ocean, help protect the corals and bring reef-safe sunblock. I like this reef-safe sunscreen since I find it easier to apply.
- Bug repellent. There are some stops where you’ll be walking through a rainforest and you will definitely want to bring bug spray. I get bit easily so I like to bring bug repellent lotion which I think works better than the spray alternative.
- Sunglasses. Again, you’ll be exposed to the sun at many of the stops, so bring eye protection. I brought my athletic sunglasses.
- Hiking shoes or athletic shoes. The Road to Hana has a mixture of paved roads, dirt paths and rocky trails, so bring shoes that you’re comfortable using on different surfaces. I brought my Soloman hiking shoes.
- Sandals. In some instances, you might want to switch to sandals (e.g., if you’re going into the ocean, if it’s really hot and humid) on the Road to Hana. I brought my Chacos and wore them most of the time.
- Loose, comfortable clothes. You’ll be doing all kinds of activities on the Road to Hana, including hiking and swimming, so wear something comfortable for a hot and humid climate. I wore a casual romper and athletic clothes.
- Raincoat or rain poncho. If you’re visiting the Road to Hana when it’s raining, make sure to bring a raincoat or poncho. I brought my light raincoat, but ended up not needing it except for the abrupt rain at Pīpīwai Trail. I also carry these rain ponchos for a lot of trips to save space.
- Snacks and water. Most of the Road to Hana is uninhabited nature without many food stalls so make sure to bring snacks and water for this 7+ hour road trip. I brought my reusable water bottle that kept my water cold for hours.
- Cash. Some stops on the Road to Hana will require cash for food or parking, so carry at least $20 to $40 worth of cash per person.
If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments below.