If you are up for a day of adventure while in Maui then The Road To Hana is something you should totally do! The Road To Hana isn’t for the faint of heart and if you get car sick this is not the trip for you, however the memories of Maui, HI wouldn’t be the same to me without this day trip.
I’m still in awe of the beauty of this island and how that just a few miles out of town you can start an absolutely breathtaking journey that feels like you are on another plant. I can’t find the exact words to describe my experiences I had while driving the Road To Hana, but I can give you some tips on driving the Road To Hana that will enhance your experience.
Download the GyPSY Guide app Road To Hana- Maui. This little app will help you so much! The app gives you turn by turn navigation to all the stops on the Road To Hana. You may think you can just drive it without the app (and you can) but there will be so many stops you’ll miss along the way for most of turn offs are unmarked. The app will also give you history and fun facts along the way that otherwise you’d would never know. This by far was my best purchase in Maui, Hawaii (other than the fresh baked banana bread, but you’ll hear about that below) This app worked the whole time for me even when I didn’t have cell service.
Download an awesome road trip playlist that doesn’t need internet to work.
Your cell phone won’t work most of the time, so make sure family members know you’ll be MIA for the day.
Rent a convertible! No seriously do it! If you drive the Road To Hana in anything else I think you’ll miss part of the experience of driving seaside, through lush rainforest like settings and around the mountains. Having the sun hit your face, the wind blow in your hair and the sweet aroma that Hawaii has is an experience not to be missed.
Take a camera and extra batteries. If you are a photographer pack light, you can get the shots you need with mostly a wide angle lens.
Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, towel and swimsuit. Sunscreen and sunglasses for the all day drive with the top down in the convertible and then swimsuit for a few spots you’ll be able to swim.
Make sure to take food and drinks. There’s only a few places to stop on the first half of the trip and there is no places to stop on the second half of the trip. The same thing with restrooms, so stop when you can.
Wear hiking sandals. My favorite sandals are Chacos. You can swim in them if needed, they dry fast and the soles are made for hiking.
Get a good nights sleep the night before. The day trip to Hana is a long one, but worth every minute!
Pack and shower the night before so getting up early will be easier.
Plan to be on the road before sunrise. Depending on where you are staying on the island it may take 2o minutes to get on the Road to Hana and you want to be on it right at daybreak.
Plan to drive the whole loop. You have the option of driving to Hana and then turning around to travel back down the same road. The car rental places states that your insurance doesn’t cover the other half of the trip if you go but do it! Be a rebel and go! The 2nd half of the loop is breath taking and shows you just how diverse Maui is. I will warn you there is nothing or no one on the other side of the Road To Hana. I think I may have passed two people in three hours. The roads are more rough and desolate, but its beautiful!
The Road To Hana is a two lane road with many places only one lane so be cautions when driving. On the one lane bridges the rule is who arrives first crosses. Around turns you can’t see make sure you blow your horn. Be prepared for a slow drive, there is now way you’ll be able to rush so just enjoy it.
You’ll have to choose all the places you want to stop, but you won’t be able to stop at them all. I stopped to explore a few and still ended up coming back at night. Make sure that you are off the Road To Hana before nightfall. I was and was heading back into town right as sunset. You wouldn’t want to be stuff in the Road To Hana in the dark.
Some choose to get a hotel in Hana and spend the night. They will either continue the loop the next day or backtrack on the road and stop at places they didn’t stop at the day before.
You’ll go through a little town as you first start on your journey. Stop at Anthony’s Coffee Company for a fresh cup of pure Kona coffee, baked pastry and a coffee mug to take home for a souvenir from your day trip.
I didn’t stop but snapped this picture as I was driving by.
This beach is world famous for strong winds and big waves and attracting the world’s best windsurfers and kite boarders as well as good ol’ fashioned regular surfers too. There are excellent vantage points to watch the surfers from the headland or the beachfront car park. The trade winds blow regularly, especially in the afternoons so you are almost guaranteed that there will be some awesome surfing and sailing action to see. Also keep an eye out for turtles who are often seen swimming in the waves at the shoreline.
Get a photo at the halfway to Hana sign then grab for some fresh baked banana bread. Make sure you eat it while it’s hot! Buy more than one loaf because you’ll wish you did later that night!
Stop at the food stands for lunch right past the Halfway To Hana sign for lunch and also do a little shopping with some local artist.
By now you know Hawaii has some amazing fresh fruit. Pick up some fresh fruit from the locals and leave your money in the basket. They work off the honor system here.
Allow a little while for this stop. This stop was probably my favorite.
Maui’s most famous black sand beach is an excellent place to explore, with a pretty sea arch just off-shore. There is a very short walk to a cave that is steeped in Hawaiian legend and you will see and hear that story. This is a favourite stop along the Road to Hana and a great place to take a swim if the ocean is calm. A visit to Wai’anapanapa is an opportunity to get close to Maui’s volcanic coastline.
Along the way you will learn how the Road to Hana is all about the journey more so than the destination. Hana is considered by many to be Hawaii’s most authentic “Hawaiian” town. Most will find the town sleepy, though there is an attractive harborfront and a small but excellent museum filled with native artefacts. Those interested to do a challenging hike can walk to a red sand beach and there is also another hike to the birthplace of Queen Ka’ahumanu.
(you have to pay for this stop)
The Road to Hana is well known for many pretty waterfalls along it path. For many visitors, Wailua Falls is considered one of the best. The micro-climate created as a combination of the tradewinds of the Pacific and the 10,000 foot high Haleakala volcano right above means that the rainfall is voluminous and constantly carving the soft volcanic rock. We get to see nature’s forces at work on the wet-side of the volcano in these many waterfalls and the 58 bridges we cross on the drive.
These are just some highlights and tips, but my main advice is just GO! Black sand beaches, red sand beaches, tropical paradise, amazing food and utopia is waiting for you to discover it!
(photos below are from the 2nd half of the Road To Hana loop)