Driving the Road to Hana in Maui Hawaii is an experience that many travelers dream about! We spent a full day cruising the famous Hana Highway and the many twists and turns of this iconic Maui route. This guide covers all the best waterfalls, can’t miss stops, and food on the Road to Hana! We’ll also fill you in on what you need to book in advance and even a few things we would have done differently on our trip.
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Maui Travel Inspiration
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- Planning a Trip to Maui: 10 Step Easy to Follow Travel Guide
- Hawaiian Airlines Review: Is it the Best Airline to Fly to Hawaii?
Best Road to Hana Stops Guide
Early Morning on the Road to Hana in Maui
When our alarm went off at 5:30am it wasn’t an instant rush of excitement that got us out of bed… But more a panic! We had read all the tales of starting the Road to Hana in Maui too late in the day and getting stuck in a parade of traffic.
With our cooler packed full, we left the house just after 6am ready for a full day of adventure. During our time in Maui we stayed in the town of Kihei. From here it was a 40-minute drive to Paia, which is the starting point of the Road to Hana Maui.
Maui Rental Car: We had a rental car for the entirety of our visit using Discover Cars, but the Road to Hana was a huge reason why got our vehicle. For more tips on how to rent a car and driving in Maui be sure to check out our article below!
→ 6 Things to Know Before Renting a Car on Maui
What You’ll See on the Hana Highway in Maui
Before taking off on the Road to Hana in Maui we wanted to know all about the must-see places to stop. Along the drive, there are several mile markers set for you to reference where you are.
This next section has our favorite Road to Hana waterfalls, hikes, and viewpoints listed in order by the mile markers. Hopefully, this will help you to best utilize your time and plan out the day.
Popular Road to Hana Stops
2. Twin Falls: Small bio-diverse farm that has two small Road to Hana waterfalls and some walking trails. This was our first stop and we were slightly disappointed about having to pay $10 for parking.
13. Ke’anae Peninsula Viewpoint: The first of many epic viewpoints to stop at on Hana Highway in Maui!
16a. Ke’anae Arboretum: 30-minute free walk through the colorful gardens. The arboretum is home to over 150 different plant specimens. This is where you can find the famous eucalyptus trees which look like a rainbow from their stripped trunks.
16b. Ke’anae Peninsula: Take in the view of this traditional Hawaiian village and taro fields from a small turn-off.
19. Upper Waikani Falls: Another of the beautiful Road to Hana waterfalls. There is not much parking available and make sure not to block the street if you visit.
27. Coconut Glens Ice-Cream: Coconut Ice Cream? Enough said!
29. Nahiku Marketplace: Great lunch stop about 6 miles from Hana town featuring tacos, local huli huli chicken, and more.
31. Hana Lava Tube: Adventure down into a Maui cave that was formed by lava almost 1,000 years ago! This is definitely one of the most unique Road to Hana stops you’ll see.
32. Wai‘anapanapa State Park: Home to the famous Maui black sand beach. At the time of our visit, you needed to make a reservation 2 weeks in advance to enter the State Park.
34. Town of Hana Maui: You’ve made it town on the Hana Highway in Maui! Head to the beach or a cafe to grab a bite to eat after the long drive.
40. Koki and Hamoa Beaches: More nice beaches just past Hana town. There is an amazing BBQ place at Koki beach if you’re hungry.
43. Wailua Falls: Large waterfall just off the side of the road. There is a small parking lot is just after the bridge.
45. Haleakalā National Park: Beautiful National Park that has the Pipiwai Trail and Seven Sacred Pools. The highlight of the Road to Hana in Maui and so worth the drive!
Cruising the Road to Hana in Maui
Before driving the Road to Hana we had heard all the warnings. To be honest, the traffic made it sound unbearable! So we came up with a game plan: Leave as early as possible, blast to Hana town, and take our time for sights on the way back.
By skipping all the Road to Hana stops on the way there we got to experience the Haleakalā National Park before most tourists got there. We also avoided some of the crazy traffic on the Hana Highway in Maui!
Of course, we stopped to yeild plenty of times on the endless one-way bridges. However, the drive is so scenic and beautiful we didn’t mind in the least. For more of our best tips on the Road to Hana in Maui read our article below!
→ 10 Road to Hana Tips to Know Before Taking Maui’s Most Famous Drive
Pipiwai Trail Bamboo Forest and Waterfall Hike
The main reason we decided not to stop too many places on the Road to Hana was to be the first on the Pipiwai Trail! Around 10am we arrived at Haleakalā National Park and were ready to hike.
The Pipiwai Trail is truly one of a kind as it takes you through a bamboo forest that ends spectacularly at the 400-foot Waimoku Falls. This along with the Waihee Ridge Trail were our two favorite hikes in Maui! Check out our full guide to hiking the Pipiwai Trail below.
→ Bamboo Forest Maui Guide: Fun Hike to the Massive 400 Foot Waterfall
Parking at Haleakalā National Park
Parking costs $30 and the pass is good for three days. Try and make it Haleakalā National Park summit within those three days. Otherwise, you will have to pay again upon returning to the park. The reason the summit can’t be on the same day is you actually drive up the mountain from the other side instead of from Hana!
Lunch Time on the Road to Hana Maui
We were happy we packed breakfast since many of the roadside stands we passed weren’t opened that early. After hiking the Pipiwai Trail and Seven Sacred Pools loop it was getting close to lunchtime! We were hungry and ready for some Huli Huli chicken.
Eating Huli Huli on the Road to Hana in Maui is part of the whole experience. The same goes for getting a warm loaf of local banana bread! We ended up stopping at Huli Huli Chicken stand on Koki Beach. We didn’t realize it at the time, but this local spot has been visited by world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay!
The Huli Huli chicken and rib combo plater was $22 USD and plenty to feed the two of us. It was awesome eating or meal with a view of the black and red sand beach.
More Food on the Hana Highway in Maui
Besides getting BBQ for lunch there are so many great Road to Hana stops to grab food. Honestly, we could have done an entire article about eating our way through the Road to Hana in Maui!
While we did stay not to stop on the drive to Hana fruit stands and snacks are an exception! Grab what you like and enjoy it as you drive. Some of the Road to Hana food stops close later in the day once they sold out. Here are some of our favorite treats we tried along the route.
- Banana & Mango Bread
- Coconut Brittle
- Mango, Dragon, and Star Fruits
- Fresh Cut Coconuts
- Local Hawaiian Coffee
- Coconut Ice Cream
Hana Town & The Black Sand Beach
After lunch and our beach walk, it was time to hit some of the spots that we didn’t on the way back. We noticed that when we were leaving Haleakalā National Park the crowds had definitely arrived.
Once we’d spent some time in Hana Town we headed to the famous black sand beach! Unfortunately, this was the most disappointing part of the day. Due to overcrowding, you now need to book a reservation up to two weeks in advance! We would say 90% of the cars were being turned away with us.
At the end of the day, it goes to show that your plans don’t always go as expected on a day of exploring. At least now we have a reason to make another trip on the Hana Highway in Maui!
→ Waiʻānapanapa State Park Information & Reservation Page
Returning on the Road to Hana in Maui
Fueled with cold brew coffee and a loaf of banana bread we started on the ride back! It was mid-afternoon and were determined not to let the black sand beach get us down when it had already been such a wonderful day.
A couple of places that were really unique on the ride back were the Hana Lava Tube and Ke’anae Peninsula. There were also more Road to Hana waterfalls and scenic views than we could count!
When exploring the Road to Hana enjoy the day and don’t stress about seeing everything. No matter what road to Hana stops you make you’ll be in for an epic adventure.
Have any questions on the Road to Hana Maui or want to share your own experience? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Best Of Maui: 20 Fun Facts – Best Beaches – Must Try Food – 25 Things to Do – 5 Day Maui Itinerary
Maui Hikes & Walk: Kapalua Coastal Trail – Waihee Ridge Trail – Wailea Beach Walk
Where to Stay in Maui Hawaii
For a complete look at the island check out Where to Stay in Maui: 4 Top Areas With Hotel Picks
Ultra Luxury – Four Seasons Resort Maui – Wailea – Known as one of the most elite hotels on Maui, the Four Seasons has three swimming pools, 5-star service, and is just steps from the beach.
Fun Vacation – Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort – Wailea – This modern, upscale hotel is packed with swimming pools and ocean views.
Bed & Breakfast –Maui What a Wonderful World Bed & Breakfast – Wailea – Get all the local charm you can handle at this unique bed and breakfast. Awesome location that will provide a homey welcome to the island.
Aparthotel – Napili Sunset Beach Front Resort – Lahaina – Great for travelers looking to have a little more space and a kitchen.
Hostel Life – Hakuna Matata Maui Hostel – Lahaina – Walking distance to the town center, this hostel is set in a beautiful garden. Hakuna Matata also offers free bikes and is close to the beach.
Remote Resort – Hana Maui Resort A Destination by Hyatt – Hana – Located in the far remote part of the island along the Road to Hana. Amazing resort by Hyatt offering seclusion and luxury.
For more places to stay in Maui you can explore the latest prices here!
Hawaii Travel Planning
Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!
Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner. That’s how we got our flight from San Diego to Maui for under $100 USD on Hawaiian Airlines!
Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget.
Rental Car: Hands down the best way to explore Maui Hawaii is with a rental car! We used Discover Cars to explore the island. Just make sure to book in advance because there are limited cars on the island in the high season!
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find hundreds of Maui activities. You can book a sunset sail from Lahaina, Road to Hana full day tour, or go wild and take a rainforest helicopter tour!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad (if you’re traveling to Hawaii from outside the USA) without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
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Thanks for your ideas about the road to Hana. I will heading to Maui in 3 weeks and don’t want to miss the Pipiwei Trail and was considering this approach. What time do you recommend being in Paia & how many stops did you make on the way to the trail head. I was planning on the 12:30-3:30 time slot and was wondering why they were turning people away? Thanks!
Hi Pat! I’m sure you will have a great visit. Pipiwei trail was a highlight of our trip to Maui. I would recommend starting as soon as possible after sunrise and heading straight for the trail. That way you can be free to explore on your way back. We mentioned cars being turned away and that was for the Black Sand Beach (Waiʻānapanapa State Park). At the time of our visit, you had to make a reservation to go! Have fun
Thank you for this article! We will be staying in Makena. If we were to attempt the same idea as y’all did (drive to Pipiwai falls then backtrack ) what time would you suggest doing a black sand reservation? Thank you in advance
Hi Candace! It’s personal preference but it’s probably more important to get to the Pipiwai trail earlier in the day. So you may want to make your black sand reservation for the early afternoon on your way back. That way you can relax at the beach after your hike! Have a great time.
-Brigitte & Jake