It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey on the Road to Hana! During this trip to Maui, I was able to complete the 64.4-mile road not once, but twice! But the 2nd time was in reverse! If you plug in this famous route into your GPS, it will state that it takes 2 hours to complete. In fact, it’ll take about 10 hours at best when you account for all the winding roads, blinding hairpin turns, one-lane access bridges, plus the numerous scenic stops you’ll want to take. Plus you’ll be driving more slowly than usual to take it all in. So sit back, relax and enjoy this often bumpy Hawaiian rollercoaster ride.
I would absolutely recommend completing the road to Hana in two parts versus trying to fit everything in one day. Although it is possible to complete in a day, you won’t want to miss all the beautiful stops along this famous road trip. If you only have one day, read below for all the STOPS that are a MUST during your trip.
The Shaka Guide
Most of the time, visitors of the Road to Hana will stop at Haleakala National park for the seven sacred pools and then turn back around. If you want to do the full loop without driving, consider booking a tour with Aloha Eco Adventures tour Group to ensure you see the best waterfalls, rainforests, and more on the Road to Hana. This isn’t sponsored at all, but it was a tour I was considering for myself!
If you prefer to do this trip all by yourself so you’re not on a tour group’s timeline, then consider downloading the Shaka Tour Guide. This app is downloadable on the IOS app store and Google Play and was a necessity to our trip. The best way to describe the Shaka Guide is an app that has an audio narration that plays automatically based on your location. It activates when on so it know every turn by turn you are on, even offline.
Since the Road to Hana offers little to no wifi or mobile signal, this is a MUST. There are several other offline audio tour apps but this one is top-rated in the app store for IOS. We loved the little humorous jokes, local music, and historical facts from this tour.
If you want to do the road to Hana in reverse or take other tours while you’re in Hawaii, you can order the bundle pack like we did!
The Shaka Guide would be an added expense, because the tour isn’t free. Nevertheless, you can totally attempt this without a tour and download an offline map of the area on the Google Maps app. I’ve pinned all my favorite spots here but here are my top stops for the ultimate Road to Hana experience!
This town will either be your first or last destination. Paia is a cute and colorful surfer town with shops, and restaurants. It’s also home to the famous Mama’s Fish House. which we highly recommend visiting for lunch, and if you’re lucky, to get a table during sunset for a fancy dinner. And if you want to plan ahead as I did, make a reservation within 2 months in advance! You’ll also want to re-up on gas while you’re here since the next gas station isn’t until you reach Hana town, which on the first day of driving the Road to Hana, I didn’t even make it to Hana! (embarrassing to admit, but we did start our drive at about 10 am. *it’s recommended to start the drive around 8 am) so make sure to get the gas in Piaia town while you have the chance! You can also find other great dining options here.
Address: 6300 Hana Hwy, Haiku, Hawaii 96708
Here you’ll find yourself hiking through the Maui rainforest with spots featuring waterfalls and pools that you can swim in. Twin Falls was once free to visit with encouragement to make a donation to the locals. But I noticed that there was a $10 ‘donation” fee sign in the parking area. This is probably be due to the overall popularity of the scenic stop. Especially with it being one of the first waterfalls you can visit on the Road to Hana. If you love hiking and want to challenge yourself, enjoy the views at the upper trail! And if you love adventure, there are a few places to jump from into the waters. But of course, be cautious! This is nature, not a theme park. ? There is a small shop near the entrance. Here you can grab some snacks like sliced pineapples, coconut, and other local treats.
Tip: We wanted to visit these falls but parking is not the easiest especially later in the day. Although Twin Falls is one of the first stops on the Road to Hanna, it gets very busy and fills up quickly. They have parking attendants which will tell you if parking is full or not. The attendant was pretty rude to me and my family, but stay patient. It’s understandable with all the tourists they get daily.
Garden of Eden Arboretum
Address: 10600 Hana Hwy, Haiku 96708
Hours: 8 am to 4 pm
Cost: $15 per person
This gorgeous botanical garden looks straight out of a movie. There are so many exotic flowers and trees that you will be mind blown with the amount of beauty you’ll come across. Personally, this is totally worth the admission fee. Although there aren’t any waterfalls to swim in, we did have a nice view of a waterfall from above. One of my favorite parts of the Garden of Eden is are the rainbow trees. The rainbow trees look as if they were painted with strokes of light green paint. It’s like an optical illusion! You can actually view these for free throughout the Road to Hana but it’s so cool to get up close to them.
One interesting fact is that the Garden of Eden Arboretum is home to non-native plants brought from other countries. It’s crazy how they thrived here in Maui! If you’re a plant lover, definitely stop at the Garden of Eden Abrodorable to enjoy 26 acres of lush gardens, trails, waterfall, and coast views. You’ll even get to see some peacocks and their babies! Another fun fact is that you’ll find a lookout to view the famous “Keopuka Rock” that is featured in the beginning scenes of Jurassic Park! SO COOL!
Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park
This was the most crowded waterfall during our trip because of the easy access and parking. This is one of the few spots to visit the restroom during the road trip so take advantage of them while you can. Stop here to swim near the waterfall or watch others jump into the water from the cliff.
Ke’anae Lookout and Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread
Address: 210 Keanae Rd, Ke’Anae, HI 96708
If you are a foodie like myself and want to pick up some snacks, don’t skip out on Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread! Although keep in mind the time, they close pretty early. The fruit stand offers banana bread (of course), chili dogs, pork sandwiches, and refreshing shaved ice. And while you are in the area, take a minute to check out the Keanae Lookout. This gorgeous lookout has these distinct large and black volcanic rocks with waves crashing into them. It’s stunning to look at and makes a great background for photos.
To get to this lookout, you’ll have to go a few minutes off the Road to Hana, but it’s worth the stop!
Halfway to Hana
Address: 13710 Hana Hwy, Haiku HI 96708
If you already stopped at Aunty Sandy’s, you could either skip this place if you are filled with Banana Bread or vice versa. The Halfway to Hana roadside rest stop offers the “original” banana bread and a cute picture op! They also offer a few sandwiches and hot dogs. The line gets pretty long, especially during the weekend. It’s worth the stop to get a little snack and to get out of the car for a bit.
Upper Waikani Falls
Known as the Three Bears due to their different heights, just like the family of bears in Goldilocks. These waterfalls are easy to spot! You can admire them right from your car or you can make a stop at one of the side road parking spots. There is also a bridge that gets busy next to it, so traffic could occur that will hinder you from totally admiring these waterfalls. Keep that in mind, and plan to stop drive slowly so you can easily park. If you’re going too fast you’ll surely miss the spot to park. Reversing on the road to Hana isn’t easy with its rollercoaster of elevation plus high elevation. Plus traffic can get intense on the weekends.
Address: 1200 Hana Hwy, Haiku, HI 96708This is a cute colorful ice cream shop that serves vegan ice cream made with coconut milk. In my opinion, the original flavor is the best coconut milk ice cream I’ve ever had. The texture is so different from regular dairy milk ice cream. It kind of reminded me of the grittiness of soft kinetic sand… that was edible lol. And lacks the artificial flavor of coconut ice cream I’m familiar with. It was just so interesting and tasty! We also grab a raw natural green coconut to drink. Coconut Glens’ ice cream truck only offered paper straws, which made drinking the coconut water difficult in a few short minutes. so definitely enjoy it while you can!
If you want to check out a coffee stand or a little shop with souvenirs you can check out the Nahiku Marketplace. We came here later in the day so a few stands were closed such as the Huli Huli chicken stand. The coffee shop also sold out of the ingredients for their #1 best-selling smoothie. Although, there is a cute shop with local art and souvenirs. this is a great place to stop and stretch the legs a bit! During our first Road to Hana day, this is where we turned around. Only 25 minutes or so from Hana Town. We based off our timing on sunset, since the sun goes down around 7 pm, 4:30 pm is the best time to head back to Paia before dark. You do not want to be on the Road to Hana during nighttime! trust me!
Wai’ānapanapa State Park
Address: Waianapanapa, Hana, HI 96713
The black sand beach is the iconic stop on the Road to Hana. According to their website, “Advance reservations are now required for all vehicles, walk-in entry, and PUC vehicles visiting Waiʻānapanapa State Park. Plan your trip accordingly. Reservations may be made up to 14 days in advance, and no later than the day before your visit*.” This is an iconic stop, so consider stopping here if you are able to get a reservation!
For reservations, visit this website here, https://www.gowaianapanapa.com/
Lava Tube Caves
Ready for a change of pace from waterfalls and epic lookouts? Go below and explore these natural lava caves. These caves are from hardening lava and are fun to explore. It’s not very big but it’s still cool to check out. Make sure to slow down so you don’t miss these awesome caves! There is also Ka’eleku Cave where you can take a self-guided tour of the 18th largest lava caves in the world plus a little more about how these caves were formed from lava. The cost is $15 per person. But there are free short ones along the road as well
If you want a warm meal, you’ll want to stop at one of the several restaurants in Hana Town. The Hana Ranch Restaurant offers familiar American fares plus stunning ocean views. Across the street are food trucks with delicious food. One of the trucks sold out around 4 pm so we tried out the Pad Thai and Thai Ice Coffee at AE’s Thai food truck. The Pad pad was delicious! Hana also has a culture center on Ke’aninini Street and a few shops. We only stopped to enjoy the food, and the scenery!
Waioka Pond (Venus Pool)
The Venus Pool was one of the best parts of the Road to Hana in my opinion. We had so much fun here and felt the Road to Hana’s true spirit of exploring as we swam in this pool. Personally, this is where I would turn around if you have two days planned for Road to Hana. And if you dare, join the other adventurers that are having their own Road to Hana journey and cliff jump into the refreshing pond. Although, do this at your own risk. You’ll also want to be aware of flash floods coming from the roads as it has unfortunately swept travelers out to sea. If you want to stay on the safe side but still check out Waioka Pond, watching the huge waves crashing onto the black rocks that are beached between the ocean and pool from above will take your breath away.
Haleakala National Park
Cost: $30 per vehicle
At this National State Park, you’ll be able to visit the Pipewa trail and the Pools of Ohe’o or Seven scared Pools. The seven sacred pools are pools all connected with waterfalls! It’s pretty unique to look at! The one thing to note is that the Seven Scared Pools were once swimmable and they were during our visit, so keep in mind that you probably won’t be swimming here either. We did see the gate where visitors were once able to swim and the stairs that lead guests down but that wasn’t the case during our trip and from research, the pools haven’t been safe to swim in for years due to flash flooding. There have been many deaths in national parks throughout America, so keep in mind your safety when visiting these natural and stunning landmarks. This is also where most people turn around if they don’t want to do the loop tour of Road to Hana.
If you notice a billy goat crossing the road, then you may have arrived at Huakini Beach. Go across the street and have a picnic by the water. The beach is mainly black rocks that give the most zen and calming sounds when the waves crash into them and go back into the ocean.
Laulima Farm Stand
Address: 40755 Hana Hwy, Hana, HI 96713
If you’re in need of a coffee break, head over to Laulima Farm Stand. This adorable small fruit stand has fresh snacks, adorable cute seating areas, and a free garden. Also, if you see a cute kitty walking around say, hi for me!
This stop along the road is well worth getting out of the car for! The Manawainui Gulch is a lookout where you can see where lava once flowed from the tops of the now dormant volcano to the sea. It’s pretty interesting and unique especially if this is your first time in Hawaii. Although, be cautious while driving in this area. The winds get intense but the views are gorgeous.
Ulupalakua + Ranch Store and Winery
If you are taking the reverse Road to Hana, this will be one of the first stops along the way. They have some awesome burgers and pies in the Ranch Shop. Across the street, you’ll find the winery that serves Pineapple wine samples. Sadly, we were. a little too early and we weren’t able to try the wine but the shop is cute and we picked up some treats and souvenirs. If you do plan on eating here, there is an outdoor patio with a scenic view.
Here is roughly what you’ll spend on your adventure on the Road to Hana. Of course, this all depends on you!
- $30.00 per car: Haleakala National Park (Oheo Pools)
- $15.00 for adults: Garden of Eden (per person) we had 4 people so we spent $60 for enterane fee.
- $11.95 per person: Hana Lava Tube $10.00 per person: Kahana Gardens
- $15.00-$20.00 per person: Lunch
- $10.00: snacks, like banana bread or shave ice
- 1 Gas Fill Up
WHAT TO PACK
Towels, and Extra Towels
Bottles of Water
Non-Slip Shoes or Water Shoes
Extra Dry Clothes
Swimwear if you plan on swimming!
Sandals, preferably nonslip
Jacket, in case things get chilly
People planning to view the sunrise at Haleakalā National Park must make sunrise viewing reservations for $1.00 in advance at www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/253731.
All park visitors are required to purchase a recreational use pass upon entering Haleakalā National Park. Passes are non-transferable and are valid for 3 days including the date of purchase. $30 per private car. https://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/fees.htm
Keep in mind that The Hana Lava Tube, Garden of Eden, and some of the food options close at 4 p.m.