Troy and I did the Road to Hana three times in one month while in Maui. It is a very long journey and it takes longer than 12 hours to get there and back with all of the stops in between.
My first tip, before even starting this post, is to BOOK A ROOM NOW at one of the hotels in Hana. It will make the Road to Hana so much more enjoyable and memorable! Yes, it is pretty pricey, but so worth it! Even better if you can split it with someone. I say book now because the rooms fill up so fast.
The Road to Hana- Tips, Tricks, and MUST DOs
So, in case you did NOT book a hotel room, here are the tips, tricks, and must dos for the Road to Hana. This post is only if you plan on doing all of the Road to Hana in one day.
Before we get started, know that it isn’t really the Road to Hana. It is the road to the Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe’o, because this is where you ultimately stop. This is where you are wanting to get to.
1. Do the Road to Hana backwards.
Troy and I did this trip three times. The first two times we did all of the stops on the way and then drove straight back. The third time we did a couple of spots on the way, and then a few of the spots on the way back.
The Road to Hana is 58 miles or so full of around 620 curves and 46 one lane bridges. It takes a toll on everyone (the driver and the passengers.) You need stops to break this up BOTH WAYS.
After three attempts, we hands down agree that this was the most enjoyable way to experience the road to Hana:
2. Leave early. No, not 10 am early. Leave at 6 am from Kihei and 5am from Lahaina, Kapalua, Ka’anapali. Yeah that is EARLY, I know. This leads to #3,
3. Do the Road to Hana on the second or third day of your trip. Take the first day to get to know the area and relax on the beach. Do the Road to Hana on the second or third day, before you are adjusted to the time difference. For the first three to four days I was up at 5am every morning. This will definitely help make the day easier for you!
4. Create a playlist for the trip. You will lose service as soon as you start and the radio goes in and out. I recommend having a fun playlist to help you through all of the twist and turns.
5. Download the Gypsy App (available in the app store.) This has a GPS feature that can track where you are and the tour guide talks along the way and tells you where all the must see spots are. It is helpful for knowing where and when to pull over for parking.It also gives you some fun background facts about the Road to Hana. He will dim the music and talk over it. The tour guide will also tell you about the proper etiquette on the bridges and roads- which is super important!
6. Pack snacks and drinks! But don’t drink too much, bathrooms are hard to come by on the road. It will be tempting to stop and try all the food on the road, but it actually takes up so much time! I’ll tell you about a couple of stops in case you get super hungry or curious.
7. If you get motion sick, it is IMPERATIVE that you 1. Take dramamine the night before the trip, and 2. again an hour before you get to Paia. I would also bring chewing gum (this seems to help) and anything else you can think of. Definitely either drive or sit in the front. If you forget dramamine, stop in Kapalua and get some. It will ruin your day and everyone elses in the car if you get sick. Did I mention there are 620 CURVES?!? That x 2 = 1240 curves in one day. You can do it- I did it! Just follow the directions above.
You are ready to go! The next tips will be the MUST STOPS along the road! It is crazy how much time flies. With these stops you will barely be back in Paia before it is dark!
8. You will first pass through the town of Paia. This is such a cute surf town, but not really worth the stop. Peek around and take it all in, and then keep driving. If you are going to be in Maui for a couple of weeks, you may want to come back and walk around the town (this is where Mama’s Fish House is, so you can check out the town if you have reservations there, which you should!) I will have you stop near Paia on your way home.
9. The first hour of The Road to Hana is visually stimulating. It will keep you occupied and the time will fly. Your first stop will be The Arboretum. The Gypsy app will tell you where to pull over and park for this. It is a quick walk and time to shake out your legs and get some fresh air. Here you will get an amazing picture of the Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees! People have carved all over the bottoms of them though, seriously makes me want to cry!
10. Your next stop should be Keanae. This is the cutest little town located along a peninsula. The app will tell you where to turn for this! Make sure you stop at the banana bread stand you come to first. This will be your breakfast. Seriously the best banana bread I have ever had! Then keep driving and stop at all of the lookouts. The views are stunning.
11. After Keanae you will stop at a line of food trucks. This is also guided by the Gypsy app. There are about five food trucks in a row. Head to the coffee shop and grab a macadamia nut latte. Either hot or on ice, this is some of the best coffee!
12. Your next stop will be in Hana at the Red Sand Beach. It will come up pretty fast from the food trucks! Red Sand Beach is on the Gypsy App, but not until you are already driving home. We recommend you stop here on the way to the Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe’o! This is our second favorite stop on the Road to Hana- a MUST SEE! I recommend you put this into your app before you leave since you will not have good service on the road. That way you can easily find it! If not, just stop at the general store and ask how to get there (it is super easy and just a minute off the Hana Highway.) When you park, you will walk onto what looks like a school field. Follow the path and just keep following it. It is about a 15 min hike. Wear your hiking shoes!
13. Your next stop will be at the Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe’o. The hike to the pools is only .5 miles and doesn’t take long at all. The hike up to the Waimoku waterfall takes about an hour there and an hour back. I recommend you do this hike first, and then see if you are up for the .5 mile hike to see the pools. They weren’t ALL THAT. The Waimoku Falls IS! The best hike you will do in Maui. You will pass a smaller waterfall, then you will go through a bamboo forest, and then you will basically see a waterfall that looks like something you would see in Jurassic Park. It will take your breath away. Definitely bring water and wear hiking shoes. Put Waiʻanapanapa State Park into your GPS before you leave (while you still have service.)
14. You will be tired, but you can’t rest for long. It should be around 2pm and you have a few more stops to tackle! Your next stop will be Waiʻanapanapa State Park. The caves are actually closed here, but you will be able to walk along a beautiful black sand beach and see some pretty cool views. If you are on the beach and look to your right, there is a small cave you can walk into! It is pretty cool inside and totally worth it.
15. You will then come up to the food trucks again. Don’t stop! I want you to get to Twin Falls by 3 if possible! There will be a food truck open with fresh pineapple that closes at 3- it is amazing! This is also a very short walk to a pretty waterfall!
16. Your last stop on the Road to Hana will be a surf lookout right before you get back to Paia. You will have passed it on your way to Hana. The spot to pull in can easily missed, but you should definitely turn around if you do miss it and pull in. You can watch the surfers from this lookout and the sunset at the same time!
If you still have energy, stop in Paia for dinner. I heard it gets pretty lively there at night!
I hope you enjoy these tips! Let me know if I missed anything or if you have any questions!
Photos from Road to Hana:
You will find this gorgeous sunflower field in Kapalua if you are heading to Hana from Ka’anapali, Kapalua, or Lahaina. If you don’t pass it and are every in Kapalua, it is five minutes out of the way and you can find it on google maps! The Mill House Restaurant also has a really pretty sunflower field!
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*you’ll see these surfboards once you pass Paia on the way to Hana!
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*This was taken at the lookout I told you to stop at on the way home from Hana near Paia!
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If you walk down from that same lookout, you will find this beautiful beach!
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This was taken in the pool below Twin Falls! I don’t recommend trying to get to it though, it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t necessarily safe! You can hike down to the bottom and see a great view of the falls but crossing the river to actually get to the pool is the hard part! Plus it is freezing!
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This was taken at one of the lookouts in Keanae. You can sit here and watch the waves crash against the rocks for hours!
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Also taken in Keanae at a church that was built from lava rock!
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This is taken on the black sand beach at Waiʻanapanapa State Park! Such a surreal feeling when you see black sand on your toes! Don’t miss it!
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Walking along Red Sand Beach. The prettiest beach I have seen in my life. Just something about the red sand and the red cliffs. So beautiful!!
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You will pass this pretty waterfall after Hana on your way to the Pools. You get a nice view from the road, no need to get out!
Wearing Nike from Dick’s Sporting Goods!
Walking through the bamboo forest on the way to the Waimoku Falls. I wouldn’t recommend wearing leggings- definitely go with shorts if you will be hiking in the afternoon! These were HOT!
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