The curvy, scenic Road to Hana is one of the number one attractions in Maui, popular amongst tourists and locals alike. Its winding roads cover a 64.4-mile stretch along the northeast coastline of the island, though most visitors aim to end their journey at the 52 mile mark (the town of Hana) before turning back.
BEFORE YOU GO: Book 1-2 nights in Hana instead of making a day trip like most other tourists. Even with the extra time, we were still conscious of watching the time and making sure we paced ourselves so we could see all the sights on our list!
We also researched audio tours and downloaded an app that was absolutely worth the $4.99 investment. The guide was funny and amicable, and it felt like you had a knowledgeable uncle in the car with you.
GyPSy Guide: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/road-to-hana-gypsy-driving/id578451869?mt=8
After lots and lots of research, we’ve come up with this list of worthy stops to make on the Road to Hana. We were able to see 14 out of the 17!
1. Paia – Mile Marker 0
Though Mile Marker 0 is located a few miles further down the road, the charming little town of Paia is the last place to stop for gas before beginning your journey. Even if you’ve already filled up on gas, it’s worth stopping by – you can’t miss the main street with coffee shops, restaurants, art galleries, and surf shops.
2. Twin Falls – Mile Marker 2
We were surprised to learn that Twin Falls is located on a family-owned farm! We took the Lower Falls Trail, a quick and easy walk from the parking lot. As it turns out, the Upper Falls Trail had a better vantage point of the waterfalls (whoops). If you decide to take the Upper Falls Trail, keep in mind that the hike is one mile round-trip and will take a bit more time to finish.
3. Ka Haku Smoke Shack – Mile Marker 10.2
Ka Haku Smoke Shack truly is a roadside shack, famous for its grilled chicken plates. If we hadn’t just eaten breakfast, we would have definitely stopped here for a taste of Maui’s local fare.
4. Garden of Eden – Mile Marker 10.5
This family-owned arboretum is home to over 700 botanically labeled specimens and several waterfall lookouts. I debated whether or not to include it on the list, but in the end concluded was worth the stop. The entrance fee of $15 per person (not vehicle!) almost deterred us from going in. The garden’s claim to fame is a view point of Keopuka Rock, featured in the opening scene to Jurassic Park. We weren’t too impressed with the view – maybe it would be better with a pair of binoculars, haha – but enjoyed the clean bathrooms, well-kept gardens, and resident peacocks wandering the grounds.
5. Ke’anae Arboretum – Mile Marker 16.7
We missed several opportunities to see rainbow eucalyptus trees, so we were excited to wander into the free Ke’anae Arboretum to look at them up close. The paved walkway takes you through half a mile of about 150 tropical plants. We especially loved admiring the moss covered stones and tree stumps along the path.
6. Ke’anae Peninsula – Mile Marker 16.8
Don’t miss the hairpin curve that leads to Ke’anae Peninsula – this was one of our favorite stops. The traditional Hawaiian village of Ke’anae sits upon a rugged peninsula made from lava rock that flowed from Haleakala. While the village is tranquil (it almost felt like a ghost town), the waves are the complete opposite – tumultuous and explosive against the black lava rock. We were lucky enough to enjoy the scenery right before a downpour of rain sent us running back to our car.
7. Ching’s Pond – Mile Marker 16.8
Popular amongst locals, this swimming hole is so under-the-radar that we didn’t know it existed until after making our trip! The picturesque, emerald pond has a small waterfall and concrete platform that the more adventurous visitors use to jump in (we will happily stand aside and watch).
8. Halfway to Hana Shop – Mile Marker 17.3
Our first banana bread experience in Maui took place at the Halfway to Hana Shop. It’s a little iconic roadside stand – not spectacular by any means, but a good place to pick up some snacks. By the time we reached the halfway point, we were hungry and in need of food in our stomachs; banana bread was the perfect solution. We also decided to try another local treat – coconut candy.
9. Upper Waikani (Three Bears) Falls – Mile Marker 19.5
This was Garrick’s favorite waterfall stop in Maui and it’s SUPER accessible (you don’t need to get out of the car to see it). Also known as the Three Bears Falls, the Upper Waikani Falls are located just off the side of the highway. If you have time, take the path under the bridge to get a closer view.
10. Nahiku Ti Gallery and Coffee Shop – Mile Marker 27
Our mealtimes were anything but normal on our drive, and banana bread from the Halfway to Hana shop only lasted us so long before we were searching for the next opportunity to eat. The Nahiku Ti Gallery was the perfect place to pull over for a quick bite – the kalua pork tacos and fish tacos were delicious.
11. Black Sand Beach Waiapanapa State Park – Mile Marker 32.2
Ask us what our #1 favorite stop was on the Road to Hana, and this is it. A short hike from the spacious parking lot leads you down to the beach, where turquoise waters and vibrant foliage contrast against the black sand. There were photo ops at every angle! The resident mongoose population also kept us entertained as they scurried across the park.
12. Thai Food by Pranee – in Hana
The small town of Hana has limited food options, so a quick search on Yelp led us to this unassuming but delicious roadside stand. We joined a long line of hungry tourists and patiently waited for our pad thai and red curry to arrive. The food was absolutely worth the wait! Authentic, filling, and flavorful. Highly recommended.
13. Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach – in Hana
We read mixed reviews about the level of danger involved in hiking to Kaihalulu Beach. Garrick made the executive decision to pass by this stop. 🙁 Since landslides have eroded the original trail, visitors have to navigate a slippery cliffside trail of loose dirt and pine needles. However, the scenery looks worth it – the dramatic, hidden cove made of red lava cinder stands out against the blue ocean water.
14. Koki Beach Park – in Hana, near Mile Marker 51
Though wooden signs warn of dangerous swimming conditions, this secluded beach would be a perfect spot for a quiet picnic. Red rock cliffs provide a scenic and shady backdrop, and the lush, mountain-shaped island just off the coast reminded us of the volcano in Pixar’s short film, Lava.
15. Wailua Falls – Mile Marker 45 (after Hana, the markers start counting down backwards)
This majestic waterfall is one of the most accessible in Maui – we drove right next to it on the Hana Highway. The surrounding area is lush and forested and there’s plenty of parking along the side of the road. Admire the 80 ft cascade of water from the highway bridge or walk down to the plunge pool to get closer to the action.
16. ‘Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) – Mile Marker 42
Now that ‘Ohe’O Gulch is officially a part of Haleakala National Park, the recreational day pass required for entry can be used for a visit to the volcano summit within 3 days. This was one of the more popular stops on our journey, for good reason. The easy walk to a lookout point rewards you with a view of streams and waterfalls that lead all the way to the ocean. Fun fact: Seven Sacred Pools was a catchy name made up to promote tourism to this remote location. (It worked.)
17. Pipiwai Trail – Mile Marker 42 (same parking lot as ‘Ohe’o Gulch)
The bamboo forest towards the end of Pipiwai Trail was one of our top priorities out of all the stops on the Road to Hana. The 4-mile roundtrip hike takes about two hours to complete and starts from the same place as the trail to ‘Ohe’O Gulch. Before reaching the picturesque bamboo, stop to admire other scenic points of interest like the huge banyan tree and a breathtaking view of the 200-ft Makahiku Falls.