The Road to Hana (and beyond)
Where to stop along the Road to Hana
If you're going to Maui, doing the Road to Hana is an absolute must. It's consistently at the top of people's "must do on Maui" lists for a reason! It's incredible. The hairpin turns, staggering sea cliffs, impressive waterfalls and lush rainforests is a memory that will stay with you for life.
The Road to Hana is a marathon, not a sprint, with many stops along the way. The town of Hana itself is very small and not the main attraction, so if you're planning your Road to Hana journey, make sure you allow enough time and don't try to race all the way to Hana without experiencing the beautiful scenery along the way.
So, which are my favourite Road to Hana stops?
1. Paia Town
All Road to Hana journeys start in Paia, where you can grab some food and water and fill your car up with gas/petrol. Mana Foods is a popular health food store in Paia with a range of delicious and organic options.
2. Twin Falls - Mile Marker 2
Pulling over at Twin Falls, you can walk through tall bamboo and down the embankment towards the falls. We had read that this was a "could skip" stop, however we loved it. The lower falls aren't as "pretty" as some others that you'll see along the road, but they are incredible and you can get really close. If you continue up the path, there is a small pool and upper falls as well.
3. Garden of Eden Arboretum - Mile Marker 10.5
The Garden of Eden is home to a beautiful of native Hawaiian plants, and incredible views of waterfalls and over the coastline. Including the "Jurassic Park" rock! You will also see an assortment of animals roaming the grounds. My favourite? The peacocks.
Entry is $15 per adult, and the gardens are open between 8am - 4pm.
4. Upper Waikani Falls (Wailua Nui Stream) - Mile Marker 19.5
Now this one isn't an official stop with an easy place to park, it's just one of the many bridges and waterfalls that you will cross along the road. However, the waterfall is beautiful and it's worth a stop if you have time and if you can do so safely.
5. Hanawi Falls - Mile Marker 24
This also isn't an official stop, and for this waterfall, I would recommend just keeping your eyes cast to the right to catch sight of the falls, rather than actually stopping as there didn't appear to be a safe place to do so.
6. Nahiku Marketplace - Mile Marker 29
Lunch time! Nahiku Marketplace is a collection of roadside food trucks and cute gift stands. By now you're probably hungry and in need of a snack. If you're not, try grabbing a delicious smoothie with fresh, Hawaiian ingredients like pineapple, papaya and guava.
7. Wai'anapanapa State Park - Mile Marker 32
Have you ever wanted to see black sand and pristine blue waters? Well, this is the place for you. Frequently called Black Sand Beach, Wai'anapanapa State Park is the most popular top along the Road to Hana for good reason. If you have enough time, you could spend a few hours walking the trails and going for a swim. We had limited time, so we spent it in awe overlooking the ocean beyond the lava rocks. It's incredible.
Nearby, you can also access the lava tubes if you're interested in doing a self-guided cave tour. Personally, I'm claustrophobic, so I was not interested! However at Black Sand Beach, there was a smaller cave that we went inside, which was also formed out of lava, so we still saw what is essentially the inside of Hawaii.
9. Hana Town
Hana itself is small but beautiful. It's relatively untouched by development and provides a glimpse into what Hawaii was like a few decades ago. If you're still hungry, you can grab some food and wander the town. We drove through Hana as we were restricted by time at this point and had a few more items on our list that we wanted to see.
10. Koki Beach - Mile Marker 51
Now here the mile markers start reversing, which is very confusing. We actually missed Koki Beach because of this, but it's well worth a stop. From what I've read, it's famous for its dark red sand.
11. Hamoa Beach - Mile Marker 50
We also didn't quite have enough time for Hamoa Beach as by the time we arrived, it was getting quite late. You want to leave Hana around 4pm, so make sure you plan plenty of time to fit in all the stops you'll want to make. Hamoa Beach is consistently named one of the best beaches in the world, so if you make time, definitely stop off.
12. Wailua Falls - Mile Marker 45
Another roadside stop (when safe) for more incredible waterfalls. Here we were lucky as there is a small amount of parking available (around 3 spots) and we were actually able to climb down closer to the waterfall.
13. Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe'o - Mile Marker 42
This is one of the highlights of the Road to Hana (and beyond) and one that I was really looking forward to. Unfortunately, as I've already mentioned, we ran out of time to stop! Plan your time really well and leave early to fit everything in. It takes a long time!
If you do plan well, Seven Sacred Pools is a beautiful location to take a short walk to the waterfalls and natural pools, where you can have a refreshing dip. Please read all signs carefully and only swim when it is safe to do so. There are many areas where it is unsafe and fatalities have occured in the past.
14. Laulima Farm Fruit Stand
This cute little roadside fruit stand is about a mile past the Seven Sacred Pools and provides local produce, including beautiful, fresh coconuts. I recommend stopping off for one of their delicious coconuts, which are served with a bamboo straw!
At this point, or a little earlier, is when travellers most commonly turn around and head back the way they came. In my opinion, this is a huge mistake as just beyond the Road to Hana is the most incredible landscape! If you've ever been to Iceland, it looks a lot like that.
We made the decision to continue circumnavigating the East coast of Maui to make sure that we'd really seen the island. I am SO glad that we did. We were constantly greeted by impressive view after impressive view as we snaked our way along the very windy, narrow, unsealed and often staggering road. I get motion sickness, so I had been a little concerned about getting ill on the drive but the views were so incredible that I didn't even notice!
Once you are on the road beyond, also known as the back road to Hana (officially, the Piilani Highway), the scenery is breathtaking, and you will be stopping a lot for pictures of the mountain.
At mile marker 33, you will come across St Joseph's Church, a beautiful old white church that is worth stopping at if you have time, enough light and are interested in taking a picture.
The Road to Hana and the backroad beyond is one of the most incredible drives I have ever done, and one that I highly recommend.
When planning your journey, make sure you:
Leave early (around 7-8am) so you can stop as many times as you like
Check any road restrictions before you leave (portions of the Piilani Highway close in heavy rain)
Take your camera!
Pack water and snacks
Be respectful of the land and take all trash with you
If you've driven the Road to Hana, which were your favourite stops?