‘Iconic’ is overused when describing Hawaii’s most famous driving route – except it is.
The Road to Hana is on every Maui to-do list.
It’s demanding, comprised of hundreds of hairpin turns. It’s breathtaking, stitching together the coast and lush scenery.
It’s a journey through Maui’s beauty and history.
This Road to Hana itinerary will squeeze out every bit of your energy, and you’ll love it!
Gorgeous waterfalls, lush rainforests, black sand beaches, banana bread addiction and garden walks; you’ll experience it all.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed – hit pause. You don’t have to do the drive on your own.
Why not sign up for a tour?
Hit all the major stops with this Road to Hana Adventure Tour, starting with a hotel pick-up.
An informative guide takes the wheel of a luxury mini-van to ferry you to the multiple photo ops.
As they rattle on about Hana’s history (like being the birthplace of Queen Ka’ahumanu), you’ll be passing by Pa’ia, Ho’okipa Beach Park, Upper Waikani Falls, Pua’a Ka’a State Park, Wai’anapanapa State Park, Wailua Falls and other scenic locations.
Officially, the Road to Hana starts right before Pa’ia and ends at Kipahulu, boasting pretty impressive numbers:
64 miles, 617 curves, 56 single-lane bridges and too many attractions to name.
If you’re operating on a time crunch, you can speed through Road to Hana in 10 to 12 hours.
The downside – you chop off most of your bucket list except for the most classic sites (marked with a 🌟).
But if you can afford 2 to 3 days on the road, do pay proper homage to all these Road to Hana stops!
Grab breakfast on the road at Mana Foods!
Health-conscious or not, it’s rated the best grocery store on-island for its organic and local produce.
It’s a popular spot for nutty pies, customizable smoothies, cinnamon rolls and fresh-out-of-the-oven deli goods that’ll prep you for the day ahead.
Make sure to buy some sandwich ingredients for a picnic lunch later!
If you’re counting minutes, quickly sweep through lovely Pa’ia town for some interesting shops and galleries.
Otherwise, save it for the end of the full loop trip.
Ho’okipa Beach is the first sandy strip on the list but you’re not here for typical beach activities.
While you might catch some morning surfers coasting the waves, the main atrraction are in fact – sea turtles.
These gorgeous hard-shell creatures tend to pack the beach between sunset to evening, as many as 90 at a time.
Cruise the rest of Highway 36 with anticipation, because next up is Twin Falls.
As you pull up to the entrance, grab some refreshments – the quaint shack offers pineapple bites, coconuts and popsicles on sugarcane sticks.
The hike up to the accessible waterfalls is gentle; pack a towel if you’re planning to cliff jump!
The pool is also peaceful and large enough for a short swim.
Once you’ve cooled off at the waterfalls, it’s time to sweat it out again.
The next 20 minutes is a tense but picturesque drive; every turn cuts through streams and lush landscapes.
Once you pull up to the Waikamoi Ridge Trail parking area, the quick hike will stretch out those kinks, so make sure you have your hiking shoes.
The trail itself loops through moss-strewn trees and huge roots to cleanse those lungs.
Tip: Slather on your mosquito repellent or risk becoming food.
A word of warning before you enter the Garden of Eden Arboretum: you might disappear in there forever.
Not because of carnivorous plants, but because it’s truly paradise!
Bamboo groves, flourishing red blooms, soft grass and peacocks are spread out over 26 acres; the walking trails even look out over a hidden watering hole.
You’ll feel as though you’ve ventured into Jurassic Park.
Hands down, this garden is one of the most beautiful Road to Hana stops.
You’re probably getting hungry at this point so head straight for Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread.
Now, this is a Road to Hana itinerary highlight – so much that people drive here every day just to feed their banana bread addiction!
Crispy crust, moist center and freshly baked; not even the chili dogs beat it out for ‘hottest item’.
Load up on smoothies and pulled pork as well, then trek out to Keanae Lookout for a bombastic lunch.
Also, take a toilet break here if you haven’t already.
Backtrack a few steps and stop at Ke’anae Arboretum.
Trees are the main players on this stage, towering over the walking trails like mystical giants.
Look out for Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees – the thick trunks look like they have paint splattered over them.
Those with keen eyes may have some luck spotting them near Hana Hwy Marker 7 too.
Quick! Nab a parking spot at Wailua Valley State Wayside Park.
You’ll want to get out of the car for panoramic views over the valley.
Can you spot the huge waterfall in the distance?
Apart from the Twin Falls, Upper Waikani Falls (a.k.a Three Bears Falls) is another famous swimming hole.
The way the water fans down the rock cliff is glorious, as is the entire green surroundings.
Throw your hair back like Ariel and save those snaps!
Tip: The descent is a little tricky so make sure you’re wearing appropriate shoes (hiking or water shoes recommended).
A tiny, quick addition to your Road to Hana itinerary is Hanawi Falls and pump house.
Spare just a few minutes here!
The series of cascades are actually part of the canal system that transports water to the sugarcane fields of central Maui.
Cool how they made use of nature, huh?
If you’re still peckish, Nahiku Marketplace is a bright spot of color.
Hulu Hulu ribs and deep-fried shrimp are hot food recommendations. Otherwise, a smoothie and some pineapple coconut bread will keep you going.
Now it’s time to get creative with your Road to Hana itinerary. Just a few minutes’ drive away are a platter of attractions:
Turn down Ulaino Road and one of Maui’s most famous lava tubes awaits.
Created by underground lava rivers, the rocky tunnels are a fascinating natural phenomenon large enough to house mythical creatures!
A full tour takes 45-60 minutes; pay by cash only.
Further down the road is a national treasure.
A deep well of history, Kahanu Garden houses the largest heiau (Hawaiian Temple) in Polynesia.
The structure is built from manmade lava, with wrap-around manicured lawns.
Wait, why are we stopping at this tiny strip?
You’re not saying goodbye to Hana just yet; but hello, adrenaline.
Zip up your flight suits and tighten your goggles – you can finally fulfill those hang gliding and skydiving dreams!
If you’re terrified of reaching for the clouds, feel free to skip this spot.
Learn how cocoa beans are grown and processed straight from the owners of this small plantation. It’s worth picking some chocolate bars as souvenirs.
Pull up to this 122-acre coastal park to feel Hawaii’s magic.
The lush greens are a sharp contrast against the rocky tidal pools and Honokalani Black Sand Beach.
To feel like a fantasy adventurer, hit up the far side to coast through the volcanic field.
Reservations are needed to enter Wai'anapanapa State Park and can be made up to 14 days in advance.
If you’re sticking to this Road to Hana itinerary to a T, your entry time hovers around 3 PM.
Another gold standard of what to eat along your Road to Hana stops, Hana Farms makes an awesome late lunch or early dinner destination.
If you’re planning on stopping for the night at Hana, feel free to hit up all the spots mentioned below!
If you’re speeding through the route, limit yourself to 1 to 2 sites.
You finally reach the elusive Hana Town! Framed by Kaihalulu Bay, this gorgeous coastal town is a great place to unwind for the rest of the day.
First things first; learn about the history of Hana.
This museum might not be large, but its lessons are vast.
There’s even a gift shop with locally made crafts so you can bring home meaningful souvenirs.
Rather spacious, this gallery is located in Hana-Maui Resort (a.k.a your accommodation for the night).
Popular Hawaiian artists have crafted wooden picture carvings, silk kimono paintings, oil paintings and more fabulous works. It’s worth a skim!
A steep hiking trail will bring you to the water front; the burnished, red sand of Kaihalulu Beach is stunning during sunset.
Isolated, it’s the perfect hideaway.
Before you turn in for the night, treat yourself to American fare with a Hawaiian twist plus spectacular ocean views.
There’s nothing like a tuna poke or Kobe beef burger to replace your spent energy!
Those who reach Hana mid-afternoon and have energy to spare can continue on to attractions just minutes away.
The furthest site is only 30 minutes out from Hana:
The curved bay is an eclectic blend of beach, mountain and farm land.
Sit in the shade and bask in your surroundings, or go for a short swim. You can even enjoy a huli huli chicken dinner on-site.
Just down the road from Koki is another popular beach.
The wild waves tempt you to splash around (close to shore, of course), but you can simply lounge and relax under the sun.
Speaking of iconic, Wailua Falls is an 80-feet waterfall right off the highway.
Park, walk 5 minutes, and you’ll hear the thundering gush of water. It’s an incredibly scenic and serene pond.
Also known as Oheo Gulch and Pools of ‘Ohe’o. With so many names attached, you know it’s a significant site.
Can you imagine 7 swimming holes connected via waterfalls, hidden within a dense bamboo forest?
If possible, hike upstream; it’s totally worth it.
Do you really want to end your adventure on a dangling note?
This is your Road to Hana Itinerary Part 2, looping around Haleakala National Park to explore the back road to Hana.
Finish driving the Hana Highway via dry Kaupo and the lush upcountry areas of Kula. It’s a full circle back to Kahului.
Haleakala National Park bridges Hana with the backroad.
The previous day should’ve been enough of a warm-up but do your stretches before challenging any hikes in Haleakala National Park.
Sign up for a sunrise tour; the stunning drive to the peak gets even better as you witness the morning rays break through the cloud layer.
Since sunrise hits early, staying the night in Hana means you’ll be in less of a rush.
This 4-mile hike trail unfolds through banyan trees and a bamboo forest, dense foliage paving the way to beautiful Waimoku Falls.
It’s around 2-hours round trip with some swimming holes along path.
The best spots for beautiful views across the West Maui Mountains.
No doubt your drive through Kaupo allows glimpses of lava fields and rusty swatches, but stop at Triple L Ranch for a custom horseback ride through the area.
It’s an intimate ride, your guide walking you through the history of the estate and pointing out roaming cattle.
Minutes away, Waiakapuhi Lava Field is large enough for you to pull over. Snap away with your camera to capture dark soil and pops of green.
Wine connoisseurs will love Maui Wine! The scenic vineyard offers unique vintages (like pineapple-infused wines) to taste and buy.
Pick up a bottle to toast your trip tonight.
If you’re lucky, Kula Country Farms will be open for some strawberry picking. If you arrive off-hours, patronize the farm stand anyway.
The farm animals, upcountry views and fresh produce make it a fun stop.
Turn into Highway 377 for yet another floral paradise: Kula Botanical Gardens.
Diamond in the rough it may be, but it’s a beautiful oasis of flowers, flowers and more flowers.
If you’re sniffing for more flowery scents, Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm is just up the road – complete with a gift shop.
Surfing Goat Dairy sounds cute because it is!
You can pet the goats in their pens and taste cheeses; even bring that bottle you bought earlier at Maui Wine.
Don’t pass up on the homemade cheesecake.
While it’s a slower-paced day compared to the twisty Road to Hana journey of yesterday, there is a stop that will make your pulse pound.
Piiholo Ranch offers more horse riding and one of the best zipline experiences on the island.
Zoom over treetops and yell like Tarzan; the guides make sure you’re safe and secure.
Make a slight detour off Baldwin Avenue towards Pa’ia for the highly-rated Maui Pineapple Tours.
These prickly fruits are hiding exceedingly sweet interiors – which you get to taste!
Not only do you get fascinating insight into pineapple growth, but you can take some of this sweet treat with you.
Before you head back into Kahului proper, explore charming Pa’ia if you missed out the first time.
There plenty of cozy cafés and art galleries to browse through, but Pa’ia Fish Market is a must if you’re craving seafood.
Tadah! Here’s the end of your Road to Hana trip.
Alternatively, you could reverse this itinerary and enter Hana via Haleakala National Park instead.
The biggest pro to staying the night along the Road to Hana is being able to come full circle, with Hana being your resting stop instead of your final destination.
Better yet, the best accommodation in town lets you bypass the lengthy drive!
This allows you to make the drive in reverse, or to explore the surrounding area with less time constraints.
Hana-Maui Resort offers to fly guests in via a Cessna or helicopter, straight onto 66 lush acres.
The resort comes with ocean suites and family rooms, an outdoor pool that faces the stunning blue ocean, a bar lounge to kick back at and plenty of activity deals.
You can sign up for horseback riding, paddle boarding, making lei or playing the ukulele.
Its close proximity to Haleakala National Park also makes sunrise tours extremely accessible; hiking opportunities are endless too!
While you can rent cars at the airport, you want to avoid any airport fees (a whopping 11.11% service charge).
The best solution is to rent in downtown Kahului.
There are several tips to renting cars (especially since public transport is minimal) for your road trip down Hana Highway:
The road is relatively narrow and mostly single-lane, not suitable for large vans as cars travel both ways.
If you’re not a confident driver, stick with day tours instead.
Note that car rental companies don’t like it when you explore the dry, barren Kaupo stretch.
Not only may you have to sign a waiver, any trouble would require a tow truck rescue. Opt for a tour van if possible.