Drive the Road to Hana
Hana--or Heavenly Hana as it’s sometimes known--is a sleepy plantation town surrounded by soaring cliffs, sweeping beaches and thick rainforest. It is located on the eastern side of the island, this remote pictureque area is where visitors can discover a sense of old Maui. To get there you have to take Highway 36--the famous road to Hana.
On a map, the road to Hana looks like a short 52-mile drive: the kind of drive you can complete in less than an hour. Don’t be fooled. In reality, it takes between two and a half to five hours to drive the road to Hana. The road includes 617 hairpin turns, 59 narrow one-lane bridges, multiple blind spots and beautiful waterfalls. You may even find yourself making a few extra stops to view the beautiful waterfalls up close.
What to See on the Drive
With all that said, why explore the road to Hana? First, there’s the destination itself. Hana offers some of Maui’s most beautiful landscapes, gardens, and beaches. Second, the road to Hana provides plenty of diversions along the way, from local roadside stalls selling homemade jewelry, fruits, lei and banana bread to jungle hikes and waterfalls. Places of interest include:
Paia Town. The starting point of the road to Hana, Paia is a great place to pick up those last minute supplies for the trip and enjoy a hearty breakfast before setting out.
Ho’okipa Lookout. Just outside of Paia, the lookout offers spectacular views of surfing and giant winter waves.
Waikamoi Trail Ridge. The ridge has two short hikes and a picnic area. Hiking trails may be muddy after it rains.
Garden of Eden Arboretum. You will need to pay to enter the garden, but the beautiful ocean and waterfall views make the Garden of Eden a welcome respite from the road to Hana’s hairpin turns.
Kaumahina State Wayside Park. Kaumahina offers trails, bathrooms, a picnic area and a panoramic view of Maui’s North Coast.
Halfway to Hana Stand. Since 1982, the Halfway to Hana Stand has been famous for its banana bread, shave ice and plate lunches.
- Pua’a Ka'a Falls and State Park. Located about two-thirds of the way to Hana, Pua’a Ka'a has a picnic area and restrooms. A quick hike takes you to a 15-20 foot waterfall and freshwater pool. This is a great stop for larger groups or families with children.
Tips for Driving the Road to Hana
- Fill your gas tank. You probably won’t need a full tank to get to Hana, but gas stations are few and far between on the road.
- Check the weather. Heavy rain can cause flash floods or lead to the highway closing.
- Bring a picnic and plenty of water.
- Bring cash: most of the roadside stalls will only accept cash.
- Charge your camera. You'll have plenty of photo ops on route.
- Bring bug spray, towels, hiking boots and sunscreen.
- Avoid driving the road to Hana in the dark. Give yourself several hours of sunlight for the trip.
- Consider spending a night in Hana. Doing so gives you more time to explore Hana and means you don’t have to make the return trip immediately.
For those who perfer to enjoy the ride while someone else drives the road to Hana, we encourage you to book a tour ride there and back. Tour companies regularly bus visitors to Hana, making stops at the most popular sights along the highway.
From Paia, take Highway 36 to Hana.