The Road to Hana is one of the most fascinating drives you’ll ever do. The winding drive along the Hana Highway takes you through Maui’s lush rainforest, passing over waterfalls and revealing stunning coastal views. You can choose to stop as many times as you like along the way, to explore the surroundings, take photos and sample freshly baked banana bread.
Here are some tips to help you have a great day out on the Road to Hana.
1. Drive slowly and remember it’s all about the journey
The road to Hana isn’t about getting to Hana (unless you live there), so drive carefully around the bends and stop regularly to soak in the views or take a dip in a waterfall pool. The drive can be challenging, and the views can be distracting for the driver so it’s better to play it safe, drive slowly and stop as often as you need for breaks.
If you’re at all worried about the driving, then take a van tour. Your experienced driver will have his eyes on the road whilst you can sit back and take in the surroundings stress-free.
2. Be organised
Not perhaps the most romantic advice you’ll hear before embarking on your adventure but being organised is the key to a good time. You’ll come across next to no shops along your journey after passing through the North Shore town of Paia. Fill up the car with gas before you go, bring plenty of water, and pack a lunch and snacks for your journey. There are many beautiful places to picnic along the way, so bringing your own food is a great way to do lunch on the Road to Hana.
3. Take a Road to Hana map or guide book with you
Lots of the best places to stop are not sign-posted from the road, or are quite hard to spot without clear instruction (and even with it). With a road to Hana map or guide book you’ll be told which great spots will be at which mile marker. Highlight a few you like the look of before you go so you know what to aim for along the way.
4. Bring your swim gear
Better still, wear your swim gear under your regular clothes – this way you’ll be ready for dips in sparkling pools. Look out for signs near waterfalls telling you if it is safe to swim there, and if you don’t see anyone else around then take caution.
5. Wear hiking boots if you plan on walking any distance
There are some fabulous hikes along the Road to Hana. Twin falls is a great one early on, around mile marker 2 (although you can also do this as a separate afternoon out.) Also if you make it past Hana, to Ohe’o Gulch, then the Pipiwai trail through the bamboo forest up to Waimoku falls is incredible. The terrain can be bumpy though so it is best to leave your slippers in the car for this one!
6. Don’t trespass on private property
Not all the land you’ll come across is open to the public. There are people living along the road, and in Hana itself. Naturally their land is off-limits. Make sure you respect the Hawaiians living in the area and abide by any signs you see.
7. Leave early and come back before dark
It can get busy along the road to Hana and so it is advisable to get going on the road early. Beat the rush and you won’t have to share your tranquil spots with a bus load of your fellow sightseers. Also, it’s best to time it so you are not driving back along the road in the dark. The road is harder to drive when it is dark, and you can’t see anything pretty which sort of defeats the point.
8. Bring a waterproof jacket
To be clear, we don’t recommend embarking on the Road to Hana if the weather looks wet. It simply won’t be enjoyable and the road will be more than precarious. However, further into the rainforest you are more likely to experience a surprise downpour, and so it is good to have a raincoat with you to shield yourself from this eventuality.
9. Wear bug spray
Beware the mosquitoes who like to hang out near still water and fruit trees. Lather yourself in bug spray before you head out to stay protected from tiny creatures who like to bite.
10. Relax the next day
The road to Hana is a fantastic experience but it makes for a tiring day. Don’t make big plans the day after – have a slow start, go for brunch or head to the beach. You’ll need to relax after one of the most breathtaking drives you’ll ever take.
Have you driven the Road to Hana? Tell us your own tips, or favorite places to spot along the way – in the comments section.