Driving the Road to Hana was our favorite and most memorable activity we did on Maui. With over 620 turns and 59 bridges, driving the windy Road to Hana is really an experience and not just a drive. Along the way, you will see many picturesque waterfalls, lots of cute roadside fruit stands, gorgeous coastline views and lots of pretty unique rainforest flora.
Build Your Own Experience on the Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is really a ‘build your own experience’ activity as the stops you choose to take along the way will really create a different experience for each person who drives it. You can’t possibly stop at everything along the way, especially if you are driving the road back and forth in one day. Given this conundrum , we narrowed the stops down to our 5 most recommended to help you plan your day.
Unlike most blogs, we recommend stopping at places along the Road to Hana backwards. By this we mean drive to the furthest away location first and then make your stops on the way back. This allows you to get an early start on this drive and drive a lot of the Road before most attractions are open. It also sets you up to get to our first stop, the Pipiwai Trail, early in the morning before the crowds arrive.
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Note: The mile markers on the Road to Hana are confusing
The mile markers start earlier on the Hana Highway than when the actual Road to Hana starts and then after you reach Hana, the mile markers start going down again. Be sure to download offline maps so you can navigate the Road to Hana with your GPS. We typically unplug (see Why you Should Unplug While Traveling) while on vacation but always use offline maps. Even if you were not unplugged, it is likely your data will not work on this side of the island so download the offline maps regardless.
FYI: This post is based on a trip taken in late October
#1 Top Stop on the Road to Hana: Pipiwai Trail and Oheo Gulch/Seven Sacred Pools in Haleakala National Park
Pipiwai Trail, East Side of Haleakala National Park, 4.0 Miles Round Trip, 650 Feet of Elevation Gain
Mile Marker 42
This hike on the Pipiwai Trail was our furthest away stop on the Road to Hana and well worth the drive. It is actually located after Hana so make sure to not stop there and continue on to this trail in the Eastern part of Haleakala National Park.
Unique Rainforest and Bamboo Forest Flora
This hike is super neat because you first hike through the rainforest and then through a bamboo forest before coming to the impressive Waimoku waterfall. On this hike, you will also see a huge Banyan Tree. The contrasting views on this hike are well worth the effort. We would rate this hike as relatively easy as the elevation gain is well spread out.
Hike Oheo Gulch/Seven Sacred Pools
Oheo Gulch Trail, East side of Haleakala National Park, 0.6 Miles Round Trip, 100 Feet of Elevation Gain
You can also hike the shorter Oheo Gulch/Seven Sacred Pools trail here that is 0.6 miles roundtrip with minimal elevation change. This hike takes you through the rainforest, along the coast line and to a waterfall. We completed this hike after the Pipiwai trail and found it to be very easy and scenic. The trailhead is at the same spot as the Pipiwai trailhead.
We recommend arriving at this hike early. When we arrived around 8am, we were one of three cars, but by the time we left after completing the hike, the parking lot was full and cars were parking in an overflow lot. Crowds can often take away from the experience so we are glad we got to the trail earlier than most.
For more information and details on visiting Haleakala National Park, please see our Haleakala National Park Quick Guide.
Looking for great hiking boots? Here are links to the ones we’ve used for 7+ years and highly recommend: Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots
#2 Top Stop on the Road to Hana: Hana Farms
Mile Marker 31
This cute farm stand is located right off the Road to Hana and easy to find. The chocolate chip banana bread here is absolutely delicious. There’s also a restaurant where you can sit down and eat a meal here. The restaurant was not open when we visited but the outdoor seating area was a really pretty spot to enjoy some fresh banana bread.
#3 Top Stop on the Road to Hana: Ka’eleku Cave
Mile Marker 23
This is a really neat lava tube right off the side of the road. Lava tubes form when the outside of lava hardens but the lava flowing inside continues to stay warm and fluid. The cave is short, approximately 1/3 mile, and leads to a large banyan tree. This cave felt like a real hidden gem!
The floor inside the cave is quite slippery so wear footwear with a good grip. Both of us were wearing sandals and would not recommend that. Ideally, wear hiking boots (we recommend Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots). We also both went through the cave separately too as you have to crouch down quite a bit to get in there and with the floor being quite slippery, it was not safe for us to go through carrying our three-month-old daughter. However, it is very short so both of us were able to do it separately relatively quickly.
Note: This is VERY easy to miss. It is not marked and you need to know just to look for it. Use our picture above so you know what you are looking for. Drive very slow around mile marker 23. Had one other car not been parked across from where the entrance to this lava tube was, we would have likely missed it. There is a pull off where you can park (on the side of the road closer to the coast line) that has two or three spots
Shout out to Heidi from Ordinary Sherpa for telling us about this free hidden roadside adventure! Check out her podcast, Ordinary Sherpa, for more family adventure inspiration. We also are guests on Episode 026 of this podcast that you can listen to here.
#4 Top Stop on the Road to Hana: Upper Waikani Falls
Mile Marker 19
These waterfalls are located right off the side of the road across from a one-way bridge and are truly stunning. In our opinion, these are the prettiest set of waterfalls we saw while driving the Road to Hana (Waimoku Falls in Haleakala at the end is more impressive but these are the best waterfalls on the journey there). To access these falls, you need to park up the road a bit and walk back to them as it is not safe to park directly by the one-way bridge.
#5 Top Stop on the Road to Hana: Twin Falls Hike and Fruit Stand
Mile Marker 2
1.8 Mile Round Trip (without offshoots to each waterfall), 347 feet of Elevation Gain
Twin Falls hike is fun as it takes you to three different waterfalls through the rainforest. The first two waterfalls you encounter on this hike look very similar and are a very short hike, about 0.2 miles from the parking lot. The third waterfall is a bit further from the first two but, in our opinion, the most scenic one so be sure not to stop hiking after the first two waterfalls. You can also go swimming at this third waterfall.
We took our time with this hike, hiking down to each waterfall and exploring around them, and it took us about 1.5 hours total. The hike was relaxing, as it was relatively easy, and you saw a lot in a short period. The trail, especially down by the waterfalls, was pretty slippery, as it had just rained so make sure to wear good hiking shoes.
We actually hiked this trail a different day than when we drove the Road to Hana as it was only about 10 minutes from our Airbnb. We are glad we did it this way as we did not feel rushed hiking it at all. The Road to Hana is already a very full day experience.
Arrive Around 7 AM
Prior to completing this hike, we read a lot of reviews online and the reviews were quite mixed. A lot of people said they did not like the hike because it was too crowded. To our delight, we enjoyed this hike a lot more than we expected as we nearly had it to ourselves. When we hiked this trail at about 7 AM, right around when it opened, we saw only about 10 other people total. We found it to be really peaceful and pretty so arrive early if you don’t want any crowds to dampen your experience.
Bonus: Fruit Stand in the parking lot
The fruit stand in the parking lot at Twin Falls has some delicious banana bread. Our loaf we got was still warm from coming out of the oven that morning.
Cost: This trail and these waterfalls are on private property so it costs $10/car to park here. This is very reasonable as the trail is very well maintained.
We liked all these stops on the Road to Hana but if we had to choose two favorites, they were the Twin Falls Hike in Haiku and the Pipiwai Trail Hike in Haleakala National Park.
Other stops on the Road to Hana
Some other stops you may want to consider making on the Road to Hana:
–Wailua Falls, Mile Marker 45 (after Hana), waterfall where you can swim, right off the road
–Waianapanapa State Park, Mile Marker 32 (before Hana), Black Sand Beach and lava tubes
We opted not to stop at this state park because we were visiting 3 other black sand beaches (on the Big Island) and 3 other lava tubes (on Maui and the Big Island combined) on this trip .
If you do decide to stop at the state park, make sure you check ahead and reserve tickets online if necessary. When we were visiting in November 2021, they were requiring timed entry reservations that had to be made prior to arriving at the park. We did not have any cell phone service in this area so even if you wanted to go to the park, you wouldn’t be able to if you had not made previous reservations (even if they were reservations available which seems, in our opinion, a bit irrationally restrictive).
–Garden of Eden Arboretum, Mile Marker 10.5, Botanical Gardens
Other Road to Hana Tips
The Road to Hana takes, at minimum, 2.5 hours to drive one-way. With all the stops you will likely make to take pictures and with time spent waiting at one way bridges, budget for at least 3, if not more, hours each way. In addition, you will likely make some longer stops to hike, explore state parks or eat at the roadside stands. Budget at least a full day to drive this road both ways. You may want to consider staying overnight in Hana if you really want to take your time driving on the road and be able to stop at all the stops you’d please along the way.
Windy Road Cautions
Note, as mentioned above, this road is VERY windy. Anyone prone to motion sickness, like Natalie, beware. For tips on preventing this, see our post, How to Prevent Motion Sickness While Traveling and Flying. In addition, with the windy nature of this road, drive very cautiously. Do not pass people and even though you will see some locals drive this road very aggressively, just don’t. Your safety and life is more important than saving a couple minutes. Enjoy the journey!
Where to Stay on the Road to Hana
We recommend staying on the North side of the Island, in/around Paia or Haiku, near the start of the Road to Hana. Most people stay in West Maui but if you are looking to explore more than the beach, this central location is great. It allows you an early start for the Road to Hana, a good starting point for seeing sunrise at the Summit in Haleakala National Park and an easy drive to make a day trip to the West side or the South shore of the island. You alternatively could stay overnight in Hana itself if you want to spend more time on the Road to Hana.
The Haiku Airbnb we stayed at was in a really nice quiet location. It had all the amenities we needed and the host was very responsive and helpful. The landscape at the property was very pretty too.
For more Hawaii trip tips, please see:
- Oahu, Hawaii Quick Guide
- Kauai, Hawaii Quick Guide
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quick Guide
- Maui, Hawaii Quick Guide
- Haleakala National Park Quick Guide
- Big Island, Hawaii Quick Guide
We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to drive the Road to Hana. Anything you’d add to our Top 5 Stops on the Road to Hana guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Please leave us a comment!
And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!
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May 10, 2022
Hello! So you drove straight through to Oheo Gultch and started your stops there? That is what I was thinking of doing also to get to that location before the crowds. Were there any negatives to starting there that you noticed? Was it hard fighting the traffic going the other direction?
May 10, 2022
Hi Jim! We did drive straight to Oheo Gulch in Haleakala National Park. We highly recommend doing this to avoid the crowds on the trail and on your drive out. We nearly had the Road to Hana to ourselves on our morning drive. We did not have any issues fighting traffic on the way back, there were certainly more cars but it was not overly crowded on the Monday we drove it. The only negative we can think of is that most shops/restaurants are closed on your drive out early in the morning so you only have opportunity to stop businesses along the way on the way back. That being said, we were able to pull off the road and get some of the best coastal/nature views in the morning as the sun was rising. We would have not been able to stop as leisurely as we did if there had been more cars on the road as there would be later in the day. We felt we got to explore all the businesses we wanted on the drive back. Let us know if you have more questions!