Road to Hana…Is it worth it?
I’d like to start this post off by saying YES, it is most definitely worth it to drive down the Road to Hana. Many people think the Road to Hana is well, just that, the road to a town named Hana. However, this beautiful and at times, dangerous road, is much more than just a simple trip down to Hana.
The Road to Hana is teeming with one lane bridges, beautiful views, cascading waterfalls and much, much more. Simply put, it is a road you must see for yourself in order to understand the beauty of it.
- 34.3 miles, 1 hour 36 minutes from Hana mile marker zero – the town of Hana.
- 64.4 miles long, 3 hours from Hana mile marker zero – somewhere around Kaupo Ranch
- 87 miles total, 3 hours 44 minutes from Hana mile marker zero – Makawao Avenue intersection.
- Certain parts of the road are strictly “one vehicle” at a time and will be labeled as so.
- DO NOT speed on the Road to Hana. As tempting as it may be to hit the curves at high speeds, this road can be highly dangerous and can be full of tourists on certain parts. Speeding can cause serious injury and even death to you and others!
- Do be careful of locals. Understandably, they can become irritated when driving to and from home and will attempt to pass slow drivers enjoying the views. Simply pull over when the opportunity arises and let them pass. They aren’t being rude; they’re simply trying to get home.
- Fill up on gas BEFORE taking off to Hana. There are absolutely NO gas stations until you reach Hana.
- If you do plan on driving past Hana (which is absolutely worth it) be extra cautious on the “unpaved” & “rough paved” section of highway 31. This section of the highway is NOT covered under the rental car insurance and is also a bit more dangerous than the rest of the highway. If you and your family want to traverse this section of highway, I suggest doing so from Hana that way you are “inside” of the road “mountain side” and not on the “outside” of the road, “cliff side.”
Scenery and stops on your way to Hana
Twin Falls. This is one of the first waterfalls on the road to Hana and WILL be crowded. Swimming? Yes
Shave Ice stop! with a closed off lookout. Make sure to stop by for some shave ice, smoothies and souvenirs.
Pit-stop and ATM. At halfway to Hana you can purchase banana bread, shave ice, ice cream, take goofy pictures and stretch your legs.
Upper Waikani Falls. A MUST SEE. These three falls are breathtakingly beautiful and are (for the most part) less crowded than the first few waterfalls. Parking is not allowed in the immediate surrounding area but there is a pull off area a minutes walk up the road. Swimming? Yes. However, in order to swim you must hike under the bridge to the waterfall.
Pua’a Kaa State Wayside Park. This beautiful rest stop provides picnic tables, bathrooms and a refreshing freshwater pool to cool off in. You can also go on a short hike to a waterfall here. My husband and I enjoyed our packed lunch at the picnic tables with the company of a few feline friends.
!! IF you are allergic to cats, do NOT go near the picnic tables !!
Hanamai Falls. Gorgeous waterfalls to take beautiful pictures of. Park off to the side and get your camera ready!
Makapipi Falls. These falls are either dry or heavily flowing depending on the season. If its been a rainy season then chances are these falls will be ripping through the underside of this bridge. Make sure to seize the opportunity if they’re flowing.
…and the beautiful blue pool beneath it…
Before reaching the Hana Airport:
Ka’eleku Caverns. Keep your eyes out for a sign that reads “LAVA TUBE” right before reaching the Hana Airport. Once you see this sign you will turn left onto a residential road. Follow it down a few minutes until you see another sign that reads “Hana Lava Tube.” Turn left at this sign and you’ve reached the jaw dropping lava tube of Hana.
- Facts: This Lava Tube is family owned and operated. Parking is free and the entrance fee is $12.50 per person. Flash lights are provided. **WORTH EVERY PENNY!!**
We absolutely loved and enjoyed the Hana Lava Tube. Not only was it a cheap addition to our Hana road trip, but it is also very informative and fun to take part of. Keep an eye out for the few lime green plants growing about halfway down the lava tube and make sure to shut off your flash lights at least once during your excursion so that you can experience just how dark and creepy it can get down there!
The town of Hana
The town of Hana itself is home to Black Sand Beach, Waianapanapa State Park (hike the Hana coast from here), Hana Bay, Hana Cultural Center, Travaasa Hana Hotel, Hana Lighthouse, Kaihalulu (Red Sand Beach), and Fagan’s Cross (Lyon’s Hill)
What comes AFTER Hana?
Following the town of Hana are a handful of beach parks and bays to swim in, snorkel and sun bathe at.
Haleakala National Park, secondary entrance (back entrance). Use this entrance if you want to reach Seven Sacred Pools, Oheao Gulch and the Pipiwai Trail (Bamboo Forest.) You can also camp, hike and check out old Hawaiian ruins on this side of the national park. *Seven Sacred Pools has been closed indefinitely due to heavy storm damage. We suggest you call the park or do some research before your visit to make sure they’ve been re-opened.*
Unpaved and rough paved…
Once you pass the very small town of Kipahulu, highway 31 will become a little tougher to navigate. The road is unpaved and rough paved for quite a few miles and also becomes uncomfortably thinner on certain bridge and mountain passes. !!Rental cars are NOT covered on this road. Drive at your own risk!!
Jonathan and I crossed our fingers and chose to drive straight through this part of highway 31. Our ‘hairs on the back of our necks, sticking up straight, sitting on the edges of our seats’ take on it? WELL WORTH IT. Yes, we drove at neck breaking speeds of 10 mph, but we made it through in one piece and so did the rental car and what we found on the other side was magnificent.
Subsequently, Kaupo Ranch is just a few miles past the end of the rough paved section of highway 31 with the trail head for King’s Trail across from it. A bit of a way’s past Kaupo Ranch, highway 31 will take you through the remains of the 1790’s lava flows, the Triple L Ranch Trail Rides and eventually into the town of Ulupalakua in which you can find food, Maui Wine, gas and more. However, before you take off for Ulupalakua and officially end your Hana day trip, stop at the 1790’s lava flows and wander down the lava paths. Climbing over these rocks and checking out the surroundings will make you feel like you’re in a completely different world…or on the moon!
1790 Lava Flows
While Jonathan drove, I spotted what we thought was an electrical outpost (following one of the highway 31 humps) and begged to pull over so that we could check out the “gray” rocks. Little did we know that what we actually found was an immense lava path which led to towering lava walls worthy of a few photographs. Boy were we in awe!
As you can see, the Road to Hana is absolutely worth the time. The vast amounts of waterfalls paired with beautiful bridges, foliage, picturesque stops and unknown surprises rank the Road to Hana (driven completely around) as a five star, overall attraction in our books. The Road to Hana felt like a well rounded addition to our Maui adventures and we are delighted to have completed it.
What to bring?
Here is a quick list of things we thought we should have brought and actually brought with us. Keep in mind that you can always leave these things in the trunk of the rental car. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Car phone charger
- Bathing suits, Towels, Flip Flops
- Extra change of clothes
- Packed lunch to enjoy at the Pua’a Kaa State Wayside Park
- Snacks to enjoy on the long car ride
- Paper map or saved/downloaded maps onto your phone. Signal is scarce throughout these highway’s and you don’t want to miss a stop
- Bug spray/sunblock
- Hiking shoes/ closed toed shoes for hiking
- Light jacket for the Lava Tunnel. They’re about ten degrees cooler than it is outside
- Aux cord. We’ve found a lot of rental cars do not have bluetooth and there is no radio signal for the majority of these highways. We enjoyed the outside “nature” sounds
- A light backpack for those random hikes
- A FULL tank of gasoline!
- Anything else you can think of…
I’d like to thank you for stopping by my blog. Not only do I love traveling for personal growth but I relish sharing all of the information I gather, with everyone else who may be interested. The information above is a compilation of information I put together for our trip and information we found on our own, during our amazing stay in Maui. I sincerely hope you found this blog post, or any of them honestly, beneficial in some way, shape or form.
Mahalo with love,
If you have any questions specific to the Road to Hana or the road after Hana, post it below in the comments section and I’ll answer it to the best of my abilities.
If you’ve visited the Road to Hana, found things I didn’t mention above or would like to share your experience, comment below!