The world-famous road to Hana is one of the must-do experiences when visiting Maui. It can be overwhelming planning what to see on this iconic road trip when you have limited time. So we’ve rounded up all the road to Hana stops that we did on Maui’s epic coastal drive. You don’t have to see everything (unless you have the time) so we are here to help you choose what are the top stops that you must make.
The Road to Hana, aka The Hana Highway, takes you from the surf town of Paia to the peaceful town of Hana. It’s easy to find the best stops on the road to Hana, all you need to do is follow the mile markers. We have included the mile marker for each stop on the Hana Highway in this guide. It is a great addition to any Maui vacation.
Most people make a day trip out of the road to Hana drive and begin in Paia in the morning spending the rest of the day working their way out to Hana Town stopping along the way. We instead drove directly out to Hana before sunrise to explore Hana Town and its nearby attractions before making our way back slowly in the afternoon. It was the best decision we made. We avoided the traffic and had many of the top stops on the Road to Hana all to ourselves.
The Hana Highway is one of the most popular day trips on Maui, so it can get very busy fast. We recommend leaving early and driving directly to the Pools at O’he’o Gulch part of Haleakala National Park which is about 30 minutes beyond Hana. Getting there early beats the crowds and you can hike the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls in relative peace and quiet and then, you can then spend the day slowly making your way back to Paia.
Traffic on the road to Hana from Paia to Hana is plugged and stopped later in the day. Seeing the sights in reverse order, lets you enjoy the viewpoints and waterfalls at your own pace. Plus, we found the views on the way back, way better than on the way out as we were on the right side of the road with unobstructed views!
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Before heading out, grab some gourmet picnic lunches to take with you on the Road to Hana. The Hana Picnic Lunch Company puts together lunch and breakfast for your road trip. Order the day before 2 pm so that you can set out early in the morning. There are picnic tables along the route where you can stop to enjoy the extraordinary ocean views. Or you can grab some banana bread and a coffee before leaving and save lunch for once you arrive in Hana.
Note: The coffee shops and restaurants don’t open until 7 am, so if you want to pick up supplies for the day, we suggest doing it the night before and making a coffee from your hotel.
Paia isn’t just a stop on the Hana Highway, it is a destination unto itself. Located on the North Shore of Maui, there are plenty of things to do in Paia to keep you occupied. We suggest spending a couple of nights enjoying this surfer’s town. Ho’okipa Beach Park is a great place to watch the world-class surfers and windsurfers and Baldwin Beach is a beautiful long sandy beach that is a must-visit.
Making our base in Paia we stayed at the hip boutique hotel, the Paia Inn, where we woke early to make our way to Hana. After picking up a coffee at Paia Bay Coffee Bar and ordering a boxed lunch at CJ’s diner we were on our way.
As we mentioned above we drove directly to the end of the Road to Hana to begin our road trip. Going in the opposite direction of the traffic.
The maps and guides will have Oheo Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) as your last stop on the road to Hana, but we like to be different, so this is the first stop of our day.
Located 30 minutes beyond Hana at Mile Marker 42, this branch of Haleakala National Park is gorgeous. Once you arrive, you’ll walk the Pipiwai Trail to some of the most scenic attractions on Maui. This beautiful portion of the national park houses a bamboo forest, the 400-foot-high Waimoku Falls, the Seven Sacred Pools ( Oheo Gulch), and the Haleakala volcano. This was definitely the highlight of our road trip and we spent the majority of the morning here.
It costs $30 per vehicle to enter Haleakala National Park. This gives you access to the national park for 3 Days which includes the Haleakala Summit. So you could spend the day here one day, and then head to Upcountry Maui and catch the sunrise at the Haleakala Summit the following day.
The Pipiwai Trail is an easy trail filled with scenic views. The 4-mile hiking trail is a beautiful scenic walk that takes you through huge Banyan trees and an enormous bamboo forest before you reach your final destination at the beautiful and very high Waimoku Falls. If you are into hiking make sure to check out our guide Top 12 Hikes in Maui to Take your Breath Away for some great suggestions around the island.
The bamboo forest was a highlight of the trail. We have never seen such a pristine bamboo forest outside of Asia. The bamboo was brought to Maui by Asian migrants working on pineapple farms to use as scaffolding. There is a boardwalk that cuts through the forest and walking trails putting you in the center of this stunning scene. Make sure to spend a bit of time here, it’s gorgeous and very rare to see.
The end of the trail comes to the 400-foot-high Waimoku Falls. It’s postcard-perfect for photographs. We recommend having a good pair of water shoes or Tevas as you’ll be crossing streams. By arriving early, we shared the waterfall views with only one other person. It was truly spectacular.
Note: Obey the signs not to get too close to the falls. We saw other people ignoring it, but have heard that there have been deaths at these falls due to falling rocks. It feels safe enough to look at, but it is dangerous.
The Seven Sacred Pools (Also known as the Pools of ‘Ohe’o or Oheo Gulch) are one of the top attractions to see on Maui and they are also located in the National Park. They can get very crowded, so it is worth getting there early. It is a lovely cascading steps waterfall. It is a short loop trail of only 1km.
Be aware, the Seven Sacred Pools Trail is often closed due to flooding and there have been deaths at Oheo Gulch obey the signs and follow the rules.
Once you have finished up in the National Park it is time to make your way back to Paia. We recommend stopping as much as possible at any scenic lookout that you can.
We stopped at many of the waterfalls and scenic lookouts on the way back and really enjoyed driving in this direction. For one, we were now on the right side of the road to have the cliff views and two, we weren’t sitting in traffic until the evening.
Wailua Falls is considered Maui’s most photographed waterfall and you can stop here for some photo opportunities. It’s the most accessible waterfall on the road to Hana and it is a lovely cascade of 80 feet over a rocky jungle setting.
Wailua Falls is located a mile marker 45 on your way back from the Pools of O’he’o. You can swim in the plunge pool below these waterfalls
Koki Beach Park is a nice photo stop since it is a mixture of red, black, and white sand. It is not a suitable swimming area due to the strong currents, but it is a good photo stop for a scenic view. It’s located just outside of Hana and is a good spot to enjoy the gourmet picnic lunch that you had packed before leaving Paia.
The turn-off for Koki Beach is located at Mile Marker 51.
Hamoa Beach is that perfect crescent-shaped sandy beach that everyone is looking for. There is a parking lot here, that fills up fast and you have to walk down a set of stairs to get to the beach. The beach is owned by Hana Maui Resort, so you will be sharing it with guests who have access to all the amenities. But there are restrooms open to the general public. If you stay the night in Hana, this is a good beach to spend some time at.
Hamoa Beach is located at Mile Marker 50 and there is a parking lot here. The walk down is steep so be prepared if you have mobility issues.
By the time we got to Hana Town (aptly nicknamed heavenly Hana), it was time for some food. Hana is considered the “traditional Maui” feeling like a sleepy town you’d expect on the Hawaiian Islands. I imagine this is what Paia was like a couple of decades ago.
If you decide to spend the night in or around Hana, it’s a great place to relax for the day. You can check out the cultural center, relax on the beach or enjoy some downtime at the spa. There is a picnic area where you can grab a bite to eat and relax by the water taking in the ocean views or you can hit one of the restaurants.
We grabbed snacks at the general store instead of opting for a sit-down lunch. There was too much to see and we didn’t want to waste time eating. So with our car stocked again with food, we were on our way. Whenever we are on a road trip, we need food on hand.
In a nutshell, Wai’anapanapa State Park is where you get that classic photo of the Hana Highway. With beautiful scenic viewpoints and a black sand beach, it is a must-stop for at least a photograph. There are some hiking trails, caves, and a blowhole to explore here.
It is here that you’ll see the Pa’iloa, the classic black sand beach of Maui. There is a stairway leading down to the beach where you can get up close with the smooth black pebbles lining the shore.
Note: Wai’anapanapa State Park is located just past Mile Marker 32 and you must make reservations to enter the State Park.
This is your chance to go inside a lava tube if you’ve never been. The Hana Lava Tube was formed by lava flowing to the sea for a two-year period. As the outer layer cooled, the lava continued to flow inside creating a tube. Give yourself an hour to see it. It is definitely one of the most underrated stops on the Hana Highway where visitors can explore the 0.3 miles on their own to explore the caverns, stalagmites, and lava tubes.
Two of the stops on the way back that are located before halfway to Hana are the Hanawi Falls and Upper Waikani Falls. You can hike to see them but just make sure to find a safe parking spot that doesn’t block traffic.
The falls are located at Mile Markers 19 and 24 respecively.
If you want to stop at waterfalls, there are 18 along the Hana Highway. Upper Waikani Falls is often referred to as the Three Bears with the papa, mama, and baby bear waterfalls cascading at different lengths. You can go for a swim here or just relax on the boulders and enjoy the views of one of Maui’s most popular waterfalls.
Hanawi Falls can be viewed from Hanawi Stream’s bridge, (one of the 80 bridges along the road to Hana). The cascade of Hanawi Falls drops 200 feet into the plunge pool below. The water is cold here so it is not one of the waterfalls to go swimming in.
Nearby there is the Nahiku Market place where you can get some coffee, tacos, sorbet, and other snacks that you can enjoy under the shade.
The road to Hana is short. If you leave early in the morning and drive directly, you can be through it in 90 minutes. But if you take your time, you might be ready for a rest stop and a short snack by the time you get to mile marker 17. Another great road trip in the US is 17 Mile Drive in California.
This little shop is known for its banana bread made from local bananas. They also sell Maui’s favorite “shave ice,” ice cream, and other snack bar favorites. There is even an atm if you find you are running short on cash. There is a little picnic area where you sit under the shade to enjoy your ice cream too. If you want to try another great banana bread check out Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread which is about 4. miles before you reach Halfway to Hana.
What is good about this stop on the Hana Highway is that it is free. The main attraction at the Ke’anae Arboretum is the rainbow eucalyptus trees. We thought the Eurcaplytus trees of Maui were the coolest thing. They are an invasive species imported from Asia, but you can’t help but stop to take photos. They are eye-catching. It’s a short trail so it won’t take up too much time on the Hana Highway to see them.
If you want to see another black sand beach it can be done at Honomanu Bay. This isn’t a popular stop on the Hana Highway, so you will find fewer people here if you are looking for a place without crowds.
Located at Mile Marker 14, Honomanu Bay is a lush coastline of Maui where parts of Jurrasic Park were filmed. We snapped a shot of the coast from a helicopter. This is a stop on the Hana Highway that you’ll want to do only if you have time as you can’t drive down unless you have a 4X4. So you will need to hike.
When driving the Hana Highway, it’s easy to find the stops on the road as there are mile markers all along the road. The Maui Garden of Eden is located on Mile Marker 10. There are 2 1/2 miles of maintained walking trails and you can see the Puohokamoa waterfalls from the Garden of Eden. It should take out about an hour.
There is a charge of $15 to get into the Garden of Eden but it is worth it if you want to see the flora of the island. There’s an old mango tree, and walking trails through the immaculately kept gardens. , so make sure you have the time to really explore the gardens.
If you want to do something adventurous in Maui, Rappel Maui is located in the Garden of Eden where you can book a full-day tour to rappel down Puohokamoa Waterfall. We’ve rappelled down a waterfall and it is wildly fun!
Twin falls is another waterfall stop on the road to Hana. There are the lower falls and the upper falls and it is a short one-mile hike making it an easily accessible waterfall for everyone to enjoy. It’s a great place for a dip in one of the pools. We didn’t go for a swim but you can swim there. There is also a farm stand where you can buy snacks and smoothies.
Twin Falls is located at mile marker 2 and there is a parking lot that is limited. There is only room for 50 cars at Twin Falls, so when driving out on the road to Hana, we recommend stopping here immediately once you leave Paia because there is a good chance you won’t get a parking spot in the parking lot and will miss it. There is no parking on the road to Hana.
We mentioned Ho’Okipa Lookout as one of the things to do in Paia. But when driving the road to Hana, this is a great stop for sunset on the way back. Located just outside of Paia on the Hana Highway is Ho’okipa Beach Park. It is one of the best spots on the island for sunset and a great place to watch the pros at work.
You can’t miss it because you’ll see all the windsurfers shooting through the water as you approach. The waves are huge here thanks to the perfect waves that break on its north shore. If you are going to learn how to Kite surf or windsurf do not go here. This is for professionals only. Do what we did and go to Kahului Beach instead.
It’s been a long day. (at least if you are nuts like us) and time for dinner. One of the best places to eat in Paia is the Paia Fish Market. Grab a plate of Mahi Mahi at this local favorite and reminisce about the amazing things you saw today on the Hana Highway.
There are only a few hotels in Hana if you decide to stay the night which is a great idea to allow more time to explore. The accommodation on this side of Maui as it is more of rugged and remote, but you can check VRBO for vacation rentals in the area like this lovely stay in Hana.
We suggest leaving early to beat the traffic. The Road to Hana can become overcrowded quickly. If you have two days, we recommend taking the full two days as there are plenty of sites to see! There are a few hotels in Hana, we suggest the Hana Maui Resort: Check rates and availability
We stayed at the Paia Inn in Paia and it was fabulous. It’s located on the beach and is within walking distance of many of the top Paia attractions. The boutique hotel has a hip vibe and offers yoga classes, fresh Kona coffee, and chic rooms.
Maui’s Hana Highway is considered one of the world’s great coastal drives and the most beautiful drive in Hawaii. starting in Paia and ending just past the town of Hana. It is only 45 miles (72 km) to Hana from Paia, but the drive can take an entire day when you stop at all the beautiful sights along the way. Read more: The Most Amazing Facts About Hawaii
The twisting road to Hana is filled with 600 hairpin turns crossing 59 bridges. The narrow road clings to the side of high sea cliffs and you often come face-to-face with oncoming traffic.
It is not recommended for someone who is not used to driving, so if you don’t have a lot of experience behind the wheel, we suggest taking a tour of the Hana Highway instead of driving it yourself. But if you like to drive, and don’t mind one-lane bridges, get yourself a cool car rental and hop on this road for a beautiful day in Maui.
To get to Hana from Paia you will actually take highways 36 and 360. But the Hana Highway sounds so much cooler. We hopped on Highway 36 towards Hana and then after 9.5 miles, we turned onto highway 360 to Hana.
In some sources, you might read about the Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach. This culturally sensitive area is on private property and is off-limits to visitors. Please respect the posted signs and do not visit Red Sand Beach.
The best tip for driving the road to Hana is to b-line it to Hana and then drive back slowly in the opposite direction. We drove directly to O’he’o Gulch first thing in the morning. It is just past the town of Hana which we put on our list to stop at on the way back. After exploring the trails and waterfalls, we then made our way slowly back towards Paia for the rest of the day.
It was a great choice as we didn’t have to sit in traffic. Plus we had the Pipiwai Trail to the waterfalls and through the bamboo forest all to ourselves. We were grateful for our choice and felt pretty proud of our decision when we saw the long lines of cars on the other side of the road as we drove in the opposite direction of all the traffic.
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