Many Great Stops On The Road To Hana
We found many great stops on the Road to Hana. This iconic drive was high on our list of things to do on this visit to Maui. We were glad we did our research in advance and had some idea what to expect. And planned for some of the key stops along the way.
The Road to Hana was 52 miles long with 56 bridges and 617 curves! It was a wild driving day. The Road to Hana began as part of an old road that circumnavigated the island of Maui. Initially it was a narrow path used by the ruling king to travel from village to village. Before this path was created, the trip was done by canoe. The existing road and bridges were created and enhanced over the years to move products from North Maui.
We were certainly glad that many improvements were done to the Road to Hana. But it was still an amazing road to drive.
Planning To Drive The Road To Hana
On our other road trips around Maui, we got some practice driving on the twisty roads of Maui. Once off the main highway, we found the coast roads were narrow with sharp turns. We got some early practice dealing with one lane bridges. And the need to find space on the narrow roads for passing.
Before we picked our day for our trip to Hana, we watched the weather forecast. The Road to Hana was not great in wet conditions. The narrow roads got slippery and the low sections were prone to flooding and fog. We finally picked a day with a forecast of showers later in the day. We figured we could travel much slower back in the afternoon. And we were amused when the rain started at almost the exact time the weather app predicted.
We knew the road trip to Hana was a long day. Our research suggested that driving the Road to Hana took 3-4 hours. And then there was the return trip. Our hotel was about an hour drive from the start of the Road to Hana. So we set an alarm and left the hotel by 7am. We made our first stop at about mile marker 4 after 90 minutes on the road. And finally saw the sign for the town of Hana about noon. So our one way trip took us 5 hours (or about 4 hours from mile maker zero).
From Hana, we continued on for about another 7 miles to Wailua Falls before we turned around. We stopped for lunch and then drove fairly steadily back with only a few quick stops. We left the last curvy part of the Road to Hana at about 4pm. So the trip back was much quicker. It was getting dark so we were very glad we turned around when we did and did not dawdle on the return trip. We knew the twisty roads would be more difficult at night.
Advance planning ensured we enjoyed our drive with enough time for some great stops on the Road to Hana.
An Easy First Few Miles
The trip around Maui on the highway was easy. We followed the signs that headed to Hana and to the Haleakala summit until we split off on Hwy 36 towards Hana. We passed through the small town of Paia and slowed down as we crossed over multiple speed bumps (the larger ones were “speed tables”). Paia looked like a good spot to explore but we had no time on this day trip.
We started on the Road to Hana at the juncture to Hwy 360. The roads to this point had gentle turns and were easy to drive. When we saw our first planned stop at Twin Falls we turned in. We were in a long car line-up just after 8am and saw what felt like a steep parking charge to hike into the falls. We really did not want to start our experience on the Road to Hana at a crowded stop. So we passed on Twin Falls on this trip.
When we saw the sign for the Huelo Lookout we pulled in. There was a list of tasty snacks but we moved to the path and worked our way down the hill. It was one of the stops on the Road to Hana for coastal views.
Driving The Twisty Road To Hana
As we continued along the Road to Hana the road quickly became the crazy driving route we expected. The road signs warned of twisty roads and hairpin turns. We did not ignore the suggested speeds.
Virtually every one of the 56 bridges we crossed were single lane bridges. The signs warned us to yield to oncoming traffic. So typically a backlog of vehicles waited for the bridge to be clear and then the long line went slowly over the bridge. Only once did we encounter someone who did not understand the concept and this caused a backup in both directions while he blocked the traffic.
Much of the Highway to Hana travelled deep in the rainforest. But at points, the road went out to the coast and hugged the shoreline. We often went by small waterfalls visible from the bridges. But there rarely were spots to pull over. So we learned to shoot pics quickly as we drove.
Sometimes we found small stalls along the road with enough parking room to stop. One time we pulled into the Hana Gold Cacao Plantation for a chocolate break. But just as we arrived a small tour bus pulled in for a tour. So we quickly purchased a very expensive treat and got back on our way.
There were many interesting things to see and good stops on the Road to Hana.
Enjoying The Garden Of Eden And Puohokamoa Falls
When we planned our drive along the Road to Hana there were several waterfalls we wanted to see. We knew from our research that the views of the Puohokamoa Falls were only visible from the Garden of Eden. While there was an entrance fee to visit, we knew there was lots to enjoy on this stop just past mile marker 10.
We followed the path through the Garden of Eden and found a parking spot at the end closest to the waterfall overlooks. It was amusing to see a sign as we passed over “another one lane bridge”.
We followed the signs for views of the Puohokamoa Falls. At the first stop we got a view out in the distance over the trees. We followed the narrow hiking path down and found a spot with a bit better views.
We kept following the signs that pointed to the Lower Puohokamoa Falls. Further off in the distance, by the Road to Hana itself we saw a view of the lower levels. There was apparently a lookout point by the road but we missed it when we left the Garden of Eden.
The view of the Puohokamoa Falls was one of the great stops on the Road to Hana.
Gardens And Views From The Garden Of Eden
We wandered around the Garden of Eden for over an hour. The path was relatively easily to walk as we moved from spot to spot.
The Rainbow Overlook provided a great view over the coast. And the Keopuka Rock Overlook gave us a glimpse of the rock featured in the Jurassic Park movie. It reminded us of the views of Kualoa Ranch (also used in the same movie) we got on our road trip around Oahu.
As we walked around the Garden of Eden we enjoyed the rainforest and the wide variety in the tropical plants and flowers.
We planned a stop at the Garden of Eden for the views of the Puohokamoa Falls. But we got so much more. Our admission ticket allowed re-entry later in the day. But we were too late when we passed this spot on the way back. We were very glad we visited the Garden of Eden early in the day. The admission line up was long when we left.
Wandering At Pua A Kaa
We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Pua A Kaa and found a larger parking lot and washroom facilities. After we parked we crossed the road and headed for the covered area on the hill across the street. There was a solid path so everyone was able to get to the top for a view of the cove and the waterfalls.
We were easily able to get past the fence for a closer view of the waterfalls. But many other people scrambled down for a dip right under the waterfall.
As we took the path down we got a view of the middle falls. Crossing the bridge we backtracked for a closer view. We finished our visit to Pua A Kaa with a view of the bottom waterfall under the bridge.
Our research suggested that the views of the waterfalls at Pua A Kaa required more hiking. While only one path was fully accessible, we had no problem catching views of all three sections of waterfalls.
A Coffee Stop – Just In Time
We made many stops on the Road to Hana. But we were ready for a coffee break. When we saw the sign for the Nahiku Cafe we knew it was time to pull over. We were amused to find a sign that said “I Survived The Hana Highway”. Of course we posed for pictures!
We picked up a coffee with an amazing banana loaf and got a spot on the covered patio. And just then the skies opened up and the rain poured. The rain arrived at almost the exact time the weather forecast predicted.
We waited for a bit and debated whether we needed to turn back around. But we were a few miles outside of Hana and we wanted to finish the drive.
Finally Arriving In Hana
We passed by the Hana town sign and knew we hit the end of the major section of the Hana Highway. After we drove around town we pulled into the Hana Bay Beach Park. Walking along the bay we saw the canoes up on the sand.
We kept walking towards the point and enjoyed the view along the shore. And when we looked back we got a small glimpse of the rainforest and mountain areas we just travelled through. The mist still hovered over the peaks. But we were happy the rain stopped.
At this point we again debated turning back. There were several other sights on our list that were on the other side of Hana. In the end we knew we still had time and the improved weather sealed the decision.
Going Beyond Hana To Wailua Falls
We kept driving past Hana and for awhile the roads were in pretty good shape. But eventually the twisty and narrow roads returned. We kept going until we saw the turnoff for Wailua Falls. The viewpoint was close to the parking area and we got a great view of the water streaming down the rocks. We saw people down on the rocks at the bottom but we were content with this sight from afar.
There were several more sights if we kept going. But we were very conscious of the time it would take to do the return drive on the Road to Hana. And we knew the weather may again deteriorate. So we turned around and headed back.
When we turned back we had an amazing view out over the coast. So we took one more detour and stayed along the water until we found a parking spot. Out on the horizon we got a view of Alau Island. And a view down the rocky shore. We knew this place deserved more time on a return visit.
When we planned our stops on the Road to Hana we knew that there were great sights beyond Hana. But learned that required planning more time for the drive.
Experience The Road To Hana Heading Back
By this time we had our eyes peeled for a spot for lunch. When we saw the sign for Tony’s Place we pulled in. There was both a bbq spot and a fruit stand. Lots of choice for lunch. We found tables on the large grounds and enjoyed a break from driving.
When we got back on the road we planned to drive straight back with no stops. We were not sure how busy the road was or when we might lose good light for driving. We made one stop when we found a pullout with a view out over the coast. But were curious when others at the stop headed across the road. When we too went that way, we saw the small cave in the rocks.
We were sure there were still other stops on the Road to Hana that required more time. But we made good time on the return trip and were happy when we finally hit straight roads again.
Some Tips To Successfully Drive The Road To Hana
Driving the Road to Hana was a lot of fun. We did a lot of research before we drove the Road to Hana. And our hotel provided us with some tips too. So we have some input to help successfully drive the Road to Hana:
- Get some early practice on some of the other twisty roads in Maui
- Check the weather and plan for it
- Prepare your car and make sure you have full gas, engine fluids and wiper fluids. We found limited places along the route to address car needs.
- Head out early and plan your turnaround point to ensure the return trip is done before it gets too dark.
- Plan for the stops on the Road to Hana. Know what key stops are at what mile markers and use the stops as breaks from driving. Don’t just pull over at the side of the road.
- Drive carefully and defensively. Always be prepared to stop and to give way. Stay with the traffic flow and don’t drive too fast or too slow.
- Be prepared to walk on rough ground when you head to the sights or trails
- Respect private grounds and restricted areas. We read that hiking was prohibited at key sights. Check on all restrictions before you head out.
But being prepared ensured we got the most out of our very full day.
We Enjoyed Some Great Stops On The Road To Hana
Driving on the Road to Hana was a real thrill. And we had so many great stops on the Road to Hana. We did not see everything that was on our plan. But were happy with the choices we made on this twisty road in Maui.
We were very glad we turned back when we did. But were sad we missed continuing on to the Kipahulu Pools, Ohe’o Gulch, the Seven Sacred Pools and the Waimoku Falls. These sights were not that much further along the road. But we did not have enough time to really enjoy these sights. While it may be feasible to drive to Hana from the other side of Maui, it was generally not a recommended route. It would be worth a return drive on the Road to Hana for these missed sights on our stay in Maui.
Did you enjoy some good stops on the road to Hana on your visit to Maui? Did we miss one of your favourite spots on the route?
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