Road to Hana
Road to Hāna, Haiku, HI, USA
water-activities, outdoor-adventures, hike, road-trip, swim
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The Road to Hana is a scenic drive along the Maui coast with breathtaking views of the ocean, countless waterfalls, sandy beaches and hiking trails through lush forests.
One of the biggest tourist attractions in Maui, the Road to Hana is unlike anything I've experienced before. This 60-some mile coastal drive has so many waterfalls along the way that you almost stop appreciating them. You need to allow a full day for this experience (maybe even two if you want to stay overnight in Hana), and depending on your kiddos, it may not be the ideal adventure for little ones. However, I think middle to high school-aged kids would definitely appreciate it.
My recommendation is to do plenty of research beforehand — you can buy entire guidebooks on the Road to Hana — and pick at least a half dozen stops that appeal to you. Pack lunches, snacks, plenty of water, bathing suits, towels, water shoes and a dry pair of clothes, so you're prepared for a full day of adventuring. Expect a lot of traffic and take your time traveling on the two-lane highway, which is full of twists and turns, lookouts and bridges. Also, decide beforehand if you want to either drive to the town of Hana and turn back around the way you came (a popular choice) or do the full Hana loop, which brings you beyond Hana to the Haleakala National Park and on backcountry roads with sweeping views of the ocean and countryside.
We did the full loop, and it was absolutely gorgeous. I was blown away by Maui's beauty. We were also pleasantly surprised to pass a kid-friendly winery, MauiWine, on the loop and it was a highlight of the day. If you decide to make the full loop, keep in mind the roads are unpaved in stretches and some rental car companies won't let you take the back roads for this reason. You don't have to pay to drive the Road to Hana, but some stops have entrance fees and there are food stands along the way. Make sure to have cash because several of the stands don't accept credit cards. Hit the road early to make sure you're back before dark (I think we started around 7 a.m.), and plan on it taking at least eight hours.
Here are some other highlights on the Road to Hana:
Twin Falls at mile marker 2 are the first easily accessible waterfalls with a swimming area that you'll come across. It's a 1.8-mile round trip and has a snack stand at the entrance. Banana bread is a specialty in this area, so make sure to pick some up.
At mile marker 10 you can pay to enter the beautiful Garden of Eden Arboretum ($20 for 16 years+ and $10 for ages 5-16. Kids under five are free)
Kaumahina State Wayside Park has beautiful views, trails, bathrooms and a picnic area. Make sure to take advantage of bathrooms when you find them!
The Halfway to Hana snack stand at mile marker 17 is known for its delicious banana bread.
Pua'a Kaa State Wayside Park has a short hike to a waterfall where you can swim, in addition to bathrooms and a picnic area.
Wai'anapanapa State Park is a black sand beach with ocean caves and postcard views.
There is an overwhelming amount of information about the Road to Hana online. We used the Shaka Guide App, which follows along with your GPS on the trip and tells you where to stop and not stop. It definitely helped us along the way. You can also visit roadtohana.com to check out the sights mile by mile.