Long And Windy Road To Hana

Photo by: Douglas Peebles/Corbis

In my opinion, few drives are more beautiful than the Road to Hana on Maui. It’s a curvy coastal road with views of cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, and rainforest. It’s a well paved road, but you do need to keep your wits about you when you drive it because of the many sharp curves and one-lane bridges.

Before we dive into the tips, let me be clear about what I mean about the Road to Hana. Take a look at this Google map below and notice Highway 360, also known as the Hana Highway. That’s the Road to Hana. I want to make it clear that I am not referring to the Palani Highway that brings you to Hana from the South. (Note: that rental car companies advise that you don’t drive the Palani Highway. Plus, a portion of the road is closed due to earthquake damage.)

Here are a few tips for enjoying your drive on the Road to Hana.

  • Definitely plan to make a whole day of the drive there and back.
  • Share the driving time with your travel companions, if possible. The drive can be stressful for one person. Consider whether you should add an additional driver onto your rental car contract as most contracts only allow one driver as a standard. Additional drivers can be added for a fee.
  • Get a good Maui guidebook that will detail what to see along the way. Find one that provides references by mile markers. (I’ve used Maui Revealed in the past and found it was a good reference. Just make sure you never trespass or do any hiking or swimming that are beyond your skills. If it looks dangerous, it probably is!)
  • Try to get an early start, say around 7am. You’ll avoid traffic with an early start.
  • Avoid driving a long distance on this Road to Hana at night.
  • If you notice a local driving behind you or a long line of cars, please be considerate and pull over to allow cars to pass as soon as you find a safe spot to do so.
  • Do drive beyond Hana to the Kipahula area which about 10 miles beyond Hana. See the Oheo Gulch with the cascading pools and spend a bit of time walking around this area. Note that this area is part of Haleakala National Park. So, when you purchase entry into the park, it is valid for both entry points for 3 days from purchase.
  • I like to drive all the way to Kipahula, then back to Hana and stop into the Hana Hotel for lunch on their lanai. The hotel grounds are beautiful and it makes for a nice relaxing break from all the driving.
  • Don’t miss the black sand beach at Wainapanapa State Park.
  • Bring sunscreen, water, snacks, and mosquito repellent (particularly if you are going to do any hikes)
  • Make sure you have a full tank of gas before you start the drive. Gas stations are few and far between!
  • If you think you might do any swimming, then make sure to bring beach towels.
  • Always lock your car if you are going to be leaving it for a few minutes or longer.
  • Don’t forget your camera with lots of film/memory and fully charged batteries.
  • On your way back to your hotel, don’t miss watching the windsurfers on Hookipa beach.

Have you driven the Road to Hana?  What did you think of it?
What tips would you add?  Please share them.


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