With its generous waterfalls and dramatic ocean views, the Road to Hana in Maui is a “can’t miss” experience. It’s one of Hawaii’s most scenic drives. The challenge is that you could spend a week or more exploring waterfalls, beaches, and hikes here. So if your time is more limited, read on for the 15 best Road to Hana stops.
Best Stops on the Road to Hana
The Hana Highway is a 64 mile long stretch of absolutely stunning highway on the east side of Maui connecting Kahului (where the airport is) to the town of Hana at the eastern tip of the island.
This narrow road winds over 59 bridges through lush, tropical foliage with breathtaking views of sheer cliffs, turquoise ocean, waterfalls galore, and black sand beaches. Rumor is that there are 620 curves on this road!
A couple of tips: The best way to find the attractions listed below is to look for the mile markers on Hana Highway. Be sure to set your odometer to zero once you hit Highway 360 (which is after the Ho’okipa Lookout).
There’s no gas along this road so also be sure to fill up before you head out. You’ll have a long day of driving so don’t get stuck. Also, if you were thinking about renting a convertible for your Maui trip, this is the drive that should sway you.
If you’re driving the Road to Hana as a day trip during your Maui vacation—which is what the majority of tourists do—be sure to get an early start so you’re not driving back late at night in the dark. And even if you do set out early, be aware that you likelly won’t have time for all of the stops listed below.
I recommend arriving in Paia no later than 8 am. In fact, cute little Paia makes a great stop for coffee or groceries at Mana Foods, the best natural food store on the island. (Or hit up the food trucks by the airport.)
Driving the Road to Hana is easy and safe. However, you will be meandering slowly over narrow winding roads with sweeping views to the sea. So if someone in your group has a fear of heights, it might not be for you.
Another important thing to note: This drive is all about the journey. Not the destination. If you do this as a day trip, plan on a half day driving towards Hana and a half-day back, spending no time in Hana itself.
Be aware that if you drive from Kihei in South Maui straight through—with NO stops—you’d arrive in Hanna in just under three hours…and that’s without driving back. Most people do this as an out-and-back drive although it is possible to drive around the eastern tip of the island, with some caveats. (See FAQ below.)
Without spending the night, you’ll be lucky to make it all the way to Waianapanapa State Beach, depending on how much time you spend exploring the stops here. To skip the crowds and traffic, consider overnighting here instead.
See “where to stay” below for a more enjoyable and leisurely visit to this east side of the island.
- Best Stops on the Road to Hana
- 1. Ho’okipa Lookout (Mile Marker 9)
- Road to Hana Map: Where to Stop
- 2. Twin Falls (Mile Marker 2)
- 3. Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees (Mile Marker 7)
- 4. Garden of Eden Arboretum (Mile Marker 10)
- 5. Ke’Anae Peninsula (Mile Marker 13)
- 6. Honomanu Bay (Mile Marker 14)
- 7. Halfway to Hana Stand (Mile Marker 17)
- 8. Wailua Valley State Wayside (Mile Marker 18.8)
- 9. Upper Waikani Falls (Mile Markers 19 to 20)
- 10. Pu’a Ka’a Wayside State Park (Mile Markers 22 and 23)
- 11. Wai’ anapanapa Black Sand Beach (Mile Marker 32)
- 12. Red Sand Beach—Skip It.
- 13. Hamoa Beach (mile marker 51)
- 14. Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) and Pipiwai Trail (Mile Marker 42)
- 15. Lindbergh’s Grave (Mile Marker 41)
- Is the Road to Hana worth it?
- Road to Hana FAQ
1. Ho’okipa Lookout (Mile Marker 9)
Once you leave Paia and head onto Highway 36, you’ll arrive at Ho’okipa Beach Park on your left. Pull into the upper gravel parking lot and stop to check out one of the most impressive places for windsurfing on planet earth.
This is where the pros compete. You’ll also find plenty of big wave surfers here when conditions are right. Ho’oKipa is also a great spot to watch the humpback whales in winter, typically between October and March.
Sometimes there are Hawaiian green sun turtles sunning here as well. Be sure to give them plenty of space. These turtles are an endangered species.
Once you’re back in the car on Highway 36 after your stop at the Ho’okipa Beach Park, you’ll drive along for a few miles and then notice that Highway 36 becomes Highway 360, the Hana Highway. So be sure to reset your odometer to zero here to follow along on the mile markers below.
Road to Hana Map: Where to Stop
How to use this map: This map is an image. Click the map to open an interactive version of the map. From there, if you click the star just under the map title, you can add this to your Google maps. Just sign into your Google Maps, go to “Your Places”, then “maps”, and there it is!
2. Twin Falls (Mile Marker 2)
Twin Falls is the first of many waterfalls on the Road to Hana so it’s a popular stop. (Let this serve as a reminder not to leave valuables in your car here or anywhere as break-ins do occur. Locals tell me they leave their car unlocked but empty inside so no windows get smashed.)
Look for the bridge around Mile Marker 2. And just to the right of that is a large parking lot with a fruit stand. It’s one of the nicer fruit stands on the Road to Hana too, so consider picking up some fresh fruit or juice here.
Opinions on Twin Falls seem to be mixed. On the one hand, these falls are very accessible. It’s a short and easy walk to the Lower Falls here (longer and more difficult to Upper Falls).
Others find the location too mobbed considering the more dramatic falls up ahead. Personally, I say…take the falls where you can find them! On one drive along the Road to Hana, despite recent rains, I saw very few falls.
On the other hand, the day before our drive, I saw a viral video of a helicopter rescue of hikers during a flash flood on the Road to Hana. This is rather common. Conditions change rapidly so always know your limits and check the weather if you’re heading out.
Update July 2021: I’ve been reading some seriously disappointing accounts of the crowds at Twin Falls and also about the incredibly rude ways tourists are treating locals who help with parking there when they arrive to find the site full. Please don’t be that person.
It’s going to be swamped by 9 am so just keep driving if it’s later. Let your heart be full of gratitude for the opportunity to experience this magical drive. Entitlement has no place here.
Where to stay on the Road to Hana
The Road to Hana deserves more time than a day trip. With one or two nights, stay in a romantic Hawaiian bamboo temple. It’s rated as one of the top places to go glamping in Hawaii!
Check price and availability on the bamboo temple here.
My top picks for Maui vacation rentals and resorts—by area—are here.
If you’re also heading to South and West Maui, read more here:
• Where to stay in Kihei
• Where to stay in Lahaina
3. Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees (Mile Marker 7)
Just down the road, near Mile Marker 7—on the left side of the road if you’re heading towards Hana—you’ll spot this incredible painted forest of rainbow Eucalyptus trees.
Look carefully as the colors can seem a bit subdued from the road. (Full disclosure: I’ve enhanced the color of the photo below just a bit in my photo editor.)
These beautiful trees originate from an island in the Philippines and only live in warm, humid climates. The rainbow colors come from outer layers of bark that peel away slowly over time and at different rates, leaving this gorgeous palette of colors.
Be aware that there is only a shallow shoulder to park on here that will only fit a few cars. So be cautious and watch for traffic. You can always walk back along the road if you overshoot this location.
Also, please be aware these trees are on private property. Be respectful of the no trespassing sign and enjoy the view from the road only. (This photo was taken with a telephoto lens.)
Are you all packed for Maui? Click here to download a printable Maui packing list with 31 essential items you’ll need.
4. Garden of Eden Arboretum (Mile Marker 10)
The Garden of Eden Arboretum is 26 acres of garden paradise! If you have a garden lover in your group, you really must stop here. The sign is easy to spot from the road, too…a real bonus.
The first time I drove the Road to Hana, we pulled in here and I balked when I learned there was a $15 entrance fee per adult. I mean…The Road to Hana is pretty incredible already and it’s free, right?
But as an avid gardener, I really wanted to see it so we paid up next time and it was incredible. There are 2.5 miles of paved walking trails with stunning waterfall, valley, and ocean views. Oh and did I mention free roaming peacocks?
There’s also a food truck, restaurant and bathrooms here so it makes a great pitstop. Plan to spend about 30 minutes taking in the beauty here.
5. Ke’Anae Peninsula (Mile Marker 13)
You’ll see this long finger of lava jutting out well before you arrive at mile marker 13 but you’ll have to wait until the turnout to actually find a place to pull over.
This low-lying peninsula was home to a taro-producing Hawaiian village in the 19th century. It was almost completely destroyed by a tsunami back in 1946.
Today, it makes a great place to see the lava beaches that are more commonly found on Hawaii’s Big Island. There’s no swimming in this wild water but it’s the perfect spot for a photo opp.
6. Honomanu Bay (Mile Marker 14)
Another place to get a good look at the Ke’Anae peninsula is from the Honomanu Bay Lookout along Hana Highway.
Honomanu Bay is not recommended for swimming; even the surf can be hazardous here. Winter waves can be over 20 feet here!
However, if you want to check out the gravelly beach, you can take a road (that starts out paved and then turns into dirt) just past Mile Marker 14.
Alternatively, keep driving another half mile for a pull out for a beautiful view. You’ll find it just past Kaumahina State Wayside Park.
7. Halfway to Hana Stand (Mile Marker 17)
So are you really halfway to Hana when you see the sign? If you’re counting miles from Kahului, you’re actually closer to two-thirds the way there.
This little fruit stand has been welcoming visitors since 1982. If you’ve heard all about the famous banana bread—made from fresh, locally grown bananas—here on the Road to Hana, this is one of the places you can sample it.
(Alternatively, try Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread…Make a left just after Mile Marker 16 on the Keanae Road. Competition is fierce!)
Also on the menu here: shave ice (try the pineapple and passion fruit), ice cream, burgers, sandwiches, and more.
8. Wailua Valley State Wayside (Mile Marker 18.8)
This is just a quick stop for stretching your legs, but be sure to get out of the car here for a better view. It’s easy to miss this stop so go slow!
You’ll see a small place with three parking spots and a set of steps. If you take the stairs to the top, you’ll get a beautiful view of Wailua and taro fields. Then turn around and look back at the mountain and marvel at the steep walls of the valley.
9. Upper Waikani Falls (Mile Markers 19 to 20)
Upper Waikani Falls is a photographer’s dream!
Once you past Mile Marker 19, you’ll find Upper Waikani Falls a half mile up the road. It’s not really marked so drive slowly.
You may see some “no parking” signs here and will get a ticket so to avoid that, keep driving another 1/10 mile past the falls and then walk back. You can get a nice shot of the falls from the roadside, which is what many visitors do.
However, if you’re feeling more adventurous, take a short hike down from the road where you can swim in the pools below the falls. The beginning of the trail can be a bit treacherous so be wary of conditions to avoid slipping.
Avoid heading down if the falls are gushing (beyond what’s pictured here) and definitely do not jump from the cliffs. There are too many rocks to make it safe!
10. Pu’a Ka’a Wayside State Park (Mile Markers 22 and 23)
Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park is a five acre park of rainforest with a small waterfall on the mountain side of the road. The best reason to stop here is for a restroom break.
Since you’re here, consider hiking the short Pua’a Ka’a Falls Trail. It’s an easy hike under a half mile with small waterfalls along the way. You’ll need to ignore the “trail closed” sign that appears and disappears intermittently to make it to the swimming holes here.
There are probably better uses of your time here along the Hana Highway though if you’re pressed for time!
11. Wai’ anapanapa Black Sand Beach (Mile Marker 32)
Whatever you do on your drive today, leave time to explore the beautiful black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park.
In addition to clean restrooms, this state beach is home to a pristine volcanic black sand beach formed by lava flow. Unlike white sand beaches which renew themselves through the disintegration of shells, black sand beaches tend to be more short-lived (relatively speaking…they disappear over a hundred years or more) as the ocean reabsorbs them.
It’s easy to park here and just a short walk to view the beach. Hike along the lava walls or swim. And don’t miss the cool blow hole, but stand back so you don’t get drenched!
You’ll find some easy hikes here as well as ocean caves, fresh water pools, camping cabins, and sea arches. It’s the perfect spot to relax and breathe in the beauty of East Maui. Ahhhh!
12. Red Sand Beach—Skip It.
Did you make it this far? If so, hopefully, you’re spending at least one night somewhere on the Road to Hana or south of Hana.
There are only a few red sand beaches in the world, so this one, also known as Kaihalulu Beach, is a gem of a beautiful secret little cove.
The beach is just past Hana. However, here’s the problem: To access it, you’d need to cross private property and ignore all those no trespassing signs. Don’t do it.
Maui is in the process of being over loved by tourists and one consequence of that is trespassing on private property. Before you shrug, please take a moment to think about how you’d feel if people were traipsing around in your own back yard.
Not to mention the fact that this trail can also be washed out, slippery, and dangerous. Rescues happen here all the time!
Keep driving and head to Hamoa Beach next instead.
13. Hamoa Beach (mile marker 51)
About a half mile past mile marker 51 past the town of Hana, you’ll turn on Haneo’o Road past Koki Beach until one of Maui’s most beautiful beaches—Hamoa Beach—comes into view.
This is a beautiful golden sand beach with clear water, shady spots, and some of the best body surfing on Maui. (But not when the surf is high!) This beach is long and wide and surrounded by sea cliffs and lush green vegetation.
Restrooms, showers and picnic tables are available here courtesy of the resort. If you’re staying at the Hana-Maui Resort (everybody’s favorite place to stay near Hana), you can shuttle here.
You can check prices and availability at the Hana-Maui Resort here.
14. Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) and Pipiwai Trail (Mile Marker 42)
If you’re staying overnight on the Road to Hana, plan to spend a full day here at Ohe’o Gulch…particularly if you’re a hiker.
Are there really “seven sacred pools” here? There are actually more than seven pools when the water level is high, fed by numerous beautiful waterfalls. The moniker “seven sacred pools” was made up way back when, however, by an inventive marketer looking to lure more tourists to Hana.
Ohe’o Gulch is actually part of Haleakala National Park. For years, this was a popular spot for jumping into deep pools. These days, thanks to a lawsuit, all jumping is prohibited.
The area is patrolled and if water levels are deemed too high, swimming (and even walking around the pools) is prohibited. Afternoons can be crowded here so stop first thing for a more peaceful experience if you’re staying in Hana.
Even if the pools are closed, you should hike Pipiwai Trail just above the pools; it’s one of the most beautiful hikes on the island. Plan on a four mile out and back hike, with an altitude gain of about 650 feet.
It will take you about 2 1/2 hours round trip as you follow a stream, glimpse ocean views, pass freshwater pools and waterfalls, meander through lush bamboo forests and past a mammoth banyan tree.
Flash floods are possible here so be aware.
15. Lindbergh’s Grave (Mile Marker 41)
Just after mile marker 41, look for a paved road—it’s easy to miss—to Palapala Ho’omau Church. That’s where you will find the grave of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh.
Lindbergh moved to Maui with his wife late in life and then passed away in 1974, after planning a ceremony and his final resting place. He requested he be buried barefoot in his work clothes.
Is the Road to Hana worth it?
This is one of the most common questions about how to spend a vacation on Maui. After all, you’re here for the beaches, right? So time is precious.
Hopefully, by now you can appreciate the unique beauty of Eastern Maui that make this so worthy of your time. Eastern Maui has a unique and precious beauty.
Road to Hana FAQ
1. Is the Road to Hana dangerous?
Many have heard scary tales about the winding roads and steep cliffs and are concerned about it being safe.
Be reassured that driving the Road to Hana is very, very safe and easy. Of course, if people in your group have a fear of heights, it may not be for them as I noted earlier. Personally, I found it far scarier to drive Highway 1 in Big Sur, California.
But honestly, the biggest hazard here is that you may find yourself in a long procession of cars if you fail to get an early start which can steal some of the joy from this beautiful journey.
Those who plan an overnight will enjoy a lovely day out with plenty of time dipping into waterfalls and soft sandy beaches without watching the clock as time runs out for the return journey.
Yes, you can. I haven’t done it myself but tour buses do it regularly. One of the biggest worries is your rental car. Some say that you need a 4 WD or that driving here could violate the terms of your insurance.
That may or may not be true. The road is usually passable although you should expect the road to turn to gravel about 14 miles past Hana. A few miles later, it’s paved again.
For best advice, check with your rental car agency before heading out.
3. How many stops does the road to Hana have?
Way more stops than I have listed in this post! The opportunities for hikes and waterfalls seem endless. You’ll never do it all…especially if you’re driving the Road to Hana as a day trip from the other side of the island so you’re likely to have to make hard choices here.
4. What should I pack for Maui?
I’ve made so many mistakes packing for Hawaii. You’ll want the right shoes for hiking in muddy streams and reef-safe sunscreen, just for starters. I also love to bring a packable cooler.
It’s a great way to cut down on the high costs of dining out on Maui, which pads your budget for more sunset cocktails. See my ultimate list of what to pack for Maui here.
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