We were in Hawaii for our honeymoon and knew we had to do the Road to Hana. We decided to go on Christmas day which was great because there was less traffic on the roads but some of the shops and food trucks were closed.
These are the stops we made however you can stop anywhere along the way when you see something beatiful.
Stop 1: Paia Town
This is a fun town to explore but do that on another day. You won’t have time. Stop here to get gas before you leave, breakfast and a sack lunch for later. Make sure you leave Paia Town before 8:30am so you are not rushing through the day.
Stop 2: Rainbow eucalyptus trees: mile marker 6 and 7
You’ll find a grove of rainbow eucalyptus trees. Parking is a little tricky, you will have to pull over on the side of the road to see them. I love these! They were so funky and colorful.
Stop 4: Bamboo forest trail: mile marker 6 & 7
If you’re planning to hike the Pipiwai Trail at the end of the day (a must) I would skip this stop but you will probably see the bamboo right where the eucalyptus trees are. You’ll see little trail heads (holes in the bamboo) along the right hand side of the road.
Stop 5: Waikamoi Ridge Trail: mile marker 9
The first “trail” on the Road to Hana. We skipped this as it’s just a short hike through the forest with no waterfalls or open views.
Stop 6: Keanae Peninsula: between mile marker 16 and 17
Take a left to drive down to the water. The view at the bottom is spectacular. Stop at Aunty Sandy’s roadside stand for some fresh fruit or the famous banana bread.
Stop 7: Upper Waikani Falls (Three Bears Falls): mile marker 19.5
You will see other falls along the way but these falls are pretty amazing. You will do a drive by or get lucky and can quickly park and take a picture.
Stop 8: Mile Marker 28.8 — Nahiku Marketplace
This is a fun stop along the way with a cute shop where you can buy coconut candy, hot sauce, etc and they have a food truck where you can order hot items.
Stop 9: Waianapanapu (black sand beach): Mile Marker 32
Before you hit Hana you will reach the black sand beach. This was our first WOW moment as we have never seen a black sand beach before. There’s a large parking lot. Don’t miss the blowhole, sea cave, and overlook spots. And of course you’ve got to feel that sand between your toes. This spot gets crowded so the earlier the better. I would change in your car into your swimsuit. Once you make the trek down there is nowhere to change.
Stop 10: Hana Town:
There isn’t much in Hana town and it depends on the day what will be open. Just as you leave you will pass some food trucks. If you are hungry, Braddah’s BBQ Hut food truck was recommended but be prepared for a line.
Stop 11: Red sand beach:
Accessed from right in the middle of town. This was very cool but definitely hard to find and if you don’t like sketchy hikes you might want to skip this one. As you’re coming into Hana town, take a left on Hauoli road (you’ll pass a church and some tennis courts) and then turn right when the road dead ends at the Hana Community Center. Park along this street and walk across the open lawn of the Community Center. You should be able to pick up a trail through the bushes. It seems wrong but that is how you go. Keep going to the left for about 10 minutes. There will be a narrow beach of rock and red sand below you and a lot of people stop here but keep going. You’ll know it when you see it. You will be floored. I would wear your sneakers for the hike and water shoes because it is pretty rocky if you want to swim.
Stop 12: Hamoa Beach:
This lovely swimmable beach just outside of Hana is the perfect place to picnic. We skipped this as we wanted to see the more epic spots and didn’t want to drive back in the dark.
Stop 13: Wailua Falls:
As you leave Hana and head to Oheo Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools), you’ll pass Maui’s most photographed waterfall. You can’t miss it as it’s right by the side of the road.
Stop 14: Kipahulu: Part of Haleakala National Park 10 miles past Hana Town
Save some time for this hike. It is pretty and a good end to the trip. You’ll pay $25 per vehicle to get in but keep your receipt because you can also use it at Haleakala summit. Kipahulu is home to the famous Seven Sacred Pools (Oheo Gulch) and the spectacular Pipiwai Trail. Pipiwai is four miles round-trip. It winds up through a bamboo forest and ends at the spectacular 400 foot Waimoku Falls. You can also hike to the Seven Sacred pools but when we were there you couldn’t swim.
This is where most people turn back on the Road to Hana. We decided to continue on and do the “backside” of the Road to Hana. It is really sketchy and very narrow. The views were incredibly spectacular but if you were at all scared on the Road to Hana, this is scarier so you may want to turn back the way you came.
Tips for Driving the Road to Hana
- Check the weather before you go. All stops are outside and you will be hiking and swimming so bad weather would be a bust. Also could be scary for driving.
- Pick up a case of water at Target or Costco a few days before. We went through a lot.
- Start as early as possible and leave Paia before 8:00am. Pick up lunch from a company in Paia and lot’s of snacks. There are food trucks but you never know how long the lines are or when you will get hungry.
- Make sure you have a full tank of gas when you leave Paia. There’s a gas station in Hana but you’ll pay an arm and a leg for gas.
- Take cash for roadside stands
- Take motion sickness medicine beforehand if you’re prone to it.
- Smaller cars (shorter length) are preferable to bigger cars for tight spots.
- Drive slow and pull over to let locals pass. They will appreciate it and are driving faster than you.
- You’ll have limited cell service, and no cell service on the backside.
- Dress for hiking. Bring a swimsuit, towel and water shoes as well. Maybe a few outfits since you will be hiking again at the end of the day.
- Pack sunscreen and bug spray.
- Print out an itinerary, plan stops in advance and budget the time. You will want to enjoy certain spots longer and I would hate to drive back in the dark.