Driving the road to Hana is one of the “to do” things if you are going to Maui. For those of you that don’t know, the Hana Highway is a stretch of winding, narrow road between Kahalui and Hana on the east coast of Maui. The drive is not about getting to Hana, which isn’t supposed to be anything amazing (disclaimer: I wouldn’t know, we didn’t make it the whole way), but more about the sights you will see along the way. So if you are going, it is a good idea to do some research before you set out to get a feel for where you might want to stop. Also, if you are going with kids, don’t be afraid to call it quits before you get to Hana…remember it is about the journey.
You’ll want to get started early and plan to spend a whole day on the road. Remember, you have to come back the way you went, so unless you are staying overnight in Hana, you may want to head back before late afternoon so you aren’t attempting those curves in the dark. Before you leave, you might want to make a dinner reservation at Mama’s Fish House for the way back, just bring a change of clothes or something to freshen up since this is one of the best restaurants on the island.
On our drive to Hana, we stopped in Paia to pick up a picnic lunch at the Hana Picnic Lunch Company. We started off with some delicious tropical smoothies, then ordered up some box lunches, which they packed up in a handy, reusable cooler bag for the road. We also picked up a Hana Audio Tour CD to guide us along our drive.
Our first stop was at Twin Falls, a very popular (and therefore crowded) pitstop along the way. While the falls are not spectacular, I was able to fulfill my dream of swimming in a waterfall and walking behind the falls. The hike to the main falls was about 1 mile along mostly even terrain but there were sections that were bumpy or slippery over rocks so you’ll want to take care when going with young children. If you are wearing sneakers for the hike, make sure to bring along some water shoes because you will need them for walking into the water. To get behind the falls you’ll need to walk through knee to thigh deep water over very slippery and uneven rocks. Quite tricky when carrying a little one.
After our adventures at the falls, we were starting to get hungry so our next stop was the Waikamoi Ridge Trail. From our research, we thought we would take a hike up to the top and enjoy lunch in the picnic area at the top of the trail. What we didn’t realize was that there were no bathroom facilities and the walk was quite arduous for the view it afforded. Given the opportunity to do this again, we probably would have skipped the hike and found another spot for our picnic.
We got a better view (and a bathroom) at Kaumahina State Wayside Park, where a short walk gave a sweeping view to the Keanae Peninsula. It looked so beautiful, we decided to take a detour and get a closer look. We took the road down to the water and spent some time hanging out with some locals fishing and hanging out at the beach with their families. After taking full advantage of the photo opps, we decided we had come far enough.
We honestly couldn’t picture it getting any prettier than that spot and felt we had done enough. We felt complete (which is rare for me to not mind missing something on our list), we had swam in waterfalls, hiked through bamboo, walked on lava, and seen some beautiful sights. It was about the journey.
If you go further, be sure to stop at the Black Sand Beach in Honokalani in Waianapanapa State Park.
What to Bring when Driving the Road to Hana:
- Dramamine for car sickness
- Plenty of liquids
- A picnic lunch
- Bug spray
- Sneakers or hiking boots
- Water shoes or flip flops/sandals
- Charmin to go (just in case…there aren’t many restrooms and those there are aren’t fully stocked)
- Hana Highway audio guide or mobile app
- Change of clothes, etc for dinner on your way home