The Road to Hana is one of Maui’s more popular tourist attractions. Every day thousands of visitors get into their rental cars and head down this windy narrow road direction Hana. What’s the deal?
It’s all about the journey
Hana itself is a small town with 700 residents and one small general store. There is one hotel, a small commuter airport, no taxis or rental cars. The Road to Hana is all about the journey, the stops along the way, the gorgeous scenery, the adventure and for some, the thrill of the drive.
It’s a 64 mile stretch of narrow winding roads with single lane bridges. It will take you a minimum of 2 hours without stops each way to Hana. Did you know, there are 619 hairpin turns and 59 stone bridges (46 of which are single lane). Construction on the Hana Hwy was started in the 1800s and completed in 1926. It follows the King’s Trail which was built in pre-contact Hawaii by the Hawaiian ali’i (royalty).
How to travel the Road to Hana
There are a number of tour companies that offer Road to Hana excursions. These are great as an experienced tour guide takes you to see the sites and you don’t have to worry about traffic and parking issues. Note, make sure you are on a legal tour.
Many visitors choose to drive it themselves. Here are some handy tips
- Leave early. The road gets very busy and parking lots fill up. Try to get a jumpstart on that.
- Research your stops and plan ahead. Please do not trespass. ‘Kapu’ means forbidden (most likely private property).
- Pre-book your time at Wai’anapanapa State Park (black sand beach). You need to reserve your precise time slot and pre-pay.
- Consider getting an app such as the Gypsy App or Shaka Guide. This will tell you history and information about different stops as you drive. We got the Gypsy App a number of years ago on Oahu, it was so informative.
- The Road to Hana doesn’t end in Hana. It continues to Oheo Gulch (seven sacred pools) and beyond.
- The back road is discouraged and sometimes ‘forbidden’ by rental car companies as there are frequent wash-outs, gravel roads etc. Driving it may void your insurance.
- Be considerate of locals traveling to/from work, shopping, medical appointments. Pull over and let them pass. Road to Hana Code of Conduct
- Think twice about swimming in waterfalls/pools, cliff jumping etc. Use common sense.
The Road to Hana is absolutely lush. However you need rain for lush vegetation. Rain is common, and when there is rain, there can often be rock and mudslides. Be careful and check for road reports before you leave.
Do you have to drive the Road to Hana?
Of course not. For that matter, Sig and I have never driven the Road to Hana ~ we both get horribly car sick and have chosen not to drive it. Instead, here is a list of my favorite things to do on Maui.