If you read our post on our Haleakala experience you know that we woke up pretty darn early. The same is the case for the road to Hana. We arrived on Sunday, did Haleakala on Monday, and planned the road to Hana for Tuesday.
The road to Hana is a scenic drive along the north coast of the island of Maui. As you drive along the windy road, the landscape changes into a dense tropical forest. This is definitely a drive for the journey and not the destination. Hana is a tiny town on the east edge of the island. There isn’t much to it except a few fruit stands, stops to eat, and plenty of beaches. We blocked out an entire day to do the drive and still ran out of time.
The guidebook suggested leaving Kahului around 7:00 a.m. to get a headstart in front of the crowds. If you are staying in South Maui (Kihei, Makena, Wailea) then it will be about a 25-30 minute drive to Kahului where we recommend stopping at Costco and filling up with gas. I would also stop and get plenty of cash before you leave as well. We stocked our Airbnb with snacks on the first day and packed drinks and sandwiches for lunch which worked out well. We also dressed in hiking clothes with our swimsuits underneath and we all had purchased these water shoes prior to the trip. Bring an extra set of clothes, plenty of sunscreen, sandals and a towel.
This is where our awesome guidebook really paid off. I sat in the front seat and acted as navigator while JR drove and Mycah and Jarrett enjoyed the scenery and kept an eye out for mile markers. Once you are outside of Paia there isn’t much to worry about direction-wise… there is only one road!
I would highly suggest reading the guidebook the day before driving the road and circling some must-see spots – there is no way you will be able to check them all out. Our first stop was Twin Falls and after
The next stop was at some awesome rainbow eucalyptus trees. These are a site to see! Keep a lookout for them on the left side of the road. You will drive past them and there is a short turn out on the right. Jump out and cross the road and walk back over toward them. There is a fence but if you walk closer you will see a small path where others have entered the tiny set of trees. You will be glad you stopped at these – up ahead are more trees closer to the road swarming with crowds and graffiti.
Next we stopped at Haipua’ena Falls near mile marker 10. This is a teeny tiny waterfall that looks like it was plucked out of a perfume commercial ad.
There were a few other stops in the book but I don’t believe we stopped until this next one. In the book on page
There are a few more stops in the book but the next memorable one was on the way to Ke’anae. Watch for signs for a turn off for Ke’anae and you will be greeted with the best banana bread on the island (the book says it’s Julia’s in West Maui but we tried all three and Aunt Sandy’s was the clear winner.) We stopped and savored some banana bread and drove the rest of the peninsula to soak up the views before heading back to the main road.
There is a small bridge and turn out with a swimming hole known as Ching’s Pond. Definitely don’t cliff jump here – sketchyyyy. A little ways past that is Halfway to Hana – the third best banana bread on the island. You’ll have to try it for yourself to decide.
Another great stop after that is a small hike up the Wailua Valley State Wayside after mile marker 18. The parking lot is a total hot mess but the views at the top of the stairs are outstanding.
Next was a super popular waterfall named Three Bears Falls that we skipped. Some areas are just more popular than others due to the proximity to the road. If something seems to crowded don’t be afraid to drive on – there is plenty to see.
Just up ahead from there was a concrete picnic table literally steps away from the Pua’a Ka’a waterfall. We stopped for lunch – turkey on King’s
We drove on and stopped at the Hanawi Falls and Makapipi Falls. We skipped going through Nahiku although it is highly recommended. There were a lot of other recommended stops so if you are good on time I would check them out.
We arrived into Hana and picked our next stop as the lava tube. If Jarrett is reading this I can hear him sighing already! The lava tube did cost around $12.50/person but it was pretty cool to see inside. If you make it all the way back and into the “chocolate room” be sure to turn your flashlights off for a second. The absolute darkness is something rarely experienced and you can barely tell if your eyes are open or shut.
We then made our way to Wai’anapanapa State Park and Pa’iloa Black Sand Beach. Now we aren’t superstitious people but Jarrett and Mycah decided this was the place they’d grab a few rock souvenirs. Hawaiian’s believe moving rocks or taking them back home with you is bad luck. Someone *Jarrett* may or may not have lost their wallet at this beach but whose to say it was the rocks or just plain bad luck. The beach was awesome and we climbed all the way up the trail on the left side to be surprised (and splashed!) by a giant rock blowhole.
If you haven’t eaten yet Hana has a few great stops and if you are good on time there are a few more great beaches here as well. We were running short on time so we kept going on. Some will tell you to turn around at this point and drive back but my parents said it was way worth it to drive the entire south loop on the opposite side of Haleakala.
We neared a small bridge past mile marker 48. If we didn’t have the book we would have absolutely missed it. After parking on the east side of the road ( and taking a small break to clean out the entire Jeep looking for the wallet we had now realized was lost!) we edged around the outside barrier of the bridge on a small trail. The book has all the info on who owns the property so we felt confident jumping the small cow fence and heading into the field. At the end of the trail you walk down into the trees to find a massive gathering of boulders and a tiny freshwater pool.
I was fully freaked out and was ready to bail on jumping. We all were a bit nervous until another surfer dude arrived and confidently hurled himself off the rock into the water. We all ended up jumping (I needed a bit of convincing!) and I think this landed the number 2 spot on our top 3 moments from the trip!
We headed back to the car and retraced our steps to find the missing wallet. After an odd conversation with the “psychic” lady at the lava tube (her senses told her it was at the bottom of a bag) we had no luck and headed back through Kaupo and back to Kihei.
There are quite a few more stops on the south side of the route but it was dark within the hour so we just drove without stopping. The roads here are a lot sketchier so drive carefully if you
We ended the night in Kihei grabbing some dinner and heading back to the Airbnb. We loved the drive and would probably do it again when we go back. There is so much to see but don’t expect to see it all.
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