Hana Highway AKA Road to Hana is arguably one of the most scenic drives in all of Hawaii. The Road to Hana is 52-miles long and located on the northeast side of Maui. Most of the drive is along a winding one-way narrow path with few spots to pull over. The Road to Hana is simply a road, there is no “end destination.” The true adventure is in the stops you make along the way. Talk about a scenic route…
Below are some of the top places to stop along the Road to Hana with a mile by mile breakdown and pictures to help determine if it is worth your time to stop. There are also a few stops I recommend skipping because I thought they were overrated and wanted to spend time at the other “top spots” along the road.
- Twin Falls and Wailele Farm
- Bamboo Forest Trail
- Waikamoi Nature Trail
- Haipua’ena Falls
- Ching’s Pond and Falls
- Ke’anae Peninsula Lookout
- Halfway to Hana
- Upper Waikani Falls
- Hanawi Falls
- Nahiku Viewpoint and Scenic Bay
- Pa’iloa Beach (Black Sand Beach)
- Waioka Pond (Aka Venus Pools)
- Kipahulu, Haleakala National Park (Seven Sacred Pools)
- Red Sand Beach (Kaihalulu Beach)
- Driving Tips on Road to Hana
- Tips Before Driving Road To Hana
Twin Falls and Wailele Farm
Mile Marker: 2
Summary: First of the waterfalls, easy to access
Twin falls is one of the first waterfalls you can stop at on the Road to Hana. The lower falls is an easy and short walk from the parking lot. The Upper Falls is roughly a one-mile hike round trip.
If you bring a map with you, you will see the Lower Falls is a “easy” level of difficulty while the Upper Falls is ranked “difficult”. The easiest way to get there is to take the Hana Highway east past Paia Town. Around mile marker #2 you will see a bridge. After you park you will see the entrance to the Wailele Farm and Twin Falls to the left of the farm stand.
Bamboo Forest Trail
Mile Marker: 6.5
Summary: Worth walking in the forest even if you do not hike all the way
The Bamboo Forest is supposed to be top secret and is one of the Hidden Gems on the Road to Hana. There are no signs or trail markings along the road for this stop so be on the lookout for an opening/trail in the tall grass as you approach mile marker 6. There are several openings to the Bamboo Forest but they all lead to the same trail.
If you choose to hike this trail to the water falls then make sure to plan accordingly because if you hike to the falls it can take up to 3 hours total. The trail gets a little steep and rocky so be careful! We hiked into the Bamboo forest and crossed the bridge but ended up turning around because we wanted to spend our time at a few other stops. However, I have heard from many visitors and local hikers that this is their favorite stop along the Road to Hana and the hike to Waimoku Falls is magnificent.
Waikamoi Nature Trail
Mile Marker : 9.5 (Skip this)
Mile Marker: 11.5 (Stop here)
Summary: Quick stop, close to road, hidden falls, great swimming spot
These falls are nothing spectacular but it is a great place to stop, stretch your legs, and take a quick dip. Keep an eye out for the falls as they are hidden and most people drive right past them. After you park you will have to take a 100-yard hike to the falls. They are nestled among rocky cliffs with a picturesque swimming hole at the base. The water can be a bit chilly but if you’re feeling adventurous then go for a swim!
Ching’s Pond and Falls
Mile Marker: Just past mile marker 16
Summary: Small cliff jumping, quick and stop
After stopping at Haipua’ena Falls we stopped at Ching’s Pond and Falls and jumped off the cliff! There is a bridge here and a little spot where people can jump but this was too high and narrow of a jump for us. There is another spot to cliff jump if you walk down towards the water.
Ke’anae Peninsula Lookout
Mile Marker: 17 (skip this)
This stop will give you a birdseye view of the community but we were unimpressed and felt this stop could be skipped for future travelers.
Halfway to Hana
Mile marker: 17
Summary: Drinks, Snacks, and the Best Banana Bread
Upper Waikani Falls
Mile Marker: 19 (stop here)
Summary: Triple water fall and refreshing pool
Triple waterfalls and a plunge pool. Most people stop at the top, snap a picture and leave but if you want to go for a swim there is a small path near the left of the bridge that will lead you to the bottom. Be careful as the path down there is a little tricky and can be very slippery, hike down at your own risk. Note- there is not much parking available, roughly 2-3 spots, but it’s a no parking zone so you can’t stay for long! There is additional parking further up the road if you want to take your time and explore the falls.
Mile Marker: 24
Summary: Gorgeous falls along a bridge. Quick and easy stop
Nahiku Viewpoint and Scenic Bay
Mile Marker: Past 25, take Nahiku Road
Summary: Short walk, great views, worth the side trip
If you want to see the coastline, waves crashing against the black lava rocks, and beautiful lush greenery all in one spot then this is a must-see.
This viewpoint is only a 2-3 mile drive off the main Hana road. You will drive about 10 minutes on Nahiku Road, where you can park and walk about 5-10 minutes to the look out point.
There is a little church and you can find parking along the road there, but be careful because the locals will yell at you if you block their driveways or even get close to them! From there you walk the rest of the way and cross an old bridge, look for a sign that says ‘bridge closed’ and head in that direction on foot.
Nahiku is so peaceful and if you are lucky you might have the viewpoint all to yourself. It’s a sight unlike any other, and can be so peaceful. The tropical trees lining the road makes for an easy and pretty walk. You don’t need to spend much time here but it is a great picnic spot!
Pa’iloa Beach (Black Sand Beach)
Mile Marker: 32 (Stop Here)
Summary: Black Sand Beach, BlowHole Rocks, Picnic spots, Walking Trails
Pa’iloa Beach is one of the black sand beaches in Maui. This was a great lunch spot with amazing views. Make sure to bring waterproof sandals or flip flops because the sand is more like larger rocks and can get very hot. It is worth talking a stroll down to the beach and checking out the blow hole.
Waioka Pond (Aka Venus Pools)
Mile Marker: Just past 48, before the bridge
Summary: Hidden trail, fun cliff jumping
This trail can be a bit hard to find but it’s a short 10 minute walk to cliff jumping! To get there you have to look for a hidden trail behind a fruit stand, climb over or under a bar fence post, then hike along a path covered in lush greenery and sugar cane.
Make sure to wear water shoes that have traction as some of the rocks can get slippery.
Kipahulu, Haleakala National Park (Seven Sacred Pools)
Mile Marker: 42
Summary: Worth seeing but can be a but crowded
Definitely, worth stopping here, it can get a little crowded but some people spend hours at the stop. Haleakala National Park holds ‘Ohe’o Gulch (AKA Seven Sacred Pools), the Pipiwai Trail, and Waimoku Falls.
There’s a visitor center, restrooms, camping, rest area, waterfalls, and ancient Hawaiian ruins. Although the pools were worth seeing we did not spend much time here. The water looked a little dirty and there were tons of people. Bring water shoes to this spot because we walked along the rocks and climbed our way through all 7 pools.
If you are feeling adventurous then you might want to climb through all the pools and make it to the waterfall at the top of the 7th pool. We were exhausted as this was one of our last stops of the day and we were only there for 30 minutes.
Red Sand Beach (Kaihalulu Beach)
Located: South of Hana Bay, follow Uakea Road going South (must stop)
Summary: Unique hidden gem, gorgeous backdrop, dangerous.slippery trail- be careful hiking down to the water
Red Sand Beach is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. If you are willing to take the narrow and potentially slippery hike then it is worth your time. Towards the end of the trail you will stumble upon a beautiful hidden cove with a crescent shaped beach cut into the cliffs.
Warning: Parts of the trail were washed away and it is different than it used to be. The trail might be slippery if its covered with pine needles and it can be very narrow and tricky to navigate at times. I recommend wearing proper footwear such as hiking boots with shoes with traction on the bottom.
If you decide to hike down to the red sand, parking is available outside the Travasa Hotel parking lot. Then you will walk to a large open field across the Hana Community Center, there you will see a trail on the right-hand side. Follow the path along the waterline and eventually you will run into the beach.
Driving Tips on Road to Hana
You have a few options when driving the Road to Hana. First option- is to drive and hit all the stops and then turn around and head back the way you came. Second option- is to keep driving all the way around and end at the south side of Maui. Most people take the second option because it is shorter and is usually dark by the time you are leaving.
I highly recommend taking the road all the way around, it was a gorgeous drive back to our condo and it was quicker than turning around. We also saw a beautiful sunset on our way back to the west side of Maui.
If you decide to drive all the way around here are a few pros and cons. Pros: Shorter drive, less people on the road, beautiful scenery. Cons: The road can be bumpy and unpaved in certain areas.
Tips Before Driving Road To Hana
- Consider a CD tour, map, or guidebook because you might lose service in some areas and this will give you sights by mile marker
- Leave early!!! It some spots there are only 2-3 parking spots so you will want to leave as early as possible, some even leave before sunrise
- Take your time and enjoy the drive. There are so many amazing stops that you might feel pressed for time but don’t rush and enjoy the amazing sights along the way
- Plan out your stops before you go- you might miss some of the most beautiful sights because they are not clearly marked along the road (especially the hidden gems)
- Don’t leave valuables in your car as break-ins are known to occur
- Stop in Paia to top of your gas tank
- Bring a cooler full of waters and snacks
- Driving vs Guided Tour Bus. First off, driving is not that scary and most of the road is paved two ways, you just have to pull off to the side for cars when going across bridges. I highly recommend making the drive yourself because you can create your own schedule and stop where you want to stop
- Lastly, expect to be gone most of the day. We left around 8am and took our time. By the end of the day we were exhausted and didnt get back to our condo until 8pm that night
For other tips and itineraries for your trip to Hawaii check out these posts:
- Hawaii on a Budget
- One Week Itinerary in Maui
- Things to Know Before You Go to Hawaii
- 12-Day Itinerary on the Hawaiian Islands