If you are visiting Maui, one of the most popular attractions will be driving the Road to Hana route. Considered one of the world’s most famous drives, it’s a 64.4 mile-long (103.6 km) scenic roadway that travels around the beautiful coastline of Maui. When you start to research the numerous stops, you can make along the route, you may begin to feel overwhelmed by the number of available options. If you are like me, you will probably want to see all of them and stop everywhere, but that is where you will make your first big mistake! Today I’m going to share with you some of my top important tips for the Road to Hana in Maui from my time on the route, to help make your drive as carefree and enjoyable as possible.
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The most important Road to Hana tip to consider is getting an early start on your day! This will allow you to enjoy lower crowds on the road. I suggest starting around 6 am like we did because it will give you a huge advantage over everyone else. So start your day as early as you can and enjoy a more peaceful scene.
You may also want to consider spending the night in Hana if time allows. This will enable you to take in even more of the amazing stops on the Road to Hana.
There are many turns and one-lane roads on the route and minimal parking spots, so the earlier you head off the better. Most tourists don’t get going until after 8 am, so if you can get a 6 am start, it will be well worth it!
Rent a Car
Unless you are a non-driver, in which case you can book a tour online, I’d recommend renting a car for the Road of Hana in Maui, and even for your entire trip. This allows you to stop and start throughout the day whenever you like, and take breaks and photo opportunities as much as you desire. You will want to be a confident driver to tackle this route though, as the road contains many twists and turns and is very narrow at some points. If you don’t feel comfortable enough with driving on your own, you can always find a guided tour online.
Download this app
While Google maps can help you get around, I’d recommend downloading a dedicated guide for your journey. If you search online, you’ll find plenty of options, but I particularly liked the GyPsy Guide. It’s also the app that has the highest amount of positive reviews. It will definitely make your journey more interesting and educational. While driving, you will learn about Hawaiian history, myths/legends, and have the highlights and recommended stops pointed out to you. It’s like having a personal guide in your car only without having to pay a high price.
What is the best day to drive the Road to Hana?
Any day of the week you can expect to find many tourists traveling this route. However, Saturday and Sunday are regularly recommended for visitors. The logic behind this is that most flights arrive on Thursday or Friday, and so people are tired and acclimatizing to the weather on these days before heading out to explore.
My only advice to help you decide which day to do the Road to Hana is to check the weather app. See when it’s going to rain and when it will be sunny. You don’t want to spend the whole day driving
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Pick only a few Road to Hana stops to visit
When it’s your first time at a new destination, it can be so tempting to go overboard and try to see it all. But less is more when it comes to the Road to Hana. Otherwise, you will have a very rushed and unpleasant journey!
Research about the Road to Hana stops on Google in advance and create your personal itinerary.
You should definitely consider stopping at the incredible stops like Black Sand Beach, Twin Falls, Garden of Eden Arboretum, Upper Waikani Falls, Red Sand Beach, Hana Lava Tube, and Honomanu Bay. If you have more time before heading back, don’t forget about Kuloa Point Loop Trail and the 6 km Pipiwai Trail.
Don’t rush and enjoy the ride
Carrying on from the previous point, it’s all about enjoying your time on the Road to Hana. Here the saying “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” couldn’t be more accurate. Hana is a tiny town that you might pass by without even noticing! So just relax and enjoy the beautiful scenic ride. As I suggested above, just focus on your few must-see highlights, and enjoy yourself for the rest of the day.
Continue from Hana to the Pipiwai Trail
Once you reach Hana itself, make sure you carry on to hike the Pipiwai Trail. It’s a 6 km (4 miles) round trip and offers so many amazing sites in a relatively short amount of time. My highlights from the trail were the Makahiku Falls, Banyan Tree, Bamboo Forest, and Waimoku Falls. Walking through the bamboo forest is a surreal and magical experience. Finish off your hike with the cooling spray from Waimoku Falls (122 meters/400 feet tall) as a reward for your efforts!
Bring snacks with you
Another very important tip when driving the Road to Hana, especially if you are traveling with kids is to bring your own snacks with you. There are limited options at certain points on the Road to Hana, and so it’s easier to prepare the night before you set off and stock up. This will also mean you don’t have to rush off from an incredible stop just because you’re feeling hungry! I’d highly recommend bringing your own snacks and packed lunch with you.
Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle
It should go without saying, but don’t leave valuables such as money, electronics, and cameras in your car. It’s obvious but easy to forget about when you are getting out at viewpoints and different stops on the Road to Hana. While you may only be gone for a few minutes, this is a popular tourist attraction and so from time to time, it does attract thieves.
Don’t ride back if it gets dark
As I mentioned earlier, the roads can be very winding and narrow at points, and so if you’re behind with your touring plans, I’d suggest finding a place to stay at near Hana. It’s not worth the risk of driving back on the foreign roads in the dark, especially if you have miles left to go. Many people do opt to stay in Hana for the night, and split the route into two days, so this may be worth considering in advance. If you are particularly interested in seeing many sights and taking in a few hikes on the way, I’d highly recommend this option.
What to wear for the Road to Hana?
The weather in Maui is generally hot all year round, although you will want to be prepared for rain. Wear loose-fitting, light clothing, and bring a change of clothing in case you get dirty or sweaty hiking. If you are planning to take a swim at the beach, ensure you put swimwear and towels in the car.
I hope these important Road to Hana tips have helped you plan and get excited for your day or two on this fantastic route. It really was one of the highlights of my trip to Maui. So, pick your most desired stops on the route in advance, set off early, and you will have an amazing time on this famous drive.