Are you ready to road trip one of the most scenic, small, and curvy roads in the world? Well, buckle up because here we go! Most visitors to Maui choose to drive the whole Road to Hana and back all in one day. But for those of us who don’t necessarily love to drive, do love to hike, and who are visiting Maui to relax, spending a night or two in or around Hana is a great option! We chose to do just that, and now we’re sharing our itinerary with you.
The first day was our busiest. I almost wish we had taken our time even more so we could have done a couple more hikes! But it was quite a rainy morning, and we were warned that a couple of the trails were treacherous even on a dry day. Use your discretion, and stay safe! If you get injured on the Road to Hana, it could be a while until help arrives.
Also, we got started about half an hour after we planned due to a small snafu with the car rental company, but we were on the road by 6:30am, which was just fine. I suggest you start early, too!
Stop 1: Ho’okipa Beach
This is the first stop just outside Paia, and it is worth getting out to take it all in! You’ll see some large waves, especially if you’re here in the winter. We visited in late April, so the waves were good-sized, but not huge. Even before 7:00am, there were swimmers and surfers in the water to enjoy the surf! The parking area and lookout point are just past the beach, and there are port-a-potties here for your convenience. Use them!
Stop 2: Twin Falls
This is one to skip if you’re starting late because it’s a short hike, and the correct waterfalls are a little difficult to find. There had been so much rain recently and while we were there, that I think there were more waterfalls than usual! Stop here if you are starting early, but if you’re starting after 8:00am, go ahead and skip it so you can get a jump on the people who are stopping here.
If you do stop here, there is a food stand that serves a variety of beverages and fresh fruits. There are also port-a-potties here, so be sure to use them if you didn’t at Ho’okipa Beach, as the next toilet opportunity is several miles away. Also, please read the signs:
Stop 3: Huelo Church
Because you’re taking three days instead of one to do the Road to Hana, you will definitely have time to venture down the tiny road to this tiny church! I love rustic churches in beautiful settings, and even on a cloudy day, this was one of my favorite finds. There is no restroom, but you won’t be here long, just look to the left for the green bus stop covering and the two rows of mailboxes to find where to turn to get to the church.
Stop 4: Waikamoi Ridge Trail
This is one we wish we had skipped in favor of another hike, perhaps the Na’ili’ili-haele waterfall hike we skipped before stopping at this one. Waikamoi Ridge Trail is very lush and pretty, but it is so full of vegetation, there really were no views. You can hear the waterfall below, but you can’t see it. There are no bathrooms here, and it is muddy most of the time because it’s in the rain forest, and the sun cannot get through the vegetation enough to really dry it up. That said, it was a nice hike!
Waikamoi Falls is just around the bend when you get back on the Road, but we did not stop because the road was very congested with people doing the wrong thing–stopping in the middle of the road to take pictures and blocking the bridge. So we just looked out the window and drove off as soon as we could. There are plenty of roadside waterfalls, so missing one is not the end of the world!
Stop 5: Kaumahina State Wayside Park
I can’t tell you how glad I was for the restroom facilities here! You will find plenty of parking here as well. There is a small trail behind the bathrooms, but it was blocked by some fallen trees when we visited. There is also a nice lookout over the ocean and a peninsula.
Stop 6: Halfway to Hana Food Stand
This was such a great find! Not only do you have plenty of food options (sandwiches, fruit, smoothies, banana bread, cookies, preserves, etc.), you also have port-a-potties and some fun photo ops! Bring cash as credit cards are not accepted.
Stop 7: Wailua Overlook
This is one that’s easy to miss if you don’t know it’s here, but there is a large lookout point with some space to park and enjoy the view. The little church down below is nicknamed the “Miracle Church” because of its miraculous construction. It’s made of coral, which was very cumbersome to harvest. A freak storm came up one day and deposited more than enough coral for the construction of the church, and when they were finished building, another freak storm came and took the remaining coral away!
Stop 8: Waikani Falls (Three Bears Falls)
This set of falls is famous for looking like Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear! It was definitely worthwhile to stop at the appropriate parking lot just up the hill from the falls and walk back down for a photo. You can also hike down to the bottom of the falls and swim there if you like!
Stop 9: Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park
This is my favorite Wayside Park of the entire journey! Not only are there restrooms and plenty of parking, you’ll also enjoy not one, but two sets of waterfalls! You can also swim here if you’ve brought your bathing suit and water shoes (those rocks are sharp!). We saw a local doing some cliff jumping, but we would never recommend doing that unless you are absolutely certain of the depth and that there are no jagged rocks below.
Stop 10: Hanawi Falls
Just a couple of miles down the road, you’ll come upon beautiful Hanawi Falls, visible from the Road. There is room to park along the road and get photos. If it’s been raining, it’ll be a beautiful photo opportunity and a great spot to swim if you like. If it’s been dry, it may only be a trickle, but it would still be a refreshing place to swim.
Step 11: Pi’ilanihale Heiau
Hopefully you’ll have better luck with this one than we did! I was very interested in this site because heiau means “temple” or sacred Hawaiian site. Unfortunately, there had been so much rain recently that the road to get there was closed. Better luck next time!
Stop 12: Waianapanapana State Park
If you need to be convinced further to take more than just one day for the Road to Hana, this state park is the best reason. The picnic area and black sand beach near the parking lot were nice, but the blowhole everyone was standing around watching was not blowing at that time of day–only at high tide.
However, that’s all the day trippers had time to see and do. We, on the other hand, had the luxury of time on our side. So we took the Waianapanapana Coastal Trail to the right as you look at the ocean. Not only was the dramatic landscape stunning, not only did we get to see the biggest waves we’ve ever seen, we also had it all to ourselves! We got our own private blowhole that spouted with each and every wave! It was romantic, beautiful, peaceful, and an experience we will never forget.
Bonus: there are a large restroom and an outdoor shower near the parking lot!
Stop 13: Hana Town
While the Road to Hana journey is not really about Hana itself, it’s a cute little town that you will only reach if you take the tiny, winding Road to Hana! There are plenty food trucks and a couple of sit-down restaurants to take a break and get some lunch or an early dinner, but most businesses there close around 4:00pm because that’s the latest that day trippers should stay before turning back to return to their accommodations elsewhere on the island. We did not spend much time here, since we knew we’d be back the next day.
Stop 14 and 15: Koki Beach and Hamoa Beach
Many people choose to make Hana their turn-around point, or they are more interested in hiking through the Pipiwai Trail and Bamboo Forest than they are in stopping at these beaches just beyond Hana. That works in your favor, since you have plenty of time! Koki Beach is picturesque, but strong currents do not make it good for swimming. Hamoa Beach is better for swimming, has port-a-potties available, and has picnic tables available if you’s like a seaside meal.
Stop 16: Check in to Vacation Rental
We got all of that accomplished before 3:00pm, when we could check into our vacation rental! We stayed at the Hana Harvest House, about 7 miles before Hana. We were surprised to find out how much we accomplished between 6:30am and 3:15pm, but we were so glad to be able to settle in a little after 3:00 and enjoy a relaxing evening before heading out to explore the rest of the infamous Road to Hana the next day. There are a couple of hotel options in Hana, but there are even more vacation rental options both in Hana and in the surrounding areas as well. Look for my Guide to Vacation Rentals post coming soon!
We intentionally started our second day on the Road to Hana at the very end: Charles Lindbergh’s gravesite. It took about an hour to get there from our vacation rental, and we knew that getting there at the beginning of the day would ensure we had it, and the subsequent Bamboo Forest hike, all to ourselves. The section of the road from Hana to the Lindbergh grave gets a little rough and considerably narrower, so we had to be a little more patient.
Stop 1: Wailua Falls
We stopped here because we just couldn’t not stop! The waterfall is right next to the road, and there was all kinds of space for parking on the side of the road. We figured if we waited until we drive back past it again on our way back to the vacation rental, there could be several more cars and several more people lingering. So we took our opportunity! No restrooms, but there are some at Stop 3!
Stop 2: Charles A. Lindbergh Gravesite, Palapala Ho’omau Church
Originally from Michigan, Charles Lindbergh was an airmail carrier before his famous flight from New York to Paris in the roaring 20s! His life continued to make news when his twenty-month-old son was kidnapped in 1932, but he strove to stay out of the headlines thereafter. He ended up here on remote Maui to live out his final years before his death of lymphoma in 1974. As an avid traveler and incredibly frequent flyer, I wanted to make sure we found his gravesite, since we would be so near. It’s on the grounds fo the Palapala Ho’omau Church, and a photo of his gravestone is below. It’s just one mile past the Haleakala National Park entrance, so be on the lookout for the small sign for the church down a tiny road to the left if you choose to go. (FYI, no restrooms.)
Stop 3: Waimoku Falls and Bamboo Forest at Haleakala National Park (Kipahulu Entrance)
$25 Park entrance fee per car
Parking opens at 8:00am; Visitor Center opens at 9:00pm; Closes at 4:30pm
So, if we could have gotten out of paying the $25, we would have done. Perhaps you can find a way! The road is far too narrow to park on either side, but that fee is good for all of Haleakala National Park for three full days, and that includes Haleakala Crater, accessed around the other side of the mountain and crater itself. Keep your receipt, especially if you plan to take in the sunrise at Haleakala Crater one of the next two mornings. There are restroom facilities and water available here included with your park fee as well.
Fees aside, this was the highlight of the Road to Hana for me. Not only do you get an incredible (but not too difficult) 5-mile round-trip hike here, the hike takes you a mile through the fantastic Bamboo Forest and ends with a stunning 400 foot waterfall! The trail is always muddy, so wear hiking shoes that you don’t mind getting a little squishy!
I would not pass this hike up for anything! Both Steve and I rate it very high on our list of the best things about the Road to Hana. The smaller trails near the parking lot below that lead along the coast and to O’heo Gulch (aka the Seven Sacred Pools) are probably very nice most of the time, but portions had been washed out and were blocked off due to recent rains, so we did not get to see much there. Hopefully you will have better luck!
Stop 4: Hana for Lunch at The Ranch
By this time, we were getting quite hungry, so we made our way back to Hana Town for lunch. Feel free to stop at Hamoa Beach and Koki Beach if you like, especially if you did not venture there on Day 1.
There are several food options in Hana, most of them food stands or food trucks. Huli huli chicken is a traditional Maui meal, but there are also Thai, Mexican, Filipino, and more food options. The Ranch is a nice spot with a stunning view from a hill overlooking the ocean, so we chose that. While you’re in town, check out the local shops and use the ATM at the General Store if you’re running low on cash.
Stop 5: Hana Bay
There is some public parking at Hana Bay, so take advantage of it. There are some places to park around Hana and near the trailhead for the Red Sand Beach, but it filled up quickly! Hana Bay has a black sand beach and is good for swimming if you like, and it’s pretty central to the next couple of stops, so we chose to park ourselves there and walk to the rest of our destinations. You will also find picnic areas here if you want a seaside spot for lunch! There are also restrooms here.
Stop 6: Red Sand Beach
So, you may have read that the Red Sand Beach is on private property. That’s sort of true, but you really don’t have to worry about trespassing. The beach itself, like all beaches in Hawaii, is 100% public. The trail is on private property, but this signage absolves the owner of liability, so walk the trail at your own risk. But let’s be honest: this was the easiest trail we took all day, even with the loose gravel!
The hike to the Red Sand Beach is stunning. It just is. You will be walking along a short cliff, so do be careful not to fall onto the lava rocks below. That aside, the trail is a rusty-red color all the way, and the loose gravel is not too bad. And the view when you get within sight of the beach is absolutely breathtaking!
Why is the sand red? There was iron in the volcano that formed it! You will find public restrooms a block from the trail head at the corner of Haouli Road and Uakea Road. Also, be aware that this a clothing optional beach! We did not see anyone participating in nude beach-style activities, however, so don’t worry about that too much!
Stop 7: Hana Cultural Center and Court House
Well, this one was a bust! Everything I saw online said the Hana Cultural Center and Court House were open Monday-Friday from 10:00am-4:00pm, but when we arrived, that was not the case! There was a white board up with a calendar, and written on it were the opening dates for the month. Perhaps a call before visiting would have been a good idea if you’re interested in going yourself!
Stop 8: Pick Up Food and Back to the Vacation Rental
We were all hiked out and walked out for the day after all that, so we headed back “home” for the evening! We knew the cafe near our vacation rental had pizza available, so that was our plan for supper. We slept well that night in anticipation of our last day driving the Road to Hana.
Day 3 was mostly about getting photos with no people in them. We had already seen everything on the way in, but this morning would be something special because we could have some of the sites to ourselves!
Stop 1: Nahiku Road
This small, winding off-shoot of the Road to Hana promised large mansions of the rich and famous… but they must have been beyond the “Road Closed” sign because we did not see them! I would recommend skipping it, especially since the road looked like it was permanently closed beyond a certain point (or perhaps the residents beyond the sign have decided to put it up to keep tourists like us away!).
Stop 2: Hanawi Falls
We stopped back by Hanawi Falls to get a few more pictures and enjoy this peaceful scene by ourselves. I love that there are at least 6 waterfalls in sight, plus a babbling brook! What a beautiful way to start our morning–secluded with waterfalls in the jungle and ocean breezes to boot!
Stop 3: Pua Kai State Wayside Park
This is a little gem I was truly looking forward to enjoying alone with my Love! It’s just so quintessential Hawaiian, and let’s face it, I wanted to make sure we had a bathroom stop soon, too!
Stop 4: Wailua Overlook
I know we stopped here on the way down the Road on Day 1, but it’s such a spectacular view, we had to stop again. The sun was starting to break through the clouds, I was able to get a different angle with no people in the way also looking over, and the “miracle church” was still there, standing proud off in the distance!
Stop 5: Half Way to Hana
By the time we got back to the Half Way to Hana roadside stand, I realized I hadn’t had any coffee yet! So we stopped for a coffee, and I noticed their pushpin board. I put one in for us from Washington, D.C.!
Stop 6: Keanae Peninsula
This is an experience we missed somehow on the way to Hana, so I’m glad we had another chance to explore it on the way back! This peninsula is home to a small village, including a church that is the only structure still standing after the 1946 tsunami that wiped out everything else here. There’s a great little stand called Aunty Sandy’s, and you can get sandwiches, beverages, banana bread, etc. here if you need. We parked by the bay and walked down to the end of the peninsula. There are restrooms both at Aunty Sandy’s and over by the shoreline at the end of the peninsula as well.
Stop 7: Finishing Up at Hookipa Beach
We thought we’d stop at the Rainbow Forest since we drove past it on the way in, and then at Na’ili’ili-haele for the hike we missed due to rainy conditions on Day 1, but by the time we got there, both sites were far too crowded! Let this be a reminder of the importance of starting early, my friends! But never fear, we treated ourselves to more big wave views at the Hookipa Beach Overlook. We also stopped periodically along the road’s many unmarked pull-off areas to take in some scenic vistas.
Stop 8: Paia and Lunch at Paia Fish Market
Our last stop was where we first began: Paia! We rolled back into this laid-back surfer town and were truly shocked at how quickly we felt out of place. Even Paia was too busy after two and a half days of the relaxing Road to Hana experience! But it was a gentle re-entry to society for which we were grateful.
Lunchtime! We both chose a fish dish from the Paia Fish Market. We got there just a few minutes before opening (11:00am), and there was already a line forming to order. We knew we’d found just the right place!
Are you ready to drive the famous Road to Hana yourself? Check out What to Know Before You Drive the Road to Hana! Think you’d prefer a one-day trip instead? Comment below! More from Hana and the rest of our trip to Maui is on the way!
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