My hubby and I spent our 28 yr wedding anniversary in Maui back in Oct-Nov 2016. Since we were there a full week and did so much, I thought I would break our trip up into 2-3 blog posts.
We flew in on a Sat and left the following Sat. The total flight time for us was approximately 10 hrs. From Nashville we flew into Dallas which was 2 hrs and then from Dallas we flew into Maui and that was an 8 hr flight.
We booked our flight and hotel as a package on Travelocity and paid approximately $2500. We stayed in Kihei in a 1 bdrm, 2 bath condo at the Maui Kamaole. It was right across the street from one of the Kamaole beaches (there are 3).
Part of our time in Maui was spent driving the popular Road to Hana. It’s a must if you ever visit the island. This was actually my 2nd time doing the drive.
My first visit to Maui was back in 2002.
When you do the Road to Hana, you will want to start really early in the morning as it takes a full day to drive with all the stops along the way…as the saying goes, Hana is not the destination, it’s the journey.
You will begin your drive near the town of Paia. Paia is approximately 30 mins from Kihei. It’s a quaint little town filled with lots of eccentric people and shops. You may even run into Willie Nelson !! He lives near Paia and hangs out here a lot …especially at Charley’s Restaurant.
Click here to see what other celebrities live in Maui.
Paia is definitely worth a stop. We made a quick stop before we started our long drive to Hana and grabbed a coffee and pastry at one of the coffee shops. I can’t recall the name but click here for the best coffee shops in Paia.
The Road to Hana can be done either by tour or self drive. If you are not comfortable driving very narrow, winding and at times, one way roads, then I recommend you book a tour. The tour prices start around $150 pp and go up to $1000 pp depending on what you are looking for.
If you drive the road yourself, I recommend you start with a full tank of gas, snacks, water, sunscreen, bug spray, water shoes, towels, cash, motion sickness meds (if prone to car sickness), rain gear (Hana gets about 80″ of rain a year) and a whole lot of patience.
Don’t bring unnecessary valuables as I have read, during my research, where people have had their vehicles broken into.
I have even read where several people suggested you leave your car doors unlocked to prevent your windows from being broken by those “bad apples” wanting to steal your stuff.
We never left our doors unlocked but we kept anything of value locked up in the glove compartment if we didn’t take it with us when we were hiking. Not sure I would recommend that either as I’m sure someone could figure out how to get into that as well.
These things happen everywhere so just use the same caution as you would anywhere you go.
The Road to Hana is only 52 mi but takes several hrs to drive because it has 620 curves, 59 bridges and some of the most incredible views you will ever see! The speed limit is only 25 mph or less the whole way. The road leads you through rain forests, waterfalls, plunging pools and dramatic seascapes.
I would highly recommend you purchase and download the Gypsy Guide app to help guide you on your journey. It’s only $5.99 and so worth it! The road is not well marked and this app works like a charm and doesn’t use your data.
I also purchased the Maui Revealed book and did a lot of research before our trip….but seriously, the app will make your life so much easier!
There are several stops that you can do on this drive but you will have to pick and choose depending on how much time you have allotted for yourself. Most people will drive to Hana and then turn around and go back the same way they came.
The more adventurous folks will continue the drive past Hana and witness a completely different landscape. It takes about the same amount of time to drive to Hana and turn around as it does to drive on past Hana.
However, there’s about a 10 mi stretch of road past Hana that is gravel and very bumpy. Some car rental agencies will tell you that you will be violating your car rental agreement if you drive past Hana but that’s not necessarily the case.
Most car rental companies restrict you from using the vehicle on “unpaved” or sometimes “unimproved” roads but don’t specifically mention the road to Hana. The road is actually paved for the most part and the section that’s gravel, is actually maintained as well.
I think most of them just try to deter you from driving past Hana because you are basically on your own if something happens. There’s definitely not a whole lot around and NO gas stations.
But, with that being said, you definitely need to ask your car rental co all the right questions to make sure you know exactly what they do cover.
We did the drive all the way past Hana and we were in a convertible so it can definitely be done in just about any size rental car. You just have to go really slow and and try and navigate around all the potholes…there’s a lot of them!
Please note that the road past Hana will be CLOSED WEEKDAYS FOR CONSTRUCTION 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday except weekends and holidays. Currently the County estimates work to be completed at the end of August 2018. Check here for up to date road closures.
Our first stop past Paia was Ho’opika Beach Overlook. The lookout is on the edge of a cliff overlooking the popular surfing-end of the beach. Those who are more adventurous will walk down toward the tip of the rocky outcropping, closer to the action.
Ho’okipa is a great place to stop and watch some of the best surfing in Maui. In the winter, the waves can get pretty massive. Maui is a mecca to windsurfers and kiteboarders due to the consistent wind.
The lookout has its own large parking lot, which is definitely where you want to park if you’re continuing on toward Hana as beyond the lookout the road becomes one way and the exit doesn’t permit Hana bound traffic.
View from the overlook
There are a few vendors here selling food, drinks and hand made goods.
The next stop will be Twin Falls. This is the first easily accessible string of waterfalls and pools on the Road to Hana. It’s also the location of the Twin Falls Farm Stand It’s one of the better snack stands on the journey.
It’s located right at the start of the trail to Twin Falls and offers smoothies, coconuts for drinking, acai bowls, banana bread, coconut candy, fresh squeezed sugarcane juice and more. Read reviews here.
The trail is an easy 1.5 mile r/trip trail. People have been known to swim at the falls but the day we went the falls were a brown, swollen mass of water and mud! It was obvious there had been a lot of recent rainfall.
If the conditions are good for swimming, I would advise you to use extreme caution as there have been drownings here.
A banana tree we spotted on the trail
A short drive past the Twin Falls, you will see a grove of Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees. These are beautiful, multi colored trees that periodically shed their bark revealing a green layer underneath.
This layer then changes color. The shedding continues at different times which causes the tree to then become multi colored.
The drive can be a bit hairy at times
Our next stop, at mile marker 10.6, was the Garden of Eden Arboretum. We debated on whether we should stay after finding out it was going to cost $15 pp. In the end, we decided to stay but still not sure it was worth it.
It’s 26 acres and you can either drive through or get out and walk the trails. Click here to read more info about it and to see a map of the arboretum.
The grounds are beautiful and there are a lot of beautiful plants and trees to see and even a waterfall but if I were pressed for time, I would have probably skipped this stop. However, we were actually staying in Hana so we weren’t pressed for time.
Driving into the Arboretum
Some of the trees and plants
My favorite thing we saw here was Keopuka Rock, which is seen in the opening scene of the first Jurassic Park movie.
My hubby made a new friend while we were here 😉
Leaving the arboretum
Our next stop, somewhere between mile markers 14 & 16, was a slight detour off the Road to Hana but one that is not to be missed……it’s the 1/2 mile long peninsula called Ke’anae lookout point. It’s also the location of Aunty Sandy’s .
This was one of our favorite spots. I could have sat here all day watching the huge waves crash over the black lava rock. It was truly spectacular!
On your drive down, you’ll pass a stone church built in 1856, the only remaining building after a devastating tsunami in 1946 killed twenty four people (20 were children) when waves topping 35 feet crashed into the village with no warning.
Following this tragedy, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center was implemented.
While there is no place to swim here, you can grab lunch or a smoothie at Aunty Sandy’s and watch the waves roll in.
Since we were ready for lunch that’s what we decided to do.
My hubby ordered a hotdog and I ordered the tuna fish sandwich…nothing really special about it but the banana bread was delicious!
Our next stop at mile marker 16.8 was Ching’s Pond. This is a popular swimming hole that many people pass by without even knowing it’s there.
The locals cliff dive from the bridge, a 25 foot drop. The less adventurous leap from the lower portions or simply watch from the sidelines.
When we stopped there was no one there. I’m not the brave, adventurous type so I just snapped a pic and was on my way!
A short drive past Ching’s Pond at mile marker 17, is a sign that reads “Half way to Hana”. At this stop is the Half way to Hana Snack Shop. We decided not to stop but if you’re hungry you can stop here for fruits, beverages, banana bread, sandwiches, burgers & other snacks.
Our next stop was Wailua Valley State Wayside at mile marker 18.8. The pull off will be on the left hand side of the road, about a 1/4 mile past the Wailua Valley State Wayside Park. The lookout provides a spectacular view of Wailua village.
There is a small cut in the cliff that has three parking stalls. There is also a set of steps to a lookout that is hidden from view if you don’t get out of the car.
At the top of the stairs you will have a perfect ariel view of Wailua when facing the ocean, turn around and you can take a peek into the Wailua Valley. There is also a private road you can walk down to the left.
It will be a quick stop, but worth the view.
The next stop was at mile marker 19…the upper Waikani falls aka Three Bear Falls, It’s called this due to the three separate but parallel falls of differing lengths—with the third and smallest being the “baby bear” falls.
You can get all the way down to the falls for a swim however, we chose to snap a quick pic and be on our way as it was really crowded and there’s only enough room for 2-3 cars and it’s a no parking zone.
You’ll have a few cars park, then 6-7 more park behind it and take up most of the road becoming a hazard. There is, however, a turnout further up the road where you can park and walk down but the walk is a little scary because there isn’t a path.
The next stop will be between mile markers 22 & 23. It’s called Pua’a Ka’a State Park. There are two easily visited waterfalls roadside however, there’s a trail on the right side of the upper falls that leads to another falls and a small natural pool.
There are restrooms and picnic tables at the the park. We didn’t stop as it was too crowded but I snapped a picture of the 2 roadside falls.
Right after mile marker 23, a lava tube can be found on the right side of the road. This 140 foot cave takes some stooping to enter but there’s nothing to see so I would keep driving.
The next stop is shortly past the 27 mile marker called Coconut Glen’s. They serve dairy free ice cream made from coconut milk. We didn’t stop so I can’t give you my opinion but the reviews are really good.
After Coconut Glen’s, will be the Nahiku marketplace. It’s located at mile marker 29 just 6 miles before Hana.
As you pull into the parking lot, you will be greeted by lots of food stands selling fish tacos, thai food, smoothies, coconut candy and local merchandise. It’s a great stop if you are hungry and want to grab lunch, a snack or even a cup of coffee.
Our next stop at mile marker 32 was Wai’anapanapa State Park. This was another one of our favorite stops. The park is very clean and well maintained. It has restrooms, showers, picnic tables and camping available. There are also cabins that can be rented.
There are several things to see and do here. There are 2 freshwater caves, a black sand beach, sea arches, a blowhole, lava tubes, cliff jumping and stunning panoramic views of the coastline.
The drive into the park
It also has a freshwater cave and a beautiful volcanic black sand beach.
The cave is suitable for swimming and the water level rises and falls each day with the tide. The water looked very brackish and I personally wouldn’t have stepped foot in it!
The black beach was formed when lava flowed and fountained into the sea near here, shattering on contact with the ocean. Fragments smashed against each other and formed the sand you see.
Word of warning: NEVER turn your back on the ocean. Even when the ocean appears calm, sneaker waves can sweep you out to sea!
The views at the park were stunning!
We saw several mongoose running around.
After we left here, we headed to the little cottage I booked as a surprise for my hubby for our anniversary.
The park is only a 10 min drive to the town of Hana.
We found a food truck that was still open so we ordered dinner and headed to our cottage. It was called the Surfin Burro.
I ordered the Jamaican Brown Chicken and the hubby ordered the Jerk Pork…our meals came with rice & beans and a “salad”. The food was really good.
After getting our order, we headed to our wonderful guesthouse for the night at the Hale Ulu Lulu.
I can’t say enough about this place! It was definitely worth the splurge! The owners were awesome and so accomodating! If you ever visit Hana, I HIGHLY recommend you stay here.
I will conclude my post here and do a second post on the house and the rest of our drive drive past Hana. But here’s a shot of the house…BUT just wait until you see the inside! 😉
In my next post, I will also include each stop on the road to Hana by mile marker. There was a lot we didn’t see because, like I said, you have to pick and choose the stops that interest you the most because there are so many.
Thanks for reading! I hope this helps you plan your own road to Hana trip!