On a recent trip to Maui we managed to set aside one day to drive “the Road to Hana”. It was certainly an adventurous drive and I only wish we had given ourselves more time to explore along the way. Although the road itself is only 52 miles from Paia, the numerous curves and one-way bridges…
…means it takes a couple of hours each way…and that’s without stopping. The trip to Hana really begins in the town of Paia, which itself deserves some time to meander around. Filled with surfing shops, cute cafes, and funky stores you could easily end up spending your day here.
After a quick stop for breakfast in Paia it was time to start the drive…first stop…Twin Falls at mile marker 2 on Hwy 360. The highway from Paia is highway 36 and the road where most of the stops are on the way to Hana will be along highway 360. Twin Falls will be on your right hand side and it is a very popular spot so you really can’t miss it. The falls are along a short pathway with tall bamboo plants greeting you as you arrive at the entrance. There are washrooms here and a food truck serving snacks and drinks.
Once you get back on the road you may see cars parked just past mile marker 6. There is a bamboo forest, as well as waterfalls here, but you have to keep a close eye out for it and the trail to the falls is often muddy and slippery. Our next stop would be just past mile marker 12…Kaumahina State Wayside Park to stretch our legs and get a view of the coastline.
On we go to the Halfway to Hana stop. This is really just a cute photo op. There is a small roadside store here selling juices, ice cream, and banana bread, but you will find there are a lot of fruit and snack stands along the way if you are hungry.
A great stop is Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park. The parking lot is actually on your left hand side past mile marker 22. There are washrooms here, but not many parking spots. If you do find a spot you will need to cross back over the road where you will see a couple of waterfalls and a pool where people are swimming. There are also picnic tables here and some small trails with different views of the falls. The vegetation here was amazing…soooo lush!
We were starting to run short on time so we headed straight into Hana for something to eat. There is a park called Waianapanapa State Park just past mile marker 32. There are caves and a black sand beach here, but we would have to save that for another trip. We did drive down to Hana Bay to see the beach there, but if you have the time I would say skip this and go to the state park above. It was time to eat a late lunch at the Hana Ranch Restaurant…great food, quick service and a nice location.
There are some sights past Hana, however time was running out. It was now 2:30 and we knew we had to head back. We had a couple of quick stops to make before we finished up our drive. The first stop was at the Nahiku Marketplace. This is a fun roadside stop for shoppers. Lots of local crafts are being sold here and you can find some unique items for yourself or as gifts. It will be on your right hand side heading back from Hana. Our last stop was Hookipa Beach park and is actually back on route 36 just before Paia.
The reason we had wanted to stop here on the way back was because of the green sea turtles that come up onto this beach in the afternoons to bask in the sun. They didn’t disappoint! It was hard to tell what was turtle and what was rock.
I would definitely recommend driving the Road to Hana. Don’t worry too much about what stops you can fit in during your day. You won’t be able to see it all unless you overnight in Hana and do the trip over two days. Just keep in mind this 52 miles of road with 620 curves and 59 bridges will take you two to three hours each way. Enjoy the journey!