If you read any blog about Maui, it’ll tell you that if you do one thing and one thing only, drive the Road to Hana. It’s been ranked as one of the best drives in America, and for good reason! You’ll see tons of waterfalls, lush landscape, amazing Hawaiian flowers, rainbow eucalyptus trees, 3 different colored beaches, and much more! Not to mention, it’s free to do, so it’s a great way to explore Maui on a Budget.
The Road to Hana is a 64 mile drive along the North part of Maui into the East coast of the island. Don’t be disappointed when you make it to Hana, though. The town of Hana is actually really small and the only thing to do there is get something to eat. However, the destination isn’t what you look forward to here. It’s the adventure getting to Hana.
But, since it’s rated as one of the top things to do in Maui, that means it’s constantly overcrowded with tourists. The traffic and parking can be really bad if you leave anywhere from 8-11 am and if you follow the typical route, starting in Pa’ia and stopping at all of the sites until you reach Hana. We decided to try it a different way. Backwards.
Note: You can continue even further into backcountry Maui, but that makes for a very long day, so we did the “out and back” route from Pa’ia to Hana.
We hit the road from Pa’ia at 8 am and headed straight for Hana, not stopping once. We actually drove all the way to Wailua Falls, which is about 8 miles further down Hana Hwy. When we got to Wailua Falls, we had it all to ourselves. A lady selling jewelry at the trailhead said that busses generally get there around 12:30 and you can barely get a photo, so this was quite a treat!
Our next stop was Venus Pools. This also is not on most blogs you will read, as it is only popular with the locals and it’s hard to find. We used an app called Shaka Maui and downloaded a guided audio tour of our entire drive for $5.99! SO WORTH IT! That was how we discovered these pools. The app uses your GPS and is able to tell you exactly where to turn and where to park to get to all of the secret and popular spots! It also gives you Hawaiian history and stories along the way.
Anyways, Venus Pools was gorgeous. To get to it, we walked through a huge cow pasture and found the trail leading down to the pools. Normal, right?
We were then greeted by gorgeous salt water pools where cliff jumping is allowed, but it’s advised to be cautious if you jump because the rocks can move in the water.
Then comes the beach stops. These three stops were probably our favorite on the entire drive. There’s a tan beach, a red beach and a black beach. Seriously. Look!
Black Sand Beach is in Wai’anapanapa Park, which is a popular spot. There are camp sites, picnic tables and walking trails as well as blow holes, lava tubes, natural stone arches and freshwater caves. We decided to check out the blow-hole. Warning: if you want to try to get an action shot, you may unexpectedly get wet…
The entire drive, you’re greeted with amazing views at every turn. Speaking of turns, there’s 620 (yes, six hundred and twenty) hairpin curves on this drive. It’s called the Rollercoaster of Hawaii. There’s also over 45 one lane bridges, so this drive may not be for everyone, as it can be a little nerve-wracking, but it is completely doable and safe if you’re careful and follow the rules of the road.
There’s so much more to see on the drive that we didn’t stop at because of time constraints and rain. Some of the most popular stops are:
- Wailua Iki Hike/Falls
- Waikani Falls
- Garden of Eden- a $15 entrance fee/person
- Twin Falls
- Honomanu Bay
We did make time to stop at Coconut Glens, which is a vegan ice cream shop at mile marker 27 1/2. We got the ginger lemongrass and the pineapple banana and they were both INCREDIBLE.
There’s also tons of food vendors throughout the duration of this drive, so it’s not necessary to get food and snacks for the entire day. There are bathrooms along the way, but there isn’t a gas station until you reach Hana, so fill up before you leave Pa’ia.
In total, with our stops, we spent about 8 hours on the Road to Hana, and had an amazing day. No matter how long you decide to spend on this unforgettable adventure, you’re guaranteed to be blown away by its beauty. And, by doing it backwards like we did, you can enjoy some peace and quiet away from all the tour buses!
Enjoy your time in Maui and on the Road to Hana!
Mahalo for coming to our blog!