Hana is considered the last unspoiled Hawaiian frontier. A soulful respite from modern day stress. The journey to Hana is part of the reward, traveling through lush tropical jungle and with 600 curves and 54 bridges to cross, hundreds of waterfalls and secret spots, breathtaking vistas, remote peninsulas and scenic picnic spots, it’s best to take the journey at your own pace. There are several books, guided CDs and GPS apps available that take you through the journey. You may want to review some and see which one suits you best. Remember to start your journey early if you want to make the most of it.
Setting out on the wonderful, winding Road to Hana, make sure you fill up on gas at the beginning of the journey. Pack some snacks and drinking water and prepare to expect the unexpected. Hana has a handful of restaurants and small convenience stores, but they close early and some close for holidays.
To begin your journey, you will want to head towards Paia Town on the North Shore of Maui. Here you will find an assortment of surf shops, boutique stores and restaurants. If you stay here a while, you may even fall in love with Paia’s small town charm.
Traveling East of Paia along Hana Highway, the journey to will take you past world famous Mama’s Fish House restaurant, a great option for dining upon returning from Hana, but reservations are a must! Just after Mama’s, you will pass Ho‘okipa Beach Park, home to the Aloha Classic Windsurfing Tournament. The lookout has an elevated parking lot that overlooks the bay, great for seasonal whale watching from the shoreline.
Heading past Ho‘okipa, you will be heading towards heavenly Hana, a few more curves in the road and the scenery will transform from rolling pastures into wild rainforests with an abundance of fruit trees, fragrant wild ginger and an assortment of fruit stands that offer delicious fruit smoothies, banana loafs and other snacks.
You will notice mile markers along the road. After mile marker 16, the Hana Highway mile markers reset to zero. Our first recommended stop along the journey is just past the next Mile Marker 2 ~ Twin Falls. Estimate 1-2 hours for this stop.
There is a parking lot to the right of the highway that fronts the entrance to Twin Falls, an easily accessible set of waterfalls that requires minimal hiking. Depending on weather conditions, the paths may be a little muddy. Swimming is optional, so bring spare clothing and towels incase you do get wet. There is a small stand that sells juices and snacks in the earlier part of the day. There are several waterfalls and scenic hiking paths. The area is a popular hiking spot, so can become crowded, with difficulty finding parking. Budget time carefully here if you have a lot of other stops planned along your journey.
Just after Mile Marker 16 you will see a turn in the road to the left. Here you will find Keanae Peninsula. A great spot to stop and admire the sweeping landscape of lava fields and sea cliffs. There are public restrooms and a few small shops that sell fresh banana macadamia nut bread and other snacks and drinks.
Travel a little further towards Hana and as you pass the Half Mile after Mile Marker 19, you will reach the Upper Waikani (Three Bears) Waterfalls, a breathtaking trio of waterfalls which can be seen from the road. A great stop for a photo opportunity if parking is available.
Just before you arrive in Hana, you will see a sign and a left turn towards Wainapanapa state park. This is a great area to visit in Hana offering a variety of sights, hikes, camping, with caves, blowhole – black sand beach
Arriving in Hana Town, there are an array of local eats, we recommend the restaurant at Traavasa which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. While there, you may also want to check out the art gallery which showcases a wide array of Hawaii artists. There are some magnificent pieces that would appeal to any avid collector. Indulge in a Travaasa Spa treatment, sure to leave you feeling renewed and rested. Reservations a must: (888) 820-1043
If time permits, adventure awaits in Kipahulu. Located approximately 15 minutes beyond Hana, this sacred and special area is part of the Haleakala National Park. Explore the area with hikes and walks of varying difficulty. Be sure to read our Blog about exploring Kipahulu which includes info about Seven Sacred Pools, Oheo Gulch and more.
There is so much to do around East Maui. You may even want to stay a night or two to get the most of your journey. Keep in mind that the journey is the reward so expect the unexpected.
What better way to end your journey through Hana is with an unforgettable dinner. Driving back the scenic route towards Haiku and Paia, you may want to stop at Mama’s Fish House which is located at Kuau Cove (just outside of Paia). All their fish is caught daily and the menu even names the fisherman who caught it. The service is excellent and their dishes are some of the best on Maui. Reservations are recommended. (808) 579-8488.
Tips for taking the road to Hana
– leave early,
– bring hiking shoes and clothing
– bring towels and spare clothes incase it rains
– check weather to see if it’s raining
– fill your gas tank
– drive carefully and slowly and enjoy the journey
– stay overnight for an additional day of relaxation in heavenly Hana