Road To Hana

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Address Hana Highway, Hana, HI 96713
The legendary road to Hana proves that it's the journey, not the destination that matters.

• General: Cost: Free • General: Photo Opportunity • Hiking: Hiking • Sightseeing: Great Views • Sightseeing: Waterfalls
• Sightseeing: Wildlife • Vehicle Activities: Fun Drives

There's a reason you can buy souvenir shirts that read "I survived the road to Hana". That's right, so merchants can make money more off of you!

Okay, this is a pretty crazy road and it's not for everyone. For those with the common holy-crap-a-phobia disorder, where you easily panic and freak out when you see an oncoming truck doing three times the speed limit while 75% in your lane while going around a completely blind corner, well, either skip this one or make sure you're the passenger.

If you started in north Kihei the trip along the Hana Highway to the tiny town of Hana would cover over 50 miles and take about 2 hours, in theory. In real life there will be traffic, tour buses in your way, drivers that drive way too slow due to holy-crap-a-phobia, and drivers that drive way too fast causing holy-crap-a-phobia in others so it will be close to 3 hours each way.

But don't think that this is a 6 hour round trip affair. No, the Road To Hana is an all day event. There are all sorts of beaches, waterfalls, hikes, scenic views, and much more to stop for along the way. One of my favorites is Wai'anapanapa Black Sand Beach and another is Seven Sacred Pools / Ohe'o Gulch.

Want more time to explore? Then stay a night at the only true hotel in Hana which is the lovely Travaasa Hotel Hana, but make sure you have reservations.

The road itself is a very narrow two lane road (one lane for each direction) that will literally, and often, turn into a single lane road that both directions share. This happens at the most inconvenient of moments like at pretty much every small bridge you cross (of which there are many) and at blind corners, but it certainly makes for a more interesting drive.

The road is also full of sharp turns and curves. Tons, and tons, of curving roads. Not so bad if you are the driver, but many passengers will get sick from the constant back and forth swaying. Bring drinks and snacks and take breaks to avoid bringing home a doggy bag of your own sick.

In many areas there are places to pull off, in other areas people will just do dumb things and stop wherever they feel like it. Don't worry, it all adds to the adventure!

But on that note, let's take a minute to discuss proper Road To Hana etiquette. If you see signs that read "no parking" please abide by the rules. At the same time, even if there isn't a sign please use common sense and never block the road in any way. Tour operators and visitors alike tend to just park wherever they want, often because somebody else is parking wherever they want. This is not okay.

While it's fun to go slow and sightsee on along the way, keep an eye on your rear view mirror. If you see several cars behind you then chances are good you're going too slow. I know, this is Hawaii and slow is good. Only this is the only road for locals who live along this route to get back and forth and you're probably holding them up. Don't speed up, but simply pull over and let them pass because locals aren't sightseeing like you are, they're using the road to get somewhere.

As one member, Tom B, suggests: Play a game on the road to Hana. See how many shakas and double-toots you can collect by pulling over and letting a local pass. Certainly seems like a great idea to us, and what better way to experience a little of that Aloha Spirit you've heard so much about.

Don't expect much in the way of services along the way as there isn't much of that happening. You'll find one obvious bathroom break along the way, possibly not many others beyond the wilderness.

Speaking of pit stops, fuel up before you leave because once you get going the only service station around will be the Chevron Hana in the small Hana town itself.

Speaking of service, don't expect cell service because it will vanish on you for much of the way. So while your cell phone GPS might work, apps that use real time maps like Google Maps won't be able to pull in the map data without that cell signal. You won't get lost but if you wanted to see something specific print maps before you go!

There is a southern route using the Piilani Highway (31) to get between south Maui and Hana as well and it's equally as long and not as good of a road in some areas. Still, many drivers like to take one way there and the other way back. The south route is not maintained very well so the roads can be rough, check with your rental car company to make sure they'll allow you to drive this route without voiding your agreement with them.

If you plan to do this check out the beaches and views along the way consider, taking the south route to Hana and north route back as the bulk of your stops will then be on the right side of the road which makes it easier to park and then get back on the road.

One small problem with the south route is that it does NOT connect directly to the Wailea-Makena area like it looks like it would on a map. Instead, the Piilani Highway will run north / south and connect back to civilization in central Maui. So, it's not a shortcut to the south Maui resort areas at all.