Just when you thought we had finished exploring I realized that I did not take you on the most iconic Hawaiian excursion ever! The Road to Hana is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state of Hawaii. Before you go make certain you download an app tour to Hana on your smart phone. These GPS guided tours are amazing and really helpful to provide history and early reminders of upcoming stops along the way. (Many of the sites are unidentified). Also, don’t forget a few necessities that include, bug spray, sunscreen, old Teva’s or sneakers, rain jacket, wet wipes, towels, wet washcloths and lots of water. This is can be a muddy journey so be prepared. Lastly, be safe. Accidents happen on adventures and there is only a small medical clinic in Hana so, if you get injured badly (I broke my wrist slipping on the lava rock) you will need to “deal” until you drive back to Kahului.
Paia is the last town you will pass before you make your journey to Hana Town. Make certain you fill up with gas and food. In this special little town you can have a great breakfast/lunch, grab coffee, and pick up a Hana picnic lunch for the road. After you complete your journey to Hana you will have an option to keep driving around Maui or turn back around and retrace the journey. If you decide to circle back (I always do) you should
consider having dinner at the Paia Flatbread Company or Paia Fish Market (this is the original – they also have locations in Lahaina Town & Kihei). The food is amazing and the atmosphere is super eclectic. There is excellent shopping and fun people watching. This area of the island truly represents a bohemian surf lifestyle.
As you pass though Paia you will see the iconic Mama’s Fish House. This locale is known by tourists as the best place to dine on Maui. It is also one of the most expensive. If you chose to come back on another day, invest in lunch or an early dinner. The views are as spectacular as the food. The ambiance is definitely part of the experience and you cannot see it in the dark of night.
From the bluff along the side of the small winding road you will come upon Ho’okipa lookout. This is a great spot to stop and watch some of the best surfing in Maui. In the winter, the waves can get massive and rough here. Maui is mecca to windsurfers and kite boarders due to consistent wind. I strongly suggest that you do not surf here unless you are very experienced and accompanied with a local.
Easily missed along the way is the hike to see Twin Falls. These picturesque waterfalls offer a large area to swim and take selfies! Consider sticking to the closest falls along the path (lower falls) in order to save time on your trip and be really careful of flash floods. You’ll always see cars parked here along the road. Make certain you keep all your belongings hidden and covered out of sight. You do not want to return from your amazing experience and find your windows smashed in your rental car. This does happen and there are usually multiple cars “knocked out” at a time. Avoid renting Jeeps and Nissan Altima’s they are indicators of a tourist.
If you are up for another hike, Waikamoi Ridge has a nice hike with a picnic area. It has 2 loops. One takes about 10 minutes and the other takes about half an hour. Waikamoi Trail can sometimes be muddy, but it’s a pretty hike through the trees.
If you are starting to feel a little peckish, make certain you stop and visit the Halfway to Hana Stand. Here you will have many options for fresh baked banana bread and other goodies for the remainder of your trip to Hana.
As you become closer to Hana Town you must make it a priority to visit the Hana Lava Tube. This natural wonder is simply amazing. At around the 31 mile marker, you’ll need to turn left on ‘Ula’ino Road and drive for less than 1/2 a mile. On the left, you’ll see where you can get your flashlights for this massive lava tube. After cooling down in the tubes make certain you go a little further down the road. You will soon see a sign for the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. They have the only accessible view of Pi’ilanihale Heiau, which is the largest Temple in Hawaii. This ancient temple took hundreds of years to complete and sprawls over 3 acres. This is a MUST SEE!
As the day continues you will finally be approaching Hana. Hana is a quaint small sleepy town on the water. Others know Hana as a place of deep roots, historic battles, legendary locations, and a place for the Gods. It is a very special little place that can really impact your overall visit along the journey.
I certainly hope you aren’t exhausted yet. The Wailua Falls are coming up next. These falls are just seamless and elegant. You cannot miss these beautiful waterfalls. They are located right on the road and along a bridge. Just past the bridge are places to pull over and park.
Please make certain you are not running out of time. Save a few hours for the end of your journey. It is probably the biggest WOW of the entire trip – another portion of Haleakala National Park. On my first journey to Hana, we searched and hunted for the bamboo forest. Little did we know that if we had driven just a little further we would have made it however, we did not. You could literally spend hours visiting this portion of Haleakala National Park. This part of the park is spectacular. This is the location for ‘Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools), the Pipiwai Trail, and Waimoku Falls. There’s camping, a visitor center, bathrooms, waterfalls, and ancient Hawaiian ruins. I promise this is not disappointing.
At this point darkness is near. You will need to decide if you are going to take the more scenic and not so “paved” road around Maui ending up in Kula or turning around and driving back the same way you came. You will find the reverse drive just as beautiful as when you came in. Unless you have an SUV or truck I would advise taking this route. Perhaps it would be a good idea to switch drivers at this point. It can really be exhausting making this trek. Lastly, get yourself settle back in your hotel room with a hot steam shower and a Mai Tai to relax. You will be ready for a nap.
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