In this guide, I am not just listing every single spot to see along the Road to Hana… because let’s be honest, that’s stressful when you are trying to plan just a one day itinerary.
When I was researching what I wanted to fit into a day, I wasn’t sure where to start! I didn’t know how long it would take to be at each stop, if I could fit the things on my list into the day, etc.
In this Road to Hana Itinerary, everything listed here can be completed in a day. Plus, you will have some down time to eat lunch and stop at a few extra spots that look inviting to you. 🙂
My biggest tip is to not squeeze as many things into your day, but rather make it a priority to see a few “must-see” sites and then just explore other spots along the way! The point to Road to Hana is not sticking to a strict itinerary, but to enjoy the journey. 🙂
Before we dive into all the stops on my itinerary, lets touch on all the important things you should know about your road trip..
PSST… Be sure to check out my other Maui Travel Guides:
- 5 Day Maui Itinerary
- 30 Things to do in Kaanapali Beach
- 20 Romantic Things to do in Maui for Couples!
- Which Hawaiian Island is best?
There’s a chance this free guide contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through one of these links, I might make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that goes towards little Rosie’s dog treats!
Where is the Road to Hana?
Road to Hana is located in Maui, Hawaii on the northeast side of the island. This road trip became famous due to the challenging and thrilling road to “get to Hana.” Let’s just say if you are a nervous driver / passenger… this is not the road trip for you!
The actual town of Hana is the goal /end point, but you can also travel past that to see more sights (which will be recommended in this Road to Hana Itinerary)! Some people if they are brave enough, will travel all the way around the eastside of the island!
If you are planning your starting point and ending point, I would recommend the town of Paia as the starting point and the Seven Sacred Pools as your ending point. If you choose to go all the way around, that’s up to you (we will get more into that later). 🙂
Should You Turn Back or Go All the Way Around?
I was very torn on the best way to do Road to Hana, so torn in fact that I made the call while we were at the Seven Sacred Pools (the end point I mentioned)! I can’t tell you how many locals we asked and got extremely mixed advice… here is what I gathered:
Pros to going all the way around:
- If you are staying on the west side of Maui (Kaanapali, Lahaina, or Wailea), it will save you a significant amount of time.
- You will see completely different scenery than you did on the way there.
- Far less crowds and cars driving on that end of the road trip.
- The thrill and accomplishment of making it all the way around!
Cons to going all the way around:
- The back side of the Road to Hana is very dry and not nearly as scenic as the way to Hana. If you go back the way you came, you can see half the sites on your way back!
- There are large pot holes and loose dirt. Meaning, if it was just raining significantly, your car can easily get stuck in the mud.
- The roads are extremely winding and narrow. If a car on the opposite side is coming towards you, you will need to pull into the jungle practically.
- If you head back the same way you came, you get to be on the ocean side of the road and get better views! If you go all the way around, you will stay on the inland side of the road.
What I would recommend:
If you are a nervous driver or are in a car that is not high clearance, 4 wheel drive, then I would not recommend going all the way around. If you are in your own car or a Jeep and want to save some time, then I say go for it! 🙂
A lot of people go all the way around, especially the locals, and are completely fine. I don’t think the roads could be THAT bad if so many people go all the way around! But of course, be safe and go at your own risk!
All of these photos were edited with my Presets! Click here to check them out!
When should you start your Road to Hana Road Trip?
I started my road to Hana itinerary VERY early.. like before sunrise early. I don’t regret waking up that early, but I think there is one main thing I should mention that I did not read anywhere online.
The Road the Hana is on the “wet” side of Maui, meaning it rains throughout the night and most of the morning almost every day. We drove all the way from Kaanapali to Hana (almost a 3 hour drive), and it was raining almost the entire time. We had little pieces of sun, but it only got sunny in the afternoon!
PLUS, we wanted to stop in the cute town of Paia to see some shops and grab an early breakfast, but that sleepy surfer town was completely shut down when we arrived there at 5:30am.
The upside to waking up that early to start the day was that we never had to drive that winding road in the dark on the way back, there were virtually no cars on that narrow road on the drive up, and we beat the crowds at most of the sights!
My recommendation? I would plan to get to the town of Paia around 7am (when the town opens), so you can experience it! Plus, that will still get you on the road early enough to beat the crowds and cars on the road. And, you will hopefully get to your first stop by the time the morning cloud cover is gone. 🙂
Should you Stay a Night in Hana?
I think if you have the time, it would definitely be a good idea to stay a night in Hana or nearby! There is SO much to see on that side of Maui. If you are staying on the west side of Maui and are doing this Road to Hana Itinerary as a day trip, it will be a LONG day. I kind of wish I spent a night and broke up the drive, plus I would’ve been able to see more!
If you choose to stay a night in Hana, there are only a few accommodations available, so be sure to book in advance!
$$: Kailani Suite at Hana Kai Resort
I stayed in Kaanapali Beach on my 5 Day Maui Itinerary, where I split my time between the Hyatt Regency & Aston at the Whaler! The Hyatt was a beautiful resort, perfect for relaxing! The Aston at the Whaler had a fantastic location and a full kitchen to cook some meals at!
Must-Pack Items for Road to Hana
I never want to bore you with a never-ending packing list, but I do like to mention a few must-have items for this specific trip!
In 2018, Hawaii banned standard sun screen that contains chemicals that are harmful to reefs. It was the first state in the USA, which was long over due! It is SUPER important that you are only using reef safe sunscreen not just because it’s illegal not to, but because the chemicals in regular sunscreen can cause hundreds of years of damage to a coral reef.
I solely used Sun Bum, which you can get right on Amazon! It has a good smell, doesn’t make you feel super greasy, and didn’t make me break out!
I am not a sunglass snob AT ALL. I buy 99% of my sunglasses off amazon because I am the most irresponsible sunglass owner on the planet! When you are traveling, you should bring a cheap pair to take with you in the ocean / pool, shove in your bag when you’re in a rush, and not care if you lose!
I have this adorable two pack! They are super sturdy, so adorable, and the best part.. extremely affordable!
On the wet side of Maui, you will need an umbrella. It will be sunny and hot one second and torrential downpour the next! When Joseph and I were hiking to this secret beach near Hana (more on that later), it starting pouring on us! Click here for a super affordable + tiny one that could fit in your pocket!
Be sure to follow along on Instagram for more photography inspiration! 🙂
Road to Hana Itinerary – BEST STOPS on Road to Hana!
Please keep in mind there are PLENTY of stops along the road to Hana, and a lot of stops I did not name on this road trip.. simply because it is just not possible to see everything in a day trip! I am just listing what I decided to include on my day trip to Hana, and what I could easily fit into one day!
I have a bonus section at the bottom of this guide in case you want to split your road trip up into multiple days OR swap out something from this Road to Hana itinerary. 🙂
Okay, let’s get started!!
Stop 1: Paia Town
I would plan to arrive at Paia town around 7am when all the shops begin to open. You can grab a quick breakfast here and walk around the town.
If you have the choice to visit this town on your way in versus on the way out… I would definitely see it on your way in to Hana! When I was driving back from my road trip and passing through Paia, it was PACKED. The line of cars backed up on the highway was crazy!
Be sure to keep an eye out when driving through this town to see all the surfers dotting the horizon!
Stop 2: Wai’anapanapa State Park (Paia to Wai’anapanapa State Park ~ 2 hours)
I chose to head straight to Wai’anapanapa State park first thing in the morning to beat the crowds! But.. it didn’t go as planned..
As of 3/1/21, you MUST have a state park reservation in advance. This was SO heartbreaking considering this went into affect only a few weeks before I arrived and did not know of this new rule! We were turned away at the gate saying they were sold out for the day 🙁
Be sure to book your reservation in advance so you aren’t turned away! You can do that here.
This state park is definitely one you won’t want to miss! This is where you will get to walk a ton of scenic walking trails, swim in fresh water caves, explore lava tubes and the best part… see a black sand beach! You could easily spend an hour or so exploring this state park. 🙂
Stop 3: Hana (Wai’anapanapa State Park to Hana ~ 10 minutes)
The town of Hana is technically the goal of the road trip, but you aren’t done yet! 🙂
This small town shows the simplest way of life! There is a small school in the town, a few restaurants, and a good size community who lives there. I was very shocked by the amount of homes I saw considering the nearest grocery store is over 2 hours away!
Honestly, there is not much to do in the actual town of Hana, so I would make this your lunch stop! Here are a few lunch spots in the area:
- Braddah Hutts BBQ
- Huli Huli Chicken
- Hana Ranch Restaurant (where I went)!
Stop 4: Kaihalulu Beach (Hana to Kaihalulu Beach ~ 4 minutes)
Kaihalulu Beach is a secret, red sand beach in the town of Hana! I was completely lost trying to find the trail to this beach, but luckily a nice local helped showing us the way.
To start, I would park somewhere near the corner of Uakea Rd & Hauoli Rd (right near Hana Ball Park)! Then you continue by foot onto Uakea Rd towards to ocean. It will say no trespassing, so you can go at your own risk. When I spoke with the local who showed me the way, he said to go for it! 🙂
Right before you get to the end of the road, you will see a yellow gate on your left hand side. That is where you will cross over into the jungle! From that point on, the trail was pretty easy to follow and well marked. Just continue on the dirt trail until you see the red sand beach. 🙂
All of these photos were edited with my Presets! Click here to check them out!
Stop 5: Wailua Falls (Kaihalulu Beach to Wailua Falls ~ 25 minutes)
This was my favorite spot along the Road to Hana! This gorgeous waterfall is right off the highway and there are two small trails on each side that let you get a little closer to the falls.
Since this is a popular spot, there is a very small parking area in front of the falls. This is when I was very grateful I started my Road to Hana itinerary early because there was plenty of parking when I arrived. BUT on my way back I passed by Wailua Falls, and there was no parking available!
TIP: Bring your swim suit, because you can swim in these falls! 🙂
Stop 6: Seven Sacred Pools (Wailua Falls to Seven Sacred Pools ~ 10 minutes)
Seven Sacred Pools, also known as The Pools at ‘Ohe’o, is located inside of Haleakala National Park. AKA, be ready to pay a national park fee! 🙂
This is one of the most known spots on the Road to Hana, and is located only about 30 minutes past the town of Hana. I would plan to park your car here and spend some time exploring since Stop #7 is located here too. 🙂
The Seven Sacred Pools is just a short, downhill hike from the parking area. When the water levels are low, there are natural swimming pools (from the name I’m guessing.. oh I don’t know, Seven?!). This spot is beyond magical! Can you imagine relaxing in natural swimming pools, surrounded by waterfalls, looking out at the ocean!?
Stop 7: Bamboo Forest (Seven Sacred Pools to Bamboo Forest ~ Same parking lot!)
The Bamboo Forest / Waimoku Falls is at the same parking lot as the Seven Sacred Pools. You will take a steep trek through the jungle along the Pipiwai Trail to access both the Bamboo Forest and Waimoku Falls.
Waimoku falls is a 3.8 mile round trip hike, and is the end point of the Pipiwai trail! I decided to just go to the Bamboo forest (2 mile round trip) before turning around, because I decided to stop at a waterfall on my way back to Kaanapali instead to break up the drive. 🙂
Stop 8: Stop to swim in a waterfall on your way back! (Roughly 2.5 hours to get back to west side of Maui)
There are so many waterfalls along the Road to Hana to choose from, which is a pretty good problem to have! 🙂
Majority have swimming holes that allow for swimming, but you do want to be careful not to swim in one that you aren’t sure is safe! Especially if water levels are high.
I stopped at Pua’a Ka’a Falls on the way back because it was a good half way point, there were picnic tables to relax at for a bit, there was a huge parking area, and there were restrooms to change in afterwards!
TIP: Make sure you bring wet socks if you plan on swimming in waterfalls! Trust me, you will thank me later.
Swimming in waterfalls along the Road to Hana was my favorite things on my Things to do in Maui for Couples guide!
Bonus Stops along the Road To Hana
It will be extremely stressful and challenging to try to fit every site along the road to Hana in your day trip itinerary. I would highly recommend writing down a handful of must-see sites, and then stopping everywhere that looks inviting to you!
If one of the things I named didn’t interest you, here are a few ideas you can swap it out with:
- Twin Falls (swimming hole waterfall)
- Lava Tube (small trail to visit lava tubes)
- The Rainbow Eucalyptus Grove (to see rainbow trees!!)
- Garden of Eden Arboretum (large area with walking trails, a café, and tours)
- Stop wherever looks inviting to you!!
All of these photos were edited with my Presets! Click here to check them out!
Okay, that’s a wrap! I hope you found this extremely detailed Road to Hana itinerary useful! I know I could’ve used something like this when I was planning my trip.
This Road to Hana itinerary was listed on my 5 Day Maui Itinerary, so be sure to check it out! Here are some bonus itineraries of Maui I think you would love:
- Romantic Things to do in Maui for Couples
- 30 Things to do in Kaanapali Beach!
- Which Hawaiian Island is Best?
Remember.. you won’t have any service along the Road to Hana, so I would recommend saving all these spots to a Google Map! If you want to just use mine, just type your information in below and I will email it to you! 🙂
Like this guide? Pin it here!
[…] is home to the famous Road to Hana where you get to explore hidden beaches, swim in waterfalls, see red & black sand beaches, and […]
[…] Road to Hana Itinerary […]
[…] Hawaiian surfer town, be sure to stop at Paia on the opposite side of Maui! If you plan on doing a Road to Hana day trip, you’ll pass right through it! […]
Thanks for the recomendations for the road to Hana trip. Would you please send me your google map thanks!
Hi Karen! Just use the form that is listed in the guide and it will automatically email it to you! 🙂