Travel

The top 7 things to do on a Hana Highway road trip

The Hana Highway on Maui

There’s probably not a more famous drive in Hawai‘i than the Hana Highway, also known as the Road to Hana, which traces Maui’s rainforested north coast. 

Indeed, it’s no stretch to call this one of the world’s most celebrated oceanfront roads. Get ready for sweeping mountain-to-ocean views, plentiful waterfalls, dreamily lush forests, and a great mix of powdery beaches and wave-clobbered headlands—plus among the most fabled surf breaks on the planet. The biggest mistake to make tackling the Road to Hana? Rushing things.

A map of the Hana Highway on Maui

Our recommended route

We suggest doing the whole Hana Highway, a 52-mile combination of State Routes 36 and 360 linking Kahului with Hana Town. The mileage is infamously deceptive: With a speed limit of 25 miles per hour, nearly 60 one-lane bridges, and about 620 hairpin curves—plus plenty of traffic, courtesy of your fellow sightseers—the Road to Hana is a slow-going one, demanding lots of caution, attentiveness, and patience. While you may be able to complete the Hana Highway in about 2.5 hours, that’s not allowing for very much time soaking up the amazing sights and places along the way; it’s best to devote a full day, and if your schedule allows an overnight in Hana, all the better.

When to drive it

The Hana Highway is popular year-round, and the tropical climate means the sightseeing weather’s is generally consistently good all around the calendar. 

A few considerations, nonetheless: Crowds are likely to be less in spring and fall, surfers favor winter’s giant waves, and parents with young children might prefer the calmer swimming waters of summer. Speaking of which, bring a swimsuit! Besides the ocean beaches, there are waterfall plunge pools to enjoy.

Things to see & do

Aerial view of Hookipa Beach Park

Hookipa Beach Park.

1. Hookipa Beach Park

(milepost 9)

It’s worth a stop to survey what many regard as the finest place to windsurf in the world.

Rainbow eucalyptus trees at the Maui Garden of Eden

Rainbow eucalyptus trees at the Maui Garden of Eden.

2. Maui Garden of Eden

(milepost 10.5)

This gorgeous tropical arboretum—right where the initial helicopter approach to “Isla Nublar” in Jurassic Park was filmed—delivers unforgettable ocean views and intoxicating tranquility.

3. Wailua Valley State Wayside

(milepost 18.8)

Climb a short set of stairs for vistas toward the green mountains (the mauka view) and out to the Pacific (the mauna view).

Puaa Kaa Falls

Puaa Kaa Falls.

4. Puaa Kaa Falls

(milepost 22.5)

This small green-clad waterfall drops into a popular swimming hole.

Hanawi Falls

Hanawi Falls.

5. Hanawi Falls

(milepost 24)

Cleaving luxuriant rainforest vegetation, Hanawi Falls is a stunner right along the highway.

The black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park

Waianapanapa State Park.

6. Waianapanapa State park

(milepost 32)

One of Maui’s great seafronts, this park includes a celebrated volcanic black-sand beach, rugged sea cliffs, surf-driven blowholes, a splendid coastal forest of native hala (also known as pandanus or screwpine), and freshwater caves.

7. Hana

The Hana Highway’s farflung destination town offers the botanical glories of Kahanu Garden, the interpretive delights of the Hana Cultural Center & Museum, souvenir shopping at the Hasegawa General Store and Hana Ranch Store, and access to one of the island’s most esteemed beaches, Hamoa.

Possible detours/add-on destinations

Between mileposts 13 and 14, turn off on Hahana Road to reach one of the most hallowed surfing hotspots anywhere: Peahi, host to the huge and ferocious “Jaws” surf break. Unless you’re an elite big-wave surfer, content yourself with spectating.

There’s just as much scenic beauty and Maui magic beyond Hana. Stay on Route 360 to reach the legendary Seven Sacred Pools at Oheo Gulch in the coastal portion of Haleakala National Park, the postcard-perfect South Wailua Waterfall, and the Kipahulu gravesite of aviator Charles Lindbergh, among many other attractions.

Where to stay

  • Travaasa Hotel Hana (5031 Hana Hwy., Hana)
    Embrace the remoteness and tropical atmosphere of Hana at this AAA Three Diamond hotel, which emphasizes tranquility; you’ll find soaking pools and a hot tub on the grounds.
  • Hana Kai Maui (4865 Uakea Rd., Hana)
    Hana Kai Maui’s condos, which range from studios to two-bedroom units, deliver lovely Pacific views.

Where to eat

  • The Preserve Kitchen + Bar (5031 Hana Hwy., Hana)
    Local fishermen supply the fresh seafood at this open-air restaurant, which earns a Three Diamond designation from AAA.
  • Hana Ranch Restaurant (5031 Hana Hwy., Hana)
    Casual eats and drinks await at the AAA Diamond Approved Hana Ranch Restaurant, where you can kick back to ocean views from both the patio and the open-air dining room.
  • Mama’s Fish House (799 Poho Place, Paia)
    This long-running, family-owned eatery along the Hana Highway offers irresistible tropical atmosphere and locally fresh-caught fish among its charms.
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Let AAA help you plan your road trip

Members can visit their local AAA branch for free maps and TourBooks1, or go online to find maps in the AAA Map Gallery and check gas prices and road conditions, plus much more. 

Road trip planning resources

Rent your road trip car from Hertz

Prevent wear and tear on your personal vehicle by renting a car for your next road trip. AAA members save up to 20% on when they rent with Hertz in the U.S. and Canada, and additional qualified AAA drivers are free—great for sharing driving responsibilities on a longer trip.2

Rent with Hertz

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