Hana on the island of Maui is one of the few unspoiled spots in Hawaii. It is definitely one thing you do not want to miss. I have done the road to hana quite a few times now, both with kids and without. The Road to Hana with kids can be challenging as it is a 52-mile highway that winds around the eastern coastline of Maui on a narrow one-lane road, however, if you know the right stops, your kids will have a great time. On this post, I will breakdown all my favorite stops, plus the absolute must-see stops everyone should check out.
7 Tips for Your Road to Hana Stops and Overall Trip
- The entire journey to and from Hana takes a whole day, so 10-12 hours. If you plan to drive the backside of the Road beyond Hana on Highway 31, it is highly recommended that you plan to stay overnight in or near Hana. Also for overnight plans, you’ll need reservations, as there are only about 7 or 8 hotels, inns or condominiums in Hana. If you want more economical accommodations, rent a basic cabin at the Wai’anapanapa State Park, or see if a room is available from a local on VRBO or Airbnb.
- Start early, around 6 AM. The Road to Hana gets very crowded, so stay ahead of the crowd.
- Keep in mind there are not any gas stations on the Road to Hana, so make sure your gas tank is full, and you have some water and snacks before you begin your adventure.
- The road is paved, but there are many hairpins turns and bridges, so you need to pay careful attention when driving and go slow.
- Wear a swimsuit and sturdy shoes to hike in, and bring towels because it gets hot and you will want to stop for a swim several times along the way!
- If you plan to do the round-trip in 1 day, plan your route ahead of time. Hit the DON’T MISS Stops first and see the rest of the stops you missed on the way back.
- Make sure you are headed back from Hana by at least 3 pm, so you don’t get stuck on the road after dark.
Beautiful Stops on the Road to Hana
The Road to Hana begins in Pai’a on Highway 36. After mile marker 16, the road becomes Highway 360, and the mile markers start all over again at 0.
Mile Marker 2: Twin Falls
Twin Falls are the first accessible waterfalls along the Road to Hana and is located just past the Twin Falls Farm Stand. The Lower Falls is a short 5-minute walk from the parking lot. The Upper Falls are more massive and are a one-mile hike on a beautiful trail. Be careful because the trail is slippery. There is good swimming in the pools below the waterfall. This is a fantastic stop to take kids on a short hike to a waterfall
Mile Marker 7:
The Kaaiea Bridge is a quick stop with an excellent photo op, as it has an incredible view of a bamboo forest.
Mile Marker 9: Koolau Forest Reserve
The Koolau Forest Reserve is a state park with a picnic area and restrooms. You will also find The Waikamoi Ridge Trail here, which is a .75-mile loop that is an easy 30-minute walk with some scenic views.
Mile Marker 10:
The Garden of Eden is a beautiful Garden with a panoramic view of the Lower and Upper Puhokamoa Falls. This is a paid attraction with a $15 entrance fee. It also has an art gallery and an ice cream stand.
Just past Mile Marker 16: Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees
*Absolute Must Stop*
DON’T MISS the Ke’anae Arboretum, which is a free attraction that contains some of the most interesting specimens of Hawaii’s botany. Don’t miss the Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees! Then head past the Arboretum, you can hike the Keanae Valley trail about a 1/2 mile into the tropical rainforest. The rainbow eucalyptus is simply amazing as you have these towering colorful trees surrounding you.
Mile Marker 17: -Keane Peninsula
*Absolute Must Stop*
DON’T MISS the Keane Peninsula. Stop at the Halfway to Hana farm stand and get some lunch AND check out Aunt Sandy’s for their famous banana bread.
This is one of the Road to Hana stops you surely won’t want to miss! A drive out to the Keane Congregational church rewards visitors with a pastoral drive past an old Hawaiian farm, plus an 1860’s church built out of lava rocks and coral. Walk the road until it ends at a white picket fence and park. Lastly, hike 5 minutes along the shore to a black lava rock beach. The view of the waves pounding against the black lava rocks is stunning!
Mile Marker 19: Wayside Park
Wailua Valley State Wayside Park is on the right side of the road and is a quick photo op. Park and climb up the stairs for a panoramic view of the Keanaie Valley, the Waikani Falls, and the Wailua Peninsula.
Just past Mile Marker 22:
Puaa Kaa State Wayside Park is a small state park with a picnic area and restrooms. It is usually very crowded as most tourists stop here. You can walk the path down to the Falls and a large swimming area.
Mile Marker 29: Nahiku Marketplace
The Nahiku Marketplace is a good lunch stop and a cute little shopping area for handmade Hawaiian jewelry, artwork, clothing, etc. I recommend getting the Huli Huli Chicken. You will see it being roasted right in front of you. It’s delicious
Mile Marker 31: Lava Tubes
Turn left on Ula’inoo Road to get to the Ka’Eleku Caverns and the Hana Lava Tube. Self-guided Cave tours are open every day and take about 40 minutes. Continue down the Road to the National Tropical Botanical Garden where the Piilanihale Heiau Hawaiian Temple is located. The Temple is the oldest in Hawaii. Be sure to take the self-guided walking tour of the garden. If you want to see lava tubes this is a great stop but you can also see them at Black Sand Beach
Mile marker 32: Black Sand Beach
*Absolute Must Stop*
DON’T MISS the Wai’anapanapa State Park and Maui’s famous shiny black sand Pa’loa Beach. Explore the dramatic coastline of the 100+ acre park with its sea cliffs, a blowhole, lava formations, two walking trails, and a hidden swimming hole.
You can stay in one of the cabins in the state park or camp as the park has restrooms, showers, drinking water, and picnic pavilions. Take a look at how much fun we had!
Mile marker 34: Hana
Hana. While in the town of Hana, be sure to visit Hana Tropical. It is a tropical flower farm and nursery, for some of the most exotic plants in the world. Grab some souvenirs and supplies at the Hasegawa General Store and get a bite to eat at one of the many food trucks.
Must Do Road to Hana Stop For Experienced Hikers- First, park at the end of Uakea Rd. Second, walk to the Hana Community Center to the grassy field near the city buildings. The trail to Kaihalulu Beach is on the right-hand side. It is one of Hawaii’s little known secrets and is one of only a few red sand beaches in the world. Set against a sapphire blue ocean, it is a breathtaking sight. This is a protected cove that is secluded and great for snorkeling, wading and sunbathing. You will need to be adventurous and a strong hiker to reach this beach because the trail is made of red cinder lava and is steep and narrow along a cliffside.
Stops A Little Past Hana
The backside of the Road to Hana begins on Hwy 31 Piilani Highway -the markers that indicate the stops start at 50 and count down.
Mile Marker 51:
Hamoa Beach. Lovely public crescent beach for sunbathing, bodysurfing and boogie boarding.
Mile Marker 45: Wailua Falls
*Absolute Must Stop*
DON’T MISS The Wailua Falls, an 80-foot cascading waterfall and one of the largest on the road to Hana. You can hike the inland trail to the base of the falls and swim in the pool below. It is pretty easy to get to these falls as you can see them from the highway. Just navigate down some rocks to be able to jump right in.
Mile marker 42: Oheo Gulch “Seven Sacred Pools”
*Absolute Must Stop – Maybe*
I label this as an absolute must visit, but it actually is not my favorite. I say it is worth visiting once if you are going to make the trek, but there are other waterfalls that are more beautiful. The gulch is located ten miles beyond Hana on Hwy 31 is the Kipahula area and the entrance to the Haleakala National Park. The park has an entry fee of $20. Three of the best things to do in the park are (1) See the Pools of Oheo Gulch. Here, you’ll find numerous cascading freshwater pools (known as the seven sacred pools…there are actually many more) running from the mountain to the ocean. (2) Hike the Pipiwai Trail. The hike is a 2-hour hike through a bamboo forest to the (3) Waimoku Falls, a 400-foot waterfall.
Mile Marker 41:
Last, but certainly not the least on your list of Road to Hana stops…the Kipahulu Point Light Station is a county park and contains a small park and the gravesite of Charles Lindbergh on the property.
Don’t bother continuing past this point. Why?
- Past mile marker 38: Not only do all of the car rental companies tell you not to drive past this point but also the terrain changes to a very narrow, unpaved, one-lane road that hugs the coastline with cliffs on one side. If you do decide to drive it, you violate the rental contract, and the rental agreement will not cover any accidents.
- There is very little of interest to see except isolated grassland.
- You want to have plenty of time to get back down the Road to Pai’a before nightfall, as the Road to Hana can be scary driving in the dark.
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