Are you up for the Road to Hana adventure? When you start planning your trip to Maui this is the first activity you hear everyone talking about. The Road to Hana is not your average coastal drive. Nor is it for the leisure traveler or a traveler with a young family. The Road to Hana is for the hardcore adventurers that like the grip of the wheel, sharp turns and a road full of beautiful discoveries. Some things you will want to consider when planning your drive is mapped out in this guide with all of my favorite pit stops that cannot be missed when you take your trip to Maui.
So your best option in order to see the most untouched and hard to reach side of Maui is to stay in Hana for a few nights. There is so much to see on the Road to Hana so unfortunately, no matter how hard you try you won’t make it to all of the spots you want to see in one day. However, it is still worth the drive even if you only have the time for a day trip. My family and I drove from Ka’anapali which is on the totally opposite side of the island and we were still able to conquer a lot on our list.
Some things to consider before you take off on this adventure is first there is no cell reception. In order to know exactly where you’re going so, you don’t miss any of the best locations is to download the Road to Hana tour guide app called the Shaka Guide. You are able to download all of the information prior to the drive so you have a map that doesn’t require data and it doesn’t require you to go back to the dark ages with an old-school map. We used this on our drive and it gave us all of the most important stops along with some Hawaiian music and history.
The next thing you must consider is leaving as early as possible. This tourist trap attracts a ton of people no matter what day it is so if you wait too late in the day you are bound to be stuck in traffic all the way to Hana. We left around 5 am, it took us about 2 hours to reach Paia, a good starting point for the Road to Hana.
I was instantly intrigued to visit Paia town because I have heard a lot of great things about it. The town has a main street lined with historic buildings that are filled with unique, not your average tourist shops, and health-conscious, foodie, restaurants. It is a very hip town, and many refer to it as a hippie town, which in my opinion are always the coolest towns to visit.
We stopped here quickly before heading out to grab breakfast to-go at Paia Bay Coffee & Bar. The cafe is a really cool place to hang out with garden seating and a really chill vibe. The breakfast sandwiches are worth the wait, I tried the vegetarian one that was loaded with hummus and fresh garden veggies on an everything bagel, plus a coconut milk latte. It was the perfect fuel for a day on the road.
2. Twin Falls
We set up the Shaka Guide and we were off to our first stop, Twin Falls. We were lucky enough to pick a sunshiny day for our Road to Hana treck because this side of the island gets a ton of rain. As we talked to a lot of the locals they were saying this was the first day of sunshine after months of cloudy and wet days, so make sure you are prepared for any kind of weather. Unfortunately, this didn’t set us up for the best hiking conditions with all the mud. When we got to the twin falls it was closed. But we walked along the river, looking at all the plants, bamboo, flowers, and a roaring river. We made it to one little waterfall that could only be accessed if you wanted a shoe full of mud. There is a food stand here for banana bread, tropical fruit, smoothies, coffee, and other snacks.
3. Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees
The next stop we decided to take was to see the rainbow eucalyptus trees. I had seen them in Kauai before but they are some seriously beautiful trees that were worth seeing again. It was cool to see a small forest of them right off the side of the road. I can’t imagine seeing a huge forest full of these in their native home in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, that would be a seriously beautiful experience.
4. Keanae Lookout and Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread
After a few hours of driving through the rainforest, we were craving to see the ocean again. We finally came to the first ocean view lookout at the Keanae peninsula. This is the spot for the BEST banana bread on the Road to Hana at Aunty Sandys. We bought two loaves and when they handed it to us it was still warm. Our stomachs were grumbling and we shared a loaf between the four of us and saved the other for our breakfast the next morning.
5. Ching’s Pond
Ching’s Pond was just up the road a few miles. We stopped here because in the Shaka Guide it said it was a great spot to go swimming under a waterfall. But when we got there the conditions were pretty muddy and with more than half of the drive to go we weren’t ready to take a plunge quite yet. The waterfall pools were the biggest disappointment on this trip because I saw many pictures of crystal blue pools under giant waterfalls but we weren’t able to experience this beauty with all of the rain that they just had. Just means I will have to do the drive again one day.
6. Wailua Valley and Coral Miracle Church
This was an easy stop to take with a breathtaking view. We quickly stopped to take a look at the landscape and stretch our legs. The Coral Miracle Church sounded like something worth seeing up close as it is made out of coral that was magically washed up on the beach when they had decided to build a church in the town. I bet it was one of the most beautiful little churches up close.
7. Waikani Falls (3 Bear Falls)
This was the most breathtaking waterfall we were able to see on the Road to Hana. As you take this drive you kind of get sick of hearing the word waterfall because there are so many to see. It is hard to know which one is worth the stop. This one was right off the side of the road requiring no hiking. I wish we could have seen more waterfalls but we had to eliminate a lot on our wish list. Including the Seven Sacred Pools. Unfortunately, we made it to Hana and did not trek any further down the road. But there is still so much to see the next go round.
8. Lava Tube Cave
You cant leave Hawaii without going inside a lava tube. Don’t worry there won’t be any bats hiding in there. The Shaka Guide led us here. When we came up to this location it was a small hole sticking out of cliffside right off the side of the road. We would have never thought that was anything spectacular if we would have just stumbled across it randomly. The Shaka Guide is great in that way because it points you in the direction of hidden places that are not marked or found in your typical tour guide. There are a lot of unique spots mentioned on the drive to Hana.
Now, this was not mentioned on the Shaka Guide but when I saw the sign for the chocolate farm I knew I had to stop. Exotic plants fascinate me so it was a no-brainer to stop and see what a cacao plant looked like in person. It was really cool to see a family-owned farm producing cacao for a living. The guy that gave us a tour was super excited and passionate about his work. I was able to learn a few things I didn’t know about chocolate and we received free samples of all of his delicious chocolate bars that he made right there on the premises. My favorite was the coconut and coffee bean flavors, which of course I had to take home with me.
10. Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach
This was my favorite place to stop and have a picnic. It is crazy how crowded this park gets, the parking was rather packed. But when we were finally able to find a parking spot we quickly found a spot in the shade with an ocean view to eat the sandwiches we packed. After that, we were ready for some swimming. Even though we didn’t swim under a waterfall during this trip this black sand beach made up for it. The water was so refreshing after all that driving and really made the long voyage worth it. I wanted to stay in the water the rest of the day but after a quick dip we were off to the next stop.
11. Coconut Glen’s and Nahiku Marketplace
I would recommend not packing your lunch or any food for that matter because there is so many good food stands with fresh fruit, baked goods, and lunch essentials. I think the best place to stop for lunch is the Nahiku Marketplace. It is a strip full of outdoor restaurants that give you lots of options for lunch. Pretty much like a food court but with shops full of homemade goodness. I wish I would have had the appetite to buy something from each stand to sample. I should have pretended I was Phil on Somebody Feed Phil and really stuffed myself. If you haven’t seen this travel and food show you have to check it out on Netflix, it is my favorite.
However, I had enough room for some ice cream so we stopped at the organic vegan ice cream shop Coconut Glens. All of their ice cream is made out of coconut milk and has no dairy. I have never come across an ice cream shop that had freshly made coconut milk ice cream. They have several flavors to choose from but what caught my attention was the lilikoi (passionfruit) flavor. The fresh fruit in this ice cream was so heavenly that I was ready to buy out there neighbors house so I could eat a cup of it every day for the rest of my life. It was the best coconut ice cream I have ever had.
So those are my top tips and stops for the Road to Hana let me know if you need any other recommendation for your trip to Maui. On the next few blog posts, I will be sharing some more Hawaii style with you along with my all-time favorite spots in Maui. Can’t wait to share more. Thank you so much for reading!!