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The Road to Hana is one of the world’s most scenic drives and a popular sightseeing activity to see Maui’s spectacular waterfalls, black sand beaches, bamboo forests, lava rock formations and amazing ocean views as you wind your way through 620 curves and 59 bridges.
If you prefer travelling independently, at your own pace, GyPSy Guide provides the best Road to Hana tour experience, along with the freedom to choose what you enjoy; squishing the black sand between your toes at Wai’anapanapa, hiking the Pipiwai Bamboo Trail, or maybe time to enjoy an extra slice of banana bread.
You can’t help but cheer on the world class windsurfers at Ho’okipa. And you won’t need to worry about photoshopping the Rainbow Eucalyptus at the Keanae Arboretum or the stunning contrast between blue water and black lava rock at Keanae Peninsula.
Take a moment to cool off with a quick swim at the pristine Hamoa Beach and see where Haleakala National Park descends from the summit to the sea and the “Seven Sacred Pools” of Oheo at the end of the drive.
With such a long day of exploring, it’s important to know the 5 “not to be missed” stops that we recommend, and many more suggestions if you have time. Part of the secret to enjoying the journey is knowing how not to waste your time, and we have tips for that as well.
On the return drive from Hana, we’ll point out the not to be missed stops again as well as tell you stories about Hawaii’s fascinating history and rich culture.
As you approach the town of Paia, Hwy 36
Expect to spend 8-12 hours out touring.
The distance of the drive is 120 miles return, from the start point to the Oheo Pools and return.
The Backside/Reverse – Piilani Hwy 31: Some will say doing the drive this way way is better, I’m going to convince you otherwise.
The advantages of driving from Paia to Hana (Oheo Gulch) and back the same way are numerous and substantial and I’ve listed them below!
The Road: Although it’s improved over the years, there are still unpaved sections without barriers. The road conditions vary depending on weather and rain damage.
Insurance: The major car rental agencies prohibit their vehicles from being taken along the “backside”. If you break down, have an accident, or any damage is found to the car afterwards, it can be a costly and time wasting experience.
Weather: The normal tradewinds often bring clouds and rain in the afternoons. It’s best to do your sightseeing stops along the Road to Hana in the morning as it may be raining when you drive through in the afternoon.
The Views: On the “backside” views are of the wild open ocean, but there aren’t any places of interest to stop, so you’ll be driving around 3 hours non-stop. You’ll enjoy the same views across to the Big Island as you approach the Oheo Pools from the actual Road to Hana.
It just isn’t fun to sit in a car for 3+ hours driving past awesome waterfalls and beaches, before you even start to enjoy actually visiting these sites. Instead, we recommend to get an early start from Paia – 8am latest and enjoy the stops as you drive towards Hana. Afternoon rain is common due to the tradewinds.
To beat the crowds – the best thing to do is start early as suggested. You will be ahead of 90% of other travellers by starting early.
We don’t think it’s much fun bypassing all the fun sightseeing stops on the way to Hana.
If you start early, leave West Maui resorts by (7-7:30am), then you will have plenty of time to enjoy this full hike and see all the sightseeing stops along the road. There is no advantage to driving to the trail first. Just enjoy the tour, and hike the trail when you arrive. You will have enough time to complete the hike.
There’s a lot to see on the Road to Hana, and the earlier you get started, the more you you will get to see and enjoy and be ahead of the crowds.
We recommend leaving the resort areas like Ka’anapali, Kapaplua, Lahaina, Wailea and Kihei by 7-7:30am to maximize your day and to get ahead of the crowds. Earlier if possible. Grab a breakfast smoothie in Paia!
The Pools of Ohe’o (or Seven Sacred Pools) in the Kipahulu District have re-opened. Water quality varies and violent flash floods or rock falls can occur in the stream at any time. The National Park Service has limited ability to monitor and no ability to control these forces. The NPS highest priority is your safety, so understand that if they choose to close the pools, it is for safety reasons. Please obey all posted warnings and staff guidelines.
The spectacular coastline and views to the summit still make it a must see, and worth the National Park entrance fee, in our opinion.
If you have already visited Haleakala National Park summit, save your receipt (within 3 days) and reuse, or save your pass from Oheo if planning to visit the Haleakala Summit later.