The east side of Maui is like stepping into another world. Rainforests are the backdrop to a litany of waterfalls, exotic wildlife, 59 bridges, 620 curves, and surprises only Mother Nature could create. The 64.4 mile winding highway that stretches across across Maui county is known as the Road to Hana and is an absolute must-do for any trip to Maui.
Decide If You’re Doing Guided/Unguided
Depending on what type of traveler you are, you will have to decide whether a guided tour or unguided is right for you.
I opted for a guided tour with Skyline Tours. Our guide, Carlos, was extremely knowledgable and was able to point out the key sights and give us history on the local flora and fauna. He showed us all the sites and even jumped in a waterfall with us! His love for the island was palpable and added so much to our adventure.
If you’re going it alone, downloading an app like the Road to Hana narrated tour by GyPSy is a great idea to make sure you’re not missing out.
For first-time travelers, I would highly recommend a guided tour. Traveling the Road to Hana is an all-day event with limited cell service and few rest stops along the way. Unless you’re familiar with the roads, you might be out of luck in case of emergency. Additionally, with a guide driving you are free to see all of the incredible sites without having to focus on the road.
Pack for the Weather
While the West side of Maui is pretty sunny, the east side of the island is rainforest, so the weather can be a bit more unpredictable. You also have the options to jump in some waterfalls, walk along the black sand beaches, or shop at local roadside vendors, so you’ve got to pack for all occasions. Here is what you definitely need to bring along with you:
- Sneakers/walking shoes for hiking up to waterfalls
- Sweatshirt or warm jacket
- Rain poncho
- Cash to tip your driver/roadside purchases
- Backup phone charger
- Dry change of clothes
Bring Something if You Get Car Sick
The Road to Hana is a twisty journey as you travel up and down hills and travers over 600 curves on the winding road. If you’re prone to motion sickness, make sure you have taken your medication of choice and bring extra to last throughout the day.
Learn About the Sites
There are so many things to see along the Road to Hana! Do a little research before you go and create a list of must-sees. These are just a few of the can’t-miss sites you’ll want to stop at along the way:
Ho’okipa Beach Park
Surf’s up! This is a hotspot for surfers to paddle out into some intense waves. I like to stay high and dry and observe from above at the Ho’okipa lookout point.
Palapala Ho’omau Church
The Palapala Ho’omau Church was built in 1857 and is the final resting place for legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh and his wife. This serene spot is right next to the maui stables, so chances are you’ll get to pet a horse or two as well.
Wai’anapanapa State Park
Stroll along the black sand beaches of Pa’iloa Beach and explore the lava tube with breathtaking view of the ocean at the Wai’anapanapa State Park.
Halfway to Hana Stand
Two words: banana. bread. There aren’t too many rest stops along the Road to Hana, so the Halfway to Hana stand will be your place to stock up. They offer homemade banana breads (I ate the whole loaf in one day…oops), candy, sandwiches, shave ice, and more.
Pua’a Kaa State Wayside Park
There are tons of picturesque waterfalls along the Road to Hana, but if you want to jump in for a quick and easy swim, the falls at Pua’a Kaa State Wayside Park are perfect. It’s also a great place to relax, use the restroom, and eat lunch if you packed a picnic.
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Thank you to Skyline Tours for hosting my tour. As always, thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.