One-Day Road to Hana Itinerary: A Perfect Maui Day Trip

Published on

by Audrey Webster

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, we may make a small commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see our privacy policy.

Maui’s Road to Hana consistently lands among the top things to do in Maui. The route curves along a scenic section of Maui’s coastline for 52 miles. It includes some of the most beautiful sights on the island, ranging from waterfalls to black sand beaches to farm stands famous for their banana bread. When building your Road to Hana itinerary, you might be wondering which of the many stops you should prioritize.

In this article, we’re delving into everything you should know when setting out to explore the Road to Hana. Spending one day on the Road to Hana is really the ultimate Maui day trip, however, there is enough to do along the route to spend multiple days exploring all there is to see.

How Many Days on the Road to Hana?

Most visitors to Maui will see the Road to Hana in one day. It’s curvy and narrow, becoming a one-way road in sections. While only 52 miles, you should plan at least one entire day to drive the route.

When deciding how many days to drive the Road to Hana, keep in mind how busy the road can be, especially during peak Maui travel months, and the twisty nature of the road, which tends to slow traffic. 

One day is great, but if you have the time to spare, consider seeing the Road to Hana in 2 days. With this amount of time, you have plenty of time to experience the road at your leisure.

You can spend the night in the charming town of Hana before setting out to see more of the route. It gives you more time for hiking and exploring all the amazing stops. 

Famous Road to Hana
Famous Road to Hana

Getting To & Around the Road to Hana

The traditional way to take the Road to Hana route is out and back, starting near Kahului and ending near Kipahulu. However, you can also opt to drive one way or reverse.

It’s recommended that you drive the “right” way, starting in Paia and ending in or past Hana. In this direction, you’re driving on the inside of the road instead of next to where the cliff drops off. Expect to encounter crowds at each stop no matter how you take the route. 

If you have the luxury of time on your side, consider doing the Road to Hana in a multi-day road trip. You’ll need a rental car, which you can rent at the airport when you first land in Maui and you can find a place to stay the night about halfway to Hana.

While driving the Hana highway, there are a few things to keep in mind. The Road to Hana is one of the busiest and curviest roads on the island. Drive slowly and make sure you’re comfortable navigating dense traffic on narrow roads. Be respectful to locals who live along the route. Whenever possible avoid overcrowding the most popular stops. 

If you’d rather not drive the Road to Hana yourself, you can sign up for a guided van tour. You’ll stop at the highlights while getting the background information of what makes each landmark significant. Some options include this small group tour or this private tour.

One last thing, make sure you have plenty of water and food. Keep cash on hand because most of the local markets along the route don’t take a credit card. Pack hiking shoes and clothes as well as sunscreen and bug spray. When you set out in the morning, it’s also wise to have a full tank of gas.

Twin Falls
Twin Falls

1 Day in Road to Hana Itinerary

As you build your Road to Hana day trip, don’t try to do everything. There are simply too many stops along the route to have time for it all in one day. If you have more than one day, take your time admiring and appreciating each stop. 

Without further ado, here are the best Road to Hana stops. 

Twin Falls

Located at mile marker 2, Twin Falls might be your first stop along the Road to Hana. This picturesque waterfall duo is one of the most iconic stops along the route. That said, you’ll often find plenty of cars in the parking lot. The hike into the waterfalls is short and accessible.

Depending on the time of year, Twin Falls can have a fairly light water flow, which makes swimming in the pool below enjoyable for some visitors. If you’re looking for a morning treat, consider stopping by the farm stand at the waterfall entrance. 

Ho’okipa Beach Park

A little further down the road is Ho’okipa Beach Park and Lookout. Here, you’ll find some of the best surfing in Maui, but it’s ill-advised to surf here unless you’re very experienced. Regardless, it’s still one of the best stops on the road.

If you don’t want to venture all the way down to the beach, you can stop at the lookout to check out expert windsurfers and kiteboards taking on these massive waves. 

Hookipa Beach
Ho’okipa Beach

Huelo Lookout

Nestled between mile markers 4 and 5 is Huelo Lookout. After a short walk from where you parked your car, you’ll come to a stunning overlook across sections of East Maui. Lush green forests, tropical flora and fauna, and a delicious snack from the Huelo Lookout Fruit Stand await you here. 

Maui Garden of Eden Arboretum

This lush 26-acre botanical garden should be a priority for your Road to Hana day trip itinerary. It was created by Alan Bradbury and is one of the most beautiful stops along the route. During a stroll through the arboretum, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the coastline, waterfalls, tons of local plants, and birds.

Garden Of Eden in Maui
Garden Of Eden in Maui

Ke’anae Peninsula

There are several stops along the Road to Hana that require a quick jaunt from the car for a view before continuing on your way. Ke’anae Peninsula isn’t one of them.

This peninsula juts into the ocean, trimmed by volcanic rock, and captures the history of Maui within its landmarks. Depending on the time of day you arrive here, it could be a great spot to pause for a snack or lunch, go for a walk, and enjoy the coastline. 

Wailua Valley State Wayside

The Wailua Valley viewpoint might be one of the most iconic stops along the Road to Hana. It’s a short pullout in a dense rainforest area. From the overlook, you’re rewarded with amazing views of the valley, ocean, and ancient taro patches, places where the land was cultivated.

Keep a close eye out for the overlook parking lot. It’s small, so a lot of visitors continue driving past it. 

Honomanu Bay Lookout

You’ll see Honomanu Bay sitting high on most Road to High itineraries. It’s beautiful, so we recommend making a stop to admire the bay from the lookout. However, it’s generally not advised for visitors to drive down to the bay.

The road is only accessible to 4×4 vehicles and tends to be muddy and bumpy with few places to turn around if you get stuck. There are plenty of amazing places along the Road to Hana where you can swim—stick to enjoying Honomanu Bay from the lookout. 

Honomanu Bay
Honomanu Bay

Pua’a Ka’a Falls

The next two stops along the Road to Hana are relatively similar, so if you’re pressed for time, choose one to visit. First up is Pua’a Ka’a Falls located near mile marker 22.

This is a large area where visitors often enjoy stretching their legs or going for a swim. There is a public restroom and picnic tables. The hike to the falls from the parking lot is a short 0.4-miles trail that takes most visitors around 10 minutes to complete.

It’s one of the few waterfalls along the route that regularly invite swimming.

Hanawi Falls

This cascading waterfall is one of the coolest you’ll encounter on the Road to Hana. Up close, the waterfall looks like a simple single tier falling into a crystal blue pool of water. If you step back, you get the full view of several tiers of water plummeting down into the pool.

Unlike Pua’a Ka’a Falls, swimming here isn’t often allowed, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. It’s also a short walk from the parking lot. 

Wai’anapanapa State Park

If you’re pressed for time, make sure you have Wai’anapanapa State Park on your Road to Hana itinerary. This rich landscape has everything you’d expect to find along the route rolled up in a single stop.

Within the park is a black sand beach, small sea arches, a blowhole, lava tubes, and a handful of hiking trails that grant walkers amazing views down the coastline. This is a great stop to pause and spend some time exploring, especially if you’ve been making several brief stops so far. 

Waianapanapa State Park
Waianapanapa State Park

Hana Town

If you’re seeing the Road to Hana in two days, the town of Hana is where you can consider spending the night. This small town along the Road to Hana has maintained its original look while the rest of the island grew and evolved, giving it the nickname of “Real Hawaii”.

Take some time to learn about the history of the town. Go for a swim at Hana Beach Park and visit the town’s cultural center. 

Hamoa Beach

Those looking for a nice beach to relax on while traversing the Road to Hana should prioritize a stop at Hamoa Beach. It’s often considered one of the best beaches on the island, great for swimming, body surfing, and laying in the sun.

It’s one of the few silky white sand beaches you’ll find on the Road to Hana. Here, you’ll find plenty of space to spread out from other visitors as well as public restrooms. 

Wailua Falls

Wailua Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls on the Road to Hana. Seated just beyond mile marker 45, Wailua Falls is fed by Honolewa Stream and is a quick stop for most visitors. You can see the waterfall from your car or park to visit the falls by foot.

The falls are a steady stream, cascading 80 feet down the side of a wall into a swimmable pool below. Take a dip in the water beneath the waterfall and keep an eye out for the occasional wild pig. 

‘Ohe’o Gulch “Seven Sacred Pools”

‘Ohe’o Gulch, more commonly known as Seven Sacred Pools, is located just 10 miles beyond the town of Hana. It’s one of the most-visited stops along the route, due to it being a beautiful and serene landscape.

The waterfall cascades over two ledges into a pond that becomes a stream and eventually makes its way to the ocean. Swimming used to be allowed at the pool, but not anymore due to unsafe conditions. However, it’s still well worth a stop during your journey. 

Pipiwai Trail

Continue further into the forest beyond the Seven Sacred Pools to hike to Pipiwai Trail. This 4-mile roundtrip trail is considered moderately challenging. It leads hikers up to Makahiku Falls and Waimoku Falls, both stunning waterfalls to pay a visit.

Because it requires slightly more time out of your Road to Hana itinerary, the Pipiwai Trail generally sees fewer people compared to other stops on the route considering it’s at the end of the road.

If you’re looking for a moderate hike that takes you back into the lush natural spaces of Maui, consider picking this one.  

Pipiwai Trail
Pipiwai Trail

Have 2 Days on the Road to Hana?

Odds are a visit to Haleakala National Park is already on your Maui itinerary. If you have 2 days on the Road to Hana, consider rounding out day two by visiting the backside of Haleakala. Where the main section of the Road to Hana is lush and green, the back side is dry and volcanic. 

Most visitors will turn around at Hana and go back the way they came. The road beyond Hana tends to narrow, so if you keep driving past the town, go slowly. That said, if you opt to drive the full Road to Hana, make it a full loop and drive the backside too.

Depending on the time of day you’re driving the backside of Haleakala, it’s a stunning place to catch the sunset to wrap up your day. 

Haleakala Crater
Haleakala Crater

Where to Stay in Hana

Heavenly Hana Paradise – Mid-range visitors to Hana will love his lovely hotel. They have a number of gorgeous rooms to choose from while offering the perfect location for exploring this side of the island. Click here to check availability

Kailani Suite – These suites located at the Hana Kai Resort are an excellent place to stay after embarking on your road to Hana drive. They have an excellent location for exploring all there is to do in the area and have plenty of amenities for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability

Private Rental – If you’re after a self-catering option in Hana, there are lots of private rentals – like this lovely home on Hana Bay – available to choose from in and around the area. Click here to browse more Hana private rentals!

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Hana hotels!

The Road to Hana is hands down one of the most famous activities in Maui. We recommend that you prioritize your stops and get an early start. No matter where you spend your time along the Road to Hana, it will be jam-packed with beautiful sights. 

Are you planning to drive the Road to Hana? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

Like It? Pin It!
Avatar photo

Audrey Webster is a writer for The World Was Here First. She is an Oregon native who has visited countries across the globe and currently spends her weekends exploring the Pacific Northwest and surrounding states. Her approach to traveling combines exploring famous tourist sites and wandering off the beaten path to discover new destinations.

Leave a Comment