it’s all about the journey
There aren’t many roads more beautiful in the world than the so-called Road to Hana. This road, also called the Hana Highway, is a 64.4-mile stretch of Hawaii Routes 36 and 360 which run along Maui’s eastern coastline. It connects the area of Kahului to the small town of Hana. Kahului and Hana are only about 52 miles apart, but the drive takes about 2.5 hours if you do it without stops.
Why so long? Well, the road is notoriously windy and narrow. It has a mind-boggling 620 curves and cars pass over 59 different bridges—46 of which are only one-lane wide, meaning cars have to cross over them one at a time.
But travellers aren’t usually trying to get to Hana as quickly as possible. The Hana Highway weaves through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, including lush rainforest, beautiful waterfalls, striking black sand beaches, towering cliffs, and stunning seascapes.
The road is tough, however, and it’s important that travellers take appropriate safety measures like driving slowly, ensuring you have enough gas, and preparing for motion sickness.
Read on for several tips on how to enjoy the Road to Hana and some precautions you should take.
Stop at these places
There are many stops you can make along the Hana Highway; these stops include dramatic sea views, gorgeous waterfalls and swimming holes, sleepy villages, and more. Some of the best stops include Lower Puohokamoa Falls, Pua’a Ka’a State Park, Wai’anapanapa State Park, ‘Ohe’o Gulch (also called Seven Sacred Pools), Wailua Falls, Jaws, and the town of Hana itself.
There are also some fantastic sights after Hana, most notably the awe-inspiring Haleakala National Park, which is about 12 miles past Hana.
Clear your calendar that day
To experience the Road to Hana properly, you need to spend a whole day there. There is simply too much to take in and do, and you don’t want to be looking at the clock every few minutes to see how much time you have left. Set your alarm early and plan to be out all day. It’s worth it.
The road is famous for its curves, some of which are blind, as well as its narrow bridges. There is no need to drive fast; not only will you miss a lot of beautiful sights along the way but you’ll endanger yourself and other drivers. Slow down, don’t tailgate, and be aware at all times.
It’s best with older kids or teenagers
The drive can take anywhere from about three hours to all day, depending on how many stops you make and how long you spend at each stop. As you may know, little kids don’t love being trapped in car for hours at a time, even with several stops. Therefore, it may be best with older kids and teenagers.
Pay attention to the mile markers
Mile markers tell you where you are on the highway and the distance to the next destination. If you’re following a guidebook or list of recommended sights, it’s important to be aware of mile markers. Have one person in the car be responsible for keeping track of them. Additionally, be aware that the name of the highway will change several times, and mile markers will start over when this happens.
Fill up the tank
There are no gas stations between Paia—the town where many travellers start the journey—and the town of Hana. Therefore, make sure you fill up before you hit the road. You may also want to buy water, snacks, and other provisions before you leave; there are only a few places you can do this along the way and they can be pricy.
Prepare yourself if you are prone to motion sickness
The road is extremely windy and you’ll also be slowing down and speeding up quite often. This is not a good combination for those who tend to get carsick. Take Dramamine (or a similar medicine) before you leave and bring Dramamine with you just in case.
Get ready to take lots of pictures
Make sure to charge your phones and cameras the night before you leave—you’ll definitely be using them a lot! Clear your memory cards, too. The beauty of the Hana Highway really cannot be understated. It’s simply breathtaking.