The road to Hana, otherwise known as the Hana Highway, is a 64.4 mile stretch of road connecting Kahalui with the small town of Hana. It is a day-trip – the winding road traverses some of Maui’s most gorgeous tropical landscapes, 59 bridges, and consists of approximately 620 curves. It is a difficult drive, hence many prefer to make the trip with a tour bus – however note that not all companies do the entire circuit around the island, some choosing to turn back at the halfway point rather than navigating the challenging roads to complete the full circle.
They say the journey to Hana is not about the destination, but rather about the journey.
They say that about a lot of things, but sure, why not. Great places to stop include Kaumahina State Wayside Park (also good for bathroom breaks), Keanae Lookout for great views, and Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park where you can go for a swim in the waterfall. Wailua Waterfall is another good one to stop at. Definitely do make a stop at the Halfway to Hana stand for freshly-baked banana bread which comes out of the oven steaming hot. The stand also sells shaved ice, but the banana bread is the one to go for.
Right outside Hana is Wai’anapanapa State Park, with its black sand beaches (one of my Maui bucket list items) and ancient lava tubes. You can enter the lava tubes, and there is one which opens up to the ocean – the view is spectacular. Take a leap of faith and jump into one of the swimmable rock pools among the bright green foliage – the water is actually quite cold. This one is up there with the banana bread stand as one of the best stops of the day.
On this drive, it is possible to visit all three of yellow, black and red sand beaches. Kaihalulu red sand beach is another on the road back to the Lahaina/Wailea side of the island. This beach is considered by many to be clothing optional. The views on this drive range from lush jungle meeting kingfisher blue waters to a Grand Canyon/Mexican desert-esque feel. We also made stops at a winery and a Hawaiian old style general store. It is a great way to get away from the Wailea resort row for a day and explore Maui’s rich culture and history and learn random trivia like the fact that humuhumu-nukunuku-a-pua’a translates to ‘fish with a snout like a pig’ (it happens).
Over lunch a lady showed us how to make leis – there is a little more to it than stabbing flowers with a piece of string. Try to make as many stops as you have time for – make an early start and you’ll be back on the Lahaina side of the island by sunset. The sunset over Wailea from the road above is a nice sight as you’re driving back.