Since there are only two hotels in Hana, most visitors do this trip in a day. In order to beat the traffic, you should get on the road by 8 a.m. However, if you are from the mainland of the U.S. you probably won’t have any trouble waking early and starting by seven or so.
A couple of things to remember, this is a trip about the journey not the destination. Although this is a 52 mile trek from Kahului, it can take between two to four hours to complete depending on traffic. Be sure to start with a full tank of gas. You will have the opportunity to visit a botanical garden, cool off by taking a plunge in the swimming holes and enjoy a walk along a beautiful black sand beach.
For most travelers, this is a trip to Hana and a u-turn coming back the way you came. You will be tempted to stop at some of the early waterfalls on your journey but doing so could make for a very late arrival back at your hotel. There are some beautiful cascades farther down the road. A couple of must see spots are Keanae Peninsula, with its ancient church and Upper Waikani Falls, where three waterfalls plunge close enough to the road you barely need to get out of the car to get wet.
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Here is a brief overview of some of the stops you will want to make.
Mile marker 2-you’ll get a breathtaking view of the famous waterfalls known as Twin Falls.
Mile marker 10-Take in a bit of movie history and visit the Garden of Eden and Botanical Arboretum, famous for its backdrop in movies like “Jurassic Park.”
Mile marker 11-A great place to cool off and take a swim is in the Lower Puohokamoa Falls.
Mile marker 12-Take a break and enjoy a picnic in Kaumahina State Wayside Park.
Mile marker 22-Visit Pua’a Ka’a State Park, perfect for viewing waterfalls and cooling off in swimming holes.
Mile marker 32- Take a stroll on the black sand beach of Wai'anapanapa State Park with its cavernous sea caves, rock arch and the ruins of the old King’s Highway.
After you leave the park, cruise on into the small town of Hana. Known by many as the most Hawaiian place of all, the village of Hana and its 700 or so permanent residents, are proud of their Hawaiian heritage and ability to keep out the development of chain businesses. If you have packed your own lunch, head down to Hana Bay and enjoy your lunch at the beachside tables.
After lunch, drive down to Oheo Gulch in Haleakala National Park about 10 miles south of Hana. Take a short trail from the Visitor Center to a series of waterfalls that escape from the jungle over black volcanic rocks and coalesce into the natural pools (Seven Sacred Pools) creating a truly beautiful Hawaiian scene.
This is where visitors usually turn around and head back the way they came. However, if you have an SUV, you might want to take in the “back side” drive and continue on around the island. You will get a peak of Maui that few people have the opportunity to see. The road is not paved and very bumpy. Most rental car companies forbid you to take their cars around this part of the island. Be sure to check your contract.
Enjoy the drive and take a piece of the Aloha spirit home with you. Don’t forget to stop and take your “you should be here” photo for social media.
“I went to Maui to stay a week and remained five. I never spent so pleasant a month before, or bade any place goodbye so regretfully. I have not once thought of business, or care or human toil or trouble or sorrow or weariness, and the memory of it will remain with me always.”
― Mark Twain