Driving the Hana Highway
The Hana Highway is a 60 mile stretch of road that connects the small town of Hana to the rest of Maui.
The road winds its way past waterfalls, beaches, bridges and spectacular ocean views. After Hana, the highway becomes even more like a footpath than a road and heads to the Kipahulu Visitor Center at Haleakala National Park.
Not everyone gets excited at the thought of a three and a half hour drive. We did hear some people complain that they didn't like the drive but the majority of travelers we met thoroughly enjoyed it.
Hana is even more laid back than the rest of Maui, so bring a camera, relax and enjoy the ride.
Preparing for the Drive
The easiest way to drive the road is to spend at least one night in Hana - that way you won't have to drive for the entire day. If you do plan on doing the whole drive in one day than you should get an early start, particularly if you are starting out from West Maui (Kapalua, Napili, Lahaina). The drive from Kahului (the Main Airport) to Hana takes about 3 and a half hours but the time goes by really fast. Once you reach Hana you can stop for lunch. The Hana Ranch has a take-out window if you want to grab some food for a picnic in Haleakala National Park.
From Hana, it will take another 45 minutes to reach the Kipahulu Visitor Center at Haleakala. Once you reach the Park entrance you can park and take a short walk to the Seven Sacred Pools. On the way back to your hotel you can stop at Hamoa Beach for a swim.
If driving for more than three hours one way is not really your idea of a fun vacation than you can fly over the highway and Haleakala National Park on a Helicopter Tour. A helicopter tour is a great way to see Maui.
- It may sound really obvious but the drivers should keep their eyes on the road. Don't get distracted by the scenery, if you want a better look just pull your car over and take all the time you need.
- When you do pull over make sure that other cars can still get around you safely. Again, it may sound obvious but we saw a couple park their car on a one lane bridge and get out to pose for a photograph.
- The road gets really narrow in places and the locals (as well as some tourists) drive the highway very fast, so watch out on the sharp turns and single lane bridges.
- Be considerate of the local people. You may be on vacation but they are trying to get to work so pull over and let them pass if you are driving slower than they are.
- Last but not least, get good directions. There are plenty of road signs and the actual highway has almost no exits that aren't driveways but some people do manage to get lost. One couple we spoke with said the drive to Hana took them 18 hours. (Apparently they went the wrong way around the entire Island of Maui... not the best part of their vacation.) So just ask your hotel concierge for directions. Be sure to get a good road map when you rent your car, they're free.