Tropical Slalom: Navigating Maui’s Road to Hana

Posted by - July 15, 2013 | Category: Escapes, North America, United States

Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

With 620 curves and 59 bridges, Maui’s Hana Highway (or Road to Hana depending on which you fancy) is one of those drives that – as cheesy as it sounds — just leaves you breathless. And just a little bit dizzy too.Waterfall along the Road to Hana, MauiTo give you an idea of the assorted zigs and zags you can expect to encounter along this “tropical slalom,” take a look at this image from Google Satellite:

Google Satellite Image, Road to Hana, Hana Highway

It’s the type of drive that makes everyone a Sunday driver. Except the locals of course. They’re easy to recognize along here; they’ll be the ones passing you at lightning speed. After all, to them it’s just another road.

Even though the highway is only 109 kilometres (68 miles), it can take anywhere from 2.5 to 5 hours to maneuver depending on how slow you take it. And like a good wine, you’ll want to take this one slow. Not only for safety (many of the bridges are only one lane), but also for the sites. There are plenty of them along the way.

Twin Falls Farmstand

There are more than a few waterfalls, like this one at Twin Falls.Twin Falls, Road to Hana, Maui, HawaiiThere’s also no shortage of turnouts along the highway to take photos.Hana Highway, MauiOne of the 59 bridges on the Road to Hana, MauiRiver along the Road to Hana #seeMauiAll while at times you may have the road to yourself…The Hana Highway, MauiThe Road to Hana, Maui, HawaiiThe scenic Road to Hana, #seeMauiSometimes you’ll run into Maui’s version of a traffic jam.Traffic along the Road to Hana, MauiView of the seacoast, Hana HighwaySecluded beach along the Road to Hana, HawaiiWarning flash flooding can occur at any time sign, Hana Highway, MauiA river runs through it, Hana Highway, Maui

The stop at Keanae Peninsula allows you to see some pretty cool rock formations compliments of recent lava flows.

Keanae Peninsula, Road to Hana, MauiIf you’re keen to see one of the only black sand beaches on Maui, then stop off at Wai’anapanapa State Wayside Park.Waianapanapa State Wayside Park Black sand beach, MauiAnd if you need a rest before you head back, you can do no better than staying at Travaasa Hana Resort & Spa – voted #1 Resort Spa in Hawaii by readers of Condé Nast Traveler.Travaasa Hana, Maui

A lot of people do the drive to Hana as a day trip from other parts of Maui. I think that’s a bit of a mistake. Even if you don’t want to splash out at Travaasa Hana, there are other options available if you want a few days to explore the area at a more leisurely pace. Wai’anapanapa State Wayside Park offers camping and cabins. Word has it you can even camp on Oprah’s land (she owns acres of the stuff around here.) Just ask at the Hana Ranch. I think her pal Gail man’s the desk.

Note: My trip to Maui was made possible through the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau but they did not ask that I write a favourable review, or take my sweet time driving the road to Hana.

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47 comments - add one
  1. You got some great shots along the way. That traffic jam spot looks familiar — I think it’s right before one of those super narrow bridges. Totally agree that it’s best to stay in Hana rather than make it a day trip. I’ve done both. Travaasa Hana is an excellent choice.

    1. Yeah it’s too much zig-zagging for me to do it one day. Maybe if I was on a guided tour, but I was driving so was glad to have the chance to rest up a couple of days in Hana. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the photos. We did a ship excursion “Road to Hana” tour in February, leaving the driving to someone else. Of course, unfortunately, that meant we didn’t get to stop every where we wanted to, but one of us didn’t have to have our eyes glued to the road at all times, either. We also had a fairly rainy day, so on the plus side, the waterfalls were falling big time, but on the negative side it was kind of dark and gloomy. But seriously, people, what part of “Rain” forest didn’t you understand???

  3. So amazing! I wish I could live long enough to visit all those places… Thanks for great photos and article! It must be an unforgettable experience to drive down those roads…

  4. We did the Road to Hana a couple years back and absolutely loved it ! There are so many beautiful stops on the way. Maui is definitely one of my favorites.

  5. OMG. Shaun would KILL to drive on this road. He once did the entirety of the Pacific Coast Highway in our Subaru WRX because it felt so awesome.

  6. I did this drive with the manager of the Banana Bungalow hostel in Maui and WOW I was amazed how fast he took those curves — swore he had every one memorized. I was amazed!

  7. So awesome! I just pulled out my pics from last year and we mostly have the exact same ones! You haven’t lived until you’ve done this drive, but you may just die after drinking the pineapple Chardonnay at the Tedeschi Winery. Pe-tew, pe-tew! 🙂

  8. This reminds me of the Hamakua coast (north of Hilo) on the Big Island. It’s SO beautiful, I always regret the necessity of looking at the road!

  9. There’s a road like that in China’s Yunnan Province connecting Shangri-la and Lijiang. It cuts through the mountains, clinging perilously to the cliff face. The views were spectacular as long as you didn’t look down! The turns were particularly hairy as massive trucks and buses barreled along in both directions. It’s a ride I won’t soon forget!


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