Archive for the ‘Hana Highway, Maui’ Category

The Hana Highway is one of the most popular drives on the island of Maui. We had driven all the way around during our previous trip, and knew that we wanted to do the same again this time. However we did some more planning for this trip, and decided we wanted to hike the Pipiwai Trail this time as well (trail post to follow). Since the trail is located near the Haleakala Kipahulu Visitor Center on the far southeastern shore of the island, we knew that we had a long day ahead of us. We decided to leave early in order to make sure we had enough time for all we had planned. We left our condo at the Maui Banyan at 630am, in order to take advantage of as much daylight as possible.

Since we mostly wanted to hike the trail, we decided to try and take the most direct route possible to get there – which looked on the map to be in a counter-clockwise direction. This is not the standard route that most people take, so we were not sure how it would turn out. We were concerned about the condition of the road, and whether it would even be open, but decided to take the risk and headed up towards, then past Kula. It was not long into our trip before we started stopping to enjoy the amazing views and take some photos. It was a beautiful clear morning, so we could even see the Big Island of Hawaii off in the distance.

Here is a view along the highway:

Scenic 'Highway'

This is definitely not a drive you would want to make to try and make up some time. The road is still very windy and quite bumpy – with a lot of broken pavement, and even some unpaved sections. The scenery is spectacular however, and definitely worth the trip. Although I would most likely travel in a clockwise direction next time, as most of the traffic goes that way. The main benefit would be to avoid many of the oncoming vehicles, which we always seemed to meet at the many narrow points, one lane bridges, or blind corners.

One Lane Bridge

View of the coastline looking back towards the Sea Arch:

Kipahulu Highway

It was nice that we left so early however, as we encountered much more traffic in the afternoon. This made it easier to stop and soak in all the scenery…

One of my favorite views along the coastline:

South Maui Coastline

Mile 30

One of the many pullouts:

View from the pullout of the black sand beach below:
Rocky Beach

View of the coastline looking back towards the pullout:
Scenic Coastline Drive

One of the many signs along the way – falling rock:
Falling Rock

We eventually made it to our destination – the Haleakala Kipahulu Visitor Center. It was just before 10am when we got there, so the parking lot was mostly empty. We stopped briefly at the Visitor Center to ask about the trail conditions. She told us the trail was in good shape, and that one waterfall was flowing and one was likely not. From there we headed up the trail. It was about four hours later when we returned to the parking lot and headed back out on the road. By this time the parking lot was pretty much filled up completely.

We continued on in our counter-clockwise direction, and proceeded onwards toward Hana. By this time there was quite a bit of traffic on the road. We encountered numerous vehicles coming at us. The section of highway between Hana and the Haleakala Kipahulu Visitor Center was by far the most stressful section of the day. Very narrow, very windy, and lots of traffic. We just took it slow though, and continued enjoying the scenery. As we got closer to Hana we took the road on the right leading to Hamoa Beach. What an amazing beach it is… this might be the destination we look to spend the most time at during our next trip:

Hamoa Beach

Not far down the road from there is another scenic beach – Koki Beach. There is a small beach park here, that was quite crowded during our previous trip. This time the beach was almost empty however, with one person on shore watching the one surfer in the water. What a relaxing beach:

Koki Beach - Maui

By this time we were feeling quite tired. It was a good nine hours since we had left our condo that morning. So we didn’t even stop in the town of Hana, and carried on our way. We made a quick stop at Wainapanapa State Park to check out the amazing Black Sand Beach. There is a great trail system through the park, but we just headed down to enjoy the beach and the sea cave:

Honokalani Black Sand Beach

Wai'anapanapa State Park

By this time the weather was starting to take a turn for the worse, and the rain started to fall. However the traffic had thinned out considerably, so we were able to take advantage of the many pullouts along the way that had been full during our previous trip. Unfortunately due to the rain it was only to have a quick look or take some quick photos:

Three Bears Waterfall - Maui

Hana Coastline

Hana Highway Waterfall

It really is an amazing drive with some spectacular scenery – and definitely worth checking out. There are a LOT of one lane bridges all along the road, many of them on switchback like corners. There was quite a few times where I was looking out the rear passenger side window to see if any traffic was coming from the other side of the bridge. The amazing Maui Coastline is the only place I can recall having to check my blind spot across a valley like this. I wanted to try and get a photo, but decided I should focus on driving (the others in the car agreed as well). I did find one spot to stop and take a photo of one of the crazy corners that are quite frequent on this drive:

Hana Highway

We also stopped at one of the food stands along the way (which I will add to the post once I can track down the name). We bought some fresh coconut and possibly the best smoothies we have ever had.

Overall it was one of the best days during our entire trip. We ended up getting back to Kihei around 730pm – eleven hours after we had left that morning. Very tired, but very satisfied with the adventure we had taken and the memories we had gained. Definitely a trip to be remembered.


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A few days after our adventure along the Northwest Coastline, we decided we were ready to drive the Hana Highway. We decided we would pass through Paia without stopping in order to make sure we would get as far as we could go in one day.

One of the first stops we made this day was at Keanae, just before the 17 mile marker. It was a very nice place to stop, even though it was raining pretty hard when we were there. I would definitely recommend checking it out. The color variety is a sight to see, with the black lava against the blue ocean, and green vegetation in the background. We had packed food for the day, so we ate a snack here.  There is a lot of room to park, so we just ate lunch in our car while watching the waves crash on the rocks…

20090409_277Another of the must see attractions along the Hana Highway is the Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach. It was very busy here, but well worth the stop. It is unlike any beach I have ever seen. I can only imagine the color that would show up there on a sunny day. 

20090409_443There is a small cave once you get down to the beach, which was one of my favorites as well.

Wainapanapa State Park, Maui

We didn’t explore the town of Hana for too long. It is certainly not a big place by any means, although you could probably spend a fair bit of time looking around there. But we wanted to carry on and see if we could make it all the way around the south side of the island.

We did stop to have a look at Hamoa Beach though. The only trail down to the beach we saw was quite steep, but we didn’t look to hard as we were not planning on swimming…

20090409_515And on the way to Hamoa Beach, we found another small beach, which I believe is called Koki Beach. It was quite stormy and the ocean was very rough, so it did not look like a good place for swimming. There seemed to be a lot of locals at the bbq area here. It was a good beach for photos though…

20090409_504The highway was paved for much of the trip around the south coast of Maui, but not the entire way. Although there were spots where the pavement was definitely not in the best of shape. We weren’t sure if it was possible to get all the way around, but once in a while when we were stopped to take some photos a tour bus would pass heading in the direction of Kula. So we figured if the buses were going that way then we could too.

20090409_647The scenery was certainly worth the drive though, and it was much less crowded than the drive to Hana. We decided not to stop at the Seven Sacred Pools. There was no parking when we got there, and we wanted to carry on. Also, it was still raining and we weren’t into swimming at that time. We wanted to keep going and find out what we could see past the point where most people turn around. And we were happy we did…

20090409_603There definitely were some narrow sections and blind corners. But we were used to them by now having driven along the Northwest Maui Coast as I mentioned in a previous post. Just drive cautiously and you should be alright.

Not sure what the rental car companies think about this trip past Hana. There are a few areas on Maui where they do not like you to go. Not sure what that means exactly, but we figured we would be on our own if something happened to the car outside the areas where you are allowed to go. So you might want to check with your car company, or at least keep it in mind. I have a post on rental cars here.

There were a few small churches along the way as well. They looked very old, and often appeared to be made from lava. They seemed like very interesting places to stop, check out, and take some photos. But we weren’t sure if that was an option or not, so we just took some photos from the road and carried on our way. This one was one of our favorites, out on a windy point.

20090409_608Eventually we started getting back into the drier side of the island again. Although we still very much enjoyed the scenery. It is also another good shot of the road conditions, as well as the usual amount of traffic we saw out there…

20090409_664Once in a while we would meet someone heading the other way, but there was always room for them to pass. More often though, we found ourselves pulling over for traffic that had caught up behind us. We wanted to take our time and enjoy the trip. It certainly helped that we packed a lot of food for the day. I think we actually ended up with some left over because we packed too much. But we didn’t want to go hungry with so much distance between towns out there. And we were not sure if we would be in Hana for lunch or not, and did not want that to limit where we could go or what we could do.

The Maui Revealed Guidebook was especially helpful on this trip. Although as I mentioned in previous posts, you have to watch where they tell you to go. Sometimes the locals are not as friendly now that the book has given out so many secrets. It just depends how adventurous you want to be and how much risk you are willing to take.

Their website is very good with lots of links, aerial resort views, resort reviews, and much more. They also post many updates to the book, which is a great way to get the latest news before you head out. Check it out at:


Overall I would highly recommend driving the Hana Highway. Just plan for an entire day, pack some food even if you plan to eat in Hana, and of course have your camera ready. Some ginger or gravol might be needed as well if you get motion sickness. The road is very windy. We made so many stops to get out and enjoy the breeze and the scenery that we didn’t notice all the curves in the road. It was actually quite fun to drive.

It was not always possible to stop where we wanted to, so quite often Shauna was taking the photo as I drove by slowly. And of course, if there is a lineup behind you it is much easier to just move out of the way so you can all enjoy things better. We will definitely be driving the Hana Highway on our next trip. There is so much to see and do that we might even stay at Hana for a few nights.

I hope you enjoyed reading, and as always please ask questions or leave comments if you have them.

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