Posts Tagged ‘Hana Highway’

We have been to Maui a number of times now, and always enjoy our day-trips to hana. But after our last trip we said we weren’t going to travel the Hana Highway again for a while. It’s such a beautiful drive but it always makes for a very long day. So we decided the best way to have more time to relax and enjoy the sights and scenery would be to spend a few nights in Hana. After doing quite a bit of research online with VRBO and TripAdvisor, we came across the Hana Oceanfront Cottages. Right away we knew it was the place we had to stay. They have two options – the Cottage or the Suite – but the Cottage was the one we really wanted. What a beautiful place – exactly like the photos on their website. Here are some of our favorite photos taken during our stay…

Hana Oceanfront Cottage - Hana By The Sea

View from the Hana Oceanfront Cottage, Maui

View from the Hana Oceanfront Cottage, Maui

The Living Room - Hana Oceanfront Cottage

Kitchen - Hana Oceanfront Cottage

Bathroom - Hana Oceanfront Cottage

Hana Oceanfront Cottage Bedroom

Since we haven’t spent a night without A/C during our time on the Hawaiian Islands we were a bit hesitant to spend too many nights there, since we weren’t sure how it would go. So we only booked a one night stay, which worked out well as it filled a small gap in their calendar. There are windows on all four sides of the cottage, so it was very well ventilated and cool throughout the night. It wasn’t quiet however as you could hear the ocean crashing below, and the frogs chirping from time to time. I found it quite relaxing and got a great sleep. Shauna didn’t sleep as well, although I did wake her up a few times throughout the night as I woke up a few times to check out the skies… Our one night stay coincided with the peak of the annual Lyrids Meteor Shower. Unfortunately the clouds blocked the view for most of the night and the moon was already starting to rise. I did find a break in the clouds around 2am and was able to get a few photos in, however didn’t see any meteors this time. I did get a couple nice night photos though.

Hamoa Beach, Maui

We woke up to a beautiful morning, and of course headed across the road with our cameras to take some photos. It was amazing to hear and watch the waves below as the light changed and go brighter. We ate our breakfast out on the patio watching the waves and the surfers. We could definitely spend a lot more time here. Before we checked out we headed down to Hamoa Beach. The surfers were enjoying the waves, but we didn’t want to test them so stayed on the shore. Maybe next time we will give it a try if things are a bit calmer. Here are some of our favorites from the morning…

Hana Sunrise

Beautiful morning at Hamoa Beach

Hamoa Beach, Maui

Hamoa Beach Surfing

Hamoa Beach Maui


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We have been to Maui three times now, with a lot of great experiences, memories, and photographs. So I was looking back and thinking about all of my favorite activities we have done.  So of course it made perfect sense to add a blog post with our favorite Maui Activities. Although it was a pretty tough list to narrow down, as there are so many amazing things you can do there. Since we mostly travel the island on our own, there are not many paid tours on the list (although we would like to take a helicopter tour some day). Anyhow, here is the list, hope you enjoy it, and as always you can click on the color links to see the full post for each:

#1 – Of course our wedding is first on the list. Such a perfect day at Secret Cove Beach, and our favorite memory of all. Getting married on the beach in Hawaii is the best thing we could have done:

Secret Cove (Pa'ako Beach), Maui

Sunset at Secret Cove Beach

#2 – Whale Watching with the Pacific Whale Foundation. It is definitely worth going out just to see and hear the humpbacks, no matter what the distance. We were lucky enough to have them swim right up to the boat. It was an unforgettable experience.

Pacific Whale Foundation - Maui Whale Watching


#3 – The amazing Haleakala Sunrise. We have been up to view the sunrise twice now, and will certainly go back up again on our next trip. I also enjoyed taking photos of the night sky. But watching the sun slowly rise above the clouds was a sight to behold. But be sure to dress warm for this one, as that wind is something else.

Haleakala Sunrise - Maui

Lookout Tower- Haleakala Volcano Crater Sunrise, Maui

#4 – The Old Lahaina Luau. Another amazing memory from our wedding trip of 2008. It was recommended online as one of the best Maui Luau’s. Whether you choose this one or another, a luau is definitely something to experience on any trip to Hawaii.

Old Lahaina Luau

#5 – Snorkeling at turtle town. I love to swim, love to snorkel, and love taking photos. So I spent a lot of time in the water with my new underwater camera on our latest trip. Turtle town near Wailea is one of my favorite spots. If you arent comfortable swimming from shore there are a lot of tour boat options that will get you here as well, to swim with the fish and the turtles.

Snorkeling with Turtles

#6 – Driving the Hana Highway. An all day adventure with as many side trips and stops as you can manage. So many sights and stops and adventures to be had.

South Maui Coastline

#7 – Honolua Bay – One of our favorite places on the island of Maui. On our first trip he heard it was a great snorkeling location. We didnt know about the rainforest out there however – what an amazing place. And the snorkeling was awesome (when the surf isn’t up).

Honolua Bay

Tropical Forest at Honolua Bay, Maui

#8 – Hiking the Pipiwai trail. An adventure that might be best done while staying in Hana. But we made an early morning drive from Kihei and hiked this amazing trail. From the Infinity Pool, to the banyan tree, to the Bamboo Forest, to the 400 foot waterfall at the end, this was such an awesome hike.

Maui Bamboo Forest

Makahiku Falls Infinity Pool - Maui

#9 – Watching the sunsets on the beach is one of our favorite (and free) activities on the island. We especially loved the views from Secret Cove and Big Beach. The perfect way to end yet another day in paradise:

Beautiful Maui Sunset

Kamaole Beach Sunset

#10 – Kula Botanical Garden. We spent a great morning walking through the gardens here. Its a self guided trail where you can wander the trails at your own pace, and view the great variety of tropical plants and flowers. Definitely great for photos:

Crazy Flower at Kula Tropical Flower Gardens, Maui

at Kula Tropical Gardens, Maui

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the list. It was hard to narrow down as there is so much to do. We definitely look forward to our next visit, as there are many more activities we would like to try.

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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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The day after we drove the Hana Highway, we decided to head back to Paia to see what we had missed. It was tempting to stop at Paia the first time we passed through, but we wanted to do as much exploring around Hana as we could.

Of course we had to stop at Maui Coffee Roasters as we passed through Kahului.

We could not find a parking spot in the big public parking lot near the west end of Paia, so we decided to head for Ho’okipa Beach first. It is considered to be one of the best windsurfing beaches in the world, and a great place for taking photos.
20090410_740There was a surprising lack of windsurfers the day we were here. Conditions were obviously better for surfing, because there was plenty of them out there. I found a great site for checking out the ocean conditions, although we didn’t look at it on this day since we did not plan to surf or to swim. But it has aerial photos, beach descriptions, hazard ratings, and of course surf conditions. It is definitely worth checking out before heading to the ocean for the day.

Our stop at Ho’okipa Beach made for one of my favorite photos of the entire trip… Surfing with the turtles at Ho’okipa Beach:


From there we went back to Paia to check it out better. We were able to find a parking spot this time. We ended up having lunch at the Paia Fish Market. They are one of the top rated restaurants in Paia according to TripAdvisor, and get the coveted Ono rating from Maui Revealed. We arrived right at lunch time and were surprised by how busy they were. But we figured they had to be good based upon the lineup.

Once we got inside we were surprised at the variety on the menu. They make fish in all sorts of dishes: pasta, tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, burgers, and of course grilled and deep fried. You can also get some of their dishes in chicken as well, for those who aren’t into fish. We went with the fish and chips for lunch, and were very happy with our meal.

Fish'n'Chips at Paia Fishmarket Restaurant, Maui

Our plan to explore around Paia on a separate day from driving the Hana Highway worked out quite well for us. We were able to explore what we wanted around Hana, as I have discussed in a previous post. And then we went back to Paia the next day to check it out without feeling rushed to get back on the road. It made both days much more enjoyable.

After we explored around Paia, we went up to Makawao. It was another interesting town with lots of shops. But by the time we got there, we were about ready for the beach again. So we didn’t look around too much. It was back to the Maui Banyan and Kamaole II Beach.

If you would like to look at Shauna’s photos for the Paia Fish Market you can see them on her Maui Photo Set.

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On the way down from the Haleakala Sunrise we were looking for breakfast. So of course we consulted with our Maui Revealed Guidebook to find a good place to eat. After reading their review, we decided to check out Maui Coffee Roasters. It was one of those decisions that didn’t seem like much at the time, but ended up as one of the favorite places we found.

Maui Coffee Roasters is located at 444 Hana Hwy, near the intersection of the Hana Highway and Dairy Road. It is on the North side of Dairy Road, and the West side of the Hana Highway, for those who are good with directions. Here is what their building looks like:

20090410_723It turned out to be one of the best places we found during our entire trip. The prices were good, the food was great, and the coffee was amazing. They roast their own coffee next door, so it doesn’t get much fresher than that.
Maui Coffee Roasters

We both had their smoked salmon benedict the first time we stopped and could not believe how good it was; especially since it was only seven bucks. We actually thought it tasted better than the almost twenty dollars per plate crab benedict we tried a few days later at the Seawatch Restaurant in Wailea. We also tried some of their sandwiches and muffins. Needless to say, we did liked everything we tried. But of course we always kept going back for the coffee.

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict:
Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict @ Maui Coffee Roasters

I don’t drink coffee so I usually had a fruit smoothie. Of course, those were very good as well. By the time Shauna got the camera ready I was well into my smoothie already…
Maui Coffee Roasters

Even though we were staying in Kihei, Shauna kept wanting to go back to Kahului to get one of their coffees. Seemed a bit out of the way to me, but we kept finding excuses to travel that direction.

I also made sure to enter a review for them on Tripadvisor, as they did not have a review at that time. A few other people have since given them great reviews as well. So if you do check them out, be sure to enter a TripAdvisor review of your own to help spread the word.

On our next trip to Maui I am pretty sure that Maui Coffee Roasters will be one of the first stops we make. It would definitely hit the spot after the long flight. I can hardly wait…

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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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