The Road To Hana: A 1-Day Adventure
While the road to Hana is best enjoyed over a couple of days, we only had a single day to explore. You have two options for experiencing the road to Hana: signing up for an organized tour or renting a car and driving yourself. While an organized tour is great because you can truly admire the nature as you drive along, we opted to drive ourselves because it gave us more freedom to stop wherever we liked and for as long as we liked. If you have more than one day, I would highly recommend renting your own small car and using it to spend the night in Hana.
We woke up at the crack of dawn, caffeine in hand and the gas full, before making our way from Kihei towards Paia. Paia has a great little supermarket, Mana Foods, where you can stop and get some snacks for a picnic lunch later on in the day. But don’t worry if you opt out – there are plenty of stops along the road to Hana where you can grab snacks, juices or full meals at a decent price.
PS, Hawaiians love their banana bread and you can find it being sold along the street for the entire journey. My favorite discovery was all of these little fruit and veggie stalls that ran on the honor system: the produce was laid out on the stand, a sign sharing how much each item was. If you take a banana, you drop the money in the box. By the end of the day, the backseat was full of avocados, bananas, coconuts and tangerines.
We did things a little backwards. Wanting to get to the 7 Sacred Pools before the mad rush of tourists we drove all the way there and then stopped at the other sights along the way back.
7 SACRED POOLS
Also called The Pools of ‘Ohe’o, these pools and waterfalls are actually part of Haleakala National Park. All this means is that there is a fee of $10 per car to enter. Unfortunately, we were gutted to hear that the pools were closed off from swimming when we arrived. Apparently if the water levels are too high then the conditions are too dangerous for people to swim in the pools due to strong undercurrents and the possibility of sharks in the area.
I’m not going to pretend that this wasn’t extremely disappointing (I mean, the whole reason that I wanted to visit this stop on the road to Hana was to swim in the pools) but we made the most of the situation and opted to hike the Pipiwai trail. A 3 to 5 hour hike depending on your fitness level and the conditions of the trail, it was easily one of my favorite hikes on the island.
The trail took us up through root-covered dirt trails, passing by an incredible Banyan tree, through a thick bamboo forest (keep an eye out for falling bamboo!) and finally to the coveted end point: Waimoku Falls, a 400-foot high waterfall.
Just past mile marker #45, Wailua Falls was our next stop on the Road to Hana. You can see this one right from the road and it’s just a quick little walk to get up close and personal – no hiking required, which was a nice relief after hiking to Waimuku earlier. The water streams down from 80-feet above, flowing into a pool below that is perfect for cooling off. We arrived still fairly early in the day and managed to have the whole place to ourselves.
BLACK SAND BEACH – WAI’ANAPANAPA STATE PARK.
I’m a beach girl, always, so I loved every second spent at the black sand beach in Wai’anapanapa State Park. The striking contrast of the rich black sand and the blue-green water made it easily one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. You can definitely spend a couple of hours here, relaxing on the beach, walking the coastal path, exploring the caves, etc.
What better way to end the day than with another waterfall?! Waterfalls are everywhere along the Road to Hana but they never get old. Each one is so unique and in the heat of the day, they’re a welcome relief. Twin Falls is actually at the beginning of the Road to Hana at mile marker #2. We ended up there in the late afternoon after the crowds and tour groups had already come and gone. An easy half an hour hike will lead you to Twin Falls – at one point you need to cross a small stream of water; it’s easy but be cautious of flash flooding in the area.
Of all the stops and waterfalls the day brought us, Twin Falls was my favorite. It’s exactly what I imagine when I think of the perfect waterfall: a wide stream of steady water falling perfectly into a pool below. It’s surrounded by jungle, deep enough to swim and you can even walk behind the waterfall. Just remember your bug spray – the mosquitoes here are terrible and if you stop for even a second, they will bite you relentlessly.
The Road to Hana was one of the best days spent in Maui and I, like everyone else, will tell you that you have to explore it if you ever find yourself on the island.