Famous for its 620 curves and 59 bridges, the Road to Hana hugs East Maui’s lush green coastline, taking visitors who dare to drive the 64.4 miles on a journey past countless waterfalls to the tropical paradise of Hana, one of the most isolated towns in Hawaii. Remote beaches, picturesque gardens, and scenic trails can be explored in this small town near where Charles Lindbergh chose to spend his final years. Whether visiting for the day or staying a few nights, travelers will delight in Hana’s beauty and tranquil charm.
Stay a couple of nights before or after your road trip at Pa‘ia Inn, located at the beginning of Hana Highway. It sets you up for an early start on the road to beat the crowds. Plus, the five-room boutique property ($299 and up) is just steps from the beach and sits right in the middle of Pa‘ia Town, a walkable beachy neighborhood with plenty of boutiques, restaurants, and cafes to explore. Try Flatbread Co. for a post-trip pizza party—it’s a satisfying end to the long day.
Understated elegance best describes the luxurious plantation- style bungalows dotting Travaasa Hana’s grounds. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, its spacious modern suites ($575 and up) provide the perfect escape for rest and relaxation, with private lanais, high ceilings, and panoramic sliding doors. The resort’s expansive property also offers an open-air restaurant, a full-service spa, and activities that include horseback riding, cultural classes, hiking coastal trails, and yoga classes.
Known for its roadside banana breads, Maui has quite a few stands to choose from, but the family-run Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread stand, down Ke‘anae Road off Hana Highway’s Mile Marker 17, is one you won’t want to miss. The breads ($6 each) are perfectly moist, fluffy, and full of flavor. Buy two or three just for yourself.
A self-guided tour ($10; 12 and under free) through the Kahanu Garden, one of five National Tropical Botanical Gardens in the U.S., allows you to wander past collections of native and Polynesian plants, such as hala (pandanus) and breadfruit trees, taro, kukui, and ‘awa. The manicured grounds also feature a massive lava-rock Hawaiian temple that’s a National Historic Landmark.
Dine Out for Lunch
A casual eatery in the heart of the town, Hana Ranch Restaurant offers American fare with local Hawaiian flavors. Whether you’re in the mood for ahi poke ($16) or a half-pound classic cheeseburger ($17), there’s something to please. Enjoy the views of Hana Bay and take a photo in front of the wall of ukuleles before you continue on your journey.
The brilliant black-sand beach will draw you to the remote Wai‘anapanapa State Park (and rightfully so!), but there’s more to explore in the 122-acre park. Wander the historic coastal trail and take in the views of sea arches and cliffs, find the lava tube opening on the beach, and explore the legendary freshwater caves nearby, where a Hawaiian princess once fled her cruel husband.
Just a few miles past Hana, Haleakala National Park’s coastal division in Kīpahulu shouldn’t be skipped. Once there, a half-mile trail takes you to the mouth of ‘Ohe‘o Gulch, also known as Seven Sacred Pools, where you can watch waterfalls cascade from pool to pool at one of the most gorgeous spots in the state. If that’s not enough and you have more time, hike through a bamboo forest that leads to a 400-foot waterfall on the 4-mile-roundtrip Pīpīwai Trail that’s nearby.
Hana Gold’s cacao plantation has been around for more than 40 years, but it only recently began producing Maui’s first branch-to-bar chocolate. Walk among the trees and learn about its harvesting and production process on a tour with its chocolate makers ($40; 14 and under free). Tip: Wear pants and closed shoes, and don’t forget the bug repellent.
Mark Your Calendar
Sept. 14: Instead of driving, run the road to Hana in the 48th Annual Hana Relay. If you missed registration, consider the Maui Marathon, its relay, half-marathon, 10K, or 5K on Oct. 13. virr.com, mauimarathon.com