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The Road to Hana is an absolutely stunning road trip to take on any Maui vacation, and is 100% a must-do. If you need proof, the best stops on the Road to Hana, which include vibrant beaches, lush rain forests, and cascading waterfalls, attract about 400,000 visitors each year.
If the thought of driving over 59 bridges and around 620 tight curves sounds a little too adventurous, rest assured that this drive is extremely doable. With a maximum speed limit of twenty-five miles per hour and heavy tourist traffic that keeps things slow, this chill drive allows you to soak in the Road to Hana’s beautiful views.
Although a laid back trip, you will be in awe of the many dramatic and breathtaking sights. Steep cliffs from the road to the sea, powerful ocean swells, and volcanoes looming in the distance will remind you how small we humans are in the eyes of mother nature. The contrasting colors, like bright blue sea against black sand will astound you with how naturally gorgeous the world is.
Most people devote one full day to this drive, which is plenty for seeing the best stops on the Road to Hana. Below, I’ve enlisted the help of my fellow bloggers to make sure I include the best of the best sights that are worth your time. From waterfalls, to local food stands, to amazing hiking trails, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Try not to drool over your keyboard when you see the awesome Road to Hana pictures that go with it!
Travel Savvy Tip
Map out your course in advance to seamlessly find all the best Road to Hana stops. I recommend downloading an offline map from Google in case you lose cell service. Here is a link to a map that I’ve created for your convenience, which includes all the stops in this post!
9 Best Stops on the Road to Hana
First Road to Hana Stop: The Rainbow Eucalyptus Grove
MILE MARKER: 7
The Road to Hana’s rainbow eucalyptus grove is a little-known gem that only receives a handful of visitors each day. To those who do not know of its existence, the grove is easy to miss. It doesn’t have a signpost, isn’t marked on maps, and has no attached parking area.
As a result, tourists traveling the famous coastal route often skip past it on their way to other more talked-about destinations.
Despite its absence from most Maui itineraries, the Hana Highway’s painted forest is the largest and most accessible rainbow eucalyptus grove on Maui. If traveling in the direction of Hana, it is located on the left side of the road, near mile marker 7.
The rainbow eucalyptus trees, scientifically known as eucalyptus deglupta, are sometimes referred to as Mindanao gum or rainbow gum trees. The multi-colored streaks on their trunks come from patches of shedding bark. When the outer bark sheds, it reveals bright green inner bark. This young bark subsequently darkens and matures into various shades of pink, orange, yellow and purple. Each tree displays a rainbow of colors because the layers of bark peel at different times.
The trees in the eucalyptus grove look like an impressionist painting adorned in colorful brushstrokes. The grove is a photographer’s dream. An artist’s inspiration.
If there is space available to pull off to the side of the road, the intriguing rainbow forest should not be missed.
Erika Bisbocci – Erika’s Travels
Garden of Eden Arboretum
MILE MARKER: 10.5
You’ll find the Garden of Eden Arboretum on the right side of the Road to Hana a little more than a third of the way to Wai’anapanapa State Park, before you arrive in Ke’Anae, at mile marker 10.5. As a garden enthusiast, I’d planned on visiting it the first time I drove this famous road, but ultimately decided I didn’t want to pay the $20 admission fee ($10 for children). There is plenty of tropical beauty to be had for free on this side of Maui, right?
What a mistake! After learning more about it, I corrected that error during my next visit to Maui. The Garden of Eden Arboretum is a 26 acre tropical wonderland with 2.5 miles of trails and more than 700 botanical specimens! It’s the lifelong vision of a certified arborist and landscape designer who is dedicated to restoring natural ecosystems and promoting Hawaii’s native indigenous species.
Take an hour to walk the property, have a smoothie at the on-site Garden Cafe or even rappel down the Puohokama Waterfall here! (Adventurers can book a guide for a safe and fun experience…swimming in refreshing, stunning pools here afterwards).
There are plenty of stops on the Road to Hana to compete for your time and attention, but this one is very worthy! In fact, consider booking a Maui hotel on this side of the island for at least one overnight to maximize your exploration time and beat the day tripping crowds.
Chris – Explore Now or Never
MILE MARKER: 16.5
A few miles after the Arboretum, you’ll reach the Ke’anae Peninsula. Just past mile marker 16, turn left off the Hana Highway and follow the road down to the village of Ke’anae. This is a tiny little town with just a few buildings, but it’s worth a visit for the beautiful view of Maui’s North Shore.
Upon driving into Ke’anae, you’ll notice jagged black rocks along the coastline. They look absolutely stunning against the bright blue water, but this is for viewing only. There is no swimming on the Ke’anae Peninsula, as the rocky shoreline is very dangerous. However, you’re more than welcome to grab a smoothie or snack in town and enjoy the scenery.
This unsuspecting stop was actually one of my favorites on the Road to Hana. The tragic history of this otherwise peaceful small village really struck me, as I learned a tsunami had wreaked havoc on Ke’anae back in 1946.
The tsunami was a complete surprise, and unfortunately, a school was in session at the time the tsunami hit. The twenty-four students and teachers inside were lost, which was a huge blow for such a tiny town. The only remaining building is an old stone church that was built in 1856, which you will still see in the town today.
Banana Bread Stand (Halfway to Hana)
MILE MARKER: 17
While the Road to Hana has many incredible places to stop, the tastiest is hands-down the Halfway to Hana banana stand. Hawaiian bananas are so much sweeter than what is available on the Mainland, so Hawaiian banana bread is something you have to try.
There are actually a bunch of great Road to Hana banana stands along the way, but the Halfway to Hana stand makes a great pit stop to get out of your car and stretch a bit. It’s right on the main road and there’s a huge Halfway to Hana sign that makes a super cute photo op.
The banana bread is packaged up in a way that makes it easy to bring home as a souvenir. Definitely pick up a few because once you’ve tried it, you’ll gobble up the entire loaf.
If you need a bit more sustenance, they also sell sandwiches, hot dogs, noodles, and lots of other lunch items. And you can grab things to drink. Oh, they also sell ice cream and shaved ice!
The Halfway to Hana stand also has a nice place to sit and eat in the shade. And there’s a small parking lot, which makes it an easy Road to Hana stop. As an added bonus, they have an ATM on site, which can be super helpful as most of the roadside stands only take cash.
Marcie Cheung – Hawaii Travel With Kids
Upper Waikani Falls
Mile Marker: 19
This is a minor stop, which I am including because it’s so pretty. The Upper Waikana Falls, otherwise known as Three Bears, is three seventy-foot waterfalls plunging into a small pool below.
Unless you’d like to swim in the clear pool waters, there isn’t much to do here besides get your photo and leave. However, in my opinion the Road to Hana is all about taking your time at beautiful stops, and Three Bears definitely faciliates that.
If pressed for time, you could simply roll past these waterfalls and view them from the car window. That’s probably the least dangerous choice, since you’ll have to drive about 100 yards past the falls to park, and then trek back to them on the narrow shoulder. However, if you are like me, and can’t help but get up close to see the Three Bears for yourself, just be extremely careful and look out for traffic.
If you want to take a dip, carefully descend the slippery paths down to the pool on either side of the left end of the bridge. However, it is not advised to swim if the waterfalls are at a heavy flow rate. Finally, this pool is too shallow for jumping or diving (sorry if I am starting to sound like your mom, but safety first!).
Travel Savvy Tip
If you’d like a bit more guidance during your Road to Hana drive, or don’t want to map everything out yourself, consider downloading the Road to Hana Gypsy Guide. This app costs $9.99, but is 100% worth it for to make your Road to Hana trip that much easier.
I loved the Gypsy Guide’s GPS tracking, which lets you know when a stop is coming up. In between, it gives background and tells stories about the various Road to Hana stops, making for an entertaining ride.
MILE MARKER: 27.5
Besides the breathtaking views and landscapes, this winding road has a must stop that can’t be missed. Coconut Glen’s is one of the best ice cream shops on the planet (according to Conde Nast Traveler). Located at the mile marker 27 ½, this great stand offers 100% organic and 100% vegan ice cream made with coconut milk from coconuts harvested in the jungles of Maui.
There are a few flavors to choose from: Original coconut and classic chocolate are a staple, then you have some house specialties like lilikoi, ginger lemongrass, chipotle chocolate, coffee toffee among others. The flavors can change regularly according to whatever they made that day.
Besides the delicious well known ice cream, Coconut Glen’s has another popular choice amidst the crowds that visit the stand every day: coconut candy. This great treat, made with coconut and sugar, is a staple at the stand and you are greeted with a sample of it at your arrival. Make sure to take some home so you won’t regret it.
You can also find fresh fruits, including fresh coconuts and some homemade goods. If you are lucky, you might have a chance to try some fresh fruit before you buy it. If you are taking the trip to Coconut Glen’s make sure to call before you head that way.
Patricia Martin – Travel Fam Life
Waiʻānapanapa State Park—The Road to Hana’s Most Famous Black Sand Beach
MILE MARKER: 32
2022 Update: Advance reservations are now required to access Waiʻānapanapa State Park (unless you can prove Hawaii residency). Tickets can be purchased here up to thirty days in advance and no later than one day before your visit. Fees are $5/person and $10/vehicle.
You’ll find the Black Sand Beach at Waiʻānapanapa State Park on every single Road to Hana guide – and for good reason! It’s one of the (if not THE) best stops on the Road to Hana. The Black Sand Beach is a place that sticks with you long after leaving and one you hope to return to in the future.
It’s not just the black sand that makes it remarkable—it’s the black sand against the turquoise waters and green vegetation that makes for a picture-perfect, colorful setting. Make your way down to enjoy a dip in the water, take a short hike to the top of the point for a bird’s eye view of the rolling waters, check out the caves, head to the big black rocks for a place to catch some rays, and take a moment to breathe it all in. This hidden cove is a memorable and beautiful experience.
For planning purposes, make sure to start your Road to Hana journey early and get here in the morning. This stop is very popular and is full of crowds from late morning into the afternoon. You’ll likely spend an hour or so here if your day consists of many stops, although you could easily spend a handful of hours here. There’s no need for full shoes, sandals are great and don’t forget your towel—and a camera!
Amber Hiltunen – Little Blue Backpack
MILE MARKER: 42
At mile marker 42, towards the end of the Road to Hana, is the Pipiwai Trail, one of the most impressive sites on the entire island of Maui. This trail has an incredible stretch of hiking through a dense bamboo forest, and ends with the stunning 400 foot towering Waimoku Falls.
The Pipiwai Trail is just under 2 miles in length and is relatively flat, making this a trail that almost anyone can conquer. After a half mile or so, you’ll come to a huge banyan tree that would be the crown jewel on most hiking trails. Continuing on, about halfway through the hike you’ll enter a thick, dense bamboo forest. There is a boardwalk through the forest, so you won’t have to fight any bamboo, you can take a leisurely stroll admiring the height and quantity of bamboo trees all around you.
At the end of your nearly 2 mile hike you’ll emerge from the bamboo forest beneath a tall cliff. Over that cliff flows one of the largest waterfalls in Hawaii: Waimoku Falls. At over 400 feet tall, this enormous waterfall is truly a site to behold, and will be the cherry on top of your Road to Hana adventure.
An interesting fact about Waimoku Falls is that it can double (and even triple) in size after a heavy rain, as water makes its way from the mountain top down towards the ocean. All in all, the Pipiwai Trail is a wonderful experience full of amazing sights for you to see. Enjoy!
Zach and Julie – Ruhls of the Road
You’ll definitely want a good road trip playlist for your full day of driving. Check out my post featuring the best tropical songs for any vacation playlist. These songs have the exact beachy vibes you need!
Mile Marker: 45
Wailua Falls is easily one of the best stops on the Road to Hana, if not the most beautiful. In fact, you don’t even need to exit your vehicle to see it. However, you’ll certainly want to pull over to take a photo of this beauty, and the plentiful parking nearby makes this incredibly easy to do!
Said to be the “most photographed waterfall on the Road to Hana”, Wailua Falls lives up to the hype. While its easy access to the road likely contributes to the crowds it receives, the way this waterfall elegantly cascades 80 feet down the rocky cliff behind it sets this one apart from the others. Even if you have waterfall fatigue by now, this tranquil spot is sure to charm you.
If you’re in the mood for a dip, you can trek down to the lovely pool below the falls. On your way back, purchase a souvenir from a vendor in the parking lot to remember this awesome day.
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You are now all set for an incredible full day of sightseeing. These are the best stops for the ultimate drive down the Road to Hana, and they’ll be cemented in your Maui memories. This unforgettable experience more than delivers on unreal scenery and plenty of adventures. Believe me – you won’t regret trading Mai Tai’s on the beach for experiencing this wilder side of Maui.