If you talk to people who have driven Road to Hana, you will hear about gorgeous Hawaiian scenery, the wealth of exotic stops along the way, and the narrow and winding road. All are true; in fact, this could be one of the windiest highways you ever drive. Combined with sheer 300-foot cliffs, this is not a place for reckless driving. But with just a small amount of planning, you can safely travel this beautiful highway and experience for yourself why taking Road to Hana is one of the most beautiful drives in the US.
Road to Hana is not dangerous if you are cautious and don’t speed. However, some inexperienced drivers may find it intimidating because of the combination of narrow and twisty roads, 100-to-300-foot cliffs, frequent rain, dark conditions at night, and that many sections don’t have guard rails.
Information About Road To Hana
The Hana Highway, or the “Road to Hana,” is a 64-mile road along the northeast side of the island of Maui. It connects the town of Hana with the city of Kahului.
Despite what the name suggests, the town of Hana is not the destination; it’s the drive itself. The highway is narrow and intensely winding with 100-to-300-foot drops supplying gorgeous views of the ocean, tropical rainforests, waterfalls, and beaches, making this drive one of the most scenic drives in the United States.
Even though it is only about 64 miles long, the sharp curves, numerous scenic activities, and the majority of its 59 bridges being single-lane means it takes a good chunk of time to drive it. Nonstop it takes about 3 hours to drive from Kahului to the furthest scenic destination site on the road. If stopping at some of the sites, it can take 6 hours, making it a 12-hour round trip. It’s good to take your time to take it all in.
Is Road To Hana Safe to Drive on?
It is a paved road, and any standard car can make the trip. At its end, it becomes Highway 31 and turns into a dirt road in some areas, which is a problem during bad weather. Many rental car companies will tell you they won’t serve you if you have an issue here. You technically can still drive the highway, but to avoid a potential nightmare, it is best to return the way you came.
How Many Accidents and Deaths per Year?
Though the exact accident numbers are hard to track since they are combined with statistics of the whole island, deaths from the road are documented. The two most recent deaths were both located at a section called Maliko Gulch near mile marker 11. In 2019, two local girls in their early 20s mistakenly drove off the 200-foot cliff in their truck when missing a turn at night. 2018, a 47-year-old local man died in the same location during the day.
In 2014, a 17-year old driver drove off the edge of a 300-foot cliff between mile markers 15 and 16.
Tips for Driving the Road to Hana
This drive is magical, and there are some key ways to make the most of this time on the road.
- Be Considerate – If you speak to visitors or read reviews, you will learn about aggressive tailgaters. Though this seems rude, it is important to understand why it happens. The Road to Hana is the only road on that side of the island, and local residents must use the same winding, time-consuming, touristy highway to get to work and do their most basic shopping. (Imagine picking up milk or a loaf of bread.) To get where they need to be on time, they need your help to pull over so they can pass. For this reason, job number one on the Road to Hana is to be considerate to residents who tailgate and pull over at the next opportunity. Tailgating isn’t meant to be confrontational. In fact, if you were to wave as you pull over and they pass, they will most likely wave right back.
- Fuel Up with Gas, Food, and Drinks – Before you start your trip, fill up with gas tank and bring food and drinks along with you. Though there is a tiny general store, a few tasty food trucks, and some pretty killer banana bread along the way, it’s is better to take food with you to ensure the easiest eating and drinking experience on this long, remote drive.
- Start Early – When beginning your drive, start as early as possible. The best times are at or just before sunrise. You will avoid traffic and the crowds of people that accumulate at the various scenic areas.
- Plan it Out – Plan your sites to make your trip more fun! There are numerous waterfalls, beaches, and hikes worth doing, all located at designated mile markers. https://roadtohana.com/sights.php . Some sites are found 30 minutes past Hana, such as Seven Sacred Pools and the grave of Charles Lindbergh. Rather than making a speed run, take the time to drive slowly and take in all this gorgeous terrain has to offer. And don’t try to cover everything in one day. This trip should be relaxing.
- Camping and Hotels – If you want to see everything, you can break the trip into two days. There is a resort and and spa called the Travaasa Hana https://travaasa.com/hana/. It has great reviews but can be expensive, depending on your budget. There are also numerous camp sites along the way. Keep in mind you may need a permit. https://www.mauicounty.gov/410/Park-Permits Depending on any Covid-19 restrictions at the time of your visit, you may be able to rent local cottages as well.
- Don’t Park on the road – Be sure to pull over at only designated rest stops or tourn outs and avoid parking along the highway. With residents living nearby and the heavy tourist traffic back and forth, it is important to keep the highway clear.
- Restrooms – Being in such isolation will leave you wondering where to take a restroom break! Restrooms can be found at:
• Ho’okipa Beach Park
• Pua’a Ka’a Wayside Park
• Wai’anapanapa State Park
• Haleakala National Park at Pools of Ohe’o
• Most locations that have food vendors
Is it Worth Driving?
No question about it, Road to Hana is worth the drive. There is a reason it is one of the top tourist activities on Maui and one of the most sought after drives in the US. The sheer beauty of the area is hard to forget. By understanding the driving experience and being prepared beforehand, you can make this time on Maui one you never forget.