Road to Hana Itinerary Guide: Perfect 1 & 2 Day Itineraries (2022)

Road to Hana itinerary blog cover image.  Text overlaying an image from Alele Viewpoint overlooking the narrow Road to Hana with two vehicles on it.  The road is running along the base of a steep cliff with the ocean on the otherside.

This Road to Hana itinerary guide is the only resource you’ll need for planning the perfect 1 or 2 day adventure along Maui’s famous Hana Highway through East Maui.

With a dozen waterfalls, otherworldly beaches, volcanic remnants, and a thriving tropical rainforest to explore, it is no wonder this scenic road is considered one of the best drives in the world.

Discover everything you need to know for planning your road trip including possible routes, best stops, overnight options, road conditions, photos and more in the complete guide below.

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Road to Hana Itinerary Overview

This guide will help you plan the perfect Road to Hana itinerary by covering all the best stops, driving route options, times, and important details of note. At glance, here is how your day(s) will look cruising the Hana Hwy.

One Day Itinerary

  • Sunrise at Baldwin Beach or Ho’okipa
  • Breakfast in Paia
  • Stops at Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees, Upper Waikani Falls, Pua’a Ka’a Falls, Makapipi Falls
  • Lunch at Black Sand Beach or in Hana Town
  • Stops at Hana beaches, Sacred Pools, & Pipiwai Trail

Two Day Itinerary

  • Morning at the beaches of Maui North Shore
  • Lunch in Paia
  • Same stops as One-Day (above) + Twin Falls, Hanawai Falls, Garden of Eden
  • Dinner in Hana
  • Day 2: Sunrise at Black Sand Beach
  • Stops at Koki Beach, Hamoa Beach, Venus Pond, Wailua Falls, and Haleakala NP. Maybe Red Sand Beach, conditions permitting.
  • Finish Road to Hana Loop toward home

Road to Hana Route

Officially, the Road to Hana begins at Mile Marker 0 on the Hana Hwy and ends where the road becomes the Piilani Hwy just beyond the Alelele Bridge. However, the road conditions worsen tremendously beyond the village of Kipahulu, prompting many drivers to turn around and return home the way they came.

The fastest and least-milage route, however, is to continue onward and complete the loop drive through Kuapo. The road becomes very narrow and bumpy, but requires no special clearance or 4WD. It should absolutely NOT be attempted in an RV or oversized vehicle, but is fine in most commuter vehicles.

How much time and milage is saved is based on where your home base is. The table below breaks down the difference between completing the Road to Hana Loop vs backtracking from ‘O’heo Gulch and the Seven Sacred Pools in Haleaka National Park; the most common turnaround point.

HomeLoop RouteReturn Route
Paia4h 20m / 108 miles4h 45m / 108 miles
Kihei5h 00m / 130 miles5h 35m / 140 miles
Lahaina5h 30m / 140 miles6h 10m / 144 miles
The table above compares time and distances for completing the loop vs turning around at O’jeo Gulch.

Road to Hana Stops

While the frequent rain in East Maui is unideal for sunbathing, it creates a lush rainforest chock-full of amazing waterfalls and thriving greenery. Pair this with the volcanic heritage of Maui and you get some natural artwork you won’t forget.

If you want more information on all of the stops listed, open our complete guide to the Top 25 Road to Hana Stops in another browser. This guide includes descriptions, photos, and information for each incredible destination along the way.

Top 5 Must See

In a place known for its natural beauty, these are the top 5 spots every Road to Hana itinerary needs to include, regardless of hours or days available:

  1. Honokalani Black Sand Beach
    *Now requires a permit: Read about Waiʻānapanapa State Park Permits here.
  2. ‘O’heo Gulch: Seven Sacred Pools
    *One of many things to do in Haleakala National Park.
  3. Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees
    *Found near Mile Marker 7 on the Hana Hwy.
  4. Ho’okipa Beach Park
    *Best place on Maui to see Hawaiian Sea Turtles
  5. Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach
    *Dangerous trail and not easy to find. Click the title for a complete guide.

If you do not have time to see anything else, try and get to at least these top spots. Be aware, however, that Red Sand Beach is a dangerous hike and should not be attempted by children or anyone with physical limitations, nor following heavy rains. Also, know that a reservation is now required to park AND to enter Black Sand Beach.

Other Stops

The following additional stops should be bookmarked for your Road to Hana itinerary. Many of them will be seen roadside if nothing else, but some require hiking. Time permitting, try to see as many of them as you can.

  1. Twin Falls
  2. Waikamoi Nature Trail & Waikamoi Falls
  3. Garden of Eden Arboretum
  4. Ke’anae Arboretum
  5. Upper Waikani Falls
  6. Pua’a Ka’a Falls
  7. Hanawi Falls
  8. Makapipi Falls
  9. Hamoa Beach / Koki Beach Park
  10. Waioka Pond (Venus Pool)
  11. Wailua Falls
  12. Waimoku Falls
  13. Alelele Falls Viewpoint
  14. Huialoha Church
  15. Manawainui Gulch
  • A young woman stands on the beautiful golden sand of Baldwin Beach on the north shore of Maui.
    1. Baldwin Beach

The photo gallery slideshow above shows what you can expect to see at each stop. For maps, descriptions, and more photos and information, open our complete guide to the Best Road to Hana Stops in another browser.

Road to Hana Day Trip Itinerary

If you only have time in your Road to Hana itinerary for a day trip, you will want to get as early a start as possible. As noted in the previous section, drive times from Paia, Kihei, and Lahaina range from 4.5 hours to 6+ without stops.

What’s more, the road is extremely busy and gets backed up early and often. Getting ahead of the crowds makes it less likely you’ll get stuck in traffic and more likely you’ll find parking at the key destinations.

The suggested Road to Hana day trip itinerary below can be modified to fit your needs and pace.

Sunrise at Baldwin Beach or Ho’okipa Lookout

A view of Hookipa Beach from Hookipa Lookout on the Maui North Shore.

You have to get an early start anyway, so you may as well see sunrise. Baldwin Beach is the best beach on the Maui North Shore and Ho’okipa is the best place to see turtles.

Quick Breakfast in Paia (or a sunrise picnic!)

We suggest Island Fresh Cafe or Cafe Mambo, but there are several good options. That said, check the opening hours as if you get an early enough start, they may not yet be open! Alternatively, bringing your breakfast with you for sunrise on the beach will give you the most time and may even be more memorable.

Stop 1: Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees

The rainbow eucalyptus trees are one of the best roadside stops on our Road to Hana itinerary in Maui.

These famous trees are visible from the roadside, though you may not notice them if you aren’t looking. They are located near Mile Marker 7 and on Google Maps. Be warned that parking is very limited, which is why we suggest going early and seeing them first.

Stop 2: Upper Waikani Falls

Landscape photography of Upper Waikani Falls, one of the top stops on any Road to Hana itinerary.

This will be a quick stop but if you can find parking, is worth getting out of the car for a photo. This beautiful waterfall is visible from the roadside, however, if you want to keep driving and settle for a glancing look.

Stop 3: Pua’a Ka’a Falls

The two-tiered Pua'a Ka'a Falls is one of the best waterfall stops on the Road to Hana itinerary in Maui.

There are a few waysides along the Road to Hana which provide parking and facilities. The Pua’a Ka’a Falls State Wayside is one of these and also is the home to one of the prettiest waterfalls on the Road to Hana.

Stop 4: Makapipi Falls

A drone photo showing Makapipi Falls at sunset on the Road to Hana in Maui.

You will actually drive over Makapipi Falls and, like a few others, be able to see it without stopping. There is a shoulder with a couple of spaces to park and take a photo, but it is usually full.

Lunch Option 1: Holokalani Black Sand Beach

Holokalani Black Sand Beach has become the most popular stop on the Hana Hwy and is an absolute must on your Road to Hana itinerary. However, preparation is required for its inclusion as the state now requires pre-booked permits for parking and visiting.

Do yourself a favor and read our guide to Waianapanapa State Park permits ahead of time to make sure you can include it on your itinerary.

You will want to pack a lunch, if possible, for a picnic at the park. Alternatively, see Option 2 below.

Lunch Option 2: Dine in Hana

Assuming you got an early start as suggested, you should be arriving in Hana in time for lunch. There are a variety of great local restaurants to choose from here with all types of cuisine. Take some time to explore the quaint town and dine locally.

Stop 5 (Option 1): *Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach*

The most visually amazing of the Secret Beaches of Maui is Kaihalulu Beach, aka Red Sand Beach. While the beach experience itself is not the best, it is amazing to see this natural wonder of the world up close…. But there is a catch!

The trail to the beach is dangerous and unmaintained, particularly for children or anyone with physical limitations. The state and locals will discourage visits as a result.

If you do decide you would like to visit, be sure to read the comprehensive Maui Red Sand Beach Guide first to ensure you understand the risks involved.

Stop 5 (Option 2): Koki Beach or Hamoa Beach

Daytime photo from Koki Beach Park, considered one of the best beaches in Hana on Maui.
Koki Beach is one of the few gold sand beaches you will find on the Road to Hana.

The rainforest region of East Maui is not known for its beaches as most of the shoreline is lava rock cliffs. However, if Red Sand Beach is outside the abilities or comfort of your group, instead enjoy a leisurely visit to one or both of Hana’s best beaches at Koki or Hamoa.

Both beaches are as good as they get on the rainy side, and are beautiful by any measure when the sun is out.

Stop 6: O’heo Gulch: Seven Sacred Pools

Waterfalls flow under a bridge at this final stop on the Road to Hana itinerary in Oheo Gulch and the Seven Sacred Pools.

Another can’t miss on any Maui itinerary is the Seven Sacred Pools of O’heo. This is both a beautiful spot to swim and cool off or simply enjoy with a camera in hand.

It is located within Haleakala National Park so parking is ample but a parks pass is required. It can be purchased at the gate if you do not already have one.

Stop 7: Pipiwai Trail

The towering Waimoku Falls in Maui on the Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala National Park.
The towering Waimoku Falls at the end of the Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala National Park.

Time permitting, many people enjoy the 4-mile roundtrip hike along the Pipiwai Trail which takes you through some seasonal waterfalls, ending at Waimoku Falls. Be aware, however, that these are often dry.

The Pipiwai Trail was most famous for the Maui Bamboo Forest, but that is no longer open to the public. There is no legal way to access the bamboo forest at this time and people who are caught trespassing will likely face steep fines.

*Decision: Turn Around or Finish the Road to Hana Loop*

At this point, the road begins to get progressively worse and more narrow. It should not be attempted by oversized vehicles under any circumstances, but standard commuter cars are fine.

You will have to decide if you prefer to turn around or finish the loop. If you turn around, consider now visiting some of the Top 25 Road to Hana Stops you may have missed on the drive down. The remainder of the items listed can be seen in a relatively short time should you continue onward.

  • Alelele Falls Viewpoint: A spectacular viewpoint of the cliff-hugging Hana Hwy.
  • Huialoha Church: A picturesque, historic church in Kaupo Village.
  • Manawainui Gulch: A final beautiful canyon as you depart from the Hana Highway.

Road to Hana Day Tours

A view along the Hana coast from the Road to Hana in Maui.

Even if you’re not usually a tour person you may want to consider it in this case. The Road to Hana has been nicknamed the “Divorce Highway” due to the arguments it’s caused between some couples! While not necessarily a dangerous road, it can be taxing on your nerves with around 620 curves and 59 bridges (of which 46 are one-lane bridges).

With this in mind, a tour can be a great option, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the Road to Hana without the stress of driving this narrow, windy road. Furthermore, it takes any stress out from having to plan your Road to Hana itinerary as this will be taken care of for you.

Booking a tour also includes all the permits you require, as well as often including breakfast and lunch. The downside to tours is that you will typically visit fewer stops and are limited to day trips only.

Below are some of the best Road to Hana tours:
  • Road to Hana and Ka’eleku Cavern Small-Group Luxury Day Trip: 5/5 
    In addition to exploring the wonders of the Road to Hana, you will also tour the mysterious Hana lava tube; Ka’eleku Cavern. With up to 8 guests in a comfortable limo-van, you can avoid the crowds and enjoy the comforts of this luxury tour.
  • Private Road to Hana Tour: 5/5 
    Create your own custom itinerary and include the Road to Hana stops you’re most excited to see with a private tour. Sit back and relax, letting your knowledgeable guide drive you through this incredible part of Maui.
  • Small-Group Road to Hana Adventure: 5/5 
    Enjoy this iconic Maui road, stopping at all the best sights with up to 10 guests. On this 10-hour tour, you will learn about Hawaiian culture and history from your professional guide, as well as have the option to take a dip in the ocean at the black sand beach or take a splash into a cascading waterfall.

Road to Hana Overnight Itinerary

If you are one of the fortunate ones with time enough to stay a night near Hana, you will have a few bonus opportunities for your Road to Hana overnight itinerary that most will not.

Rather than list every possible feature, we recommend you study our guide to the Top 25 Road to Hana Stops and make note of which are most important to you. This short section will just highlight a few key considerations to plan your itinerary around.

Day 1

  • Begin Day 1 by enjoying the North Shore of Maui. Consider time at VOR Beach or Kaulahao Beach, two of Maui’s best secret beaches just off the Hana Hwy.
  • Visit the same stops as in the day trip itinerary but consider adding Twin Falls & Hanawai Falls.
  • End your day at Waianapanapa State Park or in Hana; information on accommodation options for both is in the next section.

Day 2

There are a few key things to note with the overnight itinerary and how it differs from day trips. The first is that you will want to get a later start to avoid parking and traffic issues as most people will be returning when you begin.

The second is that by staying the night near Hana, you will be far enough ahead of the crowds to have no trouble with parking or access at any of the popular stops – a notable advantage.

Where to Stay on the Road to Hana

Be sure you make your hotel or campsite arrangements ahead of time! East Maui is small and occupancy is very limited.

Also, be sure you procure permits for Black Sand Beach even if you are staying elsewhere! Entry and parking reservations are required ahead of time and will not be permitted day of.

Hotels near Hana

The Hyatt Residence hotel is one of the best places to stay for a two day Road to Hana itinerary.
Hana-Maui Resort is one of the best places to stay for a two day Road to Hana itinerary.

When choosing where to stay on Maui, few opt for Hana. As such, there are limited options for accommodation in East Maui. For this area, you will find more options available through VRBO than Booking.com. However, we recommend checking both to find the best option for you.

For quick reference, below are some of the top-rated accommodation options in Hana:

Camping

There are two places you can camp on the Road to Hana:

  1. Waianapanapa State Park: Offers cabins and tent sites, but separate permits are required for camping, entry, and parking! Learn more Waianapanapa reservations here.
  2. Kipahulu Campground: A very basic campsite offering only grassy tent sites, pit toilets, picnic tables, and grills. Reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance and there is a maximum stay of three months. Find out more about camping at Kipahulu on the Recreation.gov website.

Road to Hana Itinerary FAQs

The following are answers to the most frequently asked questions when planning an itinerary for the Road to Hana. Click the dropdown arrows to reveal answers.

How long should I plan for the Road to Hana?

Most people drive the Road to Hana in one full day, but those who want to see everything should plan for a two-day journey with an overnight stay near Hana.

How long does it take to drive the Road to Hana without stopping?

From the start point at Mile Marker 0 to the official end of Hana Hwy at Alelele Bridge, the drive time is about 2 hours 20 minutes without stops.

However, you will need to factor in your drive home as well. The most time-efficient route is the Road to Hana Loop which adds another 1 hour 50 minutes (so about 4 hours in total).

Satellite map view of the Road to Hana loop drive from Mile Marker 0 and back.

How long does it take to do the Road to Hana loop?

The roundtrip drive time is between 4-6 hours without stops (depending on point of origin), but you should plan for a 10-12 hour day or even an overnight stay near Hana if possible in order to see the many stops along the way.

Is the Road to Hana scary to drive?

The Road to Hana is a very windy and narrow road and is not recommended for oversized vehicles, but the majority of it is perfectly safe and easy to drive. However, the road begins to deteriorate and steepen beyond ‘O’heo Gulch and is particularly scary from there until the village of Kaupo.

Standard commuter vehicles are perfectly fine for the drive, but inexperienced drivers should consider turning around at Oheo Gulch.

How do I prepare for the Road to Hana?

How you prepare your Road to Hana itinerary is dependent on how much time you will have and how much exploring you truly wish to do. Most complete the drive in a day trip but some stay overnight. Here are some tips for preparing you may not have thought of:

  1. Pre-book reservations for Black Sand Beach, otherwise, you will not be allowed to enter.
  2. Plan your itinerary and study all the BEST STOPS you wish to see ahead of time.
  3. Begin your day at sunrise, especially if you are on a one day itinerary.
  4. Pack snacks and meals. There are not a lot of services outside of Hana.
  5. Fill up your tank the night before.
  6. Bring rain gear; East Maui is on the wet side of the island and is mostly rainforest.
  7. Bring cash; most places in town take cards but some of the roadside stands do not.

Is the Road to Hana fully paved?

The Hana Highway is completely paved, but has deteriorated somewhat beyond Haleakala National Park (home of O’heo Gulch and Pipiwai Trail). It becomes bumpy and rutted at this point and remains a bit sketchy until the town of Kaupo.

Can you stay overnight on the Road to Hana?

You are not allowed to freedom camp along the Road to Hana (i.e. sleeping in your car), but you can stay at one of the hotels in Hana, or at Waianapanapa State Park in their cabins or campsites. There is also basic camping available at Kipahulu Campground at the end of the Road to Hana.

Can you camp on the Road to Hana?

There are two places you can camp on the Road to Hana:

  1. Waianapanapa State Park: Offers cabins and tent sites, but separate permits are required for camping, entry, and parking! Learn more here.
  2. Kipahulu Campground: A very basic campsite offering only grassy tent sites, pit toilets, picnic tables, and grills.

Other Maui Guides

Makena Cove aka Secret Beach in South Maui is seen here at sunset with lava rock framing the photo.
Discover all the must-see places to visit in our Ultimate Maui Itinerary, like “Maui Secret Beach” featured above at sunset.

Before you go, you may want to skim some of the titles for other relevant Maui guides below to ensure you do not miss any epic beaches, sunset destinations, or noteworthy things to do during your visit to the Valley Isle!

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