Table of Contents
- How to Do the Road to Hana in One Day
- Tips for Doing the Road to Hana in One Day
- Can You Drive the Road to Hana in One Day?
- How Long Does the Road to Hana Take?
- Road to Hana Safety
- Example Itinerary: Road to Hana in One Day
- Maui’s Best Whale Watching Tour: Ultimate Whale Watching Rafts
- The Best Whale Watching Tour from Puako Bay, Big Island
- Whale Watching Adventure from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
How to Do the Road to Hana in One Day
When you plan a trip to Maui, there’s one adventure that pops up in nearly every recommendation: The Road to Hana. The Road to Hana is a 65-mile highway that connects Hana in east Maui to Kahului. This road is famous for having over 600 turns, 59 bridges, and more waterfalls than you can possibly see in one day.
It is a beautiful adventure if you’re up for the drive. It’s possible to do the Road to Hana in one day but it takes an early wakeup and some prep work to maximize your day of driving.
Tips for Doing the Road to Hana in One Day
Tight on time and want to experience the Road to Hana in just one day? We have tips to make your trip memorable and stress-free:
Pack the night before
The Road to Hana is a long day and you’ll likely be hitting the road early. Start your day off on the right foot by getting completely packed the day before. Pack a day bag with:
- Light jacket
- Shoes for hiking (we love Tevas)
- Bathing suit
- Water and snacks
- Basic first aid kit (bandaids!)
- Change of clothes
- Cash for food stalls along the way
Check out our full list of recommended travel items for a trip to Maui.
There are sometimes car break-ins along the Road to Hana. Just like when you travel anywhere, you’ll want to make sure you don’t leave valuables in the car.
Fill up your car with gas the night before
Since you’re heading out early, be sure to have your car ready to go the night before. Fill up with gas so that when you head out you don’t have to worry about stopping to find a gas station before your day even really starts.
If you haven’t booked your car yet, check out Discount Hawaii Car Rental for some great deals. We use this every time we travel to the other islands and have saved hundreds of dollars.
Download your app
When driving the Road to Hana in one day on our own, we love using the Shaka Guide to help us learn about the stops and find them on the route. But if you’re using the Shaka Guide, you’ll need to download the app as well as the Road to Hana guide before you set out. Use that hotel wifi so you’re not sucking up data on the road as you go.
Our favorite routes:
Plan out your stops
There are a lot of stops on the Road to Hana — more than you can possibly expect to see in one day. If you have one day to make the journey to Hana, make sure you see the best. Map out exactly what stops you want to hit and what you hope to see on the Road to Hana. Are you more interested in hiking? Seeing waterfalls? Or hitting up the farm stands?
Once you have your list of top must-see stops, you can make sure you plan out your day accordingly.
Head out early
Depending on how many stops you want to make, this is going to be a long day. You’ll want to do as much of the Road to Hana as you can in the daylight. It makes driving easier plus you’ll get to really enjoy the view. Plan to head out by 7 am so you’re not driving too long after sunset.
Do a tour
If you are overwhelmed by trying to decide which tours to do and planning the logistics of doing the Road to Hana in one day, consider booking a guided tour. Booking a tour removes the stress of doing the drive and you’ll get to have a guide there giving you more detail than you’ll get from using an app to guide you.
The small group tours from Hawaii Tours will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel or vacation rental. They plan everything, including meals and snacks, so you can have a full, stress-free day.
Can You Drive the Road to Hana in One Day?
Our favorite way to experience the Road to Hana is to spend the night and break the trip up over two or three days. But if that’s not possible, yes, you can absolutely do the Road to Hana in one day. It will be a long day and you might not get to see and experience everything (for example, you probably won’t have time for long hikes). Plan for the Road to Hana to take the entire day and don’t schedule anything that you have to rush back for in the evening.
How Long Does the Road to Hana Take?
From Ka’anapali to Hana is only 76 miles, but don’t let that short distance fool you into thinking that you’ll have a short trip. The road has over 600 turns and many stops. If you were to drive straight from Ka’anapali to Hana without any stops, you could make the journey in two hours and 40 minutes. With stops, expect that you’ll spend six hours to get to Hana. You likely won’t stop on your way back, so the return trip should take three hours.
Road to Hana Safety
Though the Road to Hana has a lot of twists and turns, it’s paved and generally safe. But there are some precautions you’ll want to take on your journey:
- Pay attention to the road, rather than the sights
- Pullover for faster vehicles (locals tend to drive faster on these roads)
- Pay attention to signs asking you to yield before bridges and honk before curves
- Check weather conditions for flash flood advisories
- Check water conditions before swimming — the ocean currents can be strong and rough
- Stay on trails and respect the locals and the land!
Related article: How Dangerous is Driving on Maui?
Example Itinerary: Road to Hana in One Day
Ready to spend a full day exploring east Maui? This is what a sample day-trip on the Road to Hana will look like:
7:00 am: Depart your hotel or vacation rental. (Not sure where you’re staying? Check out our Where to Stay on Maui Guide).
1st stop: Paia
You’re just about to start the journey on the Road to Hana but first, stop for some fuel in Paia. Gas up the car, grab a coffee and acai bowl at Paia Bay Coffee Bar, and stock up on any snacks that you need at Mana Foods.
2nd stop: Twin Falls
Stretch your legs and hike to some waterfalls while you stop at Twin Falls. There are multiple falls to see, the first of which is only a 5-10 minute walk from the parking lot. The furthest falls are approximately 20 minutes each way from the parking lot. Since we’re on a schedule, you might want to only check out the first falls and grab some banana bread from the farm stand before leaving.
3rd stop: Ke’anae Peninsula
We’ve skipped a few of the common stops and made our way to the Ke’anae Peninsula. Here you’ll find a rugged coastline, an arboretum, and (famous) Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread. Stretch your legs, go for a walk, and learn something new at this botanical garden. Be sure to find some of Rainbow Eucalyptus in the arboretum.
4th stop: Upper Waikani Falls
These falls, nicknamed the three bears falls, are easy to view from your car or from the side of the road. While there is a short hike that you can do, skip it because we’re onto more waterfalls and a spot where you can stop and eat your picnic lunch.
5th stop: Pu’a Ka’a State Wayside Park
These are very accessible waterfalls with picnic tables, restrooms, and swimming holes. This is a great place to stop and take a rest. You’re more than halfway to Hana so take a minute to enjoy the beauty you’ll find in this park.
6th stop: Waiʻānapanapa State Park
This is quite possibly our favorite stop, so take some time to explore here. You’ll find a black sand beach, caves, tidepools, panoramic views, and walking trails. They also offer camping and cabins if you decide to extend your trip for just one night.
Related article: where to stay in Hana for just one night
7th stop: Hamoa Bay
On sunny days, this bay is absolutely beautiful. When the ocean conditions are calm, it’s a great place to do some swimming and enjoy the crystal clear water.
8th stop: Wailua Falls
Get in one last waterfall before heading home with a stop at Wailua Falls. This impressive waterfall is located right off the highway, with additional space for parking. To the right of the bridge, there is a path that will lead you down to the pool and if the conditions are safe you might be able to enjoy a quick dip.
Want to experience more on Maui than the Road to Hana? Check out our Maui Itinerary.
I'm the co-founder, with my husband Jordan, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We live on Maui with our toddler Henry and our sweet but quirky dog Hattie. I am a planner! I love to plan island-hopping adventures, days out on Maui, and everything in-between. I spend a lot of my time on our SUP and my favorite time of year in Hawai'i is whale season!
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