The Road to Hana is a staple of any Maui vacation for a reason. It’s full of some of the most gorgeous parts of the island and it’s all conveniently located in a day’s drive. However, it is a long day of tight, winding roads that can be stressful for those who aren’t prepared. After spending lots of time driving around Maui, these are my 10 tips for the Road to Hana that will reduce your stress and make sure you have the best time.
1 – Rent a Small Vehicle
If you’re not taking a tour and plan on driving yourself, definitely get a smaller vehicle. Everything is perfectly drivable so you won’t need any off-roading capabilities. We went with a small SUV and it was perfect. You see lots of tourists in lots of huge SUVs and trucks and it’s just way harder to maneuver the countless hairpin turns in something that size.
I would recommend driving vs. doing a tour, just so you can move at your own pace.
2 – Fill up on Gas, Snacks, and Water
Prepare for your trip the night before. Buy your snacks and fill up on gas so you’re all stocked up before you take off in the morning. Also make sure you have a couple of water bottles full, just to be safe.
3 – Leave Early
The earlier in the morning you leave, the fewer people you’ll be sharing the road with. We hit our first stop at about 7am and we really didn’t see anyone until noon or later. It was amazing to feel like you had this whole, very popular experience all to yourself. This is definitely one of my better tips for the Road to Hana because it allows you to see the most you can and also have places all to yourself.
4 – If You Can, Spend 2 Days
If you’re not pressed for time, I’d highly recommend spending a night in Hana town so you can truly enjoy the drive. You can absolutely do the drive in a single day if that’s all time allows; we did. But to really make sure you have enough time to spend at each stop, spreading the trip over two days vs. one will definitely allow that.
5 – Download a Tour Guide App
We downloaded the Road to Hana tour from the GyPSy app and it was honestly such a life saver. It uses GPS so it doesn’t rely on spotty cell service, guaranteeing you have access to it at all times. The app tells you when key stops are coming up and where to park, as well as providing fun facts along the way. And what I liked most was probably the Hawaiian history lesson on the drive back. The app knows if you’re doing the trip in a day that you won’t be making stops along the way back. So you spend your entire drive back learning about the native Hawaiian history, how it became a part of the United States, and more. It was honestly fascinating and probably needs its own HBO series in my opinion.
6 – Plan Your Priority Stops Before You Go
One of my best tips for the Road to Hana is to know what stops are your must sees before you leave. Decide on the places that you are most interested in seeing and make a list that includes mile markers. Mile markers are really the way you know where stops are on the Road to Hana, so having these documented will be very helpful for you. Here are my top five stops I wouldn’t miss if I were you!
7 – Pack for All Sorts of Tropical Weather
Depending on where you stop, you’ll be hanging out around waterfalls, at the beach, in the rainforest, or in some combination of all of them. You’ll want to pack your car so that it includes clothes for any of those. At one stop you might need a raincoat and at the next you might just want a swimsuit. Literally take a look at my Hawaii packing list and while you won’t need all of it, it’s a good guide.
8 – Avoid Driving in the Dark
This is really only an issue if you are doing the Road to Hana in one day. So if you are, make sure to give yourself enough time to drive back in the daylight. The tight turns, likely rain/drizzle, and fast-driving locals leave the drive feeling a little scarier at night. So just time your trip appropriately so you have about two hours to get back to Paia.
9 – Drive Safely
One of the more obvious but most important tips for the Road to Hana is just the general “be aware” sentiment. Locals are going to be driving way faster than you. There are a crazy amount of hairpin turns. The road will probably be wet either everywhere or in key spots.
10 – Don’t Drive Beyond Haleakala
I did a lot of reading about the best way to navigate the Road to Hana in order to avoid people. One of the things I read a lot is to just drive beyond Haleakala and make a loop around. Truly, don’t do this. It’s a crazy treacherous drive and rental companies won’t even allow you to drive there.
So there you have it, my 10 best tips for the Road to Hana. Do these things and you’ll breathe a little easier while you navigate your way through one of Maui’s most beautiful roads.