Follow mile markers along the 68-mile Hana Highway of Maui, Hawaii, for incredible scenery, local Hawaiian food, and adventure.
Kahului in east Maui connects to Hana and beyond via a 68-mile, circular stretch of Hawaiian roadway known as the Hana Highway. The curving, scenic highway features original one-lane bridges and breathtaking views of the Pacific that have made the route a popular day trip for tourists. Although the highway doesn’t span a long distance, the drive takes between three and four hours, even without stops. The best option is to make a day of it and soak in some of the amazing sights along this one-of-a-kind passage.
Mile Markers 1-10
Located between mile markers 4 and 5, the Huelo Lookout Fruit Stand serves up delicious fruit smoothies made with the freshest Hawaiian fruits. The sweet treat is a refreshing way to start a relaxing day of sightseeing. A little farther along between mile markers 9 and 10, the Waikamoi Nature Trail features wide, manmade stairs interspersed with tiered roots that lead you to eucalyptus trees, wild bamboo, and scenic overlooks. The shorter of two hiking options is just under one mile.
Mile Markers 12-16
According to Napua Hueu with Platinum Tours Maui, “Mile markers 12 to 18 are the most scenic. If visitors can’t make the entire trek, they should consider just going as far as Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park. From Paia Town to this point, there are epic scenic coastlines, waterfalls, and ocean views.”
A stop at the park offers the chance to stretch your legs, enjoy a picnic, and visit the waterfall on the mountain side of the road. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a dip in the chilly waters near the waterfall.
“The true gem on the Road to Hana is the Ke’anae Peninsula,” says Hueu. “Don’t miss the road after mile marker 16 that leads down the peninsula.” Created from lava that flowed from Haleakala Crater, the peninsula is famous for world-class fishing and awe-inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean crashing against black, jagged lava rocks. While there, Hueu suggests stopping at Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread for its namesake treat — fresh baked banana bread.
Mile Markers 17-20
A relatively quick layover is available between mile markers 18 and 19 at Wailua Valley State Wayside. Take stairs up to a viewing area that rewards you with calming views of the Ke’anae Valley, Ko’olau Gap in Haleakala’s rim, and the village of Wailua. Don’t miss Upper Waikani Falls between mile markers 19 and 20. Also known as Three Bears Falls, it is one of the most popular waterfalls along the way. If you’re looking for picture-perfect, postcard-worthy views of waterfalls, you won’t be disappointed.
Mile Markers 21-29
It’s a bit of an exercise in flexibility, but if you want to see the inside of a lava tube, stop at mile marker 23 and explore the 140-foot cave created from lava flow. Around mile marker 29, Nahiku Marketplace is a good place to stop for fresh juice, coffee, a meal, homemade candies, and locally crafted souvenirs. Try some baked ‘ulu, also known as breadfruit, which is a tasty fruit prepared with oil and herbs for a savory snack or brown sugar and butter for the sweet tooth on the road.
Mile Markers 30-32
Located near mile marker 31, the National Tropical Botanical Garden offers the only accessible view of Pi’ilanihale Heiau, the largest ancient temple in Hawaii. The temple is spread out over 3 acres and was completed in stages over hundreds of years.
The actual town of Hana is located near mile marker 32. Frequently called “Real Hawaii” because it continues to remain unchanged while other parts of the islands experience extensive development, Hana is a peaceful town that is great for an overnight stay. Lodging is available at Travaasa Hana and other venues if you want to stay longer to absorb the rich culture and history.
Beyond Hana, the Hana Highway travels by scenic beaches, such as Hamoa Beach and Koki Beach. Stop along the way and check out popular tourist attractions like Ohe’o Gulch (also known as Seven Sacred Pools), and Laulima Farm, a certified organic producer of fruits, vegetables, coffee, and herbs. Finish off the day with dinner at Mill House Restaurant inside Maui Tropical Plantation on your way back into Maui.
The Hana Highway offers numerous sights and attractions. Share your favorite stops with us on Twitter.