Driving the road to Hana

Driving the road to Hana in Maui is mind-blowing and terrifying

This is a photo heavy post. Because LOOK AT IT.

I arrived in Maui at 9 PM on a Monday, after about 24 hours of travelling, exhausted beyond words. I’m staying at Banana Bungalow, where the average age is 20 and I’m an old fart. But the appeal is that they run a free tour every day of the week, to different parts of the island.

The tour every Tuesday is the road to Hana, but since I arrived at 9 PM, I missed the sign-up. So the next morning after fitful sleeping, I sat around feeling out of place and annoyed. Because I’m OLD.

But then after striking up a quick conversation with two dudes from Calgary and Germany, we decided to rent a Jeep and hit the road ourselves. I mean when two strange young men invite you on a road trip after just meeting them the correct answer is always “yes.”

making new friends on the Road to Hana

New friends!
But I digress.

The road to Hana is a series of 500+ switchbacks and hairpin turns along the coast. If you are prone to carsickness THIS IS NOT FOR YOU.

A winding road on the way to Hana

You can start out around Paia, an adorable little surf town, and begin your journey along Highway 31.

A Jeep trip on the Road to Hana

There’s a lot of road etiquette to keep in mind before you go. At some points the road narrows significantly and you might come up against a massive vehicle and squeezing past is a white-knuckle experience. When it comes to crossing bridges, you’ll have to yield to the other driver.

Wind-swept hair on the road to Hana

Those videos of stunning women with their windswept hair driving in their Jeeps with the top down? Yeah, all a sham.
We made a few stops at various beaches along the way, including Koke Beach.

Taking a break on the road to Hana

I mean it wasn’t spectacular or anything, but still better than 90% of beaches in Canada.

Koke Beach, Maui

Them waves though!
And then we trespassed onto someone’s private property. (Haha, I wrote “pirate property” first. Arr.)

Some off-roading on the road to Hana

Once you reach the Kipahulu area, you can drive onwards to Haleakala National Park. You should take the time to check out Oheo Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools).

We, however, hiked the 2-mile Pipiwai Trail trail to the Waimoku Falls and missed the entire Seven Sacred Pools thing. But the falls were TOTALLY WORTH IT.

waterfall in Maui

We didn’t start our hike until late, and then on the way back it got dark. It was slightly terrifying and every time a bush rustled I got nervous, shone my flashlight at the source of the noise, and then gracefully stumbled across the trail. Don’t do this.

tree in Hana

“Is this the tree from Avatar?” “Probably.”

The boys wanted to tell ghost stories. I made them stop.

If you’re going: prepare for a FULL DAY TRIP. We left around noon, took our time, and didn’t get home until 11 PM. Driving at night on that road is maybe easier in some ways, since you can see the other vehicles coming around the corner. But again: terrifying.

Pack food and plenty of water. There are food stands along the way, but nothing substantial.

  • January 30 2015
    Tim & Nat ✈

    I do hope you went all around instead of turning back from Pipiwai. The backside of Haleakala near Kaupo is amazing.

    • January 30 2015

      We ran out of time! Headed back there tomorrow though

      • January 30 2015
        Tim & Nat ✈

        Ohhhhh you should go Sunday instead, I know a pop up restaurant in Kipahulu if you want a super Kipahulu hippie experience. They do Sunday dinner, $15 for tons of food and an open mic. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll give you directions.

  • January 30 2015

    I stayed at Banana Bungalow too and also felt like an old fart, think I was 26 at the time. We stayed in Hana at a quirky guest house so had more time on the way there and back to see more along the road.

    • February 03 2015

      That’s awesome! I’d definitely do that next time

  • January 31 2015
    Lauren @BonVoyageLauren

    Awesome! I’ve always wanted to do this drive but I know I’ll get so car sick. Ugh. I can’t wait to read more about your adventures in Hawaii! <3

    • February 03 2015

      You’d definitely get car sick, Lol

  • January 31 2015


  • February 01 2015

    Looks amazing! I want to go a cool road trip like this!!

  • February 03 2015

    Not sure how I would fare on a drive like that because I get motion sick. I find it’s been worse lately when I’ve been on hot buses, so maybe being in a Jeep with wind blowing threw my hair would be an improvement! It seems totally worth it.

  • February 05 2015

    My parents drove the road to Hana when they were in Hawaii about 10 years ago. I believe my dad said, “it was fun,” and my mom claimed, “we almost died.” It looks pretty amazing though.

  • February 06 2015

    I’m going in April with my best friend and we are renting a car and doing it ourselves. I am mildly terrified but you didn’t die so hopefully I won’t either. Gah!