Julie United States 15 Comments

The Road to Hana is often listed as one of the best things to do in Maui. This scenic drive attracts hundreds of visitors a day…but is the Road to Hana really worth it?

As you plan your trip to Hawaii, you will read other posts and guides that rave about how wonderful the Road to Hana is. This is not going to be one of these posts.

We liked the experience, but we did not love it. There are some important things you need to know before doing this, to set your expectations but to also have the best experience.

The Road to Hana is one of the most popular things to do in Maui. And because of this, the increased congestion on the roads, combined with visitors disobeying posted no parking signs, creates traffic jams and slow moving traffic. The locals who live along the road are rightfully frustrated. So, if you are not even sure if you want to drive the Road to Hana, skip the experience. There are many other things to do in Maui that are better (in my opinion) than driving the Road to Hana.

But if the Road to Hana is something that you plan to do, keep reading. In this guide, we cover rules and regulations you need to be aware of before doing this drive, different driving routes (yes, there is more than one way to drive the Road to Hana), what to see along the way, reservations that need to be made in advance, and if the Road to Hana is worth it.

What is the Road to Hana?

The Road to Hana is a 64 mile stretch of road that starts in Kahului and ends at Kīpahulu. Along this road, there are 620 curves (who counted all of those?) and 59 bridges, 46 of which are one lane.

For most of the drive, a very narrow road winds through lush, green forests. There are no straight sections to this drive…the curves are constant.

Due to traffic, the narrow winding roads, and the one lane bridges, it can take almost 3 hours to drive from Kahului to Hana, without stops.

If you or someone in your group suffers from motion sickness, you might want to skip this drive.

The Hana Highway was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

The Road to Hana Code of Conduct

There are rules and regulations that you need to be aware of before doing this drive.

The Road to Hana is not a tourist route…it is a road that locals live and work along. Visitors need to be respectful, stay on the roads, obey street and road signs, park in designated areas only, and more. There are 29 rules, and below I listed a few of them, but you can see the full list here. 

  • Pull over for local traffic.
  • Before entering east Maui, dust and decontaminate footwear, hiking gear, and vehicle to deter invasive species.
  • If no welcoming signage is visible, consider the area private property and do not intrude.
  • Do not remove or displace soil, rocks or sand from beaches, mountain, or roadsides.
  • Contain all rubbish and waste brought into Hana with you, do not leave anything behind.
  • Absolutely no stopping or stalling on bridges, under rock fall and landslide prone areas.
  • No walking on Hana Highway.

In addition to these rules, there is also a $200 parking fine for stopping illegally on a state highway. To ease congestion on the roads, the HTA is urging visitors to travel with a tour company.

Road to Hana View

View of the Road to Hana from the Garden of Eden Arboretum

Road to Hana: Driving Routes

There are two different ways to drive the Road to Hana.

Out-and-Back on Hana Highway: The most common way to do this drive is out-and-back. Starting near Kahului, drive Hana Highway to Hana and continue to Kīpahulu (the location of ‘Oheo Gulch and the Pīpīwai Trail). To finish the drive, turn around and drive Hana Highway back to Kahului. This drive is 124 miles and takes 5.5 hours without stops.

Road to Hana Map

Out-and-back Road to Hana driving route

As a Loop: Due to the rough, remote nature of Highway 31 on the south coast of Maui, many people avoid this stretch of road. But the advantage is that you never repeat any part of the drive and you get to see more of Maui. There are some gravel sections on Highway 31, which might violate rental car terms and conditions. This drive is 116 miles and takes about 5 hours without stops.

Road to Hana Loop Map

Road to Hana as a loop

We have driven the Road to Hana both ways. On our recent visit to Maui, we did the drive as a loop and it was wonderful. Highway 31 is not as rough and rugged as other sources make it out to be. We measured a grand total of 2.5 miles of unpaved road. The remainder of the road was paved, albeit rough in spots, but it was paved. Highway 31 is narrow with some one-way bridges, but it is no different than Hana Highway in this respect.

Driving the Road to Hana as a Loop

If you drive the Road to Hana as a loop, should you go clockwise or counter-clockwise?

If hiking the Pīpīwai Trail and visiting the Kīpahulu District of Haleakala National Park is at the top of your list, do this drive counter-clockwise so you can get here early, before it gets crowded. This district closes at 5 pm. If you do this drive in a clockwise direction, you risk getting here too late in the day to do this hike.

If you prefer to stop off at Aunty Sandy’s for banana bread or visit one or both of the arboretums, drive the Road to Hana loop in a clockwise direction. Both of these stops close in the mid-afternoon, so if you do the drive in the opposite direction, you risk these being closed when you get here. But you might not make it the Kīpahulu District to hike the Pīpīwai Trail before it closes at 5 pm. 

We did the Road to Hana loop in the counter-clockwise direction because hiking the Pīpīwai Trail was the most important thing we wanted to do. This driving loop is written in a counter-clockwise direction.


How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (points of interest and the driving route). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Best Sights along the Road to Hana

Below I describe how to drive the Road to Hana as a loop. If you read other guides, you will see that they list more things to do than what I have listed below. There is only so much you can do if you only have one day on the Road to Hana and with the stops I mention below, this will take you between 12 and 14 hours. It’s going to be tough to add on more sights. 

The top four sights to see on the Road to Hana are the Pīpīwai Trail, ‘Ohe’o Gulch, Wai’anapanapa State Park, and Ho’okipa Beach. These are all included below.

Start: Kahului

Starting at or near Kahului, depending on the location of your hotel, you will take Highway 37 south. This first part of the drive takes you into upcountry Maui. From here, you will drive past farms, a winery, and have very nice views of the west coast of Maui.

Piilani Highway/Highway 31: The Back Road to Hana

Just past MauiWine (about 43 miles and 1 hour into the drive) the road name changes to Highway 31, which is also called Piilani Highway. This is the point where the road heads east and you start the drive along the south coast of Maui.

This part of the drive is referred to as the backside of Haleakala, the Back Road to Hana, or the Reverse Road to Hana.

At first, the road is a wide, paved, two lane road, pictured below.

Highway 31 Maui


Further down Highway 31, the road narrows a bit and loses the middle yellow line, but it is still wide enough to pass oncoming traffic. To your right are lava fields and to your left is Haleakala.

Backside of Hana


Once the road starts winding along the coast, this drive really gets interesting. Now, you have great views of this rugged coastline. There are frequent pull-offs where you can safely get out and snap a photo. If you look down at some of the ravines or beaches, you might see an unfortunate vehicle that veered off the road and has been left to rust and disintegrate.

Back Road to Hana

Back Road to Hana View

A Maui coastal view with a sea arch in the distance.

Can you see the Sea Arch?

The stretch of road between the Nu’u Refuge and Kaupo Town is the roughest. For about 8 miles, the road alternates between a very rough, paved road and a short stretch of smoother, gravel road. Yes, the gravel road was smoother than some of the paved roads on this section of the drive. It’s almost like someone threw globs of asphalt onto the road, making it very lumpy and rough to drive.

Rough Road Hana


Beyond Kaupo, the road gets smoother but extremely curvy, as it winds along the coast. There will be some narrow, blind turns here, so keep your eyes on the road and take your time, to keep an eye out for oncoming traffic.

Maui Coast

Hana Highway

At the Kalepa Bridge, the name of the road changes from Piilani Highway/Route 31 to Hana Highway/360. Now, you are on the official Road to Hana.

Backside Road to Hana

Charles Lindbergh’s Grave

2.5 miles past Kalepa Bridge (about a 10 minute drive) you will reach the turn for Charles Lindbergh’s grave. To get here, turn right on a narrow road with a sign directing you to Palapala Ho’omau Church.

Charles Lindbergh Grave

In the 1960’s, Charles Lindbergh settled in Kipahulu. He lived out his final days here, passing away in 1975.

Palapala Church was built in 1857 and it is one of the first places in Maui to see the sunrise.

Kīpahulu District of Haleakala National Park

The Kīpahulu District is home to two of the Road to Hana’s best things to do: the Pipiwai Trail and ‘Ohe’o Gulch.

Pīpīwai Trail

The Pīpīwai Trail is a 4 mile out-and-back hike where you get to see several waterfalls, an enormous Banyan tree, and hike through a bamboo forest.

Road to Hana Banyan Tree

Maui Bamboo Forest

Waimoku Falls

Waimoku Falls

Learn more about how to hike the Pīpīwai Trail and visit the Kīpahulu District in our Guide to the Pipiwai Trail.

‘Ohe’o Gulch

The Seven Sacred Pools of ‘Ohe’o, also referred to as ‘Ohe’o Gulch, is a collection of cascading waterfalls and pools.

Swimming in these pools is a popular thing to do, but Ohe’o Gulch is frequently closed to swimming by the National Park Service. Rain at higher elevations can trigger flash floods, which can be very dangerous. The water can rise as much as 4 feet in a matter of minutes, washing people out to sea.

You can see ‘Ohe’o Gulch from the Kuloa Trail. This easy hike is 0.5 miles round trip and takes you to a few viewpoints of the pools.

Oheo Gulch

You can get updates on whether or not the pools are open for swimming on the National Park Service website. 

PLANNING YOUR TIME: If you plan to hike both the Pīpīwai Trail and the Kuloa Trail, your visit will last between 2 to 4 hours, depending on how fast you hike.

Wailua Falls

3 miles east of the Kīpahulu District is Wailua Falls, one of the prettiest waterfalls along the Road to Hana. There is a parking area and from here you can see it from the bridge.

Wailua Falls

Hamoa Beach

As you head north on Hana Highway, you can turn right on Haneoo Road to see two beaches: Hamoa Beach and Koki Beach Park(mentioned next). Hamoa Beach is a popular spot for surfing and boogie boarding.

Hamoa Beach

Hamoa Beach

Koki Beach Park

Just up the road from Hamoa Beach, Koki Beach looks dramatically different…a reddish sand beach littered with cinders and lava rock.

A picture of lava rock along Koki Beach, Maui.

Koki Beach

Hana Town

2 miles (about a 5 minute drive) north of Koki Beach Park you reach Hana Town. This very small town is a good spot to grab a bite to eat and refuel your car with gas (the Texaco on the south side of town is the only gas station that I know of on the Road to Hana). Thai food by Pranee and Ae’s Thai Kitchen food truck both get great reviews. If you want something sweet, try the coconut ice cream at Coconut Glen’s.

Hana Sign

In some sources, you might read about the Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach. This culturally sensitive area is on private property and is off limits to visitors. Please respect the posted signs and do not visit the Red Sand Beach.

Wai’napanapa State Park

Wai’napanapa State Park is one of the best things to do along the Road to Hana. Most people come here to see the black sand beach, but you can also crawl into a sea cave, hike along the dramatic coastline, and see if you can spot the sea arch.

In order to visit Wai’anapanapa State Park, you must make a reservation in advance. Tickets sell out in advance, so I recommend making your reservation when the reservation system opens. At the time that I am writing this, you can reserve your tickets 2 weeks in advance. You will pay a $10 parking fee plus $5 per person for those over the age of 3. The park is free for Hawaii residents. Learn more here.

The jet black sand beach is the highlight of a visit here. Be aware that the water is rough and numerous signs urge visitors to stay out of the water for safety reasons.

Tim Kara Road to Hana


The sea cave is located on the right side of the beach. Look for a small opening in the rock wall at ground level. You will have to crouch quite low to get into the cave, but once inside, there is plenty of room to stand up and enjoy the view.

Waianapanapa Sea Cave


On the left side of the beach, you can take the trail along the coastline. It has some ups and downs and even a little bit of rock scrambling, but once you make it to the top of the cliffs you get a great view of the park.

Waianapanapa State Park


If you want to go farther, you can continue along the trail. It takes just 2 minutes to get the viewpoint of the beach below.

Maui Beach


The sea arch is located on the cliffs to the right hand side of the black sand beach. From the beach, head back up the steps and follow the sidewalk out towards the cliffs. To get a view of the arch, you will have walk out onto the rocks.

Hana Sea Arch

PLANNING YOUR TIME: A visit to the state park can take an hour, if you just quickly want to see the highlights, or you could spend a lot more time here. There are picnic tables and restrooms, making this a great spot for a picnic lunch as you drive the Road to Hana.

Hawaii Travel Guide

Hana Farms

This is one of the best places on the Road to Hana to stop for a bite to eat. Hana Farms is located just north of Wai’anapanapa State Park. 

Hana Farms

Dine on wood-fired pizzas, BBQ brisket, and salads at Bamboo Hale (Tuesday through Thursday from 11 to 3 and Friday and Saturday from noon to 8 pm).

The road side stand serves banana bread, cookies, and other desserts and is open 7 days a week from 8 am to 6 pm.

Hana Lava Tube

Lava tubes form when a lava flow forms a roof and walls, a hard crust that cools around the still-flowing lava. This resulting tube serves as a conduit for the continuing flow of lava.

The Hana Lava Tube is the largest and most easily accessible lava tube on Maui. It costs $15 per person, which is quite expensive. You will be given a flashlight and a map that identifies sights along the lava tube. Out-and-back you will walk a half of a mile.

Worth It? In my opinion, it’s not worth the expense, since the cost really adds up if you are doing this as a group. But if you like caves, this could be worth it for you.

Upper Waikani Falls

Also called the Three Bear Falls, this waterfall gets listed as a thing to do in many guides and posts. However, there is no parking at the waterfall so you will have to see it as you drive by.

Wailua Valley State Wayside Park

Park in the small parking lot and walk up the path to the overlook. From here, you can look out over Wailua Town.

Wailua Valley

Wailua Valley

Ke’anae Peninsula

From Hana Highway, turn right onto Ke’anae Road to make a detour out onto the Ke’anae Peninsula.

Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread is touted as being the best banana bread on the drive. Unfortunately, they were closed when we got here. Aunty Sandy’s is open daily from 8:30 am to 2:30 am.

Aunty Sandys


Continue along Ke’anae Road for views of the coastline and the surf pounding the rocky beach.

Keanae Peninsula

Ke’anae Arboretum

This arboretum is located on the Road to Hana next to the Ke’anae Peninsula. It is free to visit and one of the highlights is seeing the rainbow eucalyptus trees.

Garden of Eden Arboretum

Between the Ke’anae Arboretum and the Garden of Eden Arboretum, Hana Highway continues to twist and turn along the coast. There are several viewpoints, where you can overlook Nua’ailua Bay and Honomanu Bay.

The Garden of Eden Arboretum takes about an hour of your time. This 26-acre park is filled with exotic tropical plants, nature trails, a few peacocks, and a movie filming location. The Keopuka Rock was used in the opening scene of the movie Jurassic Park.

Garden of Eden Arboretum

Admission fees are $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 5 to 16. The park is open daily from 8 am to 4 pm. We arrived here at 3:30 pm and the park was almost completely empty.

Ho’okipa Beach Park

Ho’okipa Beach Park is a great spot for surfing and to see sea turtles.

First stop off at the Ho’okipa Lookout, for a view over the beach and to watch the surfers.

Hookipa Lookout


If you want to see the sea turtles, park in the Ho’okipa Beach Park parking lot and walk out to the beach. The sea turtles are usually clustered on the east side of the beach. Do not approach the sea turtles.

Maui Sea Turtles

Paia Town

Now, it is most likely dinner time. You can grab a bite to eat at Mama’s Fish House, which is one of the highest rated restaurants in Maui. Make your reservation in advance (during our visit they were completely booked for 3 months). Paia Town is a charming town to stroll through and have dinner.

Is the Road to Hana Worth It?

I know that some of you will disagree, but I think the Road to Hana doesn’t live up to the hype that it gets.

Yes, it’s a pretty drive. You get to see waterfalls, lush coastlines, a bamboo forest, and tropical flowers, and dine on banana bread. But it’s a LONG day.

Most of the time, you will be navigating very windy, narrow roads and sitting in back-ups, which can be frustrating and rather boring.

The locals are tired of dealing with the influx of tourists and the increased traffic on the road, which is understandable. You will see numerous signs telling tourists to go home and you may even see frustrated locals speeding down the road, honking, and yelling at the long line of cars.

If you want to do this drive, be prepared to set aside a full day. Start early, be patient, and bring your Dramamine if you are prone to car sickness. If there was ever a road to turn you green, this would be the one.

In my opinion, the Road to Hana is not as thrilling as most guidebooks and blogs make it out to be. It’s also the type of thing where you might feel like you have to do it, since you will hear so many wonderful things about it.

At the end of this drive, Tyler, Kara and I were happy it was over and honestly wished that we had done something else with this day in Maui. Tim liked the experience the most, but he enjoys driving winding roads. With that being said, we all really liked hiking in the Kīpahulu section of Haleakala National Park and visiting Wai’anapanapa State Park, and the only way to get to these two places is by driving the Road to Hana.

As long as you have the time in your itinerary and you like the idea of spending an entire day driving a narrow, twisting road to see a few sights, driving the Road to Hana is worth it. But before doing the Road to Hana, make sure you get in your beach time, your surfing and snorkeling time, and a trip to the crater of Haleakala National Park before adding this on to your Maui itinerary.

Road to Hana Bridge

One lane bridge on the Road to Hana

Doing this with a Guide

If you like the idea of doing the Road to Hana but want to sit back and enjoy the ride, rather than driving it yourself, consider taking a tour. Not only does this eliminate the hassle of doing it on your own (parking, entrance fees, navigating the winding roads), but it helps cut down on the number of vehicles on the Road to Hana.

This tour does the full loop around the Road to Hana in a clockwise direction. You will get to see Ho’okipa Beach, Wai’anapanapa State Park, ‘Ohe’o Gulch, and drive along the south coast of Maui.

Tips to Have the Best Experience

Don’t forget to make your reservation to Wai’anapanapa State Park in advance. Screenshot your entrance reservation information because there is very limited cellular service here.

There is minimal cellular service along the drive. Don’t expect to be able to access the internet, call, text, or email while on the Road to Hana.

Fill your tank with gas before you go. Before heading off to Hana Highway, make sure you have a full tank of gas. Gas stations are sparse along the Road to Hana.

Be considerate of local drivers.

Get an early start. This gives you a head start on crowds and makes the drive less congested. Ideally, get started by 7 am.

Be prepared for traffic jams. With winding roads, one-lane bridges, and lots of visitors, traffic jams are common on the Road to Hana.

If you are prone to motion sickness, take some Dramamine or skip this drive. With 620 curves, this road is constantly winding, so if you tend to get car sick, this could be a rough drive for you.

Pack some snacks. There are small restaurants and food stands along the drive, but it’s nice to have some food and water stashed in your car, just in case you get hungry in between stops. Plus, there are limited markets along the drive, and the locals who live on the Road to Hana also need to use these. If tourists come through and buy up all of the snacks, nothing is left for the locals who live here.

Stay in Hana. One of the best ways to experience the Road to Hana is to split it up into two or more days. Doing the Road to Hana is a long and very busy day, but if you have the time in your itinerary, slowing down and doing this drive over the course of two days can make it a much more enjoyable experience.

Take a tour. This reduces congestion on the Road to Hana and you get to sit back and enjoy the experience.

If you have any questions about driving the Road to Hana or the Back Road to Hana, or if you want to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information about Hawaii

BEST OF MAUI: We have a list about the top experiences in Maui and how to put it all together in our Maui Itinerary.

HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK: Get a list of the best things to do in Haleakala National Park, how to hike the Pipiwai Trail, and how to hike the amazing Sliding Sands Trail and Halemau’u Loop.

KAUAI: Plan your visit to Kauai with our guide to the Best Things to Do in Kauai. Learn about how to take a doors off helicopter ride, how to hike the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail, and how to hike the Nu’alolo and Awa’awapuhi Trails in Kokee State Park.

USA ROAD TRIPS: Planning your next big adventure in the USA? Check our our USA Road Trip Guide for travel ideas and sample itineraries.

TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more travel ideas, here are 10 unique destinations to put on your travel wish list and 10 bucket list destinations from around the world.

Read all of our articles about Hawaii in our Hawaii Travel Guide and the United States in our United States Travel Guide.

Road to Hana


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Comments 15

  1. Avatar for Nicole Duchastel
    Nicole Duchastel

    Hi Julie,
    I am so sorry – I can’t write to you as it says something about wrong capsha but there is no capsha so trying it this way (sorry)
    Thank you for your wonderful blog, it helped us out a lot.
    We just returned home today.
    I agree with most all that you say but would like to let people know that in our opinion the road to Hana is terribly dangerous. We (unfortunately) were in a large SUV and my goodness was the road to Hana a BAD idea. The views are stunning for sure (your pictures are exactly right) but I feared for our lives on a couple of occasions when ‘stuck’ having to backup cliff-side round a bend. We did the loop starting south and driving up to Hana as we thought it may be less ‘bad’ and decided we definitely could not return that way so continued on the eastern side back up and around and made it out of the sinuous roads just before sunset. I very much enjoy driving and am not that risk-adverse but I would say the road to Hana is not at all advisable. I think it is dangerous and not made for your average tourist. One thing we could not understand is why there aren’t mirrors in the middle of the bends to at least know if someone is on the other side. Is it expensive, not feasible? Seemed irresponsible. LOVED LOVED several of the Hawaiian island and thank you again for your family’s blog. All the best! Nicole

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  2. Avatar for Joe

    Hi Julie !!

    I am headed over to Maui next week. While I will be spending one day completely exploring the sunrise+crater hike and maybe sunset at Haleakala NP, on day 2 I was thinking of doing the road to Hana. I am mainly interested in hiking, so Pipiwai, oh’o gulch, banyan tree, Wainapanapa black sand beach are up there. Based on what I read above, you recommend I go counter clock wise then? Also how early do you think I should leave? I will be driving from Ka’anapali region of the island. I am an early morning guy anyway, so earlier the better has always been the trick for me for any hike/National park.
    Looking forward to hearing from you !
    Thanks as usual !

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Joe. That sounds like a great plan to spend the day on Haleakala. As for the Road to Hana, I put both routes into Google: out and back from Ka’anapali to Wai’anapanapa (just over 6 hours) and doing the Road to Hana as a loop (just under 6 hours). So really, there’s not much difference in time spent on the road. So, I think it is best to do the loop, in a counter clockwise direction, then you get to see the entire Road to Hana, rather than doing a lot of backtracking. If you only wanted to do the Kipahulu District, and skip Wai’anapana, then out-and-back is the way to go. I recommend getting to the Pipiwai Trail (Kipahulu District) right at 9 am or even a little before, to get a parking space. So, you will have a very early start to your day. Have fun in Hawaii!! Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Joe

        So if i leave Ka’anapali around 530a – I think that should suffice, right? It’d be around 2.5hrs to reach Kipahulu visitor center as per google.

        1. Avatar for Julie Post

          Yes, that should be fine. It also gives you a little extra time to stop for photos on the way. It’s a beautiful drive! Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Khanh Tran.
    Khanh Tran.

    Hi Julie.
    We are heading to Maui in August ( a group of 4 , only me like to hike ). I like to hike Pipiwi trail and visit the black sand beach. The only thing concerns me is how windy, twisty of the road ( I did drive Highway 1 North up to Fort Bragg and Big Sur and lately the Highway 12 from Zion to Torrey . Is it similar to these Highway Julie). I just like to hike and have no other option just only driving that road. With your wise knowledge please advice me.
    Thanks a lot Julie.
    I read your blog and learn a lot from that too. You always give good advice and accurate information.
    Sorry, I’m just really don’t know what should to do.
    Thanks again Julie.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello and thanks for writing in. The Road to Hana is very twisty…much more so than Big Sur and Highway 12 (I am not familiar with Fort Bragg). If you don’t like or do well on windy roads, the majority of the Road to Hana will be no fun. To get to the Pipiwai Trail, the “back road” is relatively straight. There are a few hairpin turns with low visibility, but these are spaced out and not like the constant turning and swerving that you get on the main Road to Hana. So, if you want to avoid the windy roads, drive out and back to the Pipiwai Trail on the back road and skip the rest of the Road to Hana. It might not be worth driving the full Road to Hana just to see the black sand beach (if you have plans to visit the Big Island, you can see a very nice black sand beach here (Punalu’u Beach) without the windy roads. But if you really want to see both the Pipiwai Trail and the black sand beach, then do the full Road to Hana loop. Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Steven

    Hi Julie – thanks for the recommendations. Question from a NP enthusiast – do you feel like going to Pipiwai Trail is a “must” in order to “fully” experience Haleakala? Given the congestion of the Road to Hana, I wouldn’t mind skipping it and perhaps doing something else like highway 340 as you suggested on my trip to Haleakala + Hawaii Volcanoes if you do not think it’s a must-do compared to, say, Sliding Sands.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      I personally don’t think that the Pipiwai Trail is a must-do. It’s popular, since it’s on the Road to Hana, and people like hiking through the bamboo forest. But the Sliding Sands Trail is much better, in my opinion. Sunrise on Haleakala, followed by the Sliding Sands hike, then the viewpoints on the Haleakala summit make for a great day in Haleakala National Park. A local recommended that we also stick around for sunset on the summit, so if you wanted to make a full day of it, you could stay all day. Just bring plenty of food and water and maybe a change of clothes for after the Sliding Sands hike. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Jackie

    Hi Julie! We are headed to Maui in late January and still trying to decide if we should do the Road to Hana or not. We are staying in Kaapnapali so its pretty far from Hana. But would like to hike the Pipiwi trail, see the Banyon tree and this area and maybe go as far as the black sand beach. Now with that being said, it seems it would be smarter to drive the 31 (south side of Maui) instead of the 360 (north side) and maybe drive as far as
    Wai anapanpa State park and then head back the same way and skip the north side of driving all together. How is the road on the south compared to the north, would you recommend this way instead? We will be in Jeep. Also trying to not spend 10-12 hours of driving. Would this route be better if this is all we want to see or is the north side worth seeing in an entire loop? Also, does a certain day of the week work better than others?
    Thanks for your very detailed post, just cant decide.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Merry Christmas Jackie! I think your decision will depend on how much you want to hike the Pipiwai Trail and see the black sand beach. It’s a long day and a lot of driving for these two activities. If you drive the south route and then go as far as the black sand beach, it will be quicker to get back to Ka’anapali by going the northern route. So you will do the full loop and it will be a 12 hour day. Not all of that will be driving, but it is a long day. I am not aware of one day of week being better than others. And we also drove a Jeep and had no issues on the southern route. There are a few unpaved sections and several blind turns. Take your time and don’t take your eyes off of the road. But having done the Road to Hana twice, I think it is overrated. You’ll read reviews where people loved it from start to finish, but I honestly think this drive is long, the winding roads and one lane bridges get annoying after a while, and the sights are nice but probably not worth an entire day of your time.
      Instead, you can walk the Kapalua Coastal Trail, drive Highway 340 to the Nakalele Point, and visit Iao Valley State Park. This would be a very nice day and it is all near Ka’anapali. If you haven’t seen it, take a look our Best Things to Do in Maui post to learn more.
      Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Jackie

        Thanks Julie. Let me ask you this, our families have very similar taste with hiking, site-seeing, etc, with that said, do you think the Pipiwi Trail hike and that area is worth the drive? We were thinking of just driving to that area then heading back the same way. Google maps says it would take 2 1/2 hours one way to get there from our hotel. We already have planned Iao Valley, the Kapalua Coast trail and Haleakala. Let me know your thoughts. Sorry just really torn on what to do. Thanks again!

        1. Avatar for Julie Post

          It is a beautiful drive to go that way to the Pipiwai Trail. Along the drive, you will go through upcountry Maui. There are several places here to visit on the drive back to Kaanapali, like the Lavendar farm and the winery. I recommend starting your day very early so you can get a parking space to do the hike. All of this is worth it, especially if you also want to see upcountry Maui. Cheers, Julie

          1. Avatar for Jackie

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