The Three Bears waterfall on the Road to Hana. It can be easily seen from the Hwy. There are three waterfalls, a big one, a medium one and a small waterfall.
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Best Road to Hana Itinerary One-Day Guide for First Timers

Are you planning on going on the Road to Hana on your Maui trip? We have the best Road to Hana Itinerary for you! This is a must-do activity if you’re planning a trip to Maui. This famous winding road takes you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes on the island. 

It can be overwhelming for first-time travelers to decide which stops are worth your time. Well, fear not! We’ve curated a list of some of the best spots to visit on your Road to Hana adventure.

Overview of The Road to Hana

Before you hit the road, there are a few things to consider.

  • If you were to drive straight from Paia Town to the Pools of Ohe’o, it is 65 miles. But it will take you 10-12 hours with stops. 
  • Start with a full tank of gas. 
  • Download the Gypsy Guide App, now called Guide Along or the Shaka Guide App. I have been using Guide Along for several years, which has been great.
    Recently, we started using the Shaka Guide App, and it’s just as informative. These apps enhance your self-guided tour by providing information on the stops and Hawaiian history. We find that it is great for a long drive. 
  • Plan to get to Paia no later than 8 am so you have the full day to explore. We recommend heading back towards Paia no later than 4:00 pm, as it will get dark on the road as you return. It will take 3 hours to return to Paia from Ohe’o Gulch.
  • Cell service is very limited while driving. Use Google Maps for all the places you would like to stop before you head out for the day. Or send me an email (Becky @ cultivate traveling {dot} com, and I’ll send you my map. 
  • This road trip will take the entire day, so pack a cooler with beverages and snacks. Roadside food stands selling anything from fresh fruit to drinks can be found, but they are not always open. 
  • Beware of the trade winds, which can cause rain showers and flash floods. Rain can make the Road to Hana more challenging for those visiting for the first time and affect the waterfalls. Remember, this is not Disney. Travel responsibly.
  • Don’t leave valuables visible in the rental car. 
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Can you drive the Road to Hana in one day?

Yes! Follow this itinerary for a self-guided tour of the major attractions on the Road to Hana. It will be a long day; don’t plan on anything else that day. It will take between 10 and 12 hours. This road trip is well worth it and will be one of the most memorable activities of your trip to Maui.

  1. The Traditional way is to start in Paia and drive to Hana on Hwy 36. After stopping in Hana, continue to Oheo Gulch, then turn around to return to Paia.
  2. The Loop: Start the same as the traditional, but instead of turning around at Oheo Gulch, continue on Hwy 31 around the backside of Haleakala. 
  3. The Backroad– drive the Loop backward, getting to Oheo Gulch first, then driving onto Paia. You’ll get to Oheo Gulch approximately 3 hours from the start. 

The Loop and Backroad require driving on Hwy 31, which some car rental companies may prohibit. Check before you drive these routes.

If this is your first time driving the Road to Hana on Maui, I recommend the traditional route.

What to pack for the Road to Hana

If you have a National Parks Pass, bring that along to enter Haleakala National Park.



  • Twin Falls
  • Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees
  • Ke’anae Peninsula
  • Upper Waikani Falls 
  • Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park
  • Ka’eleku Caves
  • Wai’anapanapa State Park (Reservation system and entrance fee)
  • Wailua Falls 
  • Ohe’o Gulch and the Seven Sacred Pools (entrance fee)
  • Pipiwai Bamboo Trail (entrance fee)

Paia – Starting Point

If you get an early start, grab breakfast or a packed lunch in Paia. Remember, you want to leave Paia by 8 a.m.

The Best Places in Paia for Breakfast

Pick up a packaged lunch at Hana Bay Picnic Company if you want lunch while driving.

Depending on how early you leave Paia, stop at Ho’okipa Beach for panoramic ocean views. You may get lucky to see sea turtles and watch the sunrise with surfers catching a wave. 

Begin your journey on Hwy 36, also known as the Hana Highway. 

Twin Falls – Mile Maker 2

This is usually the first stop people make on the Road to Hana. You can get out of the car and take a short hike. Depending on how far you want to go on this 1.5-mile hike, a bamboo forest can also be seen. 

The Twin Falls Farm Stand is at the trailhead if you need a beverage or a quick snack. 

The rainbow eucalyptus trees are beautiful colors of oranges and green on the Road to Hana.

Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees – Mile Marker 6.7

These vibrant and beautiful trees grow in tropical forests with rainfall. Check them out! There are a couple of places to see them on the Road to Hana, either on the side of the road or at the Ke’anae Arboretum. 

A beautiful beach on the Road to Hana with a swing hanging from a tree, outlooking out into the pretty blue waters with lava rocks coming out of the ocean.

Ke’anae Peninsula & Arboretum – Mile Marker 16.5

If you’re feeling adventurous, make a detour to the Ke’anae Peninsula, a small village known for its taro fields and incredible coastal views. You can also find Aunt Sandy’s Banana bread stand, where you can grab some delicious banana bread and other local treats. It’s a perfect place to enjoy the views and have a snack.

Halfway to Hana Stand – Mile Marker 17

It’s another great stop for banana bread or a bite to eat.  They serve hot dogs, cheeseburgers, freshly made sandwiches, fresh fruit, chips, and drinks. Conveniently, they also have a cash station and camera batteries if you leave that behind.

Upper Waikani Falls at Mile Marker 19. There are called the 3 Bears after Goldie Locks & the 3 Bears. There is a large waterfall, a medium waterfall and a small waterfall.

Upper Waikani Falls – Mile marker 19.5

Further along the road, you’ll encounter Upper Waikani Falls, also known as Three Bears Falls. This picturesque waterfall features three streams of water cascading down into a natural pool, making it the perfect spot for epic photos.

When there have been heavy rains, these falls become one large stream. We have seen it flowing as three and also as one. There isn’t parking here. Pull over to the side of the road and walk back to the falls. Be careful on the road as it is quite narrow and sometimes busy.

Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park – Mile Marker 22.5

Another must-see on your journey is Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park. This stop offers beautiful waterfalls, pools, and a 5-acre rainforest with a well-cared-for walking path.

Take a break from driving and cool off in the refreshing waters of these falls. Facilities here include a parking lot, restrooms, and covered picnic tables. There is a nice walking path with scenic rainforest views. 

Ka’eleku Caves / Lava Tube Cave – Mile Marker 31

There is limited parking here, so try to arrive early. Enter the lava tube, and you will exit in the tropical forest. It is a 1/3-mile walk through the lava tube. It will take approximately 30 minutes to explore the area.

Overlook of the famous Honokalani Black Sand Beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park on the Road to Hana. The black sand is created from the lava rock ground up by the ocean.

Wai’anapanapa State Park – Mile Marker 32

As you continue, you’ll reach the famous Honokalani black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park. This secluded gem is stunning and offers a great opportunity for swimming, walking trails, and exploring lava tubes.

This state park is a must-visit for touring the Road to Hana. There is a reason that the Wai’anapanapa State Park is one of the most popular stops on the Road to Hana, with its stunning ocean views and the most famous black sand beach. 

Note: Reservations must be made online to access the park. It is a popular destination; make sure to book ahead. It does sell out. Reservations must be made at least a day in advance. Make reservations at: https://www.gowaianapanapa.com/

There are no same-day reservations. The entry fee is $10 per car PLUS $5 per person. Make sure to coordinate your time slot with when you think you will arrive. You must remember this time as you explore the other stops on the Road to Hana. 

CT Tip: if you don’t want to make reservations (or didn’t realize you needed them), there is another Black Sand beach on the Road to Hana that you can visit. Homomanu Park at Mile Marker 14. This is a great opportunity to see one of Maui’s black sand beaches.

This is the last stop before you reach Hana.

Hana Town – Mile Marker 34

Places to eat in Hana

Huli Huli Chicken is one of the best Huli Huli Chicken plates you will experience on Maui. We happened upon it on our first Road to Hana trip over 15 years ago, and it has become very popular over the years. Darn, you, Gordon Ramsey!

It is located near Koki Beach, which has light red sand. This is not located directly on the Hana Highway. Follow the signs which will lead you to the beach area. Beware, they do sell out!

Thai Food by Pranee is another gem of Hana. The Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles are some of our favorites, but everything our group has ordered has been delicious. All their dishes are prepared fresh.

Braddah Hutts BBQ is approximately one mile from Hasegawa General Store. Look for the “Last Food Stop” sign and find the delicious Braddah Hutts.

There are food trucks located in Hana, which make for a great meal option. We like the Thai truck, although Pranee is our favorite in Hana.

Hana Ranch Restaurant  – located at the Hana Maui Resort- is less casual than the above-mentioned restaurants. They have a large menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and entrees to please everyone’s palate.

Staying in Hana

Do you crave more time to explore Hana Town? Consider staying overnight in Hana. It would leave you more time to explore the Ohe’o Gulch and hike the Pipiwai Trail.

Hana-Maui Resort is part of Hyatt Hotels and is located on beautiful grounds overlooking the Pacific Ocean. If you want to stay overnight in Hana, you should also consider Heavenly Hana Paradise and Pau Hana Paradise.

Hana-Maui Resort, a Destination by Hyatt Residence
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Heavenly Hana Paradise, Hana
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Pau Hana Paradise, Hana
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Hamoa Beach – Mile Marker 51

If you want a sandy beach visit, consider Hamoa Beach. You can see the Big Island from Hamoa Beach on a clear day. It’s a great spot for the entire family to take a swim.

Wailua Falls – Mile marker 45

Don’t forget to stop at Wailua Falls, one of Hawaii’s most iconic waterfalls. This 80-foot waterfall is easily accessible and offers breathtaking views from the top and bottom.

Ohe’o Gulch and the Seven Sacred Pools – Mile Marker 41.5

And, of course, no trip along the Road to Hana would be complete without a visit to Ohe’o Gulch (also known as Seven Sacred Pools). These pools, located in Haleakala National Park, are a series of cascading waterfalls and natural swimming holes that offer the perfect setting for a picnic or some relaxation.

Since the Ohe’o Gulch is part of the Haleakala National Park, you must pay an entry fee. If you visit the Haleakala Summit and Ohe’o within three days of each other, the same entrance pass can be used. They also accept the National Park Pass. The Ohe’o Gulch is open from 9 am-5 pm. Plan your day accordingly. The entrance gate closes at 4:30.

The pools are open and closed for swimming, depending on the conditions. Check ahead if swimming is possible.

Pipiwai Bamboo Trail – Mile Market 41.5

Ohe’o Gulch and Pipiwai Trail share a parking lot. This 3.5-mile trail will take approximately 2 hours, depending on your level of hiking skills. If you don’t have the two hours to hike the entire trail, consider hiking to Waimoku Falls, the first overlook.

Pipiwai is part of the Haleakala National Park; there is a $30 per car fee. There are restrooms and a visitor center here. This is a good place to change clothes and use the restroom before returning to Paia.

​If you take the traditional road route to Hana, it is time to turn around and return to Paia. Depending on the time, you may want to stop at some other places this guide didn’t consider a “must-see.” I would recommend the Garden of Eden Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

Places to eat in Paia

We recommend stopping in the town of Paia for dinner. It is a great place to stop before heading back to your hotel.

Mama’s Fish House is one of our favorite restaurants in the world. Yes, I said, WORLD. Even though it is located right outside Paia and you will pass it returning, I don’t recommend it for this day. Mama’s should be a special event, not after a long day exploring, in my opinion. We like to reserve Mama’s for our last night on Maui to celebrate another awesome trip.

Fun Facts about the Road to Hana

  • 59 bridges, of which 46 are one-lane bridges.
  • 620 curves 
  • 65 miles
  • Opened to traffic in 1929
  • Fully paved in 1962
  • It is one of the most scenic routes in the World, with switchbacks, one-lane bridges, and cliff drops along the oceanside.

Safety Tips for the Road to Hana Itinerary

  • Don’t stand under waterfalls; there can be falling rocks or debris 
  • Beware of undercurrents and waves 
  • Be courteous to locals and let them pass
  • Let 3-5 cars go through the one-lane bridges
  • Stay away from the ledges; you never know the stability of the ground.
  • Avoid going on private property, especially those with signs warning about trespassing.
  • Leave only footsteps; take only memories.

Final Thoughts on the Road to Hana Itinerary

The Road to Hana is more than just a scenic drive; it’s a journey that will stay with you long after you return home. The winding roads, colorful flora, and breathtaking waterfalls make this trip a must-do for any Maui traveler.

Beyond the natural beauty, the Road to Hana also offers glimpses into Hawaiian culture, from traditional taro fields to ancient temples. With opportunities to try local treats and interact with friendly locals, it’s an experience that will leave you feeling connected to the island and its people.

The Road to Hana is not about the destination but the journey itself.

Did you enjoy this post about the Best Road to Hana Itinerary? If so, check out our other posts about Maui.

After reading our Road to Hana Itinerary and deciding this drive may not be something you want to do as a self-guided tour, many tours will drive for you. The con is that you will follow the tour company’s itinerary. There are also private tours, which I would recommend if that is in your budget.

Top 3 Road to Hana Tour Recommendations

Maui Jungle and Waterfall Tour Half Day Road to Hana Small Group
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Road to Hana Tour with Lunch and Pickup
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Small-Group Road to Hāna Sightseeing Tour
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What is the best road to Hana on the itinerary?

We believe the Itinerary we have laid out is the best Road to Hana Itinerary, where you will see all the must-see stops along the Hana Highway.
Twin Falls
Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees
Ke’anae Peninsula
Upper Waikani Falls 
Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park
Ka’eleku Caves
Wai’anapanapa State Park (Reservation system and entrance fee)
Wailua Falls 
Ohe’o Gulch and the Seven Sacred Pools (entrance fee)
Pipiwai Bamboo Trail (entrance fee)

Are there one-lane bridges on the road to Hana?

There are 46 one-lane bridges along the Road to Hana. Let 3-5 cars pass on the bridge before taking your turn.

How long does it take to drive the road to Hana?

Exploring the Road to Hana will take 10 – 12 hours. If you drove it straight through, it would take approximately 3 hours. It is around 65 miles from Paia to Ohe’o Gulch.

Is the road to Hana worth it?

Yes! It is worth it to drive the Road to Hana yourself or take a Road to Hana tour. On the Road to Hana, you will see waterfalls, lava tubes, rainforests, and sand beaches, and you will learn about the incredible Hawaiian culture. If you travel to Maui, it should be at the top of your list to experience at least once. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience you will remember for years.

Go Grab Life, and remember, don’t forget to wear sunscreen. Happy Exploring!

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11 Comments

  1. I have never driven The Road to Hana – but hoping to on my next Hawaiian holiday, thank you so much for explaining everything, it will make the drive so much easier now.

  2. We were so glad we did the Road to Hana when we were in Maui. We did the route one way and then turned back. But one day I would like to do the loop and see the backside of Haleakala. There were indeed so many great stops along the way.

  3. I will definitely include The Road to Hana into my future Maui trip. Thanks for the helpful tips and suggestions, I’ll save this post for my next trip to Hawaii!

  4. We are traveling to Hawaii for the first time ever at the end of February and The Road To Hana is one of our must-do activities. This article is very helpful – we appreciate all the information.

    We would love to receive your map that you mentioned at the beginning of the article.

    Thank you! We appreciate you!

    1. I’ll send it to you. If you have any other questions, send me an email. I’m glad you found it useful. We will be there at the end of February also. I hope you have a whale watch scheduled. They are amazing to see up close. I just posted about Whale Watching in Maui, if you want to check it out.

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