here, the first destination on my Hawaiian adventure was Maui and one of the most epic things to do on this island is take the Road to Hana, stopping all along the way to see the magic it has to offer. We got a late start because I may or may not have locked us out of the hostel after showering in the communal bathrooms (the boy was just wearing a towel..), but the plan was to be on the road by 6:30am to avoid making the drive back in the dark. Since the front desk didn't open until 8am, we had to improvise--we got out by 7:30ish (ninja skills). Here's where we stopped, but don't you dare follow any guide to a T. There is so much to see and discover on this windy, surreal road. If you go, keep your eyes and mind open and be ready to stop a lot.
Where to Stop on the Road to Hana
Before the mileage begins, you'll want to fill up on gas in the little town of Paia and grab some essentials, like almond milk lattes and bagels, at the Kuau Store (as described here). It's recognizable by its colorful surfboard fence and inside it are the most majestic healthy foods you could imagine. I must've Snapchatted every food item in that store.
Mile 2 - The upper falls were closed off when we got there, so we only stopped by the lower falls, took photos and kept truckin'. We weren't super impressed, but this is the first waterfall along the route, so there are lots of cars parked here. If you're strapped for time (and the upper falls are still closed), skip it. There are way cooler (less crowded) waterfalls you can swim in down the road.
Garden of Eden Arboretum
Mile 10 - It costs about $15 to get into this arboretum/botanical garden, but if beautiful plants, a 100-year-old mango tree, fearless ducks and epic photo opps are your thing, it's totally worth it. We were greeted by a peacock as we drove in and we got to see the upper level twin falls from mile 2 as well as one of places where "Jurassic Park" was filmed. This was the only place where I got a mosquito bite or two, so you might want to bring bug spray.
Kaumahina State Wayside Park
Mile 12 - We stopped here for five minutes to take in the view and snap some photos. We had black sand beaches on the mind and limited time to get on down the road before sunset.
Halfway to Hana Stand
Mile 17 - DO NOT SKIP THIS STOP. You need this banana bread. It will haunt your dreams and you will forever regret it if you don't stop.
Hana Lava Tube
Mile 31 - The Hana Lava Tube costs about $12 to take a tour of it, but if you've never seen a lava tube, you kinda have to. It's pretty rad. There were blind white cockroaches in there with giant antennae and it's so dark you have to take a flashlight. Also, there's a labyrinth out front that reminded of the babe (what babe?).
Wai'anapanapa State Park
Mile 32 - The Black Sand Beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park was the real winner. Maybe it was because I saved the banana bread and destroyed it on the (SUPER hot) black pebbles while watching the perfect waves crashing onto shore, but it's one of the most beautiful things nature has ever let me look at. There's also a short hiking trail, blowhole and fresh water pool (that looked more like a rain puddle), but I recommend taking in this view for as long as possible. Some dare devils were jumping off that cliff out there too, which is kind of terrifying considering how rocky it was out there (I was jealous).
If you see a car parked..
You should probably park, too. There are so many hidden gems on this road, it's hard to know where they all are, but chances are if someone's parked, there's something cool to see. Granted, if there are several cars parked, be careful because this can become a safety hazard (that road is beautiful but it is NOT wide). I don't even know what this waterfall was called, but it was unplanned and one of my favorite stops. The water was freezing, which always reminds me of being a kid and makes me all giddy. Naturally, I started whipping my hair back and forth as if the falls themselves wouldn't be a cool enough picture.
The Seven Sacred Pools
We drove through Hana, but since we really wanted to see the Seven Sacred Pools in the Kaleakala National Park (it has lots of names) we didn't stop in the town itself. We just kept on driving, hoping we could get a hike in while still catching the last of the sunlight for the drive back. We managed a short hike before deciding we'd rather cool off in the lower pool instead of making it all way up. There were lots of signs telling us not to swim in muddy water, but as you can see that didn't stop me from getting my cannonball on. Clambering over the slippery rocks to chill out under the falls themselves was the hardest part, but just look at those pretty thangs. It was worth the extra driving, but
Take The Back Side Out
We stopped at a random fruit stand so we could try fresh papaya for the first time (Chad was not impressed), but besides that we hightailed it out of there because it was getting dangerously close to sunset. I read on a website somewhere that you could take the "back side" of the road to Hana (Highway 31). We were skeptical because rental Nissan + unpaved road sounded like a disaster, but we went for it anyway and it was a great decision. There were hardly any cars heading toward Hana and he followed a couple cars out while I soaked in the more secluded scenery. There weren't as many waterfalls, but still tons of great stuff to see (including roadside horses and cows) and since the sun was going down, we were soaking wet and sunburned, the quicker way out was a win for us. Here's a lot of information on whether you should or shouldn't go this way, but to be honest we just asked a local if it was safe, she said yes, and we went on our way.
If you go to Maui, you need to make this trip. Take a tour if this all sounds daunting, but get there. Coming up next will be all things Kauai. Get excited!
Have you been to Maui? Did you take the Road to Hana? Tell me everything!