Road to Hana Camper-Van Adventure

The Road to Hana is a must do for any trip to Maui. A lot of people do the road to Hana in one day which you can certainly do. If you have more time to spend in this area there is definitely a lot to see and do! We wanted to make sure we had time for as many stops as we wanted so we took more time on this side of the island during our trip. Places to stay are limited along the road to Hana, there are a few very small hotels in the town of Hana its self but that is really all we saw. We rented a camper van for our trip which worked out very well since there are a few places to sleep along the way. We stayed one night at Camp Kaenae YMCA which is just short of halfway to Hana. We then drove the rest of the road the following day and spent one night at the Kipahulu Distric of Haleakala National Park which is past Hana (this is the park where the 7 sacred pools are located). You could also tent camp at these locations if you have camping equipment available to you. We found the camper van to be perfect since it served as our transportation and our lodging. We didn’t have to worry about setting up and taking down a tent. We could simply get up and drive off to keep exploring. We rented our van through North Shore Vans and would highly recommend them.

We have broken this post up into our “must do” stops and then at the end are some extra stops worth including if you have more time. Most of the best stops are towards the second half of the road to Hana. We actually started the road the Hana drive around 2pm since we knew we were staying at about the halfway point. The second day we had a full day to explore, and we were already pretty close to everything we really wanted to see. This worked out very well and we found we were in much less traffic since most people start early in the day at the beginning and only dedicate one day to this trip.

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Must dos:

Keanae Peninsula mile marker 16-17-  Take the turn off down to this peninsula and the little town. The views of the ocean are amazing! The town was struck by a tsunami in 1946 which destroyed everything except the church. You can still see this traditional stone church when you visit. Also while you are here we would recommend stopping at Auntie Sandy’s for some banana bread still warm from the oven!

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Tree Bears falls mile marker 19.5- This waterfall is absolutely beautiful. When the rain has been heavier and more water is rushing over the falls it appears as one waterfall. When it hasn’t been as rainy the falls are separated into three which is where the name three bears falls comes from. If you are a little bit adventurous you can wander down under the bridge and get right up close to the falls. There is not really a path, you will be walking on rocks, it can be a bit muddy but overall it isn’t too challenging. We both walked down here and there was one other couple walking around on the rocks while we were there.

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Nahiku mile marker 25- Follow the turn off down the small, windy road to the very small town of Nahiku. There isn’t much “in town” but once you are there you can park and walk down to the shore. You will get beautiful views of the ocean with large black lava rocks and huge waves crashing up on the rocks. From the main look out point to the ocean you can follow the small path on the left side (if looking at the ocean) down to a small tidal pool that is protected from the waves. It is a bit rocky so we didn’t swim here but were told by a few locals it is a good place to go for a swim.

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Black Sand Beach at Waiapanapa State Park mile marker 32- This is definitely a more popular stop so be prepared for more people. It is for good reason that everyone is stopping here! You should definitely walk to the beach and go for a swim, from there we highly recommend walking to the left (if you are looking at the ocean) and hiking along the black lava rocks. Here you will get great views and the further you walk you will get away from the crowds and have the path to yourself. Our favorite picture from our whole trip was taken along this path!

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Kaihalulu red sand beach in Hana mile marker 34- We had heard that the path to this beach can be dangerous. We even read a few blog posts that said they didn’t visit this beach because of the dangerous path. We found the path to be completely fine but that being said if it was really rainy we could see how it could be pretty sketchy. There is a fairly steep drop off down the ocean from the path and the pebble ground is likely slippery after/during a lot of rain. The walk to the beach is fairly short. The beach is beautiful once you arrive. There are several large rocks blocking the larger wave making this a nice place to swim. We have heard that this is a clothing optional beach so if that is something that bothers you do be aware of that. Parking is also pretty restricted, but it was a Sunday when we were there and parked at the preschool near the Thai food truck and walked from there (also, grab some Thai while you’re at it!)

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Kipahulu Distric of Haleakala National Park mile marker 42:

Seven Sacred pools- We actually enjoyed the Venus pools (which are on our list of additional stops) better than these pools however if you are only dedicating one day to this than the day goes quickly so you’ll have to make some tough decisions on where to stop and what to skip. This park has the best hike on Maui (in our opinion) so overall the park is a must do! The seven sacred pools were open for swimming when we visited however in the past they have closed at times so do be aware of that. The pools are beautiful and worth seeing. They are freshwater, if you are camping in the park there are not showers so a dip in these pools is a nice way to rinse the salt water off if you have been exploring and swimming all day.

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PipiWai Trail-  This was over favorite hike on Maui! It is a 4 mile hike through bamboo forest and up to Waimoka falls which is a 400ft waterfall. The trail is easy to follow but it is uphill most of the way. As you get closer to the end where Waimoka falls is the trail can get a bit wet and muddy. Definitely wear your hiking shoes/boots for this hike. If are giving yourself more than one day on the road to Hana we would recommend getting to this trail early. We started our hike around 7:30-8AM and we didn’t see anyone else until we were on the second half of the hike back after seeing the falls.

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Additional stops worth making if you have time: 

It is worth saying that some of these stops are also really cool and we loved them! Just because they are on this part of our list shouldn’t deter you from stopping. But if you are doing this trip in one day and trying to make it back before dark then your time really will go quickly!

Venus pools mile marker 48- This was one of our favorite stops! if you have time for one of the additional stops we have listed this would be the one we suggest! The Venus pools are a short walk from the road. Finding a parking spot along the road can be challenging, and mind the sings as some people had tickets on their windshields. There are giant rocks surrounding the major pool where you will see people jumping/diving into the water from various heights. If you aren’t brave enough for that you can easily get into the water without jumping/diving. Just beware that it is a bit tricky to get out of. The pool is quite large with lush jungle on the far side giving it a perfect Hawaii feel!

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Twin falls mile marker 2- these falls are smaller than some of the others we stopped at. But they are still beautiful and you can swim in them. There are two separate waterfalls here. you will see a fairly large parking lot at this stop with a fruit stand. From there you follow the path along to the falls. Both waterfalls are just a short walk from the parking lot.

Waikamoi Ridge Trail mile marker 9.5- This trail is 1.1 miles. It is near the beginning of the road to Hana. It is a nice trail and if you really want to get out and explore it is a good option for a short hike but we don’t feel it is a “must do”.

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Hanamanu Bay mile marker 14- This is a smaller black sand beach than the park we listed above.  We have heard there is a narrow road you can turn off on if you want to actually get down to the beach but we did not do that this trip. You will get amazing views of the beach along the drive and there is a look out point on the drive back from Hana so you can stop and get a great picture of this beautiful bay!

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Keanae Arboretum mile marker 16- This place is where you can walk right up and see a patch of rainbow bamboo trees. These trees are beautiful to see up close. The arboretum is also full of other beautiful plats and flowers. It is a fairly short walk through the main part of the arboretum so this stop won’t take you too long. It would be easy to add on if you have extra time.

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Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside mile marker 22- This stop is a pretty popular one so be prepared for it to be more crowded. There are bathrooms here so it’s a good place to stop. There is also a small waterfall you can swim in here.

Wailua Falls mile marker 45- Another beautiful waterfall. You can get views of it from the car as you drive by. If you have extra time you can park nearby and explore for even better views.

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There are a few good look out spots along the way with views of the ocean and the volcano, if you have the GyPSy Guide app for Hana which we recommend (more details on that at the end of this post) the audio guide will point out these spots for you.

Food Recommendations:

If you are camping along the way do take into consideration that there aren’t a ton of places to stop for food/groceries. We recommend packing snacks and stopping for food when you pass an opportunity! There is a small grocery/convivence store in Hana to stock up on things as needed but don’t expect them to have everything a larger grocery store would have.

Ka Haku Smoke shack mile marker 10.2- This place does close fairly early in the afternoon so do be aware of that. The first day when we drove by at about 3-4pm it was closed. We stopped here on our way back from Hana closer to 11:30-noon and it was open. The chicken and ribs are both really good! This is a simple place, just a parking lot with some picnic tables and two guys working the grill. Doesn’t look like much but it is worth a stop!

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Halfway to Hana Stand mile marker 17- This small stand has coffee, water, juice, snacks and great banana bread! This was our breakfast after staying at the YMCA.

Nahiku Marketplace/food trucks mile marker 29- There are multiple options for food here, we arrived around 11 AM when everything was just opening up. We had some great BBQ. There is also a small gift shop here if you would like to pick something up to take home with you. If you can plan to be here later in the afternoon then all the options would be open for you.

Thai food by Pranee in Hana mile marker 34- This place is amazing! It is right in Hana. We got food to go from here for dinner the night we were camping in the Kipahulu Distric of Haleakala National Park. We would highly recommend eating here!

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A few other random tips:

Bring bug spray!

Bring snacks because as we said, depending on what time of day you drive by these places food stands and shops may or may not be open.

Be aware that you will lose cell phone service shortly into the drive so download any maps or information you think you may need before you start the drive.

One last recommendation we have is to download the GyPSy Guide app for Hana. It costs $5-6 but is totally worth it. Open the app and once you start driving the guide will begin talking. You will get some history and general information about the area as you drive. The guide will also point out each stop for you with a bit of information to help you decide if you want to stop or not. All the stops along the road are not super well marked so it would be very easy to miss things without the guide telling you when to stop.  Also of note, we have listed the closest mile marker for each stop but some of these stops are not right at the mile marker. You will have to keep your eyes open for where each stop is truly located.

 

Take your time and enjoy the drive!
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– TFWY’s