7 Absolute Must-Stop Spots on the Road to Hana, Maui
The Road to Hana has to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world. With over 600 turns, it leads you twisting and turning through luscious tropical landscape abundant in hidden treasures for the curious. There are tour guides that can bring you out here but it’s much better to explore this magical land on your own. I would highly recommend staying a night in Hana if you get the chance because there are just so many special sites to see it’s hard to pack it all into one day. If you want to make lots of stops along the way, it can get to be late afternoon by the time you even get to Hana.
I have highlighted some of my favourite discoveries from the few times I did the drive. Each time I did it, I found new and exciting things, each time bringing something new to the table. Some of them may not be the obvious choices but you may be starting to realize that I prefer to defer from the crowds (unless food is involved) as much as possible.
Somewhere near the beginning of the Hana Highway there is an awesome cliff jumping pond right off the road. It is the perfect way to kickstart your road trip and a gorgeous spot with no tourists. Even if you’re not doing the drive, Dog Pond is close enough to the beginning that you can come here for a dip in the afternoon.
We actually only found this place because we were driving in the area and stopped to ask a local if there were any cool places nearby that we should check out. I suggest doing the same, most locals are quite friendly. It is a mile or two up the road from Huelo Lookout (or Coconut Protectors), which is the fruit stand after Twin Falls. Stop there to ask where you can find it. I’m not sure of the exact mile marker because I wasn’t driving and never wrote it down but it is right off the road near the beginning of the Hana Highway. It is after you cross a bridge and on the left hand side. There is a shoulder to park on and a wooden fence you have to hop.
Once you hop the fence, go straight ahead to the water. From here you can be daring and jump off the cliff (about 15 ft) or head down the rocks to walk in. I’d suss out the situation first to make sure the water is at a good level for jumping. There are more rocks for laying in the water downstream, a perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon or a take a quick dip and get back in the car.
Trust me, you’re going to be seeing so many waterfalls you’ll be happy you took the opportunity to jump in one!
Hana Farms Banana Bread
Famous for their banana bread, Hana Farms is a popular little roadside stand for visitors and locals alike. They sell six (or more) varieties of their famous mouth-watering delicious baked-fresh banana bread as well as handmade lemonade, coffee, fruit preserves, island candies, jewelery, art and ice cream. Stop here to pick up some snacks to enjoy on the beach once you get to Hana.
It is located right before the “Welcome to Hana” road sign, with small Polynesian huts and a banana bread sign. You won’t be disappointed.
They also accept WWOOFers to work on their farm, so if you wanted to do a work-exchange, you might want to check them out.
Red Sand Beach
One of my favourite spots in all of Maui. Located on Kaihalulu Bay, the deep rust-red colour of this lava cinder cone is striking with the bright azure blue water, another one of Hawaii’s amazing geologically phenomenal places. It is tucked away and sheltered from the raging ocean by a few black lava rocks, making it a good place to take a dip. It’s secluded enough that it’s not packed with tourists, though is frequented by nudists.
To get there, park on the road near the Travasa Hotel parking lot then cross the Hana Community Center field looking for a trail on your right leading you to a path on a steep ledge. Be careful because it could be very dangerous. If you fell you would probably die…. be warned. The hike is not long, maybe ten minutes, though not appropriate for the inexperienced hiker or small children.
Do research the conditions of this trail beforehand by asking the locals because this area is sometimes hit by landslides and affects the accessibility of the trail.
Waioka Pond (AKA Venus Pool)
Waioka pond as it’s called by the locals is the perfect gem for spending a day cliff jumping, swimming and sunbathing in a sheltered area from the rugged shoreline. There are two ledges, one higher and one lower for jumping off depending on your need for an adrenaline rush. Near the shore’s end there is a lava-rock island and another little pool where you can access a skylit cave, depending on the level of the water.
Accessing Waioka is a little bit ambiguous at the moment, as the locals don’t particularly dig the influx of tourists invading their swimming hole and it has been gated off with a big KEEP OUT sign. That being said, there is usually still an opening where you can get in, otherwise how else would the locals get there? It is on private land owned by Hana Ranch, so just be wary. You can find the fence to get in at mile marker 48.1 on the shore side of the road. Locals don’t really like it when you park here either, but when I went there were other cars parked along the road, so just try to find somewhere acceptable.
Now this place has many high rocks, so you need to watch your step, being careless can cause you a lot of grief. The area, like all streams on Maui is susceptible to flash floods, so just be aware of the recent weather and be careful. If you get the chance, ask a local about the conditions.
On another note about safety, it is always wise to do a little scope-out of the deepness of the water prior to throwing yourself off a cliff. Check for boulders which may have moved during high tide or a flash flood, it could prevent serious injury.
Other than that, have fun! This is an amazing place to explore, I met some friendly locals who showed us the next place on the list.
Hidden Black Sand Beach
While hanging out over at Venus Pool, my friends and I started chatting with two guys who were living in Hana and they insisted they bring us to a black sand beach nearby. Always curious for great sites, we followed only to discover this hidden beauty tucked away with not a soul to be seen. I can’t for the life of me figure out what the beach is called, so all I can say is that it’s a short walk from Venus Pool and definitely worth the detour.
To get there from Venus Pool, walk about 5-10 minutes through the field of cows along the shoreline until you’re there. You’ll need to go around the far side to find the opening to get down. It is very steep and there is a rope on the trail to guide you. It’s best to repel yourself backwards, but it’s really not as hard as it looks and there are plenty of trees to grab onto.
We hung out there for quite some time, boogie boarding in the waves with no one around except for a lone sea-lion taking a snooze in the sand. I’m pretty sure this is owned by Hana Ranch, so try to be as respectful as possible and if there are any locals around always ask permission before trespassing.
All in all this beach is beautiful, rugged, off-the-beaten path and tourist free so it’s a win in my books!
Before heading out of Hana I always like to take a pit stop at Laulima Farm to recharge with some delicious food. It is just passed Ho’omau road, you’ll see the sign in the picture above.
They’re unique attraction is their bicycle powered smoothie blender, talk about working for your food! They have plenty of fresh, healthy foods and smiles, a nice relaxing place to sit down and recount you’re great Hana adventures with others.
Do the Loop
As you’re heading out of Hana, keep your eyes peeled on the way out of Hana for any “free fruit” stands. I got a nice handful of papayas, mangoes and rambutan from one posted at the end of someone’s lane way. What a steal!
Haleakala’s back side is often over-looked but the perfect way to end your time in Hana. Just keep on going past Kipahulu, Kaupo and beyond. The terrain changes dramatically, and suddenly you’ll find yourself in rugged, barren terrain. It is once you get out of the rainforest to look back and see Hana’s waterfalls pouring into the ocean.
The sunsets sweep over the tall exposed rocks and dry brown grass flooding the landscape with breathtaking colours as you head back. The drive is long, though not as twisty-turny as the Hana Highway, with parts of it being unpaved. You’ll see Molokai and many deserted lava rock and black sand beaches. It’s a much different site, but the perfect way to take everything in.
An honourable mention goes out to the seven sacred pools, but I figure you’re guide-book will tell you all about that one. For more information on Maui’s hidden secrets, give Maui Revealed a read, it lets you in all the best places perhaps unmentioned in the guide books. It’s even got an app these days to go along with the book, offering a GPS locator on the most secluded spots. It’s angered many of the locals, exposing their favourite locations, so remember to be smart and be respectful to keep the Aloha.
What are your favourite spots on the road to Hana?