We started our Hawaiian trip driving the Road to Hana, and it was an unbelievable experience. I highly recommend taking a day or two to explore this side of Maui!
We rented a car and headed out early to get a good start on the day. Our first stop was at a local Whole Foods in Kahului. A tip we received the night before we left was to get food for the road trip to Hana. There are small stands and food trucks along the drive, but I'm glad we grabbed water, snacks and sandwiches to have with us. The prices were cheaper going this route, and we had food with us for our hikes.
Our second stop on the road was in Paia at the Island Fresh Café where we grabbed smoothies and coffee. The smoothies were fantastic, I definitely recommend stopping here.
After grabbing food from Whole Foods for lunch, and smoothies for breakfast, we headed down the road to our first waterfall.
Twin Falls - mile marker 2
Our first waterfall on the Road to Hana was Twin Falls, located just after mile marker 2.
(PS, sometimes the mile markers are hard to see along the road, so keep your eyes peeled when you're driving).
These falls are at the end of a 1.8-mile out and back hike, and there are other waterfalls and sites along the trail. This is a pretty popular spot along the road, you almost can't miss it. It's $10 to park, and parking attendants are nearby to help you find a spot and answer any questions you have. Because it's a popular waterfall, you will likely see many other people while hiking.
It took us just under 25 minutes to get to Twin Falls, and about that much time convincing ourselves to get in the water. I kid, but the water was cold.
Waikamoi Falls - mile marker 10
Located at mile marker 10 you will find Waikamoi Falls. There's a short hike to the pools and falls if you're interested in getting out and seeing them. They are also visible from the road!
The Garden of Eden - mile marker 10.5
Halfway between mile marker 10 and 11 is the entrance to the Maui Garden of Eden. There are several waterfalls and sites that can only be seen inside the arboretum including: Lower Puohokamoa Falls, the Upper Puohokamoa Falls, an enchanted forest, bamboo trail, art gallery and orchards. If you decide to stop, plan to spend time here!
Much of the drive is coastal, and the views are fabulous.
Puaa Kaa Falls - mile marker 22
This waterfall was a nice one to stop at. There's a large parking lot and a restroom. We spent time in the water and ate a snack at a nearby picnic bench before hitting the road.
Upper Hanawi Falls - mile marker 24
We parked along the side of the road and snapped a picture of this one from the bridge.
Next Stop - Hana
Hana Town is located at mile marker 34. We got into town around 3pm in the afternoon and checked into our Airbnb. There are a few nice hotels and resorts in town as well, but we opted to stay at a local Airbnb for the night. After we dropped our things in our room, we decided to explore Hana before heading to dinner.
Black Sand Beaches
There are a few black sand beaches near Hana, one is located in the Waiʻānapanapa State Park and a reservation is required to get in. We didn't make a reservation before arriving because we weren't sure how much time we would spend hiking in the morning. We ended up skipping this park.
The other black sand beach is Hāna Bay Beach Park, and no reservation is required to enjoy the sand. We went to Hāna Bay Beach Park and dug our toes in the sand.
Red Sand Beach
On the other side of the cliff from Hāna Bay Beach Park is a red sand beach called Kaihalulu Beach. Hands down this was my favorite spot on day 1 of our road trip. While the black sand beach was nice, it was the red sand beach and the hike to get there that was the absolute highlight of our day.
Kaihalulu Beach is located at the end of a very, very tricky trail. I will say that we didn't have any issues with it. BUT, I want to make sure that I give the trail the respect that it deserves, because it can be extremely dangerous. There are stories of young children, elderly men and women, and even experienced hikers that have slipped and fallen off the cliffside. In our research we discovered that locals will not share where this trail is located if you can't find it by yourself. There have been casualties along this trail, be warned.
That said, we didn't run into any issues while walking the path. I can definitely see how this trail could turn from a nice hike to a hospital stay in a hurry. So, exercise caution if you decide to hike to this beach!
We parked near the Hana Community Center and headed away from the city toward the ocean. There are signs mentioning the risks associated with hiking the trail, and that's how you'll know you've found it. The first part of the hike goes through some overgrown bushes, and past that it's mostly pine needles mixed with mud and sand. Purple flowers bloomed alongside much of the path.
When we got to the beach there was a Hawaiian monk seal hanging out! A quick google search told us that monk seals come ashore once a year to molt, where they shed the top layer of their skin and fur. When they come to shore they will spend about a month hanging out on the beach.
We felt so blessed to have the chance to see a Hawaiian monk seal molting on the beach.
After hiking back to our car, we headed to our Airbnb and showered before dinner. We ate at The Restaurant at Hana-Maui Resort. A reservation is recommended before you dine- without one you might not get a table.
We started our second day by hitting up a local food stand for coffee and breakfast. We ordered lattes and bagels from My Titas Café in Hana.
After breakfast we hit the road past Hana. The mile markers change and begin counting down instead of up at this point. It's a slower drive leaving Hana than heading to Hana, because the road goes through a few small towns and narrows into one-ways for a lot of it. Exercise caution!
A few miles after Hana we noticed the jungle sounds increased, and the trees began to change. It rained on and off during much of our drive.
Paihi Falls - (just before) mile marker 45
Just before mile marker 45 you will find Paihi Falls. There isn't great parking nearby, so we snapped a quick picture from the car.
Wailua Falls - mile marker 45
Wailua Falls are located at mile marker 45 and we quickly realized why it's a favorite among many people who visit Maui. These falls are stunning and easy to see from the road. There's a great spot just past the bridge to park at and walk back to the waterfall. When we arrived there were several other couples taking photos, and we still had plenty of space to park.
The Pipiwai Trail at Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park is located at mile marker 41, you can't miss it. There's signage along the way and a large parking lot on the left. We pulled in and paid the entrance fee to hike.
Once inside there are two hiking options. The trailhead splits into two and on the left is the 4 mile out-and-back Pipiwai Trail up to Makahiku Falls and Waimoku Falls. The trail on the right is a shorter, half mile hike with coastal views and cliffs. We went left and headed into the jungle.
I was excited to do this hike, mainly because of the promised bamboo forest along the trail. I highly recommend hiking the Pipiwai Trail if you're up for it. There is a 800 elevation change from start to end, so keep that in mind.
Starting The Pipiwai Trail
The trail started off with rocks and packed mud and quickly turned into tree ruts and lots of mud. It also rained on and off during our hike, which turned the mud into puddles.
The first waterfall along the trail is the Makahiku Falls, about .5 miles up the trail. There is a sign with information about the falls and an overlook spot.
Further up the trail we ran into the famous Large Banyan Tree. And then it began to rain and the trail got even muddier than before. Wear good shoes! I had on my Ryka trail shoes and they were amazing the whole way. My feet stayed dry even though we were skirting puddles (and walking through puddles).
After the Bunyan tree you will see more waterfalls, pools and bridges. The entire hike is a lovely surprise of "What's beyond this bend?"
The final 1/2 mile or so takes you through the Bamboo Forest. Actually, there's a sign just as the forest begins that says you have .8 miles to go to reach Waimoku Falls. Most of this section is paved with wooden walkways, making it easier to hike the last chunk.
The final stretch is a mix of jungle and bamboo forest, standing pools of water, mud and wooden walkways.
You can see the falls when the jungle clears, but in order to get close there is a rushing stream you will need to cross. If you feel safe wading through the water or jumping stones, then go for it. We crossed the stream and had a rewarding closeup view.
That's the hike! The views up are amazing. The hike down was far more crowded than the way up. I would recommend getting an early start if you want the trail to yourself.
After our 4 mile hike we hit the road to get back to Kahului. The entire hike took us just over 2 hours to complete.
We decided to end our day at Baldwin Beach before going back to the hotel. It was here that we caught our first rainbow of the trip. If you fly into Kahului Airport, Baldwin Beach is only a 10 minute drive away. And it's lovely. Just an absolutely beautiful beach.
And that was our Road to Hana road trip! If you're planning a visit, I hope this helps you. We had the best time hiking and exploring waterfalls, hanging out in Hana, enjoying the many beaches and scenic views.