Backroad to Hana, Maui

Backroad to Hana, Maui

Know Before You Go, Shaka Guide's Reverse Road to Hana

Shaka Guide

There is a Road Closure that Impacts this Tour Route - Please Download the Classic Road to Hana Tour Instead.

There is only one road into and out of Hana. Locals have to drive this road every day and the thousands of daily drivers on this one-lane highway greatly impact their lives.

Please be respectful — do not park illegally, pay attention to signs, drive responsibly, and pull over to let locals pass. Do not enter private property or visit sites that are unsafe. And, please remember to pick up your trash.

For more on being a responsible traveler to Hawaii, click here. You can also learn about proper Road to Hana etiquette here. And, before you travel to Hawaii, be sure to take the Pono Pledge here.

road to hana map in Hawaii with mile markers

On Shaka Guide’s Reverse Road to Hana Tour, you’ll make over 30 stops as you traverse the twists and turns of Hana Highway. This tour is extra special because you’ll start the tour on the rarely explored back road to Hana. There are some serious advantages to this:

  • You’ll visit some of the most popular spots first, meaning you’ll beat the crowds.
  • You’ll get to Hana Town early in the day.
  • You’ll avoid traffic because you’re driving in the opposite direction of everyone else!

Because this tour takes roughly ten hours to complete, there’s a lot you need to know to start planning and make the most of your day and we’ve outlined it all here.

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Start Planning!

  • You’re about to go on an awesome adventure, but there are a few things you should know about the tour before you get started!
  • Start the tour in Kula Town on the backside of Hana in Upcountry Maui and end in Paia Town.
  • If you’re staying in West Maui in the resort towns of Kaanapali or Lahaina, plan to spend 1 hour to the start of the tour in Kula.
  • Entrance to Haleakala National Park (Seven Sacred Pool aka Oheo Pools) is $30 per car — you can pay with cash or credit.
  • IMPORTANT: Beginning 3/1/2021 reservations are required to visit Waianapanapa State Park (black sand beach) - book up to 14 days in advance, no same-day reservations are allowed, and the price for entry is $10 to park AND $5 per person. Book here: www.gowaianapanapa.com. Click here to learn more about planning your day based on your reservation time. 
  • Hana Lava Tube and Garden of Eden close at 4 pm and Kahanu Gardens closes at 3 pm (and they all have entrance fees)
  • There are many stops on the Road to Hana that you SHOULDN’T make. These might be dangerous or on private property. We recommend you stick to the itinerary we’ve laid out.
  • Proper etiquette on the Road to Hana is extremely important. Remember, there are residents that must take this road everyday.

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What to Expect 

To Get An Early Start

We recommend starting the tour from Kula by 8:00 a.m.

We know it’s early, but it’s imperative if you want to visit all the spots and minimize nighttime driving.

This means if you’re staying in West Maui, you’ll want to hit the road by 7:00 a.m.

To Spend 10-12 Hours Exploring

If you want to do EVERYTHING on the tour -- each hike, scenic spot, swimming hole -- we recommend you plan to spend about 12 hours on the tour.

Since there’s so much to see, we've created this suggested itinerary so you can plan which spots you want to visit in advance.

Also, some advice: don’t get caught up in visiting every spot, you’ll want to make the most of your day, but this road trip is truly about the journey. 

Stay flexible and enjoy your time at the spots you visit.

To Be Active

There are four hikes on this tour, but that’s just the beginning.

There are caves to explore, ponds to swim in, and gardens to marvel at. In addition, a ton of stops for viewpoints.

So be prepared to be in and out of the car A LOT on this drive!

To Swim

Not only will you stop at multiple beaches along the Road to Hana, but you’ll also visit a number of swimming holes!

These are generally beneath cascading waterfalls, making them truly unique experiences.

Here are all the beaches and swimming holes you’ll visit on this tour:

  • Alelele Falls
  • Venus Pools
  • Seven Sacred Pools (Oheo Pools)
  • Hamoa Beach
  • Koki Beach
  • Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach
  • Twin Falls
  • Hookipa Beach

To Try Local Goodies

In the midst of all your driving and exploring, don’t forget to stop for a bite to eat!

We’ll remind you about the best food stops throughout the tour, but you can also check out the tour highlights in the app.

Some of our favorite stops are Aunty Sandy’s for fresh-made banana bread, Coconut Glen’s for coconut milk ice cream and Halfway to Hana food stand for some snacks.

To Learn

The Road to Hana is more than just seeing, it’s about embracing the natural beauty of Maui and learning the unique history of Hawaii.

With Shaka Guide, you’ll actually learn about the history of the spots you're visiting.

You’ll leave with a deeper appreciation for this special corner of Maui.


How much you spend truly depends on what you do along the tour route, but here’s a breakdown of some costs:

  • $30.00 per car: Haleakala National Park (Oheo Pools)
  • $15.00 for adults: Garden of Eden (per person)
  • $10.00 per car: Waianapanapa State Park 
  • $5.00 per person: Waianapanapa State Park
  • $11.95 per person: Hana Lava Tube
  • $10.00 per person: Kahana Gardens
  • $15.00 per person: Lunch
  • $10.00: Local snack, like banana bread or shave ice

Safety Information

On the back road to Hana, you’ll drive along some dirt roads, over cliffs with rusty guardrails, and along narrow coastal roads.

Most rental car agreements prohibit driving on “unpaved” roads.

The drive can be done with a 2-wheel drive vehicle and most people manage it with no problems at all.

Just be aware that if you need a tow it’s expensive and will take the full day.

Also, your insurance might not cover you. It’s your call to make and you do so at your own risk. 

Learn more about the back road to Hana here

The Road to Hana has many beautiful natural wonders but it is not a theme park and can be dangerous when proper safety steps are not followed.

The following are suggestions. You are in charge of your own safety.

  • Waterfall Safety: do not go underneath any waterfall due to falling rocks.
  • Swimming and Rock Jumping: Check depth before jumping off rock into pools
  • Hiking Safety: Bring water & hike in groups, stay away from ledges
  • Driving Safety:  3-5 cars per at a time for one-lane bridges. Pull over for locals.
  • Ocean safety: Watch for rogue waves. Be aware of strong undercurrents and waves, especially during Winter months.

Start Packing!

Here’s our packing list for this tour. It may seem a little long, but remember, what you bring depends on the activities you choose to do for the day.

  • Layers and a Jacket
  • Sneakers
  • Hiking Clothes
  • Water Bottle
  • Bug Spray
  • Towel
  • Bathing Suit
  • Sandals
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun Glasses and/or Hat
  • Snacks
  • Cash - many spots are cash-only
  • Car Charger *Very Important*
  • Phone Mount

Shaka Guide’s Road to Hana By the Numbers

Let us break it down for you! This tour features:

  • 1 Lava Cave
  • 2 Cute Towns
  • 2 Gardens
  • 4 Hikes
  • 6 Beaches
  • 6 Scenic Spots
  • 6 Swimming Holes
  • 8 Waterfalls
  • 10 Hours of Fun

Malama Aina 

The Road to Hana is not a theme park. It is a rare natural resource that many locals call home.

With so many visitors driving this road every day the impact is real. In Hawaiian the word malama means “to take care” and the word aina means “land".

When you’re in Hawaii, we ask that you practice this and pick up your trash; respect the marine life, plants, and animals; and avoid spots that are unsafe.

Hawaii’s natural resources are precious, it’s up to all of us to help preserve these resources for generations by respecting the land and culture when you visit.

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

For more detailed information to help you plan check out our Reverse Road to Hana Tour suggested itinerary.

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