Reverse Road to Hana

Reverse Road to Hana

Shaka Guide's Reverse Road to Hana Itinerary

Shaka Guide

The Road to Hana is one of the most famous excursions in Maui. This road trip along Hana Highway passes dozens of:

  • waterfalls
  • lush beaches
  • tropical forests
  • a lava cave, and
  • stunning scenic spots.

You can swim beneath waterfalls, hike through rainforests and try some local grinds (two words: banana bread) along the way.

Road to Hana Map with Mile Markers

road to hana map in Hawaii with mile markers

With Shaka Guide, you’ll have the freedom to visit the stops you want, spend as much time as you’d like, and skip the ones you don’t.

Our Reverse Road to Hana tour takes you to the rarely discovered backside of Hana.

With 127 narration points and over 30 stops, this tour takes between 10-12 hours to complete.

It begins in Kula Town and travels to Paia Town, in the opposite direction of the traditional Road to Hana.

There are some serious pros to taking the tour in the "backward" direction:

  1. You visit some of the most popular sites before the crowds -- think about it, if everyone is starting the tour in the morning, everyone arrives at Seven Sacred Pools (Oheo Gulch) around the same time. On this tour, this will be one of the first stops.
  2. You’ll arrive in Hana earlier in the day. It’s the perfect stop for lunch!
  3. You will avoid traffic because you’re traveling in the opposite direction from everyone else!

We highly recommend you start the tour early, by 8:00 a.m.

If you’re staying in Lahaina or Kaanapali in West Maui, the drive to the starting point for the Reverse Road to Hana is about an hour away.

Don’t forget to include that extra time while you’re planning your day.

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RELATED: Which Road to Hana Tour is Right for You?

Important Information for Driving the Back Road to Hana

On the back road to Hana (also known as the reverse Road to Hana or driving the Road to Hana backward), 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

Debating which tour to take? Check out our suggested Classic Road to Hana Itinerary and Loop Road to Hana Itinerary. And, here's our tour comparison to help you decide

RELATED: Is the Road to Hana Dangerous?

reverse road to hana tour map

Recommended Start Time

We highly recommend you start the tour in Kula by 8:00 a.m., especially if you’re traveling from West Maui (the major resort areas of Lahaina and Kaanapali).

If you don’t start early enough, there’s a chance you’ll be driving the road at night. This is definitely doable, it’s just a matter of preference.

Tour Stops

Natural Sea Arch

Approximate time: 5 minutes

Begin the day with a scenic site and geologic wonder! As you drive along this country road you’ll soon spot a rock formation in the ocean.

This sea arch was created by an ancient dried lava flow that has carved out a hole by the ocean’s unrelenting waves.

Huakini Beach

Approximate time: 30 minutes

There’s a short walk to the shore, and when you get there you’ll notice it’s different from the other beaches on this tour.

The beach is filled with rocks! Although you won’t feel sand between your toes, stop and listen as the waves crash onto these rocks.

You’ll hear a loud rumbling if the conditions are right.

RELATED: Road to Hana Maps

View of Nu’u Bay & Haleakala

Approximate time: 10 minutes

Nuu bay grasslands and seaBeautiful views along the backside of Hana

This is just one of the first beautiful views that the tour has to offer! This windy spot offers views of Nu’u Bay and Mount Haleakala. 

Alelele Falls

Approximate time: 20 minutes

Your first of nine waterfalls for the day! Visiting Alelele Falls requires a short hike that crosses a stream, but other than that, it’s pretty accessible.

The falls are roughly 50 feet tall and there’s a pool for you to swim in.

If you’re looking to get to Seven Sacred Pools or Venus Pools (both a few stops away) skip this stop -- those are both great swimming holes as well.

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Charles Lindbergh's Grave

Approximate time: 10 minutes

Just before Haleakala in a remote graveyard is the final resting place of Charles Lindbergh.

If you’re not familiar with this famous figure, Lindberg was an aviator known for making a nonstop flight from New York to Paris.

In 1972, he was diagnosed with lymphoma and after receiving various treatments in New York to no avail, he decided to spend the remainder of his life on Maui.

Oheo Gulch aka Pools of ‘Ohe’o aka Seven Sacred Pools (In Haleakala National Park)

Approximate time: 1+ hours

This is by far one of the most popular stops on the Road to Hana.

Oheo Gulch, also known as Pools of ‘Ohe’o and Seven Sacred Pools, is a series of cascading waterfalls that lead to pristine swimming holes.

This is the perfect place to spend some time, especially since you’ll arrive before the crowds.

Note: There’s a $30 entrance fee per car to enter Haleakala National Park.

RELATED: Seven Sacred Pools Travel Guide

Pipiwai Trail (In Haleakala National Park)

Approximate time: 2 hours

bamboo shootsViews along the Pipiwai Trail

After your swim, it’s time to work up a sweat! There’s a three-and-a-half-mile rainforest trail that offers beautiful views of two waterfalls and a bamboo forest.

The hike is rated moderate and takes about 2 hours to complete, if you’re short on time, or looking for a family-friendly option, hike to the first lookout point where you can see Waimoku Falls.

From there, turn around and continue on the tour.

NOTE: There’s a $30 entrance fee per car to enter Haleakala National Park.

RELATED: Pipiwai Trail & Waimoku Falls Travel Guide

Venus Pools

Approximate time: 30 minutes

Just after Haleakala National Park where you’ll find Seven Sacred Pools, we have another secret swimming hole for you to check out.

This is a wonderful alternative to Seven Sacred Pools because it is usually uncrowded and you can also do some rock jumping.

Sometimes the waterfall is dry, but you can still swim in the pool below.

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Look out for Wailua Falls

Approximate time: 1 minute

As you’re driving look out for Wailua Falls along the road. It’s a breathtaking, 80-foot waterfall. The best view is from the right of the bridge.

Be mindful of other drivers on the road as you keep an eye out.

Hamoa Beach

Approximate time: 30 minutes

Want to sit back and relax for a little? This is a perfect family beach because of the protected cove and the large sandy area.

If the waves aren’t too strong, there is some pretty decent snorkeling on the far left side of the cove.

To access the beach, park next to the road and take the set of stairs down to the sand.

RELATED: Road to Hana: Scenic Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride

reverse road to hana tour

Koki Beach

Approximate time: 30 minutes

Now, take a few minutes to lie down and relax at Koki Beach. One interesting feature of this spot is the large hill beside it.

Hawaiians have a name for this spot – it’s called Ka Iwi o Pele, which means the bones of pele.

This hill is a cinder cone that erupted lava just before Mount Haleakala went dormant.

Hasegawa General Store

Approximate time: 5 minutes

This general store has been owned and operated by the same family since 1910. It has everything from snacks to souvenirs. It’s a great place to stop to pick up food and drinks for the road.

Note the only gas station in Hana is next door to the general store. This is a good spot to fill the tank for the road ahead.

Hana Town

Approximate time: 1 hour

You made it to Hana -- that was fast! Don’t worry, there are still loads to see. We recommend you grab a bite to eat here in Hana, there are loads of options to choose from.

NOTE: Visitors should not go to the Red Sand beach. Many years of overuse have caused erosion resulting in a dangerous hike along cliffs to and from the beach.

RELATED: Hana's History

Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach

IMPORTANT: As of 3/1/2021 reservations are required to visit Waianapanapa State Park. See more below

Approximate time: 45 minutes

black sands with feetWaianapanapa Black Sand Beach, Maui

Visit one of Maui’s only black-sand beaches. Created when hot lava shattered in contact with the ocean, this beach is unlike any others on the Road to Hana.

While you’re there, look out for the freshwater cave that leads to the ocean, a blowhole that shoots water into the air, a sea arch formed from erosion, and a hiking trail to ancient burial grounds.

This is a great spot to spend some time, stretching your legs, lying in the sun, and even having a picnic.

As of 3/1/2021 reservations are required to visit Waianapanapa State Park. You can book reservations up to 30 days in advance. NO SAME-DAY RESERVATIONS ARE ALLOWED. The entry price is $10 to park AND $5 per person.

Make your reservation here: www.gowaianapanapa.comTo learn how to plan your day based on your reservation time, click here. 

RELATED: Waianapanapa State Park Travel Guide

Kahanu Gardens

Approximate time: 45 minutes

More than just a garden, Kahanu Gardens is also a cultural site and a National Historic Landmark.

Here, the focus is on plants of value to Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

You’ll learn about the connection between the ancient Hawaiians and the land.

The garden is also home to a thatched canoe house and one of the largest heiau (or temples) in all of Polynesia.

NOTE: There is an admission fee to enter the garden.

Look Out for Makapipi Falls

Approximate time: 1 minute

You don’t need to stop, but look out for a waterfall on the side of the road. Most people drive by and don’t even notice it’s there!

You’ll see it under the bridge. As you look for the waterfall, please be mindful of the other drivers on the road.

Also, if you’re traveling in the summer months and don’t see the falls, it could be because they’ve dried up.

NOTE: Do not park next to the falls! Drive past the falls a ways to park, then walk back.

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Secret Lava Tube Cave

Approximate time: 15 minutes

As we continue along Hana Highway, we’ll stop by a lava cave hidden on the side of the road.

This cave was formed when hot lava from an eruption cooled and hardened on the exterior, while it continued flowing in the inner core.

After the lava drained out the hardened exterior shell remained, forming a cave.

The entrance to the cave is small but it quickly opens up to where you can easily stand up.

NOTE: Please keep low and watch your head. The rocks in this cave can be sharp.

RELATED: Drive the Road to Hana Like a Pro with these Tips


Waikani Falls (3 Bears)

Approximate time: N/A - just drive by

Waikani Falls is actually a series of three waterfalls, also known by its nickname -- the Three Bears Falls. Don’t worry, there are no bears in Hawaii.

The falls likely got this nickname because the three falls have varying heights: short, medium, and tall, just like the family of bears in the children’s story Goldilocks and the Three Bears. 

NOTE: Do not stop at the falls! There is no parking. 

Wailua State Wayside Park

Approximate time: 15 minutes

Wailua Valley State Wayside Park is not much of a park but more like an overlook. Here you can get an excellent view of little Wailua Town and a famous church called the “coral miracle church”.

When you get to the overlook you will see the Haleakala Volcano behind you. You may even get lucky and see a waterfall or two cascading down in the distance.

Halfway to Hana Food Stand

Approximate time: 20 minutes

halfway road to hana signHalfway to Hana Food Stand, stop for some snacks for the rest of the trip; dronepicr, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Looking to grab a snack for the road? Stop at Halfway to Hana Food Stand.

This snack shop also has fresh banana bread, but it also offers shaved ice, lunch items like burgers and sandwiches, and small bites like fruits and chips.

Keanae Valley Overlook

Approximate time: 10 minutes

Pull over for an amazing overlook of the Ke’anae Peninsula. You will see a large shoulder on the left that provides a great birds-eye view of the peninsula.

Notice the many taro patches that dot the landscape. Don’t worry, you’ll visit this peninsula shortly.

Ke’anae Peninsula

Approximate time: 10 minutes

peninsula overiewKe’anae Peninsula; Navin75, CC BY SA 2.0, via Flickr

The Keanae Peninsula is a short detour off of Hana Highway, but it’s well worth the time for its stunning views of the ocean ripping through jagged lava rock.

There are also some clean public restrooms near the peninsula.

Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread

Approximate time: 15 minutes

As you’re leaving the Keanae Peninsula you’ll spot Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread on the left side of the road.

Aunty Sandy’s serves up warm loaves of banana bread that are made fresh, daily. We highly recommend you stop for a bite.

Plus, at this point, if you haven’t had anything to eat since Hana Town, you’re probably starting to feel a bit hungry and we still have a ways to go before we make it to the next major food stop in Paia Town.

Ke’anae Arboretum

Approximate time: 30 minutes

Perhaps you’ve heard of the rainbow eucalyptus trees on the Road to Hana?

If you’re looking to see these colorful trees up close, here’s the spot!

The Ke’anae Arboretum is free and open to the public.

NOTE: there is a bit of a hike on a paved path to get there.

RELATED: 15 Family-Friendly Activities in Maui

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Nua'ailua View Point

Approximate time: 5 minutes

Pull over to view sheer cliffs and crashing surf at Nua’ailua Bay.

Honomanu Bay View

Approximate time: 5 minutes

Here is the pullout for Honomanu Bay where you can park your car, and cross the street for a good view of the bay.

Bathroom Break at Kaumahina State Park

Approximate time: 10 minutes

This well-maintained park is a great place to stretch your legs and use the restroom.

This well-maintained park is a great place to stretch your legs and use the restroom.

It’s not the cleanest restroom along the road, so if you can wait we recommend holding off until you reach Paia Town.

Garden of Eden

Approximate time: 1 hour

The Garden of Eden is a family-friendly spot with a variety of exotic plants from tropical rainforests throughout the world.

While you’re there, you’ll see stunning coastal views and catch a glimpse of the Keopuka rock, which was featured in the opening scene of Jurassic Park.

NOTE: There is an admission fee to enter the Arboretum.

RELATED: The Ultimate Maui Travel Guide

Waikamoi Ridge Trail

Approximate time: 30 minutes

bambooWaikamoi Ridge Trail, a family-friendly hike on the Road to Hana; Allie_Caulfield, CC BY 2.0 via Flickr 

This family-friendly trail is a short, three-quarter-mile loop that takes you through a forest of giant eucalyptus and mahogany trees.

Stop here if you need to stretch your legs and want to get in a quick walk.

Twin Falls

Approximate time: 30 minutes

You’ve reached the last waterfall of the day! Unbeknownst to most, there are actually three different falls in the area -- Twin Falls, the most easily accessible, rope swing, and caves.

Each requires a hike and most people just quickly stop at Twin Falls for a picture or a quick dip in the swimming hole.

It’s beautiful falls and is a great place to end your day if you’re looking to get one more swim in.


Approximate time: 10 minutes

During the months between December and March, when the wind and ocean conditions are just right, Jaws can produce waves as high as 70 feet!

There are many big wave competitions held here every year that attract the best surfers from around the world.

However, most of the time this beach has little to no waves. Unless it’s winter and you are sure that Jaws is “breaking” we suggest you skip this beach and keep driving.

NOTE: To access Jaws you will need a four-wheel drive vehicle for a muddy dirt road.

Hookipa Beach

Approximate time: 10 minutes

The consistent strong winds and good waves here, make Ho’okipa a world-famous beach for windsurfing and kite surfing.

You can stop here briefly to check out the surfers and watch the sunset!

There is a great view from the parking lot above that overlooks the beach.

Paia Town

Approximate time: 30 minutes

You made it! You conquered the Road to Hana. Now that you’re in Paia, may we suggest you unwind with a dinner at one of this seaside town’s quaint restaurants.

Check out the tour highlights in the app if you need some restaurant recommendations.

From here, you can head back to your hotel in West Maui (Kaanapali or Lahaina) which will take about 45 minutes.

RELATED: Paia Tour Travel Guide


The Road to Hana is a magical journey filled with history, culture, scenic spots, and waterfalls making for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

We are grateful you’ve chosen Shaka Guide to help create lasting memories.

We hope that amid your full-day adventure, you take time to step back and appreciate the natural beauty of Maui.

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Ready to take the tour? Check out Shaka Guide's Reverse Road to Hana Tour!

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.

Ready to take the Reverse Road to Hana Tour? Here's everything you need to know before you go! 

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