Know Before You Go, Shaka Guide's Loop Road to Hana Tour
Caution for Summer 2021: There are currently an overwhelming number of visitors on the Road to Hana. You’re likely to get stuck in traffic, have trouble parking, and experience large crowds. We recommend you postpone your visit or start your trip in the early morning or afternoon to avoid peak hours.There is only one road into and out of Hana. Locals have to drive this road everyday and the thousands of daily drivers on this one-lane highway greatly impacts 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 Maui, click here. https://www.shakaguide.com/planyourtrip/hawaii/10-ways-to-be-a-safe-and-responsible-traveler-in-hawaii
On Shaka Guide’s Loop 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 visit the rarely explored backside of Hana. Because this tour takes roughly ten hours to complete (no joke!), there’s a lot you need to know to start planning and make the most of your day. So buckle up, we’ve got it all outlined here for you.
You’re about to go on an awesome adventure to Hana and beyond, but firstthere are a few things you should know about the tour before you get started.
- Start the tour in Kahului near the airport and end in Kula Town, past Hana and Haleakala National Park.
- If you’re staying in West Maui in the resort towns of Kaanapali or Lahaina, plan to spend 45 minutes driving to the start of the tour in Kahului.
- Entrance to Haleakala National Park (Seven Sacred Pool/Oheo Pools) is $30 per car — you can pay with cash or credit. The park closes at 5:00 p.m. with gates closing at 4:30 p.m. (this is one of the last stops on the tour, plan accordingly).
- IMPORTANT: Due to Covid-19, Seven Sacred Pools (Pools of ‘Oʻheo) are closed.
- 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 allowed, $5 for pedestrian walk-ins, $10 per car. Book here: www.gowaianapanapa.com.
- The Hana Lava Tube, Garden of Eden and Kahana Gardens close at 4 p.m. Each of these attractions has an entrance fee — see more below under budgeting.
- There is one hike on this tour -- Wailua Iki Falls -- that is technically on property owned by EMI (East Maui Irrigation). You’ll see no trespassing signs, however, it’s frequently done by locals. We’ll let you make the call.
- 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.
What to Expect
To Get An Early Start
We recommend starting the tour in Kahului 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.
To Spend 10-12 Hours Exploring
If you wanted 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, sure 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 do 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!
Not only will you stop at multiple beaches along the Road to Hana, 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:
- Hookipa Beach
- Twin Falls
- Wailua Iki Falls
- Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach
- Koki Beach
- Hamoa Beach
- Seven Sacred Pools (Oheo Pools)
- Venus Pools
- Alelele Falls
Pro Tip! The best waterfall and swimming is toward the end of the tour. So some early stops you can just check out briefly. This saves time so you can swim and relax at better waterfalls and swimming holes later in the day.
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.
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)
- $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
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.
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.
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
- Hiking Clothes
- Water Bottle
- Bug Spray
- Bathing Suit
- Sun Glasses and/or Hat
- 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
- 7 Swimming Holes
- 9 Waterfalls
- 10 Hours of Fun
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 everyday 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 aina 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more detailed information to help you plan check out our Loop Road to Hana Tour suggested itinerary.