• Jack Solomon

Driving the Road to Hana in 1 Day

Want to drive the Road to Hana in one day? You can do it! 

Read this article for tips that will help you pack in a full day of fun on this amazing drive!

Although the Hana Highway (State Highway 360) starts in downtown Kahului Maui (where the airport is), the scenic portion of the highway starts as you approach Paia Town on the north shore. 

From Paia to the turnaround-point on Road to Hana at Kipahulu, it’s about 2 ½ hours drive one-way, which makes it an 5-hourdrive round trip! And that’s driving non-stop. With stops, you need to budget around 8-12 hours for the Road to Hana. Keep reading to know how to do it all 1 day.

1.    Start Early

Good to know: The better stops of Road to Hana are located towards the turnaround point at Kipahulu. Therefore, it’s important that you start your day early to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the drive and explore the wonderful stops along the way. 

Rule of Thumb: Ideally, you will want to reach Paia Town by 8am. That way you’ll have the good part of your day to enjoy the drive. If your hotel or condo is located in West Maui (Kaanapali, Lahaina or areas nearby), remember that it takes an hour or so to get to Paia (and you might run into some commuting traffic). So you should try to leave at least by 7am from West Maui.

2.    Skip the So-So stops

Good to Know : There are so many places to stop on the Road to Hana, you just can’t do it all. Also, some of the stops on Road to Hana are either like the others down the road, or are mediocre in comparison to the really good ones. 

Rule of Thumb : Plan for your trip. Know the best stops on the Road to Hana if you are visiting for the first time. And if you are returning for subsequent visits, consider some of the less trodden paths. To help you maximize your time and experience, take Shaka Guide's GPS driving tour that guides you to all the best stops and things to do.    

3. Focus on the Whole-Day experience

Good to Know : You can get a taste of many Road to Hana stops without going very far. So instead of spending a lot of time at a few stops, focus your experience on what you will see and do from the entire day. 

Rule of Thumb: Remember that there are 9 waterfalls, 10 viewpoints and 6 hikes to do on the Road to Hana. It’s ok if you don’t do them all. And it’s ok if you only hike the first mile of the an 5-mile hike.

The point is not to conquer but to enjoy. 


4.    Avoid Driving in the Dark

Good to Know : Being in the tropics, Hawaii’s sunrise and sunset times are pretty consistent throughout the year, with about an 1 hour difference from winter to summer. In general, the sun sets around 6:30pm in winter, and 7:30pm in summer. However, since Road to Hana winds through some thick forested areas, the light might go out earlier in those areas.

Rule of Thumb : For your safety, avoid driving in the dark on Road to Hana. Ever ride on a roller coaster in the dark? The experience is comparable, except you are driving the roller coaster this time! To avoid driving in the dark, try to leave Kipahulu by at least 4pm. This way, you can enjoy a relaxing return drive, with the possibility of stopping at a few places that you might have missed earlier. 

Download Shaka Guide App for GPS-based tours of Hawai'i.