Road to Hana Essential Guide
So you want to make it a day trip driving the Road to Hana? Great idea! Read this article and know what you need to prepare for this epic road trip.
When we talk about Road to Hana, we mean the scenic stretch of Hana Highway that begins as you approach Paia Town from Kahului, all the way to the turnaround-point at Kipahulu, inside Haleakala National Park (see why you shouldn’t drive the entire Hana Highway).
Driving & Directions
Shaka Guide’s Road to Hana Driving Tour starts in Kahului Town (next to Costco). It’ll guide you to Paia town, and all the way to the turnaround point, then guide you back to Kahului. The GPS-enabled tour provides you directions and guide you to places. You will not need to worry about directions at all.
It’s about 2 ½ hours of straight driving from Paia Town to the turnaround-point at Kipahulu. That makes it a total of 5 hours of drive time. On top of that, you need to add the drive time from your hotel to Paia Town (One-way : 20 minutes from Kahului, 30 minutes from Kihei and 1 hour from Lahaina and Kaanapali).
The 5-hour scenic drive will cover about 120 miles round-trip (not including from your hotel to Paia Town).
For the most part, the road condition on Hana Highway is good. The roads are well-paved and well-maintained. Safety guardrails are in place on the highway wherever there is a concern for going off the road. However, the federal highway ends outside of Hana Town towards Kipahulu. So the stretch of highway just before you reach Kipahulu in the Haleakala National Park goes from 2-lane road to 1-lane road. The road condition further deteriorate past Kipahulu.
Narrow & Windy Roads
This probably is more of a safety concern for driving the Road to Hana than the road condition. Not only are there hundreds of hairpin turns on the highway, the road also very gets narrow at certain areas. To a point only 1 car can pass. The car going the opposite direction will need to pull off to the side of the road as much as possible to make room for the other car to pass. Surprisingly though, there aren’t many accidents on the Road to Hana over the years. Probably because most people come knowing to be extra careful.
Warning about bottom-outs : As mentioned before, on the stretch of Road to Hana where there’s only 1-lane road, you might need to pull off to the side of the road to yield the other car. On rare occasion, people have bottomed-out their cars by accidentally driving into holes in the grass. Look carefully at where you go and avoid this if you can. But if this misfortune does happen to you, find rocks and tree branches and stick them under the stuck tire. This will provide traction for the tire and allow you to steer the car carefully out of the hole.
Crossing One-lane Bridges
You’ll have to cross many many one-lane bridges. The tip : Be courteous and show your Shaka. There’s an unspoken rule that between 5-10 cars going the same direction pass at one time, then it’s the other side’s turn. Roll off your window to wave at the other car if you want to let them go first. And when people yield at you, give them a Shaka. That’s the way we say thanks here in Hawaii.
What happens when nature calls? Don't worry. There are restrooms spread out on the Highway about every 30 minutes. Here is a short list of restroom stops:
• Kaumahina State Park • Pua’a ka’a state wayside park • Keanae Peninsula Park • Nahiku Marketplace (porta-potties) • Waianapanapa State Park • Hana Bay • Oheo Pools- Kipahulu Park
There is a gas station is at Paia Town. The next station is 50 miles away in Hana Town. Advice : Make sure your car is filled up before the drive.
Although there are places to buy food, drinks and gas on Road to Hana, most places only take cash.
Download Shaka Guide App for GPS-based tours of Hawai'i.