Road to Heavenly Hana Driving Tips
1. Bring bug spray! Yes, Hana has mosquitoes and other unfriendly buggers. They tend to congregate near streams and still water as well as near fruit trees. If you see fruit rotting on the ground, you can be assured that hundreds of mosquitoes are having a good old time on them.
2. Stay on paths. If you’re hiking, remain on the regular paths. Follow them for your own safety and to keep away from the bugs. You’ll get more bites walking through grass and shrubs than you would on a flat dirt path. You also are less likely to trespass or run into a spider web.
3. Rent a convertible car. Maui is great for convertibles, but the Road to Hana is the best part. If you drive with the top down, be prepared for a better viewing experience, a few more bugs, and a 99% chance of having to pull over at one point or another for rain. When you do pull over, get off of the road completely. Also, do it slowly and safely. Getting a little wet is worth your not going off a cliff or hitting another car around a bend. Wait till it’s safe to pull over. If you don’t think you are willing to get a little wet, keep the top up.
4. Pack a lunch and bring plenty of water. Your dining choices in Hana are limited. The best thing to do is stop along the Road th Hana and have a picnic with your friends and family.
5. Bring your camera and plenty of film or (memory card space.) You’ll no doubtedly get some incredible pictures along the way. It’s the worst getting to a great spot and running out of film, having to delete other good images, or realize your battery is too low.
6. Bring hiking shoes. All of the hiking is superb in and around Hana. Bring hiking shoes that you don’t care much about. You may find yourself traversing streams or walking through thick mud. If you’re prone to bug bites, wear high socks and bug repellant. Decide ahead of time where the best places are to go and pick one of the hikes. The best way to find a hiking trail that you’ll never forget is to ask a Maui local to recommend one to you.
7. Don’t leave valuables in the car. This goes for anywhere in Maui. You may notice when you park in the dirt at certain sights that there’s broken glass on the ground. The vast deep vegetation of your surroundings is the perfect place for Maui thieves to sit and wait for unsuspecting tourists to pull up. Leave your valuables at home. Even the trunk of your car is not safe from a determined thief. Remember that Maui rental cars are easy to spot, and make for obvious prey. Don’t take any risk of being a victim by leaving your valuables at home or taking them with you from the car.
8. Stay the night. Without a doubt, the best way to enjoy Hana is by staying overnight. Though this can be difficult seeing that most places have a minimum night stay, you can find some places that take exception. If you do this, you will find that you’ll miss the masses and have plenty of time to appreciate the beauty around you. Camping in Hana is another option. You can do this for one night if you’d like and it’s the best price you’ll get for a stay in Maui. Deciding to stay a night or two? Call Hana Camp Gear, we’re waiting for you. Call us for more information: (800) 332-4022. Aloha.
9. Drive slowly and take turns at the wheel. The road to Hana is dangerous. With approximately 600 curve and 54 bridges, the Road to Hana can bring you closer to heaven in more ways than one. With winding roads, blind turns, constant traffic, distracting views, narrow one-lane roads, cliffs, and wet conditions, Hana Highway has proven its worth as a danger with many fatalities. Take your time, and make sure the driver is focusing on the road. The road is long and offers many chances to pull over and take a break or switch drivers. Be aware of your review mirror. Local residents do not travel the road as slowly as you will. Find a shoulder on the road to pull over and kindly let the locals pass. Remember: Getting to Hana is not the gem of this trip; everything along the way is your reward.
10. Research a Road to Hana Map and pick your stops before hand. Buy a map, print on from the web, get a book, or pick up some free maps and guides at the magazine and pamphlet stands. Read up on the spots that interest you the most and write down the mile marker. If you know where you’d like to go before hand, you won’t miss anything important to you. Just because the Road to Hana is FREE, don’t use this as an excuse to see everything. It’s in your best interest to absorb a few of your favorite stops along the way instead or rushing through the journey.
11. Don’t trespass. See our Road to Hana etiquette below. This is an important tip. An angry Hana local can ruin your trip really quickly.
12. Get the banana bread. Some of the roadside stands are better than others, but all of them are good.
They bake their breads fresh everyday, and sell so much of it, that they often bake through out the day. Fresh Hana Banana Bread isn’t cheap, but is a delicacy while on the road.
13. Leave early. The earlier the better. The Road to Heavenly Hana is full of tourists throughout the day, but if you leave before them, you can beat the crowds. We suggest that you get up early and drive to some of the last sights along the way and work your way backwards. Another way to do it is drive the backside of Haleakala first (if the road is open) and go in the opposite direction.
14. Get back before it gets dark. Driving the Road to Hana isn’t fun in the dark. The whole point of making this journey is for the sightseeing, so give yourself a couple hours to leave before darkness falls. You can always rent camping gear from Hana Camp Gear and spend the night in Hana. Better to take a couple of days and enjoy as much as you can.
15. Bring rain slicks or at least a towel. Hana is lush and tropical for good reason. Hana
is one of the most rained on places on Earth, so be prepared with something to dry off with and some protection if you plan on walking around a lot.
16. Don’t swim at the top of a waterfall.
You’ve seen pictures of people basking on the rocks and swimming in a pool above a waterfall. Some of these spots have been closed to the public because of fatalities. Others are still open, but dangerous. This warning is not reserved for just the big waterfalls. One of our editors knows from experience how dangerous some of the smaller ones are. He was swept over and almost killed by a seemingly harmless fall.
17. Check the weather service. If it’s been raining a lot lately, there could be flash floods. These floods come without warning and are extremely dangerous. They originate high in the hills and mountains, so you could be sitting in the sun one moment and swept away the next. This is very important!!
18. Check for road closures. Due to landslides and too much rain, certain parts of the road could be closed. If you check ahead of time, you can avoid a wasted trip.
21. Fill your gas tank to the top. Gas is even more expensive in Hana, if you can believe it. Plus there are no gas stations along the way from Paia to Hana. Check current local Maui gas prices.
20. Don’t plan any other activities for the same day. You may want to limit your next day’s activities as well. It will take you a full day to enjoy the Road to Hana. We suggest that if you plan on relaxing and having a mellow beach day, you make it for the day after Hana. Even though you’ll be sitting still and driving most of the time, the Road to Hana has a tendency to overwhelm the senses and exhaust everyone involved.
21. Don’t try and pack everything into one day. One thing we often see tourist do is rush from one site to the next. I guess this is a common characteristic of the average tourist: Conquer all the sights possible! Take things Maui style and choose a few things to see ahead of time, or just wing it, and stay where you like. You’ll have a much more pleasant time by soaking in a couple falls and doing some swimming with a picnic lunch than you would by rushing to every waterfall. If you follow our advice, you’ll notice other Maui visitors stopping for a couple peaks then rushing off to the next. If you stay at one place for long enough, you may find yourself completely alone with your own piece of heaven. Besides all of this, getting to Hana should not be your main objective.
There’s a reason they call this incredible experience “The Road to Hana.” We recommend you drive and see things until you feel you’ve had half of what you want, and then turn back. It’s all about the journey, not so much about the destination. Shake off the mainland, and learn how to relax. Your friends back home will notice that you’ve gained more than just a Tan while in Maui.