Road To Hana: Guide To Having An Epic Driving Tour
Okay, with three different Road to Hana tours we're kinda Road To Hana guide experts at this point. We know driving the road can be intimidating for first-timers, but don't let that stop you!
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).
Pro tip: Buy the Maui Bundle and get all 6 Shaka Guide Tours for $29.99
Driving & Directions
When you're using Shaka Guide as your Road to Hana Guide, directions and stories play automatically through your car speakers as you go! As I mentioned, Shaka Guide offers three different Road to Hana Driving Tours. Each unique in their own way. So, one is bound to be the perfect Road to Hana guide for your adventure. Any of them will guide you using the your GPS location. No need to worry about directions at all!
nlang06 / Pixabay
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 Approximate one-way drive times to Paia where the tours get started:
20 minutes from Kahului
30 minutes from Kihei
1 hour from Lahaina and Kaanapali
Depending on which route you take, the total drive times will vary. You can check the chart above more specifics. Plan to spend about 10-12 hours total with stops.
For the most part, the road conditions on Hana Highway are 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 deteriorates 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 occasions, people have bottomed-out their cars by accidentally driving into holes in the grass. Look carefully and avoid this. But if this misfortune does happen to you, find rocks and tree branches to stick under the stuck tire. This will provide traction for the tire and allow you to steer the car carefully out of the hole.
Road to Hana; Abbs Johnson / Unsplash
Crossing One-lane Bridges
You’ll have to cross many many one-lane bridges.
Roll down 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. Also, be sure to let locals pass. Remember there are residents that must drive this one-lane highway daily.
For more on Road to Hana driving etiquette click here.
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.
Cash is king! Although there are places to buy food, drinks, and gas on Road to Hana, most places only take cash. Especially the smaller fruit and snack stands you'll find scattered along the drive. And, trust us, they're really hard to resist!
Hana Belt Road; Jet Lowe / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
Do You Need A Road To Hana Guide Or Not?
Well, ultimately it's up to you. We sure are partial to the Shaka Guide Road to Hana tours. But, if you don't want to take our word for it, cruise on over the app store and check out the thousands of 5-star reviews. You might not need a Road to Hana guide in the physical sense, but having our app will help you learn more about the spots you're visiting and give you useful safety tips, tell you where to stop, and give you instructions for how to plan your day.