The Road to Hana is one of the most popular attractions in Maui — and for good reason! This winding 64-mile road with dozens of hairpin turns offers scenic views of the stunning beaches, waterfalls, and foliage that showcase the best of what Maui (and Hawaii!) has to offer. 

The Road to Hana is (at least!) a full-day experience requiring lots of planning and forward-thinking for a successful day. After spending a day on the Road to Hana, I am so happy we followed or implemented the following Road to Hana tips — it helped us maximize our time and made our day much more enjoyable! 

So, trust me when I say — these Road to Hana tips can eliminate the stress and enhance the fun for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure on Maui you’ll never forget. 

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Road to Hana Tips – Planning a Great Trip 

You might be surprised to learn that preparing for a great trip on the Road to Hana starts before you board your plane for Hawaii. These are some Road to Hana tips you’ll want to consider while at home before embarking on this iconic adventure! 

1. Create a Manageable Itinerary 

First and foremost, you will want to create an itinerary for the Road to Hana. There are dozens of stops on the Road to Hana, and it’s impossible to check them off all in one day. That said, if you don’t go into the day with a plan, there is a good chance you’ll get swept up in the popular tourist attractions and miss the most remarkable sights and hidden gems. 

Remember when planning an itinerary that quality trumps quantity. That is one of my best Road to Hana tips. It’s much better to choose a few attractions you can spend a few hours at than trying to see as much as possible, only to end up stressed and overwhelmed. 

That said, these are the places I think you can’t miss on the Road to Hana (however, spend some time researching all the stops to determine which are best for you): 

  • Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread 
  • Pipiwai Trailhead 
  • Wailua Falls 
  • Huli Huli Chicken 
  • Waiʻānapanapa State Park 

You can read my one-day Road to Hana itinerary if you want to take the guesswork out of planning an itinerary — it includes all these stops and more! 

A woman standing in a straw hat and black tank top admiring a waterfall on the Road to Hana
A cardboard carton with chicken, rice, and greens on a red sand beach on the Road to Hana.

2. Prepare for Limited Cell Service 

The Road to Hana snakes through a region of Maui that is less developed than the west side of Maui. That said, the cell service on the Road to Hana is spotty in some areas — and nonexistent in others. It’s not a good idea to rely on your phone for directions. 

There are usually signs pointing you toward popular attractions, and the road is straightforward. However, I do recommend coming prepared in case you get lost. Personally, I mapped out the directions to and from each destination on my Road to Hana itinerary on Google Maps ahead of time and took a screenshot of the route on the map and the written directions (see an example below). That way, I could always find my way without internet or cell service! 

Directions from Huli Huli Chicken to Waianapanapa State Park on Google Maps
Directions from Huli Huli Chicken to Waianapanapa State Park on Google Maps. Taking screenshots on Google Maps is one of the best Road to Hana tips.

3. Rent a Smaller Rental Car 

The Road to Hana is a winding, narrow road with several one-way stretches and bridges. It is especially narrow on the stretch past Hana to Haleakalā National Park. 

Contrary to popular belief — you don’t need a four-wheel drive vehicle on the Road to Hana. Though some parts of the road are bumpier than others, the entire road is paved (at least, to Haleakalā National Park. It’s not recommended to drive past this point). 

Unless you need a large, full-size vehicle, one of the best Road to Hana tips is to rent a small or mid-size, agile vehicle with plenty of maneuverability. This will make the narrower parts of the road easier to navigate — and it will probably be cheaper to rent, too! We rented a Dodge Charger and thought it was the perfect vehicle for the Road to Hana.

4. Make Reservations for the Black Sand Beach 

Waiʻānapanapa State Park is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) stops on the Road to Hana. This state park is home to a stunning black sand beach formed from volcanic materials and is truly unique and a sight to behold!

Sadly, many travelers miss the black sand beach at Waiʻānapanapa State Park because they don’t secure reservations. This state park requires reservations, and during the busiest times of the year, they can book up weeks in advance. 

One of the best Road to Hana tips is to set a reminder on your phone to book tickets to Waiʻānapanapa State Park one month before your Road to Hana adventure. It costs $10 per vehicle for parking plus an additional $5 per person. So, two people in one vehicle would cost $20, while four people in one vehicle would cost $30. Children three and under are free! 

The turquoise ocean, black rocks, and green foliage at Waiʻānapanapa State Park in Maui.

You will also need to choose a time slot to visit Waiʻānapanapa State Park from the following options when booking tickets: 

  • 7 AM – 10 AM 
  • 10 AM – 12:30 PM 
  • 12:30 PM – 3 PM 
  • 3 PM – 6 PM 

The state park strictly adheres to these timeslots, and you’ll need to arrive no later than 30 minutes from the beginning of the reservation period (so no later than 7:30 AM for the first timeslot, for example). It can be a little challenging because it does force you to stick to a schedule. However, with a well-planned itinerary, this shouldn’t be an issue. 

If you’re looking for more guidance on choosing a time for Waiʻānapanapa State Park, I discuss this topic in further detail in my Road to Hana itinerary.

The turquoise ocean, black sand, and green foliage at Waiʻānapanapa State Park in Maui.

5. Check the Weather Conditions 

The Road to Hana is located in a rainforest, which means, well — rain. It does rain almost daily on the Road to Hana, though it typically doesn’t last long. We experienced a little rain in the morning, but it cleared by noon or so, and we enjoyed sunny skies the rest of the day. 

However, if the forecast predicts a torrential downpour expected to last all day, it might be best to explore the Road to Hana on another day of your trip. The roads can be a little dicey when it gets wet, overcast, and foggy, but it’s also hard to enjoy the beautiful waterfalls, beaches, and hiking trails in heavy rain. However, as you can see below, the Road to Hana is still a ton of fun — even with a little rain!

A woman in a straw hat and waterproof poncho standing In front of some green foliage in Hawaii. Preparing for rain is one of the best Road to Hana tips.

6. Avoid Weekends 

The Road to Hana tends to be busier on the weekends. Though this isn’t a dealbreaker, if you can, one of the best Road to Hana trips is to make the trip on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. We went on a Thursday in May and didn’t feel like the road was too backed up or any of the attractions were too busy. 

Road to Hana Tips – What to Pack 

Alright, now that you’ve planned all the logistics about traveling the Road to Hana before arriving in Hawaii, let’s talk about how to prepare for the trip after getting there! 

Since you’ll want to hit the road early, one of the best Road to Hana tips is to pack everything you want to bring the night before so you can grab it and go. And bonus — you won’t have to wake up early to prep for your adventure! This is vacation, after all, right? 

7. Pack Water & Snacks 

You can stop for food and drinks in several places along the Road to Hana. However, they are spread out, and more tend to be centered around Hana or Waiʻānapanapa State Park, which is usually at the end of most Road to Hana itineraries.

That said, one of the best Road to Hana tips is to pack plenty of water and snacks to keep you hydrated and full. I recommend bringing a refillable water bottle filled with ice-cold water, like a Hydro Flask or a Stanley, and nutritious, filling snacks (like trail mix, protein bars, and beef sticks) to stay full between meals.

I wish we had brought more snacks! I found myself getting hungry often — we were burning a lot of calories hiking and exploring, so I should have brought more food to refuel! 

An Aloha Bar mini in front of a beautiful view in Hawaii

8. Carry Cash 

Several stops on the Road to Hana will only accept cash or charge a credit card fee for transactions under a certain threshold (for example, Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread charges a fee for transactions under $10, and a loaf of bread is $8.75). 

It’s wise to be prepared and to carry some cash — just in case. You might not need it, but it doesn’t hurt to have it either, right? $30–50 per person should be more than enough for a few snacks and lunch. 

9. Prepare for Beachgoing & Hiking

You’ll want to pack a good blend of items for both hiking and spending time at the beach since you’ll be doing some of both on the Road to Hana. It’s one of the things that makes this journey so fun and unique!

I recommend bringing a swimsuit, a beach towel, an athleticwear outfit (like workout shorts and a tank top), and either hiking boots or tennis shoes with good traction (these hiking boots are my favorite!). It’s also wise to bring a lightweight waterproof jacket if it starts to rain (and, as we mentioned earlier, it likely will) and a change of clothes if you get wet. Bringing a hat and/or sunglasses to shade your eyes from the sun can also be nice. I loved having this oversized sunhat to keep my shoulders and face protected from the sun. Oh — and of course, don’t forget sunscreen!

If you have room in your vehicle, it’s smarter to overpack than be underprepared. Nothing will put a damper on the day faster than not having dry clothes to change into after trekking in the rain or trying to hike in flip-flops since you forgot to bring hiking boots. 

A woman standing on a black sand beach in Maui wearing a straw hat and overalls.
A woman standing in a bamboo forest in Maui wearing hiking boots, black athletic shorts, a black tank top, and a straw hat.

10. Bring a Portable Charger 

One of the last Road to Hana tips regarding packing is to bring a portable charger. I mentioned earlier that you won’t get much service on the Road to Hana, but you’ll still want to have your phone to take pictures. Plus, if you are trying to get services in spotty areas, it will drain your battery. A portable charger is a must —this one is my favorite

Road to Hana Tips – Before Reaching Mile Marker Zero 

Finally — the day you have been waiting for is here. It’s time to explore the Road to Hana! Before hitting the road, here are a few tips to remember. 

11. Get an Early Start 

Starting early is imperative for a successful day on the Road to Hana. Not only will you maximize the hours of daylight you have to explore, but you’ll also beat many of the crowds — which means a clearer road and a shorter wait at popular attractions. 

The unofficial start to the Road to Hana is Paia, where you’ll want to stop for gas and breakfast (see below). I recommend arriving in Paia no later than 7:15 AM – 7:30 AM. 

  • If you’re staying in Ka’anapali or Kapalua, plan to spend an hour getting to Paia (leave the hotel no later than 6:15 AM – 6:30 AM). 
  • If you’re staying in Wailea, arriving in Paia should take about 40 minutes (leave the hotel no later than 6:30 AM – 6:45 AM). 

These are the most popular locations to stay in Maui, so it’s very likely you’ll be starting your day on the Road to Hana from one of these locations (if you haven’t booked a hotel yet — check out my complete list of the best luxury resorts in Maui). I’ll be honest — the early wake-up call might be rough, but I promise you won’t regret getting an early start on the Road to Hana! 

12. Stop for Breakfast & Coffee 

If you haven’t already, stop for coffee and breakfast in Paia. Stop by somewhere that is quick-serve, like the walk-up window at Paia Bay Coffee & Bar. We stopped here and got coffee and a bagel. It’s one of the best places to eat in Maui. 

You’ll want to start the Road to Hana with a full stomach. Depending on your itinerary, it might be several hours before lunch. Another alternative is stopping at the store and picking up some muffins, breakfast sandwiches, or another item to enjoy on the go the night before or getting coffee at your hotel. This will eliminate this stop altogether! 

A cup of iced coffee in front of Paia Bay Coffee & Bar in Paia.

13. Start with a Full Tank of Gas 

Stop at the gas station before “officially” hitting the road to start the journey on a full tank. There is a gas tank in Hana, but the gas is expensive, and you definitely don’t want to run out of gas before then. I recommend stopping at the Shell in Paia. You’ll see it right as you’re driving into town. 

Road to Hana Tips – While Enjoying the Road to Hana 

Now we’re officially on the road! Most Road to Hana tips are essential to consider before driving begins. As you can see, a lot of planning goes into making this adventure a success! However, once you’re on the road, there are still some things to keep in mind. Here are our tips for driving the Road to Hana. 

14. Drive Safely 

It goes without saying that driving safely is necessary on the Road to Hana. However, driving the Road to Hana differs slightly from your average road trip. If you’re the one behind the wheel, here are some things to think about: 

  • Remember, the Road to Hana is the only way in and out of Hana, where hundreds of locals live. They must drive on this road to go to and from their daily activities. This is their home, not a tourist attraction. Please be courteous and park legally, pay attention to safety signs, and do not trespass. 
  • If someone is driving unusually fast behind you — they are probably a local. Pull over when it is safe and let locals pass
  • There are dozens of one-way bridges on the Road to Hana. Before crossing a bridge, stop and check for oncoming traffic on the other side of the one-way bridge. You will likely need to take turns with other drivers several times during the day. 
  • You will encounter gorgeous views on the Road to Hana. It’s easy to get distracted — trust me! However, please remember to keep your eyes on the road. If you decide to pull over to admire a beautiful view or to take a picture, ensure you’re parked in a safe spot. Illegal parking is not only dangerous, but it can create traffic jams. 
Two vehicles on the Road to Hana, surrounded by green foliage.

15. Follow the Path Backwards 

Here is one of the best Road to Hana tips for avoiding crowds and backed-up roadways — drive the Road to Hana from the end to the beginning! 

Here’s what I mean. 95% of people driving the Road to Hana start at Mile Marker Zero and stop at the famous sites along the way (such as Twin Falls, Garden of Eden, etc.). So, when you arrive at each of these spots — almost every tourist on the Road to Hana will be there. 

Instead, spend the first part of your day on the Road to Hana on the road and drive to the final point on the road first (for most people, this happens to be Pipiwai Trail). Then, work backwards. Not only will you have most of the drive knocked out in the morning while you’re fresh, but you’ll also be able to maximize your time by dodging many of the crowds. Win-win! 

This “backward” strategy is how my Road to Hana one-day itinerary is structured. If you want to see an example of this plan in action — be sure to check it out! 

16. Finish by Sunset 

As I’ve already shared, the Road to Hana is filled with several narrow turns, one-way bridges, and challenging driving conditions. Personally, it’s not something I would attempt at night. 

That said, try to arrive back at Mile Marker Zero (the beginning/end of the Road to Hana) by sunset. This time can vary depending on the season, but it’s usually between 5:45 PM (in the winter) and 7:15 PM (in the summer).  

17. Enjoy the Journey 

While it’s certainly helpful to remember all these Road to Hana tips to enjoy one of Maui’s most popular attractions, it’s most important to enjoy the experience. 

Be sure to go slowly, leave some room in your itinerary to explore off-the-beaten path, and take tons of pictures to remember your day on the Road to Hana. It certainly will be a day you’ll remember forever! 

FAQs – Road to Hana Tips & Tricks

How do I get the most out of the Road to Hana?

The best way to get the most out of a day on the Road to Hana is preparing an itinerary ahead of time, packing the night before, getting an early start, and driving the Road to Hana “backward” — meaning, driving to the end first and working backward when visiting the stops and attractions to avoid crowds.

What time should you start the Road to Hana?

You should start the Road to Hana no later than 8 AM. This means you’ll need to leave your hotel on the west side of Maui around 6:30 AM if you’d like to stop in Paia for gas, coffee, and breakfast before arriving at Mile Marker Zero — the official start of the Road to Hana.

Is the Road to Hana a difficult drive?

The Road to Hana is a challenging drive, with more than 50 miles of one-lane bridges, steep drop-offs, and switchbacks. It should only be attempted by confident drivers who are willing to devote adequate attention to the drive and keep their eyes on the road.

What is the best day of week to drive the Road to Hana?

The Road to Hana tends to be slightly less busy on weekdays (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday). However, this attraction is always busy, as it’s one of the best things to do on Maui, so it’s prudent to expect crowds regardless of the day of the week.

Plan a Hassle-Free Experience with These Road to Hana Tips & Tricks

There is no doubt about it — the Road to Hana is best experienced if you go in with a plan and follow these Road to Hana tips for a seamless adventure. Have an amazing time enjoying this spectacular natural attraction in Maui!

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Brit! I'm a writer from Phoenix, AZ who loves coffee, golden retriever puppies, and obviously, travel! I help ordinary women (like me!) dream, plan, and do extraordinary travel experiences.