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Hana Highway, Maui
Hookipa Beach windsurfer
Hana Highway bridge, Maui
Garden of Eden Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii
Hana Highway, Maui
Maui whale watching
Maui valley view
Karmann Ghia, Maui
Hana, Maui
Wananalua Church, Hana Maui
St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Hana, Maui
Tutu snack shop Hana, Maui
Hana Bay, Maui
Charles Lindbergh grave Maui
Kipahulu, Hana Highway, Maui

Hawaii: The road to Hana

We’ve made this drive on the Hana Highway twice, each time to a different destination on the eastern shore of Maui. Since this is Hawaii, “highway” is an exaggeration. Sometimes the road is so narrow that two cars can barely pass, and there are dozens of one-lane bridges along the way — as well as hundreds of curves. But those curves take you on a long, slow route through rainforests and along cliffs overlooking the bright blue Pacific, past waterfalls and under tree canopies. It will take at least three hours to make the 52-mile drive to Hana from Kahului, but expect a longer trip to make time for stops at pullouts and overlooks.

Hana HighwayOur first drive to Hana in late 2009 was a last-minute decision, and we started in the early afternoon. We didn’t even stop in Hana on this trip — we actually drove for another hour to find the remote grave of aviator Charles Lindbergh in Kipahulu, which is pretty much the end of the road. The small graveyard of the Palapala Hoomau Church is hidden well off the road and has stunning Pacific views. It is so remote that we rarely encountered another car past Hana. From here, we could look across the water to the Big Island. We were living in Hawaii when we took this trip, so we were used to the islands’ narrow, winding roads and one-lane bridges. Because of that, I think, the drive was a little less special because it was familiar. For a first-time visitor, this drive would be amazing.

On our latest trip a couple of years later, though, Hana was the destination, and we drove the road as tourists rather than residents. Because we planned it a little better, we drove even slower and stopped more, and found more waterfalls and other sites along the way. There’s really not a lot to Hana (it’s just a small collection of houses, churches and businesses), but that’s not the point. The joy is in the drive, not the destination.

Don’t pass up a stop at Hookipa Beach Park. The pulloff is not long after you pass through Paia, with Hana still more than 40 miles away. This prime spot on the north shore attracts surfers and windsurfers. Watch them from a lookout high above the beach or head down the path for a closer look.

More Maui

To learn more about Maui, especially places to eat, click here.

The Big Island

To learn more about my experiences on the Big Island of Hawaii, click here.


To learn more about what Oahu has to offer, click here.


And for a quick trip to Kauai, click here.

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