Experiencing the drive along The Road to Hana is a must do activity when visiting Maui (click here to see my list of three things not to miss in Maui). It is an extremely popular, beautiful, and slightly daunting drive that will take you a full day to complete. While I highly recommend everyone visiting Maui experience this drive as it is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever taken, there are a few things you should know before putting your foot on the gas.
ONE: You probably won’t have cell phone service
The entire drive one way without stopping (from Kaanapali to Haleakala National Park) took me three hours and 15 minutes to complete. I had no cell phone service for over two-thirds of the drive. This may vary from carrier to carrier, however, you are pretty much in the middle of nowhere for a large portion of the drive. For safety reasons, keep that in mind. I did notice there are random phones along the highway for emergencies. It’s important to make sure you fuel up before embarking on the journey, and remain extra cautious as your options for assistance may be rather limited.
TWO: You’ll likely drive much slower than you expected (and that’s okay!)
It took over 2.5 hours to drive the 60+ mile Hana Hwy. Most sections of the highway have a speed limit of 15 mph. This may sound crazy but once you’re making blind turns on the side of a cliff not knowing if you’re going to smash into oncoming traffic, you’ll see why driving slowly is imperative. Some sections are more comfortable than others, it’s not all scary. If you’re like me, someone who lives in a big city and doesn’t actively drive on a daily basis anymore, you’ll probably err on the side of caution and take it a bit more slowly. Nothing wrong with that! Don’t feel pressured to speed up just because there is a car tailing you. There are areas where it is safe for a car to pass you. Do what feels comfortable for you.
THREE: There are no street lights on The Road to Hana
Once you get into the actual winding section of the Hana Hwy, there are no lights along the road. If you prefer to drive in daylight, I highly recommend beginning your journey early in the morning shortly after sunrise and heading back a couple of hours before sunset. I did not want to get caught on the road close to sundown so I left Kaanapali at 6:30 am and arrived back into Kaanapali around 5:30 pm. It was a very long day but it was nice to be able to see clearly which gave me peace of mind.
FOUR: You’re not going to have time to make EVERY stop — Prioritize!
Unless you’re planning to break your Road to Hana experience up over a few days and stay in different Airbnbs along the route, you won’t make every stop. Most people experience the road as a day trip. If you choose to take the day trip route, I recommend prioritizing which stops you want to make and what waterfalls, beaches, etc. are at the top of your list. Keep in mind, you will be drained towards the end of the day so it may be worth it to hit the locations at the top of your list as early as possible. This was the best decision I made! I was so tired on the way back I ended up cutting out some of the smaller spots because they were no longer worth it to me.
FIVE: It’s better to enjoy with a partner
While I am all for solo travel and I believe people should do what they want with or without someone else… I will say this experience is better to do with a partner for one major reason: TO ENJOY THE VIEWS! When you’re driving, you can see all of the beautiful landscapes and greenery, but you can’t truly appreciate it because you’re also focusing on the road. When you have a partner and you’re able to split the driving up, you can fully take in the view when you’re not the one behind the wheel. I drove the way there and was a passenger on the way back. I was still in awe hours later by how beautiful everything is. I even caught things I missed on the frontend. I’m sure there are also benefits to driving it alone but I highly recommend doing it with a friend if you have someone who is on the same page as you.
Have you ever driven the Road to Hana? How was your experience? Would you do it again? Did you drive the road yourself or go through a tour company?
Who wants to try it on their next trip to Maui?