By Daniel Christener
Personal Recommendation for Your Road to Hana Adventure and Beyond
Here are my personal recommendations, as someone who moved to Maui from Switzerland more than 20 years ago and enjoys cycling the Road to Hana almost every Sunday morning, rain or shine, together with a few bike enthusiast friends.
Bicycling to Hana from Twin Falls, a 37-mile ride (one-way) of amazing scenery!
The Ride of Your Life
Cycling together up to 90 miles keeps us fit and healthy. But even more important is East Maui’s incredible natural setting we ride through, which includes: verdant cliffs plunging to the ocean, tropical rainforests with huge eucalyptus trees, green and yellow bamboo forests, spectacular roadside waterfalls, century-old bridges (many one-lane only), the songs of many native Hawaiian birds, and the deliciously fresh taste of local food and drink.
Along the way, native people who are mostly farmers sell their delicious, homemade banana breads and fresh smoothies made from local mango, guava, papaya, lemon and coconut. Fresh-brewed Kona or Hawaiian blend coffee is also available for a low price.
No Rain, No Rainbows
Don’t be afraid to start your Road to Hana adventure on a rainy day, even a very rainy winter day! In fact, the more it rains the better! Only then will you easily see giant waterfalls from the road, especially between Keanae and Nahiku. Unfortunately, most streams between Paia and Keanae are dry, even on a rainy day, because water gets diverted in ditches to the sugar cane fields of Central Maui.
Drive the Full Circuit
Rental car companies prefer that you turn around and drive back the way you came after the Seven Pools at Kipahulu, but this means you’ll miss half the experience of East Maui. The road that circumnavigates the island is now open again after being closed for an earthquake two years ago.
So continue through Hana to Kipahulu and Kaupo. From there you’ll experience fresh black lava fields, dryland forests and the vast Pacifc on your left, while gradually climbing to Tedeshi Winery and then Kula at 3,000 feet, and descending again to Kahului.
We bicycle entirely around East Maui a few times each year. It takes us 6 ½ – 8 hours to pedal this approximate 107-mile route, which includes over 10,000 feet of climbing. So a regular car can drive it easily, although I would not recommend it for a stretch limousine.
My Recommendations for a Once in Lifetime Maui Experience!
You can easily drive the ‘Road to Hana’ in your own rental car – where you you’ll be more independent and can stop as often as you like. If you prefer not to drive, I recommend booking a Hana tour with a local guide familiar with the island and Hana’s history, like the Heavenly Tour to Hana.
If you’re planning a helicopter tour, take it before you drive the Road to Hana so you can stop at points of interest you’ve seen from the air – select a flight from Haleakala & Hana Helicopter Tours.
And if you want the best of both worlds, check out the SkyTrek Road to Hana Adventure. This is probably the greatest adventure you can have while vacationing on Maui, because it includes both van and helicopter tours with thrilling aerial views of Halekala Volcano and many other spectacular sights of our precious island.
An overnight stay in Hana is also highly recommended. You can either stay 1st-class at the Hotel Hana Maui or enjoy a family managed ‘Jungle Cottage,’ which I can recommend as well. I’ll be happy to give you further information; if you call me on my cell at 808-871-8884.
And if you’re a cycling enthusiast like me, bike the Road to Hana, up Mt. Haleakala, or anywhere else on the Valley Isle with a Maui Bicycling Tour.
Top 10 Tips for Your Road to Hana Adventure
- Leave early from your hotel or accommodation (6am if possible) and fill your tank with gas first thing – you’ll see only 1 or 2 gas stations the entire day!
- Don’t avoid the rain. The best days for a Hana adventure are rainy ones, which means lots of waterfalls.
- Be sure to take one or two cameras with you.
- Avoid wearing flip-flops (slippers) it can be muddy. Bring raincoat, windbreaker or a second dry shirt.
- Drive steadily as far as Keanae; from there stop as often as possible – this is where the ‘real Hana deal’ starts.
- Pause to enjoy roadside smoothies, banana bread or fresh fruit from local families – they need your business.
- Don’t miss the local beaches like Black Sand Beach (near Keanae) and Hamoa Beach (after Hana).
- Eat lunch at the Hana Hotel if possible. You’ll enjoy delicious , 1st- class food with a local Hawaiian flair.
- Visit the Seven Pools at Oheo Gulch, about 10 minutes past Hana. From here you can hike 2 miles through a bamboo forest to a 400-foot waterfall!
- Take a lots of water along. The route is often hot and humid. Once past Hana there are no stores. (Kaupo Store opens only sporadically).