Road to Hana: Time it takes and where to stay

Aug 24th, 2009, 12:22 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Road to Hana: Time it takes and where to stay

My wife and I would like to take the road to Hana, but it seems like it can't be done in less than five hours, which for us means staying in Hana overnight. There is one very expensive but nice resort there, but it seems little else for accommodations. Any other suggestions? Also, if we stay on the west coast for the rest of our stay on the island, do we reverse our trip the next day on the same road or return another route for variety? Is the amount of driving involved really worth the trip, which means using up at least a day and a half of our time on Maui?
Thanks for any suggestions and advice!
james_lee is offline  
Aug 27th, 2009, 12:20 AM
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I have only done this trip once, so hopefully others who have perhaps been lucky enough to do this trip on more than one occasion will chime in with their more experienced thoughts. I did this as a day trip from the Four Seasons Maui. It is a very long day, but I did very much think it was “worth” it, and I would probably do it again. I am not sure an overnight is strictly necessary, but I think it might add to the enjoyment. However, if you don’t have time, I think you can do this as a day trip. Start as early as you can. We left about 8 am which frankly was not early enough.

If your plan for your vacation is to mostly spend time on a beach, snorkeling, swimming or doing other outdoor activities, or even just being in the sun, then this trip may not be for you. It’s mostly about seeing scenic views from a car, with occasional stops. (Unless you spend a night which would give you an opportunity to see things on foot and spend more time in the water.) It’s quite damp and lush and I think overcast most days with patches of sun. Also, if you don’t like curvy roads or are at all prone to car sickness, no kidding, this ride is not for you. I have absolutely no issues with car sickness, but I will say that by the last hour of the drive, those curves were starting to get to me a little bit.

The only way out is to turn around and go back the road you came in on. However, I understand that the dirt road out past the end of the official Hana Highway is now open (it has been closed on an off for some years including during our visit), which would make the trip back shorter. I don’t know much about it, and/or whether your rental car contract would cover you if you used it (most do not). But perhaps others will had advice.

If I did this trip again, I would do it differently in that I would drive all the way out to the end first, and then work my way back, stopping as necessary at points. In the excitement of the new on the way out, I think you may tend to stop more than you need to. You really can just keep going and enjoy the views from the car. Also, at the end, IMO, you really want to spend some time at the at Haleakala National Park/ Seven Sacred Pools
area. There are even some hiking and longer walks that appear to be interesting if one had the time – which we and it seems most people do not because they take too much time getting out their first.
We did stop to walk to the about the first set of falls on the road (I think they are the Puohokamoa Falls), which IMO were not worth the time. We also stopped to swim at Hamoa Beach which is quite pretty and was fun (this is the beach used by the Hana Hotel). With all this, at the end of the day we did have to drive on the curvy road in quite a bit of traffic in darkness for about an hour; which was fine but not quite as much fun nor as scenic as it would have been in daylight. So you do have to plan your time, and that is why I can see why an overnight would be good. At the very end, we stopped for dinner at Mama’s Fish House. It was quite dark by then, so we could not appreciate the view, but dinner was quite good. Then a quick shot down the highway back to the – area.
If it all possible, I would try to have a convertible for the trip so you can really enjoy the views from the car; also there are a lot of twists and turns, so a smaller car like a 2-door convertible may be easier to handle.
Cicerone is offline  
Aug 27th, 2009, 10:31 AM
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I agree with everything Cicerone said. I would just add that it is not necessary to go ALL the way to Hana to enjoy the scenery. You can just go until you are about to get tired of driving windy slow roads and then turn around and come back. I would also highly recommend the drive up to Haleakela, even if you don't go the whole way. The the country is gorgeous on the way up and the views are spectacular. Mama's Fish House is great for lunch because the prices aren't so outrageous as dinner and you can see the views in the daylight.
montereybob is offline  
Aug 27th, 2009, 12:34 PM
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We had eight nights on Maui in March/April so we took two of them and drove out to Hana - returning the same way. For us, there is no doubt that it was worth it. We enjoyed the trip very much. Would do it again.

We drove past Hana approximately ten miles to see where Lindberg is buried. That was also interesting, in part, because we had good weather both days.

If you wish, you can continue past Hana and complete the circuit around the island however that includes a stretch of road that is dirt. Your rental car co. may have 'issues' with that. We didn't do it but people we spoke with felt that it wasn't such a bad road - at least not when it is dry.

As you've learned, the great problem with Hana is that, except for the outrageously priced resort, there isn't any good place to stay. We did eat there which was a mistake. We had a much better casual meal at the place accross the street for a fraction of the money. I think that it is called the Ranch.

For alternate lodging, check but don't get your hopes up.

Finally, the Ultimate Guide has very useful guidance for your trip. We also had the C-D guide which wasn't as good. Some hotels/condos will lend this to you for free.
GBC is offline  
Aug 27th, 2009, 12:46 PM
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Further note: I looked it up - we stayed at the Hana Kai Maui. We paid over $230/night for a room that should have been $130/night. Since there really aren't any good options, if we were to return, we would probably stay there again but get the least expensive room they have, forgetting the view.
GBC is offline  
Aug 28th, 2009, 06:07 AM
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This is a good website for finding alternative lodging in/near Hana:
AustinTraveler is offline  
Aug 28th, 2009, 01:10 PM
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We also stayed at the Hana Kai( in a studio unit last summer for 2 nights. I would stay there again. The advantage was to have the kitchen in the unit if you don't want to go out for meals (options are limited in Hana). the general store in Hana was limited for groceries and expensive, if you take this option, better to get some dry goods or a cooler from the main town in Maui. We were glad we stayed overnight in Hana--- it allowed us to get to the Oheo gulch in the morning, with maybe 5 other people there. After we came back from walking the Pipiwai trail, the parking lot at Oheo was much, much more crowded than when we arrived. Even if you don't want to spend the night, I highly recommend you at least partly drive the Hana Highway, the scenery is beautiful and different than the rest of Maui.
janeq is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2009, 05:03 AM
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Many thanks for the suggestions!
james_lee is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 10:21 AM
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We've done the Road to Hana twice - the first time the full road was open and the second time we had to turn around at the Seven Sacred Pools and drive back because of a downed bridge. Both times we did it as a day trip and both times it was immensely pleasurable and we saw/did very different things. If you can find lodgings in Hana, I would go that route since you want to, but I wouldn't say it's a requirement.
dakotapie is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2009, 09:26 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
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Dear husband and I had the very good fortune to live in Hana for several years, so believe me, I have "done" the Hana Highway more times than I can remember...always out and back in one day, of course. Imagine that trip just to pick up your groceries or see a movie (not complaining, mind you...we loved every minute of it!)

So, yes, you can do it in one day, but to truly enjoy it I would encourage you to take your time. One note of advice, or perhaps more of a plea: please do take your time, but in doing so please also remember that people who live there are on a different schedule. Please use the frequent pullouts so residents can go past you.

Also, you can certainly go all the way around the other side. I don't know that it would really cut much time off your drive, it just is something different to see. That side of the island is a stark contrast to what you've just driven through.

As for places to stay. There are many privately owned vacation rentals in the Hana area, but most of them require a minimum of two or three nights. If you're on a budget and don't mind something VERY rustic, there are cabins at the Wainapanapa State park. They were about $40 ten years ago. (Yikes - has it been that long?) Yes they are very rustic but the views and the setting are indescribably beautiful.

There is also a nice bed and breakfast called Heavenly Hana Inn. They might have a 2 night minimum as well. They are not cheap, but not as much as the hotel.

I hope this helps a little. You will have a wonderful time in Hana and all of Maui.

P.S...Don't forget your sunscreen or your mosquito repellent!
hanabilly is offline  
Sep 5th, 2009, 04:13 PM
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Many thanks for the suggestions. Very helpful!
james_lee is offline  

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