15 Best Sights in Road to Hana, Maui

Garden of Eden Arboretum

Fodor's choice

Just beyond mile marker 10 on the Hana Highway, the Garden of Eden Arboretum offers interpretive trails through 26 acres of manicured gardens. Anyone with a green thumb will appreciate the care and attention given to the more than 500 varieties of tropical plants—many of them native. Trails lead to views of the lovely Puohokamoa Falls and provide a glimpse into the botanical wonders that thrive in this lush region. Be sure to stop by the gift shop on the way out for a wide variety of gifts made by local artisans and to hang out with the ducks and peacocks. To avoid lines and crowds, visit in the morning at opening time or in the afternoon after 2 pm.

Hamoa Beach

Fodor's choice

Why did James Michener describe this stretch of salt-and-pepper sand as the most "South Pacific" beach he'd come across, even though it's in the North Pacific? Maybe it was the perfect half-moon shape, speckled with the shade of palm trees. Perhaps he was intrigued by the jutting black coastline, often outlined by rain showers out at sea, or the pervasive lack of hurry he felt here. Whatever it was, many still feel the lure. The beach can be crowded, yet it is nonetheless relaxing. Early mornings and late afternoons are best for swimming. At times the churning surf might intimidate swimmers, but the bodysurfing can be great. Though there are beach chairs and a pavilion at the beach, they are strictly for the use of Travaasa Hana guests. Hamoa is half a mile past Koki Beach on Haneoo Loop Road, 2 miles south of Hana Town. Amenities: showers; toilets. Best for: surfing; swimming.

Waianapanapa State Park

Fodor's choice
Beach, Waianapanapa State Park, Maui, Hawaii, USA
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Home to one of Maui's few black-sand beaches and freshwater caves for adventurous swimmers to explore, this park is right on the ocean. It's a lovely spot to picnic, hike, or swim. To the left you'll find the volcanic sand beach, picnic tables, and cave pools; to the right is an ancient trail that snakes along the ocean past blowholes, sea arches, and archaeological sites. Bird lovers could linger for hours watching the comings and goings of seabirds on the ocean outcroppings. The tide pools here turn red several times a year. Scientists say it's explained by the arrival of small shrimp, but legend claims the color represents the blood of Popoalaea, said to have been murdered in one of the caves by her husband, Chief Kakae. In either case, the dramatic landscape is bound to leave a lasting impression. There is a private cemetery on the grounds of the park, so be mindful to keep out of this area. With a permit, you can stay in a state-run cabin or campsite for a steal. It's wise to reserve as early as possible, as these spots book up quickly.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Hana Bay Beach Park

This family-friendly park situated around an old pier offers the calmest swimming opportunities in the area. The black-sand beach is a favorite among local families and canoe clubs, especially thanks to the picnic tables and showers available. Keep cash handy, as you can occasionally find craft vendors in the parking lot. Residents prefer that Sundays be left for local families to enjoy the facilities. Amenities: picnic tables, free parking. Best for: families.

Hanawi Falls

At mile marker 24 of the Hana Highway, just as you approach the bridge, look toward the mountains to catch a glimpse of Hanawi Falls. This lush spring-fed stream travels 9 miles to the ocean, and the waterfalls are real crowd-pleasers, even when rains have been light. The best views are from the bridge.  It is not safe to hike to the falls, and you must cross private property to get there. We strongly advise against this.

Kaeleku Caverns

If you're interested in spelunking, take the time to explore Kaeleku Caverns (aka Hana Lava Tube), just after mile marker 31 on the Hana Highway. The site is a mile down Ulaino Road. The friendly folks at the cave give a brief orientation and promptly send nature enthusiasts into Maui's largest lava tube, accented by colorful underworld formations. You can take a self-guided, 30- to 40-minute tour daily 10:30 am until 4 pm. LED flashlights are provided. For those who don’t want to explore the caverns, this still makes for a great stop to check out the world’s only red ti leaf maze on the grounds.

205 Ulaino Rd., Hana, HI, 96713, USA
808-248–7308
Sight Details
Rate Includes: $15

Keanae Arboretum

Here you can add to your botanical education or enjoy a challenging hike into the forest. Signs help you learn the names of the many plants and trees now considered native to Hawaii. The meandering Piinaau Stream adds a graceful touch to the arboretum and provides a swimming pond when there is enough water. You can take a fairly rigorous hike from the arboretum if you can find the trail at one side of the large taro patch. Be careful not to lose the trail once you're on it. A lovely forest waits at the end of the 25-minute hike.

13385 Hana Hwy., Keanae, HI, 96708, USA
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free

Keanae Overlook

Near mile marker 17 along the Hana Highway, you can stop at the Keanae Overlook. From this observation point you can take in the patchwork effect the taro patches create against the dramatic backdrop of the ocean. In the other direction, there are awesome views of Haleakala through the foliage. This is a great spot for photos, but it is not recommended that you fly your drones over the inhabited areas.

Koki Beach

You can tell from the trucks parked alongside the road that this is a favorite local surf spot.

Swimming is not recommended here, as there are no lifeguards, and the rip currents are powerful.

Look for awesome views of the rugged coastline and a sea arch on the left end.

Iwa, or white-throated frigate birds, dart like pterodactyls over the offshore Alau Islet. Though it's not a swimming beach, the grassy area and picnic tables are cozy and allow visitors to watch the surfers navigate the waves, while the small red-sand beach is good for walks if the tide allows. Amenities: picnic tables. Best for: surfing.

Haneoo Loop Rd., Hana, HI, 96713, USA

Ono Organic Farms Farmers' Market

The family-owned Ono Farms offers certified organic produce at this roadside market at an old gas station. Depending on the season, you'll find such unusual delicacies as rambutan (resembling grapes), jackfruit (tastes like bananas), and lilikoi (passion fruit). Gordon Ramsay even gave the farm a visit while filming his show Uncharted for National Geographic. For a memorable on-farm experience, check out their Exotic Tropical Fruit Tasting Adventure, held on Tuesday by reservation.

Piilanihale Heiau

This temple, the largest heiau in Polynesia, was built for a great 16th-century Maui king named Piilani and his heirs. Hawaiian families continue to maintain and protect this sacred site as they have for centuries, and they have not been eager to turn it into a tourist attraction. However, there is now a brochure, so you can tour the property yourself. The heiau is situated within the 122-acre Kahanu Garden, a research center focusing on the ethnobotany of the Pacific.

650 Ulaino Rd., Hana, HI, 96713, USA
808-248–8912
Sight Details
Rate Includes: $16, Closed Sat. and Sun.

Puaa Kaa State Wayside Park

For a leg-stretching break, visitors will find a respite and real bathrooms at this small roadside park. This is one of the few places on the highway with plenty of parking, so take some time to linger and enjoy the short hike to a small waterfall and pool across the highway from the bathrooms. There are also picnic tables and friendly cats to welcome you.

Twin Falls

Keep an eye out for the Twin Falls Farm Stand just after mile marker 2 on the Hana Highway. Stop here and treat yourself to some fresh sugarcane juice. If you're feeling adventurous, follow the path beyond the stand to the paradisiacal waterfalls known as Twin Falls. Although it's still private property, the "no trespassing" signs have been replaced by colorfully painted arrows pointing toward the easily accessible falls. Several deep, emerald pools sparkle beneath waterfalls and offer excellent (and a little cold) swimming and photo opportunities. In recent years, this natural attraction has become a tourist hot spot. Although the attention is well deserved, those who wish to avoid crowds may want to keep driving. The family who owns the property recently implemented a paid parking system to help manage the overcrowding; parking costs $10 per car and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Waikamoi Nature Trail

Slightly after the town of Huelo, the Hana Highway enters the Koolau Forest Reserve. Vines wrap around street signs, and waterfalls are so abundant that you don't know which direction to look. A good start is between mile markers 9 and 10, where the Waikamoi Nature Trail sign beckons you to stretch your car-weary limbs. A short (if muddy) trail leads through tall eucalyptus trees to a coastal vantage point with a picnic table. Signage reminds visitors: "Quiet, Trees at Work" and "Bamboo Picking Permit Required." Awapuhi, or Hawaiian shampoo ginger, sends up fragrant shoots along the trail. The area has picnic tables and a restroom.

Wailua Overlook

From the parking lot on the side of the Hana Highway near mile marker 20, you can see Wailua Canyon in one direction and Wailua Village in the other. Photos are spectacular in the morning light of the verdant expanse below. Also from your perch, you can see Wailua Village's landmark 1860 church, which was allegedly constructed of coral that washed up onto the shore during a storm. You'll want to take photos, but flying a drone over the populated area is strongly discouraged.