The Road To Hana, Maui, Hawaii

Eighty-Four Kilometres, 600+ bends, & 56 One-Lane Bridges. Hawaii’s Most Spectacular Drive


On the Piilani Highway/Kalama Park Road in Kaupo, Maui, Hawaii. March 7, 2103

The last full day on my first visit to the Hawaiian Island of Maui was spent taking a trip on the Hana Highway, an 84-kilometre (52-mile) stretch of Hawaii State Routes 36 and 360 which runs along the northern shore of the island to the quaint town of Hana in the remote east of the Island. Large portions of the road are literally carved into the coastline of northern Maui making it one of the most spectacular drives in the world. I dispensed with my hire car for the day & left the navigation of the roads 600+ curves & 56 one-lane bridges to Tim, one of the friendly Valley Isle Excursions Team, giving me more time to appreciate the sights & attractions en route.

A Valley Isle Excursions van on a section of the 'Road To Hana' tour on the Piilani Highway/Kalama Park Road in southern Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7th 2103.

A Valley Isle Excursions van on a section of their Road To Hana tour on the Piilani Highway/Kalama Park Road in Kaupo, southern Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7, 2103

One of the most scenic drives in the world.

– Dangerousroads.org commenting on Maui’s Hana Highway

The Road To Hana

The outside world only discovered the little village of Hana in 1926 when the narrow coastal road, carved by pickaxe-wielding convicts, opened. The mud-&-gravel road, often subject to landslides and washouts, was eventually paved in 1962 when tourist traffic began to increase – now more than 1,000 cars traverse the road each day. There are wilder, steeper, and more dangerous roads, but in all of Hawaii no road is more celebrated than the Hana Highway which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 15, 2001.

Valley Isle Excursions Road To Hana Tour

The Valley Isle Excursions Road To Hana tour not only skirts the island’s north shore en route to “Heavenly Hana” but it also continues beyond the town, effectively circling the bulk of the second largest of the Hawaiian islands. With some 13 stops en route photo opportunities abound – stunning coastal scenery, magnificent seascapes, lush rainforest, & waterfalls are never too far away. This is a pictorial recap of some of the highlights of my Valley Isle Excursions Road To Hana tour.

The Windy Road (To Hana) (Map Pointer A)

The windy Road To Hana in Maui, Hawaii. It's best leave the driving to the good folks of Valley Isle Excursions to fully enjoy the stops and scenery. I did. Maui, Hawaii. March 7th 2013.

Driving the Road to Hana is not for the fainthearted – although only 84 kilometres long, navigating the wiggling road of 600+ curves & 56 one-lane bridges takes at least 3 hours. Take your time & practise aloha – give way at one-lane bridges, wave at oncoming motorists, let the guy behind pass, & don’t honk your horn – seemingly it is rude to do so in laid-back Hawaii. Or, & even better still, let the good folk at Valley Isle Excursions chauffeur you around in their comfy, spacious, elevated, air-conditioned vans. I did. Maui, Hawaii. March 7, 2013

Rainbow Eucalyptus (Map Pointer B)

Rainbow Eucalyptus off the Hana Highway, a stop on the Valley Isle Excursion's 'Road To Hana' tour. Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7th 2103.

Rainbow Eucalyptus off the Hana Highway. The Rainbow Eucalyptus is a living rainbow boasting possibly the most beautiful bark of any tree on Earth. A huge evergreen, it can grow up to 2.5 metres (8 feet) a year reaching heights 60-70 metres (200-250 feet) & with a diameter up to 2.5 metres. Native to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, it is the only Eucalyptus species found naturally in the Northern Hemisphere & it was quite a pleasant surprise to see it here by the side of the Road to Hana in Maui. Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7, 2103.

Hana Highway Coastline Vista (Map Pointer C)

Scenery off the Hana Highway on Valley Isle Excursion's 'Road To Hana' tour in Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7th 2103.

During the Valley Isle Excursions Road To Hana tour ample stops are allowed to sample the rugged coastline of northern Maui. It is never less than spectacular. Scenery off the Hana Highway in Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7, 2103.

Black Sand Beach (Map Pointer D)

People on Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach in eastern Maui, a stop on Valley Isle Excursion's 'Road To Hana' tour. Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7th 2103.

People on Honokalani Black Sand Beach in Wainapanapa State Park, eastern Maui, Maui’s most popular black sand beach. Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7, 2013.

Honokalani Black Sand Beach is located in the 120-acre Wainapanapa State Park, just off the Hana Highway on the outskirts of Hana itself near the eastern tip of the island. The beach, the sand of which is actually small, smooth, lava pebbles, is set among lava cliffs. A small sea arch, sea caves, and even seaside lava tubes can be seen in the area, too.

A very special area for the Hawaiians. It is a place where a Queen visited and legends were made, a sacred place you might say.

– Valley Isle Excursions

Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach in eastern Maui, a stop on Valley Isle Excursion's 'Road To Hana' tour. Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7th 2103.

The black sands of Waianapanapa State Park in Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7, 2103.

(For Sale at) Wailua Falls (Map Pointer E)

For Sale on the Hanna Highway at Wailua Falls, a stop on Valley Isle Excursion's ''Road To Hana' tour. Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7th 2103.

For Sale on the Hanna Highway at Wailua Falls, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7, 2103.

Wailua Falls, which were featured on the opening credits of the television show Fantasy Island, is a 34 metre-high (113 ft) waterfall that feeds into the Wailua River. Paths lead to the base of the falls where there are pools for swimming. In ancient times, Hawaiian men would jump from the top of the falls to prove their manhood. People still leap off the falls today, although it is illegal to do so, not to mention dangerous.

Swimming at Oheo Gulch in Haleakala National Park (Map Pointer F)

Swimming in the watering holes at Oheo Gulch in Haleakala National Park, near Kuloa Point, Maui, one of the more refreshing stops on Valley Isle Excursion's 'Road To Hana' tour. Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7th 2103.

Swimming in the watering holes at Oheo Gulch in Haleakala National Park near Kuloa Point, about 40 minutes beyond Hana & one of the more refreshing stops on Valley Isle Excursions Road To Hana tour. One of the 56 one-lane bridges found on the Hana Highway can be seen towards the top of the image. Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7, 2103.

Charles Lindbergh’s Grave, Palapala Ho’Omau Church (Map Pointer G)

The grave of Charles Lindbergh in the grounds of Palapala Ho'Omau Church, Maui, a stop on Valley Isle Excursion's 'Road To Hana' tour. Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7th 2103.

The grave of Charles Lindbergh in the grounds of Palapala Ho’Omau Church, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7, 2103.

…if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea.

– Charles A. Lindbergh, as inscribed on his gravestone

Located in the Kipahulu area of the island, the grounds of the 1857 Palapala Ho’Omau Church is the final resting place for the aviation pioneer Charles A. Lindbergh. Born in Michigan in 1902, Lindbergh found fame as a result of his May 1927 solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic, making him the first person in history to be in New York one day and Paris the next. Lindbergh loved Maui & his final wish was to be buried here. So, & when on his deathbed, he flew to his home in Kipahulu, where he died in August 1974.

Kaupo – Paniolo (Cowboy) Country (Map Pointer H)

Valley Isle Excursions vans on a windy and picturesque section of their 'Road To Hana' tour on the Piilani Highway/Kalama Park Road in Kaupo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7th 2103.

Valley Isle Excursions vans on a windy and picturesque section of their Road To Hana tour on the Piilani Highway/Kalama Park Road, a.k.a Hawaii Route 31, in Kaupo on the eastern & southern slopes of Haleakala, Maui’s massive dormant volcano. This Kaupo region, a dry & barren landscape of yellow grassland dotted with volcanic rock, offers up quite the contrast to the island’s lush northern shore. It’s an exposed & unspoiled region that slopes to the sea that is Paniolo (Cowboy) country – it has historically been used for cattle farming and still is today. Kaupo, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7, 2103.

The road is winding, in some places only wide enough for one vehicle, and in many places bordered by a drop of hundreds of meters over the sea, unprotected by guardrails. In some areas (such as at Lelekea Bay) it’s just a one-and-a-half lane bumpy road hugging the sea cliff around a blind curve. Fences have been installed on the mountain here to prevent rocks from falling onto cars.

– Dangerousroads.org commenting on southern Maui’s Piilani Highway

Maui’s Winery at the Ulupalakua Ranch (Map Pointer I)

Wine tasting at Maui's Winery on the Ulupalakua Ranch off the Kula Highway in southern Maui, a stop on Valley Isle Excursion's 'Road To Hana' tour. Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7th 2103.

Wine tasting at Maui’s Winery on the Ulupalakua Ranch off the Kula Highway. Hawaii’s oldest winery is set on the rolling slopes of Haleakala in Ulupalakua. It’s one of the last, not to mention one of the most popular stops on the Valley Isle Excursions Road To Hana Tour, possibly because of the complimentary tastings offered to all. Maui’s Winery on the Ulupalakua Ranch off the Kula Highway, southern Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7, 2103.

Kula Highway Vista (Map Pointer J)

Looking across Maalaea Bay to western Maui as seen from the Kula Highway on Valley Isle Excursion's 'Road To Hana' tour. Maui, Hawaii. March 7th 2103.

Looking across Maalaea Bay to western Maui as seen from the Kula Highway on Valley Isle Excursion’s Road To Hana tour en route to base. Maui, Hawaii, USA. March 7, 2103.

Valley Isle Excursions Road To Hana Tour
I was a guest of Valley Isle Excursions on their Road To Hana tour but all pictures & opinions expressed here are my own. To find out more about the Road To Hana tour, including much more information on the tour highlights mentioned here, check out the Valley Isle Excursions website.

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