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Top Sights Along the Road to Hana

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The historic Road to Hana is a day-long adventure and one the entire family will remember for years to come. Between the desktop wallpaper-esque views and the quirky side trips, there is a whole other world to discover along Maui’s mystical east coast. Maverick Helicopters offers a one-of-a-kind helicopter excursion deep into the Hana Rainforest that includes unparalleled views of this beautiful island and approximately 30 minutes of ground time at a former taro plantation. For those planning on traversing the Road to Hana by car, read on for a list of items to bring along and a rough itinerary of sights to see.

Hana Highway

The Hana Highway clings to the coast as it winds through rain forest along Maui’s north shore

Items to Bring

The Road to Hana is long. You’ll need to carve out a full day to trek the historic thoroughfare in its entirety, including the various lookouts, waterfalls and quaint roadside stands. Because this is an all-day outing and given the remoteness of the area, you’ll want to come prepared. It’s important to note that the area receives little cell service, so be sure to bring along physical copies of any maps or guides you may need. Here’s a list of important items to bring:

  • Small plastic foam cooler and ice
  • Snacks and beverages
  • Backpack
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito repellent
  • First-aid kit
  • Swim trunks
  • Spare set of clothes
  • Towel
  • Trash bags
  • Sturdy hiking shoes

 

Paia Town

A beautiful pastel town nestled on the northern coast of Maui, Paia is the typical launching point for visitors embarking on the journey toward Hana. Before you set out, enjoy some coffee and breakfast at one of the charming restaurants. There are also more than a few unique shops that sell fantastic souvenirs. You can even purchase audio guides to accompany your excursion. The eclectic, bohemian vibe is liable to keep you lingering, so start here early in order to savor your time in this funky community.

Ho’okipa Lookout

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Commonly referred to as the mecca of windsurfing, Ho’okipa Beach is a great place to observe the dramatic waves Maui’s northern shore is known for. The lookout is easily accessible and overlooks the popular surfing area called the Pavilions. During the winter, the waves tower above the surface of the ocean, sometimes reaching heights of 20 feet. There is also a large population of green sea turtles that call Ho’okipa home. You can spot them bobbing along the surface just beyond the exposed reef.

Waikamoi Ridge Trail

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Waikamoi Ridge demands only a brief stop. The two well-maintained hiking trails take only about a half hour at most to explore. There are no spectacular waterfalls or postcard views, but the area boasts a plethora of local flora. Aside from the beauty of the dense forest, there’s not much to see or do here. It is a nice side trip for older and younger travelers who might not be able to tackle the more strenuous hikes along the Road to Hana.

Halfway to Hana Stand

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This picturesque roadside stand serves as a great pit stop along your journey. Park the car, stretch your legs, eat some delicious banana bread and restock your supplies. This is also a great place to buy some food for a picnic lunch down the road.

Kahanu Garden

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With the largest assemblages of native Hawaiian plant species and breadfruit cultivars in existence, the National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Maui is a nature lover’s dream. Visitors to this plant sanctuary are also treated to views of Pi’ilanihale Heiau, the largest place of worship in Polynesia. This ancient temple made entirely of lava rock took hundreds of years to complete. You can walk the garden grounds yourself or take a guided tour that includes cultural demonstrations and a visit to a replica thatched canoe house.

Hana Lava Tube

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The largest and most easily accessed lava tube on the island, this attraction appeals to travelers of all ages and is certainly worth a stop. The kids will love exploring the nearly half mile of caves formed millions of years ago when magma flowing to the surface crusts over, creating a molten subway. You can marvel at the lava stalactites and stalagmites, lavacicles, massive fissures and even a Cold War-era fallout shelter. After touring the cave, take a leisurely stroll through the ti plant maze at the entrance.

Wai’anapanapa State Park

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When people picture Maui, the image that appears in most heads probably looks a lot like Wai’anapanapa State Park. With more than a mile of idyllic coastline, this stunning park boasts black sand beaches, sea arches, blowholes, freshwater caves, hiking trails, lava tubes and panoramic views. Should you decide to spend the night in the area, this park features campsites and cabins available for rent. You’ll want to allot a good portion of time for exploring Wai’anapanapa. There are spectacular sights spread throughout the more than 120 acres.

Hana

You made it. Hana! You can enjoy your picnic lunch on the black sand beach of Hana Bay, pay a visit to the fascinating Hana Cultural Center & Museum, peruse the many lovely art galleries or shop at the local farmers’ markets. Hikers should definitely make the trek to the top of Lyon Hill for a one-of-a-kind photo opportunity at Fagan’s Cross. From here, you’re treated to unbelievable views of Hana and the island’s eastern coast.

Palapala Ho’omau Church

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Truly one of the quietest areas along the Road to Hana, Kipahulu Point is home to Palapala Ho’omau Church. The tiny, bucolic church is nestled among some beautiful foliage. Built in 1857, it is famous as the final resting place of explorer Charles Lindberg. You can find the grave of both Charles and his wife under the shade of a Java plum tree on the church grounds. It is easy to miss, so turn left when you see a sign for Maui Stables. Stay to the left and you’ll see the church a little further down the road.

Grandma’s Coffee House

9232 Kula Hwy
Before the trip back to your Maui hotel, be sure to visit the often overlooked Maui icon Grandma’s Coffee House. Since 1918, the Franco family has harvested, dried, hulled and roasted a unique strain of Arabica coffee that grows wild on the slopes of Haleakala. You might never taste a better cup of coffee. Luckily, you can purchase beans to take home. No trip to the Valley Isle is complete without a stop at Grandma’s.

Trekking across Maui’s eastern shores along the historic Road to Hana is an experience you won’t soon forget. Time-starved travelers and those simply eager to return to the area can book a seat aboard Maverick Helicopters’ Hana Rainforest Experience. The approximately 75-minute, immersive Hawaiian expedition is a must. It is the most stress-free way to see this unbelievable landscape for yourself. Please share your Road to Hana photos with us on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you.

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