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An article was recently posted on the Maui Information Guide‘s Facebook page and there are lots of very good tips here that we felt we should share it. You’ll also see that My Vacation Lady has added her own tips and ideas in blue. This is one day trip that is a DO NOT MISS for first timers and repeater to Maui. You can drive it on your own or take a tour- either way, it’s not likely something you’ll do or see elsewhere in the world.
The Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is world famous for the natural beauty of its unblemished landscapes and towering waterfalls. Maui is understandably proud of Heavenly Hana’s successful fight against overdevelopment and the destruction of their Hawaiian culture. When you make the trip over to Hana Maui, you’ll see why it’s referred to as The Land That Time Forgot.
Road to Hana Travel Tips
1. Grab lunch, supplies, and water. Your dining choices in Hana are limited. The best thing to do is stop along the Road to Hana and have a picnic with your friends and family. There are some ways to enjoy your day on the road and not go hungry and what My Vacation Lady suggests is getting a picnic lunch to go. You can pick up an insulated cooler chest in one of the ABC stores or in one of the stores after you land OR you can bring one of those larger insulated lunch bags or food shopping bags with you from home. Take zip lock bags, get ice from the hotel and go to the local supermarket and fill up you bag with soda, water, fruit and sandwiches or salads from the deli department. This is the least expensive way to enjoy the trip. Some of the hotels will also prepare picnic lunches for you (which will cost more). Otherwise, you’ll be buying lunch with very little options and (depending on where you go) will be expensive. Paia is the last stop to grab food and supplies. Make sure to stock up on water too. You’d be surprised how much water is pulled from you in humid climates.
2. Take a van or coach tour. Having an air-conditioned vehicle with a driver/guide is really the best way to see Hana. There’s no stress involved when a knowledgeable driver points out and stops at the most beautiful spots. Leave the driving to someone else and enjoy the ride with your family. While My Vacation Lady’s clients typically will drive the Road to Hana on their own, giving them the maximum flexibility, sometimes they wonder if they should take a tour and for those who don’t love driving, or find it stressful, a tour is the way to go. Most will offer hotel pick up and drop off plus a picnic lunch. They are full day tours- and not inexpensive- but for those who want to see Hana without driving, a tour is the way to go and My Vacation Lady can recommend one that will fit your needs.
Without a doubt, don’t try this trip without a guided CD tour. My Vacation Lady sends the CD and a map along with our clients Maui vacation vouchers. You can buy many. Some may be better than others but My Vacation Lady’s clients have thought that the directions, map and CD that we provide as an added value to our clients, worked very well.
4. Stay overnight!
Without a doubt, the best way to enjoy Hana is by staying for at least a few days. With an overnight stay, you’ll miss the masses and have plenty of time to appreciate the beauty around you. Most drivers leave early in the morning and drive back a few hours before dark, which means you have 2 large windows of time each day with very few people around.
Our first choice is to stay at Travaasa Experiential Resort in Hana Town. This amazing property is located right on the ocean with an award winning spa, beautiful pools, and everything you’d need to enjoy Hana. Camping in Hana is another option, though be VERY prepared for overnight rain. Don’t expect to stay dry overnight with even a heavy-duty tent (we’ve woken up drenched even with a tarp over the tent.) Now we opt for staying at the Travaasa.
This is a good idea if you are staying in Maui for more than 5 nites. Since many of the resort have current promotions of offering the 5 th night free, pricewise, it may be more cost effective to stay at your main hotel in Maui to take advantage of the 5th night free and then checking out and spending your last night or 2 in Hana. You can fly to your next island or possibly catch your flight home after a night or 2 in Hana. Just a thought is you are spending a week or so in Maui.
5. Bring or rent a camera with plenty of memory card space (or film). You’ll no doubtedly get some incredible pictures along the way. It’s the worst getting to a great spot and running out of disc space, having to delete other good images, or realize your battery is too low. Great point. I know a lot of people are using phones or tablets now to take photos as well. If you are, make sure you have a car charger with you to recharge those batteries a bit between photo shoots.
6. Don’t leave valuables in the car. This goes for anywhere in Maui. You may notice when you park in the dirt at certain sights that there’s broken glass on the ground. The vast deep vegetation of your surroundings is the perfect place for Maui thieves to sit and wait for unsuspecting tourists to pull up. Leave your valuables at home. Even the trunk of your car is not safe from a determined thief. Remember that Maui rental cars are easy to spot, and make for obvious prey. Don’t take any risk of being a victim, and instead leave your valuables at home or take them with you from the car. It’s not as bad as we make it sound, but it’s also better to be safe than sorry. You should always be a smart traveler and limit your valuables. Back packs and fanny pouches are likely the best to store valuables on your person. Never leave them in the back seat of your car or in plain sight. Not that Maui is unsafe, but why risk the temptation of locals or other tourists to help themselves to your stuff.
7. Bring bug spray! Hana is packed with mosquitoes and other unfriendly buggers. They tend to congregate near streams and still water as well as near fruit trees. If you see fruit rotting on the ground, you can be assured that hundreds of mosquitoes are having a good old time on them.
If you are one of those people that mosquitoes love, also take an anti itch product with you. We tend to like something called After Bite. It comes in a stick so it’s easy to pack and carry with no messy wipes to dispose of.
8. Stay on paths. If you’re hiking, remain on the regular paths. Follow them for your own safety and to keep away from the bugs. You’ll get more bites walking through grass and shrubs than you would on a flat dirt path. You also are less likely to trespass or run into a spider web. Even though we don’t have snakes in Hawaii, the spiders are all over the place.
It’s always safer to stay on paths and don’t go alone just in case of injury. (don’t I sound like a mother here 🙂 )
9. Bring hiking shoes.All of the hiking is superb in and around Hana. Bring hiking shoes that you don’t care much about. You may find yourself traversing streams or walking through thick mud. If you’re prone to bug bites, wear high socks and bug repellent. Decide ahead of time where the best places are to go and pick one of the hikes. The best way to find a hiking trail that you’ll never forget is to ask a Maui local to recommend one to you.
For those of you flying in with lots of luggage, and you’re concerned about those heavy hiking boots bringing you over the airline checked luggage weight limit, wear your hiking boots on the plane and pack your lighter weight shoes and sneakers.
While hiking boots aren’t mandatory, we would strongly suggest wearing a good pair of sneakers with a thick tread sole. We saw tourists hiking the trails in flip flops and, while it can be done, the risk of injury is much higher.
10. Drive slowly and take turns at the wheel. The road to Hana is dangerous. With approximately 600 curves and 54 bridges, the Road to Hana can bring you closer to heaven in more ways than one. With winding roads, blind turns, constant traffic, distracting views, narrow one-lane roads, cliffs, and wet conditions, Hana Highway has proven its worth as a danger with many fatalities. Take your time, and make sure the driver is focusing on the road. The road is long and offers many chances to pull over and take a break or switch drivers. Remember: Getting to Hana is not the gem of this trip; everything along the way is your reward. I couldn’t have said this any better myself. For my clients who feel that this drive is not for them, don’t worry, we can schedule a tour so that you can still get the experience without the worry.
11. Research a Road to Hana Map and pick your stops before hand.Buy a map, print on from the web, get a book, or pick up some free maps and guides at the magazine and pamphlet stands. Read up on the spots that interest you the most and write down the mile marker. If you know where you’d like to go before hand, you won’t miss anything important to you. Just because the Road to Hana is FREE, don’t use this as an excuse to see everything. It’s in your best interest to absorb a few of your favorite stops along the way instead or rushing through the journey.
You might not be able to see everything in one day, especially if the road is crowded with other tourists. One thing we did, on our last trip, was to follow a tour bus down a different road. It led us right to this gorgeous beach near Keanae.
12. Don’t trespass. This is an important tip. An angry Hana local can ruin your trip really quickly. Believe or not, people do live along this paradise. Respect them and their property.
13. Get the banana bread. Some of the roadside stands are better than others, but all of them are good. They bake their breads fresh everyday, and sell so much of it, that they often bake through out the day. Fresh Hana Banana Bread isn’t cheap, but is a delicacy while on the road.
14. Leave early. The earlier the better. The Road to Hana is full of tourists throughout the day, but if you leave before them, you can beat the crowds. We suggest that you get up early and drive to some of the last sights along the way and work your way backwards. Another way to do it is drive the backside of Haleakala first (if the road is open) and go in the opposite direction. While this is a great idea to beat the crowds— check your rental car agreement. Many companies will void your insurance if you are on this road.
15. Get back before it gets dark. Driving the Road to Hana isn’t fun in the dark. The whole point of making this journey is for the sightseeing, so give yourself a couple hours to leave before darkness falls. Check what time sunset is and make sure you give yourself an hour or more before sunset to head back toward your hotel. Trust My Vacation Lady— this road is scary to drive at night.
16. Rent a convertible car. Maui is great for convertibles, but the Road to Hana is the best part. If you drive with the top down, be prepared for a better viewing experience, a few more bugs, and a 99% chance of having to pull over at one point or another for rain. When you do pull over, get off of the road completely. Also, do it slowly and safely. Getting a little wet is worth your not going off a cliff or hitting another car around a bend. Wait till it’s safe to pull over. If you don’t think you are willing to get a little wet, keep the top up. If it’s in the budget, upgrading to a convertible is a no brainer. Ask My Vacation Lady how much more a convertible might cost.
17. Bring rain slicks or at least a towel. Hana is lush and tropical for good reason. Hana is one of the most rained on places on Earth, so be prepared with something to dry off with and some protection if you plan on walking around a lot.
18. Don’t swim at the top of a waterfall. You’ve seen pictures of people basking on the rocks and swimming in a pool above a waterfall. Some of these spots have been closed to the public because of fatalities. Others are still open, but dangerous. This warning is not reserved for just the big waterfalls. One of our editors knows from experience how dangerous some of the smaller ones are. He was swept over and almost killed by a seemingly harmless fall. You might see locals doing this but please don’t try it yourself. So many of My Vacation Lady’s honeymooners go to Hawaii for their honeymoon and we certainly don’t want them to injure themselves on the most important vacation of their lives.
19. Check the weather service. If it’s been raining a lot lately, there could be flash floods. These floods come without warning and are extremely dangerous. They originate high in the hills and mountains, so you could be sitting in the sun one moment and swept away the next. This is very important!! and Check for road closures. Due to landslides and too much rain, certain parts of the road could be closed. If you check ahead of time, you can avoid a wasted trip. Call (808)986-1200.
20. Fill your gas tank to the top. Gas is even more expensive in Hana, if you can believe it. Plus there are no gas stations along the way from Paia to Hana.
21. Don’t plan any other for the same day. You may want to limit your next day’s activities as well. It will take you a full day to enjoy the Road to Hana. We suggest that if you plan on relaxing and having a mellow beach day, you make it for the day after Hana. Even though you’ll be sitting still and driving most of the time, the Road to Hana has a tendency to overwhelm the senses and exhaust everyone involved. Some of our clients want to stop back at Mama’s Fish House on the way home from their trip to Hana but My Vacation Lady doesn’t suggest it. You’ll be so taken by the scenery, you’re not going to want to rush back for dinner or miss your reservation all together. Don’t worry- we’ll make it for you another day.
Let My Vacation Lady help you plan your dream honeymoon or vacation to Hawaii.