The very thin two-lane Hana Highway Hawaii is full of twists, turns, and one-lane bridges that separates Maui’s popular beach cities from this isolated town. Although Hana maintains a certain charm, the real adventure is in exploring the road to Hana that gets you there. The famed road to Hana is a multiple-hour drive through lush untouched rain forests, past countless waterfalls and along the jagged northeastern coastline of Maui. Settle in, turn up the radio to listen to some traditional ukulele music and prepare for the experience of a lifetime.
Hana Highway Hawaii: Fresh Flora
Traveling on Hana Highway, Hawaii is a very popular activity for tourists. Drive to Hana instead of taking a tour so you can create your own schedule. Try to get an early-morning start; it’s much easier to explore when you can find places to park along the roadway rather than getting stuck in an endless line of cars. The enchanting beauty of Maui’s rain forest will have your kids begging you to pull over every few feet as they see something new outside the car windows. As you drive along Hana and drive through Maui, you will encounter different types of flora, including tropical orange and red flowers, forests of bamboo, fields of taro plants and fruit trees ripe with bananas, papayas, coconuts, guavas, and mountain apples. Grab the fruit off of a tree for a tasty rain forest treat.
Your first stop on Hana Highway Hawaii should be Twin Falls. Located just after mile marker two, you will recognize the area by the giant fruit stand out front. Buy some tropical mango to munch on as you hike around this area. You will get a little grimy here as many of the hiking trails require you to walk through some muddy ditches, but your children will have a blast exploring the essence of a Hawaiian rain forest. The Twin Falls, the two largest waterfalls nearby, are lovely, but the thing kids will love most is the freshwater pool ideal for a morning swim. Complete with a rope swing, this pool will start anyone’s day off with excitement and adventure as they are engulfed in nature.
Another spot for exploration comes once you past mile marker six. Pull over next to the bamboo forest and crawl through an opening in the wooden stems. Head downhill through the bamboo until you reach the main trail then follow it to find a wide array of waterfalls and pools. Time to swim again!
One of the hidden secrets along Hana Highway Hawaii is Lower Puohokamoa Falls, a thin waterfall that cascades almost 200 feet down the side of a verdant cliff. Pull over near the telephone pole between mile markers 10 and 11 to park. If you walk down a small hill along a fence, you will reach a lookout where you can watch the water flow. Your kids will love this gorgeous sight, but make sure they keep them away from the fence—there is a steep cliff with a long drop below.
Just past mile marker 31, you can turn off the main highway to reach Kahanu Gardens, which is part of Hawaii’s National Tropical Botanical Garden. A ford in the nearby stream will allow you to drive across unless there has been a lot of rain. If it is flooded, turn back and do not try to cross, but if it is drivable, head across to travel to the Pi’ilanihale Heiau. This ancient structure, created with pieces of lava rock, was a historical place of worship during the Pi’ilani Dynasty. It is not allowed to climb on the massive structure, but they can view it from afar while learning about Hawaii’s cultural history and the uses of the local plants.
When You Reach Hana
After all of your adventures along the road, you will be starving. Hana is the best place along the highway to stop for a bite to eat. Visit the Hana Ranch Restaurant to grab some sandwiches or burgers to go then head to Hana Bay and have lunch next to the clear blue water. It will be a relaxing ending to an invigorating rain forest adventure.