Wailua Waterfall

Road to Hana Waterfalls

The road to Hana is known for it’s waterfalls, lots and lots of waterfalls.

Wailua WaterfallNow we all love the sun, and for many visitors to Hawaii they love it too.  Its what they came out to the islands for.   Our island is setup beautifully with the glorious Mount Haleakala blocking a lot of the storms, rains and winds.   It keeps the clouds and most of the rain on Maui’s northern shores and allows the southern shores to be basked in hot summer-like sun almost everyday.   The tall mountain and the trade winds sets up the perfect environment for a rain forest to thrive; and thrive it does.   Maui’s rainforest is spectacular, filled with varied vegetation, coastal views and lots of waterfalls.

From the Hana highway you can see a lot of waterfalls of various sizes.  Some are tall and just a trickle of water, while others are short and wide.  The flow of water depends mostly on the rain and how much water is being held back upstream by the East Maui Irrigation Company.  They have built water catchment canals and dams across most streams to redirect all that water to central Maui to use for growing sugar cane.   We love the rain for many reasons and one of them is that it provides the water for falls along the road to Hana.   Maui’s watershed is quite small so daily rain is very important to keep the water levels high going over the falls.

To see a lot of waterfalls, just take a drive down the Hana highway and keep a look out every time you go around a corner.  There are many to see right from the road but there are so many others that are hidden.  A book can explain a general location and a CD can tell you a little based upon the road markers (that aren’t always there).  In most cases, to see the best waterfalls, you need a guide, someone who knows for sure and will take you to the best viewing spot.  Many times a great waterfall can be seen only from an elevated seat, like in a tour van or making a stop and walking back down the road a little way.  There are lots of waterfalls right under the bridge, that you wouldn’t see unless you stopped and looked over the edge.  There are hundreds of waterfalls that require a bit of a hike into the forest to see like at Twin Falls or up the Oheo Gulch, to some some of the tallest in Maui county.

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Here is a sample of some of the waterfalls to check out on the road to Hana.  The most picturesque is Wailua falls located just before the area of Haleakala National Park, it’s on the far side of Hana, on the road FROM Hana.


Rainforest Canopy Covering The Road to Hana

How Long Is The Road to Hana

One of the many yield signs on the Hana Highway

One of the many yield signs on the Hana Highway.

Most visitors who are driving out to Hana are not starting at the highway’s beginning and not going out to it’s end so there are a lot of the numbers quoted that don’t really apply to you.  Let’s start off with the most used number.

The road to Hana is 50 miles

This number assumes you are starting at the intersection of Dairy Road (the road leading to the airport) and the Hana highway.  This intersection is the busiest on the island and everyone has to pass through it coming or going from the island.  Your journey will stop in the center of the village of Hana.  Starting from here you can expect a drive of about 2.5 hours adding on another 1.5 hours for stops.

The road to Hana is 35 miles.

This number is true if you are starting at the historic marker at the intersection of the Hana Highway and Kaupakalua Rd or Route 365.  This is your last turn off before you commit to spending the day driving out  to Hana.  It’s the unofficial start of the historic highway.  The road to Hana at this point is still pretty tame and won’t get really winding for another 4 miles or so.

The road to Hana is 68 miles

This is what Google says when you put that into the search engines.  Here is one example when you should not believe everything you read online.  This number is taken from wikipedia and they state that the Hana Highway is 68 miles.  While this is true most people are not going to be driving the entire length of Hana highway.   The “road to Hana” and “Hana highway” are related words so Google makes a guess on it’s result pages.

The actual Hana Highway stretches from the center of Kahului, where  West Kaahumanu Ave makes it’s sharp turn by the port and goes all the way out to Kaupo.   If you were to fly from Kahului directly over the summit of the Haleakala and keep going in a straight line back down the other side you would come out in the village of Kaupo just below the Kaupo Gap.  That is where the Hana Highway, that follows the northern slopes of the mountain officially ends.

Distance From South Kihei or Wailea is 65 miles

Starting your journey to Hana from Kihei or Wailea you odometer will register about 65 miles.   This doesn’t seem like much but it will take about 3 hours to get to Hana without stops or delays.  For a leisurely drive that includes stops for pictures, washroom breaks and short hikes, expect to spend at least 4.5 hours on your road to Hana adventure.

The distance from Lahaina, Kaannapali and Napili is between 70 and 80 miles

The distance from most West Maui hotels is slightly more compared to hotels in Kihei or Wailea.  Plan to be out for an entire day no matter where you are staying on Maui’s southern shores.  It takes about 45 mins just to get to the Hana highway.  This can be slightly longer during morning rush hours.  It’s nothing compared to the big cities but it happens.

It’s 35, 50, 68 and 80 depending on where your journey starts.

The road to Hana feels a lot longer then it really is because of the speed you travel, the scenery and all the stops you will want to make.

Rainforest Canopy Covering The Road to Hana

Rainforest Canopy Covering The Road to Hana

Round Trip Journey is About 140 Miles

Don’t want to drive it yourself but still want to go?  You can get a lot more out of your day by taking a road to Hana tour.  Some Maui tour companies go in a loop and don’t have to double back down the winding part of the Hana highway like all those driving themselves using rental cars.  A tour company can take you past Hana, showing you places like Kipahulu, Kaupo and the backside of Maui. It’s a 10 to 11 hour journey that covers about 140 miles in total.  This includes pickup and drop off at any hotels or condos.