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.

I Survived The Road To Hana Shirt

Why Is There An ‘I Survived The Road to Hana’ Shirt?

The “I Survived the Road to Hana T-shirt” is in existence for several good reasons. The Road to Hana has many challenges that every visitor taking this route needs to overcome to reach heavenly Hana. These obstacles include, but are not limited to, such occurrences as driver trust issues, car sickness, personal injury, road rage and serious automobile accidents, just to name a few. Time management and other road issues can also be a factor to why many visitors never seem to be able to get to the heavenly town of Hana.

I survived the road to Hana T-shirts

I survived the road to Hana T-shirts

1. Quarreling – It’s called the “Divorce Highway” for a reason. Anyone whose marriage on the rocks, or whose significant other has driver trust issues, should not drive with their partner on this road. Trust is an important thing to have in your driver’s skills toolbox. If trust is one of the tension points in your marriage and you haven’t discussed / threatened filing for divorce by the time you reach Hana, then you both deserve to get a shirt.

2. Queasy Stomachs – The road has hundreds of turns. Hundreds… Last count was over 600 and that is verified by the HDOT. They are sharp turns too, meaning that anyone with even a slightly touchy stomach will, at times, feel a little queasy. There are many things you can do to help prevent this like munching on some food while you go, getting a good breakfast beforehand, taking motion sickness pills, hydrating yourself and of course, driving slow and smooth. Despite the amount of rain and waterfalls being everywhere, there is no easy way to clean up the nasty side effects associated with motion sickness on the Road to Hana, so if you make it, you deserve a shirt.

3. Accidents – There are all sorts of vehicles and people visiting from all over the world and they’re driving on the unpredictable Road to Hana. You’ll encounter ranchers, road crews, locals in a hurry, big vans, big trucks, tractors, ATVs, the odd biker and the occasional hitchhiker. Aside from the mini-landslides which happen at least every few days, people are constantly stopping to catch a great view, but of course they tend to stop in some of the most dangerous or inappropriate places. Minor accidents happen all the time that can definitely delay your carefully laid plans and make dealing with the rental car company nothing short of a nightmare. If you make it unscathed, you deserve a shirt.

4. Distractions – The Road to Hana attracts so many visitors for one reason, and that is the incredible views. Hands down it’s the most beautiful part of Maui. Around every blind turn and over every single lane bridge is yet another incredible scene that you will want to stop and check out. It is so easy to forget that your driver must be focused on the road, and not the scenery, because there are many stretches on the Road to Hana where there are no guard rails and the drop off is 200 feet or more. Usually not a drop to be survived if you go over, so if you actually complete the round trip to Hana and back, you deserve a shirt.

5. Debris – The road crews are kept busy because the weather doesn’t let up for a minute. Road washouts, rocks and landslides are common, especially after or during a good rain which happens almost daily. The crews are quick to clean up hazards but vehicles can definitely get damaged in unavoidable circumstances. So, if your car makes it there without needing bodywork afterwards, you deserve a shirt.

6. Parking – Frustrations can run high when certain waterfalls are really going off. Parking is limited at many of the waterfalls that everyone wants to stop at and check out for better views on the bridge.  You may spend a lot of time waiting or backtracking to get that view. “No Parking” signs are there for safety reasons. If you make it without getting into a brawl over a spot to park your rental, you deserve a shirt.

7. Falling – We don’t mean falling off a cliff with your car while driving which could possibly happen, even if you aren’t a really, really bad driver.  Many areas do not have guardrails. Every once in awhile someone has been in so much of a rush to get that picture before other cars come down the road that they have forgotten to put their car’s brake on, it’s happened with a few cars with a  manual transmission. Should you not require a winch to get your car out of a gully or ditch, then you deserve a shirt.

8. Timing – There is so much to see and do, on the Road to Hana that you may never actually get to the town of Hana itself to pick up a shirt from there. Hikes, shops, waterfalls and incredible views will always keep you longer than you have planned for along the way. It’s only 50 plus miles and you will be lucky to travel at 20 miles per hour so leave in good time and don’t speed. If you take your time and go in style you’ll have the best possible experience and to round it out, you deserve a shirt.

9. Injuries – There are many ways to end up in the ER when travelling the Road to Hana. It’s waterfalls are all about rocks and water. When mixed together, they become a slippery, jagged labyrinth of sharpness at every step. A great way to end your day early is hiking up to a waterfall, but not in sandals, unless you want to nurse a sprained or broken ankle the rest of your trip. And you’ll notice there are many signs that encourage you not to trespass or go into certain pools or under the waterfalls, but most tourists ignore these and many of them get hurt. For instance, during normal weather it isn’t so risky, unless there is rain above on the mountain, which you would have no way of knowing and would not expect a spiky deluge to come out of nowhere while you’re skimpy dipping, but it has happened and quite often. Especially after a strong rain, lots of dangerous debris floods down through the gulches and feeds into the waterfalls and creeks. There can even be flash flooding at any of the pools. Also, most rocks, branches and trees, although they look stable, they aren’t and it’s deceiving. Many a tourist has gone missing while climbing up a creek or waterfall, especially the 7 Sacred Pools, and only been found later either clinging on to a rock, tree, bush, or worse, nothing and was washed out to sea. Should you be wise enough to heed the signs and come out with your life, you deserve a shirt.

10. Weather – Aside from the flash flooding which was just mentioned in the “Injuries” section above, there are several reasons to heed the weather, especially when traveling the Road to Hana. The tradewinds bring a variety of weather to Maui throughout the day. Incredible, unexpected downpours can occur within moments from a seemingly clear blue sky. And, believe it or not, it is definitely a normal occurrence. It’s the rainforest and many tourists are not prepared for it. A favorite thing that the locals love to comment on is when they see tourists driving up to Haleakala summit and they get out and are expecting it to be the same temperature it is at the beach. Wearing shorts, a t-shirt and sandals to explore the peak which can have temperatures 60 degrees below what it is at sea level and winds 60 mph greater, and that’s on a good day. The same is true for those caught unaware in their convertible or Jeep on the Road to Hana. It’s a great thought to shell out the extra cash for one of these luxurious, sun-maximizing rentals, but if you didn’t learn how to stop and put up the top quickly, getting soaked by an unexpected downpour will make you turn back on the Road to Hana in order to get back into the hot, dry, sunny south. If you make it to Hana without getting soaked or turning back, you deserve a shirt.

Maui Map

Caring for Hawaii’s Land

Maui MapHawaiians believed that the Land and their environment was a gift from the heavens for mankind. In return Hawaiians had a responsibility (Kuleana) to maintain a balance of caring (Malama) for their land to survive. They believed everything was here for a purpose; the land is here for the growing of food, providing tools and building shelters and canoes, items that man needs.

They believed everything is a life form, from the land to the sky to the waters and plants, they showed these gifts respect. They thanked the trees for their fruit, the thanked the tree for being here so they could build a canoe, they thanked the rain for giving them life.

When looking for a tree that would become a canoe, they would spend days looking at each tree, and Praying to be shown the one that had been destined to become the canoe they needed; The one that was really a canoe that still had the shape of a tree. Before Harvesting and carving the Canoe they would all gather and say their Mahalo (thank you) Chants. Thanking the Land for providing the space and nutrients for the tree to grow, they thanked the rain that provided the land with water to grow the tree, they thanked the sky for providing the clouds that carried the rain. When the Canoe was finished it became part of the family (Ohana), it was treated as another person. The canoe was cared for, loved and respected. A canoe was carried to the ocean, never dragged on the beach, for that would have been disrespectful.

In today’s world, we sometimes forget all the gifts the Heavens have brought us, but it is our sharing of the Hawaiian Culture that keeps us appreciating the wonders our environment have for us to see, feel, hear, and survive with.