East Maui is a lush tropical paradise with waterfalls and black sand beaches! Find out how to make the most of your East Maui tour on the Road to Hana. On the map it will be marked Hana Highway, Hawaii Route 36 and 360. 12 tips to make the most of the Road to Hana!
No, the photo above is not from Disney set! This wasn’t the only abandoned vehicle we saw along the road, but it was the most dramatic. I’m not quite sure what it says that the rain forests on Maui kept reminding us of Disney World. Let’s just go with it felt magical. 🙂
But so you don’t get stranded like the unlucky travelers in that van, read on for my tips to make the most of the Road to Hana!
The Road to Hana, called the Hana Highway, or Hawaii Roue 36 and 360 goes along the eastern coast of the island in East Maui.
12 tips for the Road to Hana
1. Stay the night on the tropical East side of the island, preferably two nights.
If you can make the time, definitely make reservations to spend 1-2 night on the east side of Maui. If you do, you’ll have time to hike to the Bamboo Forrest. If not, I suggest you not try to drive that far to avoid rushing.
If you don’t have two days for the Road to Hana, check out my Road to Hana – Shortcut Tour.[link]
2. Don’t leave anything in your car unattended.
We saw and heard multiple warnings about this. This is tricky if you spend the night on East Maui, as it means you can’t leave your car unattended until after you stop at your destination for the night.
3. Check your credit cards for included car rental insurance, or get extra insurance on your auto rental.
Yes, I know you’re an excellent driver!
But not everyone else is.
If you’re hugging the side of the rock wall, and the car in the outside lane is scared of tumbling off the edge, they may crowd you. That doesn’t even begin to account for the tour buses that are WIDER than their lane. Drive with care, and get the extra insurance.
4. Prepare for mud on hikes.
It is a “rain” forest. When you see signs in the restroom asking you please to not wash off mud and clog the sinks, you know you are in for some serious mud.
5. Pack snack, water, and even full meals.
Food stands are hit or miss when it comes to the hours they are open. Even in Hana, there aren’t many restaurants. And their hours are limited. But even your travel snacks can be a taste of Hawaii! See my post [link]
6. Eat at the Flat Bread Company in Puau before you set out.
If you plan to stay the night, you can afford to get a late start. You’ll miss the morning crowds. And you’ll have an excellent excuse to stop in Puau for lunch. So good, it was the only place in Maui we ate twice! On a one day trip, eat there on the way back.
7. Carry water on any hikes.
You will need more water than you think.
8. Stop at a fruit stand.
Some stands are serve yourself. These are best and cheapest for produce.
Some stands are staffed. These are best for fruit smoothies, homemade ice cream, and homemade banana bread. [link]
Here’s the fruit we picked up on our drive to Hana.
The ugliest passion fruit tasted the best. The huge, beautiful, avocado? Tasted like soap. The palm-sized pineapple was amazing!
9. Stop at the Garden of Eden Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Lots of people rush, or skip this all together. Don’t skip it! The Garden of Eden on Maui [link] is one of the best places to experience the rain forest.
10. Stop at a waterfall.
Look for waterfalls where you can park and snap a photo. We did see some people swimming at some of the falls. Be prepared for a hike to get to them. Before you go, research which ones are legal and safest for a dip. Beware of rocks going over the falls!
11. See a black sand beach.
Waianapanapa State Park black sand beach is quite a beauty to behold! If you aren’t spending the night in Hana, this is a good end destination. It’s just before you reach the actual town of Hana. On the island, it’s north of the town. Turn around at Waianapanapa State Park and enjoy the road back.
12. 7 Sacred Pools and Bamboo forest
The Bamboo Forest is the ultimate destination of the road to Hana!
It is the goal of every itenerary I read to get you there and back to your West Maui or South Maui resort in a day. But if you read the accounts carefully, those who try this merely stop briefly and turn around. The hike to the Bamboo Forrest was a highlight of the trip for my teens. If you do hike it, don’t miss my supply list for the Bamboo Forrest Hike. It’s going to take you several hours.
The Road to Hana
The road to Hana is a must see to really experience the island. It was my husband’s favorite part of the trip! Don’t have time to drive the whole route? I’ll be writing a shortcut post for the Road to Hana.