The road to Hana and the Red Sand Beach are delightful side trips when visiting Maui. The drive from Kahului to Hana is beautiful and picturesque. Once there, the Red Sand Beach on Hana Bay is a must for beach lovers.
Driving the Hana Road
This scenic drive is about 68 miles on Highway 36 and Highway 360 between Kahului and Hana. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the drive includes 59 bridges and 620 curves on narrow roads. Most of the bridges are one lane, requiring oncoming traffic to stop while a car crosses. Even though the drive seems a short distance, you should allow at least three hours, as the curves will slow you down and traffic can be heavy. You may also want to stop frequently to visit the food stands, view the scenery or wait for a rain shower to pass.
If you have a rental car, make sure that your rental company does not prohibit driving the car on the Hana Highway. You may also want to request a convertible, as driving with the top down gives maximum visibility of the magnificent landscape.
As an alternative to driving, consider taking a guided bus tour. You will eliminate your driving stress and be able to concentrate of the beauty of the drive in the comfort of air conditioning.
What to See on the Drive
There is so much to see and do along the road that you shouldn't plan to do everything in one trip. Maps and guidebooks are available for planning your trip. A few of the highlights are:
- Paia: This historic town is full of shops, boutiques and restaurants. Take a break here, as the most difficult part of the drive is coming up. Fill up the tank, as there are no gas stations until you reach Hana.
- Maui Grown Market: A little over 7 miles past Paia, this is the last place for food for 30 miles. It also has restroom facilities. Pick up a picnic lunch for later.
- Garden of Eden Arboretum and Botanical Garden: Approximately ten miles from the market, this garden features 26 acres of nature trails for hiking.
- Puohokamoa Stream: Eleven miles past the Maui Grown Market, a short stroll will take you to picnic tables and a waterfall with a swimming area.
- Kaumahina State Wayside Park: A mile further than Puohokamoa Stream is the park, which offers picnic facilities, restrooms and views of the coast.
- Keanae Arboretum: Located past mile marker 16, the arboretum is at the halfway point of the drive. There are short walking trails as well as picnic areas.
- Pua'a Ka'a State Wayside Park: About a half a mile past mile marker 22, the park has restrooms, picnic facilities and a stream and waterfall with swimming access.
- Wainapanapa State Park: Offering picnic areas and restrooms, the state park also gives access to lava caves and a black sand beach.
Arriving in Hana
Consider staying the night in Hana, as there is much to see and do in this quiet town. You can visit the Seven Sacred Pools, a series of pools and waterfalls located in the Haleakala National Park. Nearby is the Wailua Falls, a beautiful scenic spot popular with visitors. The Red Sand Beach is also a "must see."
Red Sand Beach
You've finished your drive on the road to Hana and Hana Red Sand Beach is waiting for you. The beach, whose official name is Kaihalulu, is one of the few red sand beaches in the world. Its color comes from the red volcanic cindercone hill, which also turns the water a glorious azure. Swimming is poor and dangerous here, and there are no lifeguards on duty. Instead, you will want to enjoy the magnificent view with its beautiful colors: red sand, turquoise water and green tropical foliage. The beach is in a secluded location, so there may be some clothing optional sunbathers around.
Tips of the Road to Hana and Hana Red Sand Beach
- Dress comfortably and wear sturdy shoes. If you plan to do any walking or hiking, hiking shoes are a must.
- You should prepare yourself for the elements. Take bug repellent and with the frequent rain, a towel and an umbrella are handy.
- Rental cars are easily identifiable. Always lock your car and don't leave valuables in the car.
- The Maui citizens are friendly and helpful. Don't be shy about asking for directions or recommendations.
- Traffic can get quite heavy. You would be wise to leave very early and plan to be back before dark. The road, which is difficult enough by day, becomes treacherous at night.
- Take your time and enjoy the trip. Don't hurry through the stops just so you can see everything. Save some things for the next trip.