This depends on what type of traveler you are and how much time you have. If you'd rather not drive, and you want a guide you can ask questions to, a Hana van tour is the best option. If you want a little more control over where you go, and you want to do your own research, driving is your best option. If you're short on time, do a heli tour. You'll have time to do other things that day, like lounge at the beach.
The best way is by staying a few nights in Hana Town. It is IMPOSSIBLE to do everything and see all the sights in 1 day (trust us, we've tried.) The best way is to pick a few sights to see each day and stay overnight. Hana is about slowing down and enjoying nature.
Another thing you need to keep in mind is that Hana, and along the Road to Hana, there is so much history and legend in every rock and crevice. If you do your reading beforehand, you'll enjoy your adventure that much more. For example, did you know that Ka'uiki Hill at Hana Bay was the stronghold of Maui for many many bloody battles. Ask a local about the Night Marchers!
Many of the popular guidebooks list spots that are either dangerous to visit or are invasive to the privacy of the local people. We don't like sending people through local Hana residents' backyards.
We've listed some of our favorite spots. If you want to know more, we recommend taking a van tour, buying The R2H CD, or taking a tour with one of the local guides at Travaasa Hotel Hana. We don't recommend a lot of the guidebooks out there (hopefully they change their content soon.)
Yes, it can be dangerous if you:
Along the road, you'll find plenty of Banana Bread stands, some of which offer other food. Nahiku Marketplace is conveniently on the side of the Hana Highway and has some tasty options. When in Hana, we highly suggest eating at the lounge or dining room at Travaasa Hana Hotel. Great food and excellent view. For the most flexibility in your schedule, we suggest bringing your lunch and breakfast as a picnic. Kuau Store offers some great Hana picnic lunches and is located conveniently right before you begin your journey to Hana.
Uh, yes. It rains everyday. It will rain when you go. BUT, it usually doesn't last long and it's a warm rain. You'll want to bring a towel or 2 and be prepared to put the top up on the car. There's a reason why the Road to Hana is so incredibly lush.
It goes without saying. Anyone that's stayed at the Travaasa Hotel Hana will agree that it's the best place in Hana to stay. It's literally in the Heart of Hana (in fact, it could be said that it IS Hana Town.) You can't go anywhere in Hana Town without being next to the hotel grounds. They have some great Kama'aina deals, and they have a bunch of complimentary activities that make Hana that much more interesting.
This is an interesting questions we get from those that aren't staying for very long. If you go straight to Hana and stay the night, you can do it at any minimum, but most people like to have some relaxing time along with adventure, which requires a rest before and after big drives. We think anyone visiting for a week or more should consider Hana. For those of you staying longer, check out this 9-Day Maui itinerary.
And for those of you wondering what time is it in Hawaii, we got you covered.
If your rental car agreement allows you to drive the backside of Haleakala, it might be worth it. BUT keep in mind that the road isn't paved for large stretches, so it's pretty bumpy. Sunset while driving this road is pretty nice, and you can stop for dinner in Kula or Makawao on the way back.
While it is largely up to your fitness level and willingness to get off the beaten path, we absolutely recommend the Classic Canyon Rappelling Tour with Rappel Maui, which requires absolutely no experience and offers visitors the chance to rappel down several cascading waterfalls and swim in natural pools on a 30-acre botanical garden, located about half way down the Hana Highway.
We also recommend camping at Wai’anapanapa State Park and Kipahulu for those seeking an extended stay in one of the most scenic areas on earth, and hiking the Pipiwai Trail, which offers an excellent opportunity to witness banyan trees, a bamboo forest and several waterfalls all in one area.
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