On April 2018, we went to Maui on an incentive trip. With only 4 days in Maui, we would like to spend the most of our stay, and we spent the whole day driving on the Road to Hana, an unforgettable trip to more than Southern half of the island. The spectacular trip took us to the rain forest on the East side of the island, to the drier cliff-side of the West side that has similar weather to Californian weather. Even after many days back home, I still occasionally had dream of the amazing Hawaiian road trip.
Where to start the Road to Hana?
Most people start on the East side to the West side since it is easier to drive and stop along the road to see many waterfalls along the road. For those who don’t have time to drive the entire trip around the island, starting on the East side will get you closer to many beautiful waterfalls and hiking trails when weather allows. You can spend some time there and go back to town quickly from the East side. Plus, driving from the East side will let you drive on the inner land, not the cliff-side lane, which sometimes can be very dangerous on the narrow road with plenty of blind curves.
If you drive from the West side, be prepared for very slow and long start (about 1-2 hours). You can see beautiful scenes of the ocean, but not a lot of waterfalls along the road, as the west side is pretty dry like California.
Ho’okipa Beach Park
At 8AM, we started our trip at Ho’okipa Beach Park, about a short distance from Pa’ia Town. Parking is limited but since we arrived early, we could find some parking at the view point. From here, you can walk around, watch the big waves which some surfers are riding, look at some cattle roaming around on the green grass field, and if you are lucky, find some turtles lying on the beach. My co-workers found nearly 50 turtles on the beach in the afternoon the previous day, but we could not see any that morning 🙁
Driving about 15-20 minutes, we arrived at the first waterfalls: Twin Falls. You will see the parking lot with a colorful fruit stand in front. To see the waterfalls, you need to hike through Wailele Farm, which is a private property but they have opened to the public for free to share the beauty.
The Ho’olawa Valley, which translates as “to provide, to share in abundance, to equip or make available so everyone has enough”, feeds the creek and waterfalls while also feeding the various crops on the farm.
Since you will be walking through the private farm, do not pick any fruits there, and be mindful, don’t litter there. Be careful that the trail can be slippery, and when it rains too much, it can be very dangerous to be close to the water.
When we visited the waterfall, there had been a storm before our visit, so the river was swelling and they advised not to hike to the upper stream. It was a bit disappointed but we could get at least one good picture of the Twin Falls.
There are so many waterfalls along the road that we couldn’t keep track of those we stopped at. Sometimes we saw beautiful waterfalls right at the narrow bridges, and we stopped the car to take quick photos and moved on. The rain provided many streams down the mountain, creating the lush rain forest that we hadn’t seen since we left Vietnam nearly 10 years ago.
The road sometimes is so narrow that it can only fit 1 car so be careful of incoming traffic. Some parts of the road have blind turns and it could be helpful for cars from other direction to honk when you turn at some blind turn. On the west side of the island, we were driving 5 mph due to very bad road quality: unpaved road that is full of pot holes. Luckily we got an SUV to drive but we were still afraid of getting flat tires. However, a big vehicle can be a bit tricky to drive on the narrow road, especially when 2 SUVs try to pass each other (like our case).
According to Tour Maui, this road could be deadly to many tourists, especially those who try to take photos while driving. There are sheer cliffs with 100 ft + drops in some of the areas without guardrails, and we saw some guardrails that were in very bad condition along the cliff. No wonder why it is one of the most dangerous roads in the world:
In its 62 miles you climb around 4,700 ft above sea level on roads so narrow that at many points there isn’t enough room for both sides of traffic. There are also 620 turns, most of them near hairpins, in just those 62 miles. For those of you bad at maths, that’s 10 turns per miles. That’s insane. The road surface is poor, there are few, if any, guardrails, insane amounts of tourism traffic and drop-offs that offer no chance of survival. Combine that with the beautifully breathtaking views which are of constant distraction, and the Road to Hana is one of the most dangerous roads in the world. I’ve personally been on this road, and at many points it’s gorgeous, but it’s mostly terrifying. But I’m afraid of heights, so maybe it’s just me.