Someone once told me that “the only thing to do once you get to Hana is turn around.” I respectfully disagree! The Road to Hana is an iconic experience to have on Maui, and a bucket list activity for many. And for a good reason! Whether you take the main road or the “back” road, the views are endless and worth the inevitable nausea from all of the hairpin turns. However, the fun doesn’t have to stop once you get to Hana! Here are 5 things to do once you arrive in Hana, Hawaii.
The best piece of advice I can offer is to save your appetite along the drive! Trust me, this will be one of the best meals you have on Maui!
A local family sets up a tent on the beach to cook fresh, flavorful chicken over an open flame. It will be some of the most tender and juicy chicken you will ever eat. It can be a little tricky to find, especially because there will be minimal cell service. Here is an exact link. When you’re getting close, keep your eyes peeled for signs like the one pictured above along the road to direct you. Their official hours are 11 am – 6 pm, but everything runs on island time here. They’ll open when they’re ready.
For $15 (cash only), you’re guaranteed not to leave hungry. You’ll receive a full plate with hearty servings of chicken, rice, salad, and coleslaw. A drink is also included in the price.
The icing on the cake is that you get to enjoy your huli huli chicken while sitting right on the beach. It’s rocky, so don’t expect to do much swimming, but it makes quite the backdrop for your perfect lunch.
After you fill up on huli huli chicken, head about 100 yards down the road to Koki Beach. Here, you’ll find a gorgeous red sand beach lined with tall cliffs. The water is bright turquoise and the perfect place to take a quick dip. Be careful though, the waves can be huge and the current is very strong. There were some locals who were body surfing further out, but it was obvious they were very experienced and strong swimmers. Be very careful, and when in doubt, don’t go out.
There were plenty of dense trees toward the back of the beach which made for a perfect place to lay in the shade.
One of the many waterfalls along the Road to Hana. Wailua Falls is located about halfway between the Pools of ‘Ohe’o and Koki Beach (technically still in the town of Hana). This is one of the easier stops, as there is a dirt parking area right across the street. Unfortunately we were on a bit of a time crunch and didn’t have much time to fully take in all in. There were however, lots of people making the short hike to the base of the falls where a there was a freshwater swimming hole. Bring your water shoes as it’s pretty rocky!
Another stop that is technically in Hana, but about 10 minutes before the town (if you are driving the main road). Waiʻānapanapa State Park (don’t ask me how to pronounce) is an absolute must-do on your drive. Here is where you’ll find the iconic black sand beach. The “black sand” is actually volcanic rock, which makes the experience of walking along it even cooler.
Right next to the beach there is even a short lava tube that you can walk in! The entrance is small and you’ll need to squat to get in, but it opens up right away and you’ll have no problem. Avoid entering during high tide, but it’s otherwise very safe to pop in and explore.
Located within Waiʻānapanapa State Park, the Coast Path takes you up a short cliff that overlooks the bright blue ocean and black sand beach. The hike itself is not difficult. Expect a short uphill climb, but the rocks are carved out like stairs to make it much easier. Be mindful however, that there is no shade. You are completely exposed to the elements and the black rock attracts even more heat. Bring a hat and plenty of sunscreen and water if you plan on venturing out for an extended period of time.
My favorite part however, was the waves crashing along the cliffs. They sprayed water everywhere (which was also the perfect way to cool off). Not to be missed!