As our tour guide so nicely described it when we first entered the mini bus at around 6:00am in the morning, the Road to Hana is not about the town of Hana itself, which is not very exciting on its own, but it is truly about the entire journey and all the amazing stops you can make along the way. It is almost impossible to make every stop in Hana in just one day, since the road is not easy to trek along and there is no established lighting, you either have to finish the entire trip or turn around and make it back to the starting point before the sun sets. Each trip along the Road to Hana is going to be different, whether you drive the road yourself or decide to take one of the tours. As typical tour people, we decided to go for the tour and picked Hana Tours of Maui.
Things to Know About Taking a Tour of the Road to Hana:
- The one complaint I’ve heard about this tour, or any of the Hana tours, is that you don’t get out of the mini bus much. This is one hundred percent true, but this tour covers the entire loop in one day and that means there is limited time to stop at every waterfall and hike on the way. Taking a tour is a great beginners trip and then you can return in your own car to park among the crowds and spend a couple of hours hiking and taking more photos along the route. By the end of the day we covered over one hundred miles.
- Although the idea of driving our own rental car and being able to make more stops along the way is enticing, I’m not sure I would feel confident being behind the wheel. Our driver let us know that there were going to be almost six hundred turns and fifty, one-lane bridges along our trip. The one-lane bridges are difficult to navigate, especially when most of the traffic consists of out-of-towners in rental cars. Also, if you have a light stomach, then the six hundred turns might be too much for you. One of our fellow passengers really struggled, but once you start the Road to Hana you have to finish it, as you can’t exactly call yourself an Uber to get back out.
- There were two opportunities to swim throughout the day. The first was at a decent sized waterfall with a small watering hole at the bottom where many tourists stopped to swim. The second time was at Black Sand Beach. We had a full hour to explore the area around Black Sand Beach and get into the water. Two warnings for this stop, it is not “black sand” at this beach but actually lava rocks and they don’t exactly feel great on your feet. You should also be wary of the high tide and strong waves at this beach if you are not a good swimmer. I ended up with one of the little lava rocks wedged into my foot after a wipe out from a wave. It was a blast for the full hour until I realized I had to get the rock out later that night with tweezers.
- Surprisingly, this tour had a big food theme throughout. We stopped at Halfway to Hana for delicious homemade banana bread, we stopped at Coconut Glen’s for the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever had that also happened to be dairy free, we had a great picnic lunch, and we stopped at a honey stand near the end of the trip.
- Some Hana tours drive to Hana and then turn around and head back along the same way that you drive in. The Hana Tours of Maui instead drives the entire route which includes the back half along road 37 and it was totally worth saving some of the stops we skipped for another day. The back path felt like we stepped into another world with the rolling green hills and stillness away from all of the traffic of the first half. This part of the trip is much more difficult to navigate so I would leave it to the more experienced local drivers.
- Our driver Ted was the best. It felt like a family friend who happens to live in the place you are vacationing to decided to give you his own tour. He had plenty of facts and fun tidbits to keep you interested during the trip, but he was also open to questions and veering from the script based on the interests of the people in the mini bus.
- The entire group was beat by the end of the day, but it’s worth traveling to Maui just to experience the Road to Hana.
We started the day with a full breakfast that included this amazing backdrop(both breakfast and lunch were included in the tour price, the additional snacks were out of pocket) .There is a road hidden among the greenery somewhere.Up close shot of the “black sand.”We stopped here to eat our picnic lunch and browse the offerings of a local jewelry maker. Start of the back half of the tour.