The Road to Hana

Pools of ‘Ohe’o (aka Seven Sacred Pools)

Rating: In a nutshell: The Pools of ‘Ohe’o are the most popular attraction in East Maui. Beautiful waterfalls and pools in an absolutely stunning setting. Easy access and full NPS facilities. Minuses: It gets very crowded as the day goes on. Access to pools is closed off frequently in wet weather. Sound-bite: “Is that guy really going to jump from …

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Hamoa Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: A beautiful crescent beach with a reliable surf break. Minuses: Currents can be strong. Sound-bite: “Am I sticking out too far in the road?” Summary This beach is often ranked up there with the famous beaches in the resort areas of Maui, and deservingly so. A postcard-perfect 100′ wide by 1000′ long crescent. Hamoa Beach is …

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Wai’anapanapa State Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Spectacular views of rugged shoreline, sea arches, black sand beach, and more. Minuses: Swimming is often marginal. Sound-bite: “Sir, you should probably stand back from that blowhole.” (…wait for it…) DETAILS: Simply stated, Wai’anapanapa State Park is among the very best of the Road to Hana sites. It offers outstanding nearly 360-degree sweeping panoramic views. On …

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Pipiwai Trail & Waimoku Falls

Rating: In a nutshell: Pipiwai Trail is a treasure of the National Park System that passes through diverse scenery and culminates at the base of an absolutely spectacular waterfall. Minuses: You’ll be sharing the trail with lots of other folks. Sound-bite: [insert hollow percussive sounds of bamboo striking one another] DETAILS: Taking into account the easy accessibility, the Pipiwai Trail …

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Koki Beach Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Scenic beach park with much cultural significance. Sand and ocean conditions vary greatly depending on season. Minuses: Currents become dangerously strong and the beach deteriorates for many months of the year. Sound-bite: “Is that Oprah?” Summary Koki Beach changes radically throughout the year. In the summer months, a wide sandy beach is deposited, and surf and …

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The Back Side of Haleakala

Rating: In a nutshell: If you like the road less traveled, continuing on past Hana around Haleakala is an adventure worth taking. In about the same amount of time as it would take you to go back the way you came, you can see a side of Maui many miss. Minuses: The road becomes rough for portions and rental car …

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Kahanu Garden & Pi’ilanihale Heiau

Rating: In a nutshell: National Tropical Botanical Garden and the largest heiau in Hawai’i Minuses: Hard to squeeze in to a single Road to Hana day. Sound-bite: “Wow, I didn’t realize how massive the heiau was!” The Kahanu Garden is part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) and showcases many native and Polynesian introduced (“canoe”) plants. Kahanu Garden is also …

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Twin Falls

Rating: In a nutshell: Twin Falls is the first easily accessible string of waterfalls and pools on the Road to Hana. It also has one of the better snack stands on the journey. Twin falls is typically underrated by guidebooks, and is a worthy stop. Minuses: You must budget your time properly here if you are cramming the Road to …

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Waioka Pond (aka Venus Pool)

Rating: In a nutshell: Among East Maui’s most spectacular natural pools, situated in rugged and scenic coastline. Minuses: Access and safety issues mean that the vast majority of visitors should skip this. Sound-bite: “That last step is a doosey!” NOTE: I did not rate Waioka Pond because most readers should not be attempting to access this site for the reasons …

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Waikamoi Stream & Waterfalls

Rating: In a nutshell: A drive-up stop, one waterfall and pool are right next to the road. The second, larger waterfall and pool just upstream are impressively beautiful, and tragically underrated by other guidebooks. Minuses: Unpredictable flow; also unpredictable visitor count (can be packed or empty, with no rhyme or reason.) Sound-bite: “This is all I wanted to do in …

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Wailua & Ke’anae Valley Hike

Rating: In a nutshell: An easy 30-minute hike can turn into a spectacular multi-hour moderately easy-going hiking adventure. Graded un-paved access road passes for miles through an undeveloped Eden of Maui rainforest and watershed. Minuses: Access may require permission from EMI. On weekends you might encounter boar hunters and their pit bulls. Sound-bite: “Yesterday I found the best hike on …

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“Bamboo Forest” (Na’ili’ili Haele)

Rating: In a nutshell: Na’ili’ili Haele, for most, will be a nice short hike to two or three waterfalls and pools. The more able hikers will be rewarded with more significant sights. Minuses: Access may be restricted by EMI. Can become dangerous to nearly impossible depending on conditions/how far you go. Sound-bite: “Is that really a ladder?” Safety Note This …

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Red Sand Beach

Rating: In a nutshell: A dramatic and beautiful hidden cove unlike any other. Minuses: The short hike to the beach is hazardous. Sound-bite: “Has the Mothership departed without me?” WARNING: Part of the trail was lost to a landslide and has become more dangerous than it once was. This is not a safe hike for anyone unaccustomed to navigating cliff-edges …

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Upper Waikani Falls (aka Three Bears)

Rating: In a nutshell: A sweet ~70′ drive-up triple waterfall and plunge pool. Minuses: Parking & the first step is a doozy! Sound-bite: “Hey, how did you get down there?” A very popular set of falls because it is photogenic and situated like a drive-thru right on the road. Most folks drive up and snap a photo and drive off …

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Ho’okipa Beach Park

Rating: In a nutshell: Ho’okipa Beach is a world-renowned windsurfing destination with often dramatic and impressive surf for sightseers as well. Minuses: Marginal for swimming. Sound-bite: “Epic day brah!” Surf Sports Ho’okipa is Mecca to the windsurfing world (and no slouch for board surfing, either.) There are professional windsurfing competitions held here, and on just about any day with wind …

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Nemo Falls

Rating: In a nutshell: A beautiful little known waterfall and pool. Minuses: Access may be restricted by EMI. Sound-bite: “Wow, a handrail!” Warning – Those not experienced with Maui, flash flood safety and EMI access issues should not attempt this hike. The EMI page has more info about EMI and instructions for obtaining permission where needed. Getting to Nemo Falls …

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Pa’ia Town

Rating: In a nutshell: An unassuming hub of the North Shore community, Paia Town has great restaurants, interesting shops, and the best natural food store on the island. Minuses: Parking can be difficult if you don’t know where to look (pssst..we have a map with parking below the article :)) Sound-bite: “Woah, did that sign really say “Don’t feed the …

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Ke’anae Peninsula

Rating: In a nutshell: An old Hawaiian village sits on a dramatic finger of lava. Minuses: No beaches or swimming. Sound-bite: “Is it the third Sunday?” The Ke’anae Peninsula is a dramatic half-mile long massive finger of newer lava sticking out from the cliff line of the Hana Highway. Well before coming to the turnout, you will have ogled at …

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Honomanu Bay

Rating: In a nutshell: A picturesque bay, and your first option for ocean goodness on the Road to Hana since Ho’okipa! Minuses: Poor swimming and rocky beach. Sound-bite: “See, honey, I told you getting a Jeep was going to be a practical necessity!” Description This bay is nestled inside a dramatic, verdant valley that first reveals itself from the road …

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Jaws Surf Break (aka Pe’ahi)

Rating: In a nutshell: The biggest wave surfed in the world each year has been at Pe’ahi more than any other place. Minuses: The access road can be 4WD Sound-bite: [crashing waves, cheers and helicopters] Disclaimer on the rating: Pe’ahi is only “must-see spectacular” when the North Shore is having monster surf (look for high surf warnings.) Key Info: Mile …

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Wailua Falls

Rating: In a nutshell: Wailua Falls is a stunning side-of-the road ~80′ waterfall and plunge pool. Minuses: Maui’s “most photographed waterfall” is usually crowded. Sound-bite: “Did that car just say something!?!” DETAILS: The stunning Wailua Falls are impossible to miss – right smack next to the road. Don’t worry about consulting the map when you’re close to here – the …

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Ke’anae Arboretum

Rating: In a nutshell: A six acre arboretum and botanical garden with many unique specimens. Minuses: They can’t get the taro to grow. Sound-bite: “Let me get a photo of you hugging the tree!” If you appreciate exotic flora, this small, free-of-charge state-owned arboretum is a must stop on the Road to Hana. I’m a tree and plant lover, and …

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Lower Puohokamoa Falls

Rating: In a nutshell: Lower Puohokamoa Falls is a tall, cascading waterfall that the vast majority of people will, at most, view from a distance. Extreme hikers can take a treacherous hike to a spectacular views and pool at the base. Minuses: Access to view and hike may be on private land. Hike itself is only for experts. Sound-bite: “Most …

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Waikamoi Nature Trail

Rating: In a nutshell: Waikamoi Nature Trail is an easy short-stop on the Road to Hana. Good for non-hikers. A nice quick-stop that many will appreciate. Minuses: Not among the long list of “spectacular” on this road. No waterfall. Sound-bite: “Worthwhile place to spend 20 minutes.” DETAILS: Okay, you know the quiet little shy kid in the family that no …

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Wailua Valley State Wayside

Rating: In a nutshell: A quick leg stretch with views both mauka and makai. Minuses: Blink and you miss it. Sound-bite: “Where is the view?” This is a small cut in the cliff that has three parking stalls (one is for physically disabled) and a set of steps to a lookout that is hidden from view if you don’t get …

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Ching’s Pond (aka Blue Sapphire Pools)

Rating: In a nutshell: Very photogenic spot to get photographed doing something life threatening. Ching’s pond is probably a skip for most. Minuses: Doesn’t offer much more than a daredevil’s photo-op and drinking beer with folks that are not your buddies. Sound-bite: “Oh yeah, you’ll be fine!” DETAILS: Ching’s pond. What to say about Ching’s pond? Bluntly – while Ching’s …

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Haipua’ena Falls

Rating: In a nutshell: An easily accessible waterfall and pool. Minuses: Not a standout. Sound-bite: “I’ll get to the second falls if it kills me!” A pool suitable for swimming and a small waterfall are what lie a shot stroll from the road. While it is nothing spectacular, it is still a refreshing place to take a dip. If you …

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Wailua

Rating: In a nutshell: A sleepy taro-farming town with an historic church and impressive view of the enormous Lower Waikani Falls. Minuses: Nothing else here. Sound-bite: “Wow, I’d like to see that every day out of my kitchen window!” Wailua is a small village offering little for visitors than a diversion off the highway to take a few peeks at …

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Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside

Rating: In a nutshell: A nice place to go to the bathroom. Minuses: Waterfall and pool are small and crowded. Sound-bite: “Just don’t look down!” If you need a rest stop with bathrooms, this five acre state wayside is a good option. There are also covered picnic tables and a small waterfall with plunge pool. The only part worth stopping …

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Kaumahina State Wayside

Rating: In a nutshell: Toilets, tables, a couple trails and a nice view. Minuses: Not much more to offer than what you just had in the car, other than a stationary place to eat and a (sometimes arguably) more optimal place to relieve yourself. Sound-bite: “Mommy, I gotta go number two!” DETAILS: Not much to say about this one. It …

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Helele’ike’oha Falls (aka Blue Pool)

Rating: In a nutshell: A beautiful pool and waterfall, but access is closed. Minuses: Access is closed to the public. Sound-bite: “But I came all the way from Wisconsin!” “Blue Pool” (the real name is Helele’ike’oha Falls), is the poster child of guidebooks hyping places to the braking point, and entitled tourists following the lead. Access to this location is …

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