“The adventure is in the journey” may be cliché, but it is also said that every cliché harbors a kernel of truth. Driving to Hana is not a commute, or even the means to an end – the drive is an adventure in and of itself.
No matter how many times I have driven this road, (including the few times I was silly enough to take it for granted), the adventure is just as magical, engaging, and never the same twice. The raw natural beauty is dynamic, containing countless hidden treasures and always just every bit as spectacular no matter how many times I drive it. The Road to Hana is, in my opinion, the most spectacular and beautiful road in the world.
As the name suggests, the thoroughfare in this section of the guide is made up by just one road: Hana Highway (Hwy 36 & 360). But don’t let the name “highway” fool you – The majority of time you’ll be spending on the Hana Highway is a narrow, twisting, sometimes one-lane road with an estimated 600 turns and 54 (mostly) one-lane bridges, and no shoulder. For those of you that enjoy a challenging drive, this could be your absolute favorite anywhere. A convertible or Jeep, quintessential Maui rental cars, are probably the best for being rewarded with stunning unobstructed panoramic views. But don’t get too smug looking at the poor sap in the Taurus – because the understated utility of a fixed roof may become abundantly clear the next time the word “rainforest” suddenly defines itself.
If you’re an overly timid (or just plan bad) driver, you still should not skip the opportunity to see this jewel of Hawaii. Valley Isle Excursions offers an unparalleled tour with friendly and genuine local insight and flavor that can not be duplicated.
There is only one gas station past Paia on this road, and that is in Hana Town. The price of gas there will make you feel like you were getting a great deal everywhere else (which, until you’ve gassed up in Hana, will be hard to believe!)
There are roadside stands along the way, including a jungle version of the strip-mall in Nahiku (aka “the middle of nowhere”) that has many yummy stands for food, along with souvenirs and whatever happens to pop up.
In Hana town itself, your choices are limited, though Braddah Hutts BBQ (on Hana Hwy. just past Hasegawa Store) has some really good BBQ, huge servings and reasonable prices.