Maui’s Highway 36, more commonly known as Hāna Highway or the Road to Hāna, is the start to a meandering 64-mile drive along the island’s north and west shores, with breathtaking sights and experiences not found anywhere else.
Beginning in Kahului, the entire drive can take a full day, depending on your pace—you’ll have to take it slow with the road’s 617 turns and 56 one-lane bridges—and how often you stop—and trust me, there’s quite a bit worth stopping for along way. It’s true, a full day of your vacation is a serious commitment of time, but it’s so worth it.
The town of Pā‘ia is your last chance stop to get some breakfast and stock up on provisions for your drive. This country town has a lot to offer itself, including cute shops and galleries. Not long after that is when the drive really gets started in earnest.
Popular sights along the way include: Kaumahina State Wayside Park; Keanae Arboretum; Wailua Valley State Wayside; Pua‘a Ka‘a State Wayside with its small waterfalls and pools; and the black sand beach, picnic area, native hala forest, cave and blowholes found at the 122-acre Wai‘ānapanapa State Park.
If you continue on past Hāna, you’ll encounter the Kīpahulu section of Haleakalā National Park with several hiking trails. One of them is the popular Pīpīwai Trail. It’s four miles round trip which ends at the spectacular 400-ft. Waimoku Falls.
If driving all day isn’t your thing, you may want to hook up with Unique Maui Tours. Let their tour guide navigate the winding turns while you relax and enjoy the breathtaking vistas. Their luxury SUVs can seat up to seven passengers and are more comfortable and offer better views than your standard tour vans.
Another perk to taking this trek with Unique Maui Tours is that they know all the best places to stop for food, take a dip in the ocean or snap some photos. This is your own private tour, so where you stop and what you do along the way is entirely up to you. Visit their website to learn more about this and their other tour packages.
Whether you take the journey on your own or have Unique Maui Tours handle the hard work, you’re in for the drive of a lifetime.
[A version of this article appears in print in the pages of This Week Maui]