The Hana drive is a must see attraction that was mentioned by many of our friends. On our first day orientation with the Expedia local expert, we were suggested to visit this place but drive with caution at our own risk. The Expedia local expert suggested to take a tour package for this activity that will be safe with respect to driving. We decided to go on our own and drive safely. It’s a pretty long drive and takes ~ 3.5 hours to reach Hana. We started very early around 7 AM with all snacks & food fully loaded in the car. As there are very limited shops on the way to Hana, it is highly recommended that you take very good supply of food & water. The last place before taking the Hana road is Paia, a small town. You will not find many restrooms as well beyond this point.
The Hāna Highway is a 68-mile long stretch of Hawaii State Routes 36 and 360. Hana is only around 50 miles and there are several hair pin bends and the overall highway is very narrow and winding.
On the way u’ll see many bridges that are mostly one lane bridges. As this route has many curves, driving is definitely difficult and needs extreme care. The entire route is so beautiful, virtually all of it through lush, tropical rainforest. Along the road sides there are fruit stalls that sell tender coconuts, mangoes and other fruits. We did taste tender coconuts on our way to Hana. It’s an extremely beautiful scenic views all throughout the route.
There are several beaches & waterfalls along this route and we visited few of them like the Red Sand beach, Seven Pools etc. The Seven pools is inside on the south entrance of Haleakala national park. The seven pool is basically a half mile trail walk.
This is the last spot of the Hana highway and there is an unpaved road after this stop. The tour guides advised that it is risky to travel in unpaved roads and there can be possibility of water on the road in the event of flooding. When we asked the local people in Hana about this unpaved road, they gave us the green signal and told it is much safer to take the unpaved road. Plus you save some travel time going via unpaved road instead of taking the reverse route along the Hana highway.
The road was bumpy for more than 10 miles in the unpaved way – It was little scary initially to drive but it was indeed the fastest way to travel back home.The unpaved road joined the Pilani highway 31 and the Haleakala Crater was on the way. We initially planned a separate day for the Haleakala National park to watch sunrise but since we took this route on our way back from Hana, we decided to visit this park on the same day.
The park is well built and the road conditions are very good. It took us almost 15 – 20 minutes to reach the Haleakala Summit. The summit is at a 10,000 foot elevation. The park is known for its unique volcanic features, scenic drive with many overlooks, and the clear views of the night sky available. We reached the summit at the sunset time and it was pretty darn cold. None of them were prepared for this cold temperature and I was the only one who had the jacket. It was so cold to stand outside even with a jacket. I tried to hike and was able to do only few blocks.
We spent sometime at the Summit and headed down before it was completely dark. The sunset could be felt across the areas and was very beautiful to watch the mountain light up while driving down the Haleakala.
1) Start u’r travel as early as possible – between 6 -7 am is a good time to start
2) Take plenty of water & food in the car
3) Some of the rainforest areas are very slippery – very tempting to take photos but watch out for the slippery conditions
4) roads are very winding & narrow – less speed and you might be going bumper to bumper. so watch out for cars – better to pull u’r car out if u plan to take photos that will allow other cars to pass through
5)Taste coconuts & fruits on the way
6) Taking the unpaved road – if u have a 4WD, go for it but drive very slowly and carefully. But if ur travelling north of Maui, do not take the unpaved road. It is high risk and they say not cross after Mile 38.