The Hana Highway begins in Kahului and passes through the little coastal town of Paia. Once you pass Paia you are on your way; it is all nature and adventure from here on out.
The Hana Highway was first built with volcanic cinders in 1926 by prison trustees who were housed at the town of Keanae. In 1934 their camp became the home of the Civilian Conservation Corp, the federal work program that provided jobs for the islanders during the Great Depression. Today, their camp is the site of the Keanae YMCA.
In 1962 the state totally resurfaced the highway with asphalt all the way to Hana. But over the ensuing years, constant rain and continual use reduced this newly-paved road to a many-miles-long collection of rain-filled pot holes. All the bouncing and jolting passengers endured along the drive led to the creation of Maui’s popular I Survived the Hana Highway souvenir T-Shirts.
In the mid 1990’s the state began seriously repairing and upgrading the road. Today the Hana Drive is one of the best maintained roads on the island. And though the road is named the Hana Highway, you’ll discover that this winding 54-mile long, mostly one lane scenic road is anything but a “highway.”
There are a seemingly unlimited number of things you can discover and do along the drive. A few of them are the Waikamoi Ridge Trail, Puahokamoa Falls and Kaumahina State Wayside Park, all great places for taking pictures and exploring. After these, you’ll come upon the Ke’anae Arboretum, Ke'anae Peninsula, Pua’a Ka’a Wayside Park and the Waianapanapa State Park to explore.
Then comes Hana town, with its relaxed Hawaiian feeling of time slowed down. There are small shops and stores to check out, and maybe have lunch. And further down the road is Hamoa Bay, Wailua Falls and Haleakala National Park at Kipahulu, an excellent place for hiking, having a picnic, and cooling off in freshwater pools.
And further down the road is the final resting place of aviator Charles Lindbergh. And for those wanting to continue the drive “all the way around” through ‘Ulupalakua, the road gets much rougher and desolate. Rental car companies don't want you driving this "back road," so check with them before doing so.
Though the round-trip to just Hana from Kahului can be made in 5 hours, most people take longer when they discover all the things to see and do along the "The World's Most Beautiful Drive."
DRIVING THE HANA ROAD
The Hana Road: from Kahului to Kipahulu