Aerial shots of Road to Hana weaving through the bamboo forest, on Maui, Hawaii
Maui Topical Images/

Is Road to Hana Dangerous?

Published by Pat Dorri on June 20 2023

If you've ever wondered what it's like to drive around a Hawaiian Island, then the Road to Hana on the Island of Maui is the perfect way to find out. The route is renowned for its scenery and natural beauty, with lush rainforests, waterfalls, coastal cliffs, and amazing views throughout.

The Road to Hana takes you along the stunning coastline of Maui, covering 65 miles and taking a little over 2 hours. With its cascading waterfalls, hiking trails, and amazing tropical landscape, it's a glorious drive but is not without its challenges.

This iconic drive takes you along the eastern coastline of Maui but has some serious hairpins and steep cliff drop-offs which may make some drivers uncomfortable. Keep on reading to discover what's in store, and things you should know to plan a safe and enjoyable trip.

Where is the Road to Hana located, and why might this drive be challenging?

The Road to Hana begins in the bustling town of Kahului, and its central location makes it an ideal base for touring the Island. It is also home to the island's main airport.

The route hugs the eastern coastline passing through lush rainforests, many stunning viewpoints, and glorious black sand beaches as its winds its way to Hana. The route continues to follow the coast to the town of Kipahulu.

If you feel like exploring more of the Island, then the Road to Hana Loop will take you beyond Kipahulu, traveling all the way along the southern coastline of Maui, before heading north to Keokea.

Towering Waimoku Falls in a tropical rainforest with swimmers in the waterfall pool, The Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii, USA
Stop off at the striking Waimoku Falls as you make this memorable road trip through tropical rainforest.
Don Landwehrle/

The route then heads inland as it passes the Kula Forest Reserve and Red Hill, towards Pukalani before returning to Kahului. Completing the Loop takes 4 hours and 40 minutes to travel 115 miles.

The trip along the Road to Hana involves precarious cliffside views, in particular when approaching Wailua Falls, and whilst there are guardrails in place along parts of the route, there are also areas where trees are the only barrier. If you or a passenger is scared of driving close to steep edges, this could be quite off-putting.

The road contains a lot of twists and turns as it winds its way along the coast and is particularly windy between Haiku-Pauwela and Wailua. There are believed to be about 620 turns in total which can make it uncomfortable for drivers or passengers prone to car sickness.

With the road being narrow, overtaking is difficult and passing places should be used where possible, to pull over and let other cars pass. Pullouts are often small and will often only take one or two cars at a time.

Parked cars can be an issue at popular viewpoints, and be wary of the car in front stopping suddenly to admire the views.

There are several impressive waterfalls along the route, and the runoff can spill onto the road making for slippery driving conditions. The weather is also unpredictable, especially in the rainforests, so rain can also affect driving conditions.

Driving on the Road to Hana

This stunning route has so much to offer, but it is handy to approach the trip with a little prior knowledge. The road itself is two lanes for the majority of the journey, one in each direction, and at times, especially on some of the bridges, it narrows to one lane. Keeping alert and aware of oncoming traffic is important.

The speed limit along the route is a steady 20-30 MPH, but this lowers to 15 MPH on some of the windy sections. When approaching narrow bridges, there will be signs signaling "One Lane Bridge" and the speed limit drops again to 10 MPH.

Leaving Kahului, the route heads east passing Ho'okipa Beach Park heading towards Haiku-Pauwela and soon arrives at Twin Falls. where you can hike to the stunning waterfall and even take a dip in the glistening waters.

Bridge of Road to Hana over streams running underneath and surrounded by lush steep forests, Hawaii
Take on the incredibly scenic Road to Hana and you will be rewarded with some of the most interesting highway views in the world.
David Garrison/

Heading further along the route, you'll pass Bamboo Forest Waterfalls Trailhead before reaching the Garden of Eden Arboretum. Here you can experience the wonderful botanical garden with views out over the Pacific Ocean.

Continuing to hug the coastline, a short detour take you to the Keanae Lookout, with breathtaking views of the coastline and beyond, before heading onwards to Waianapanapa State Park with its incredible black sand beach and caves, where you can also enjoy exploring the coastal trail. Continuing a little further leads you to Hana.

It's worth taking time out here to investigate the volcanic shoreline and embrace the natural beauty of your surroundings. Hana is a small town where life takes on a much slower pace and it's the perfect place to relax and enjoy the many trails, and learn more about the history and traditions of the area at the Hana Cultural Center and Museum.

Leaving Hana, the route continues past Hamoa Beach and Waioka Pond before reaching Wailua Falls, an impressive waterfall and a great place to take a dip in the pool below. The route then encounters a series of twists and turns before arriving at Kipahulu.

Things to know that can impact the drive on the Road to Hana

Driving the Road to Hana is a truly immersive experience through the natural beauty of Hawaii, but there are some things to be aware of before making the trip and to make it as enjoyable as possible.

The road surface itself varies considerably, from stretches of immaculate and newly paved road to sections where the road markings are faded and you have to dodge the potholes.

The road can also be affected by erosion, landslides, and rockfall, which has recently caused it to close for a period of time. Always check the local road conditions before setting off at:

The Hana Highway turns to cross a one lane bridge beside a waterfall on the north coast of Maui, Road to Hana, Hawaii
Weave through the amazing lush woodlands and epic waterfalls as you travel along the Road to Hana.
Earl D. Walker/

There are several gas stations in Kahului at the start of the drive, so be sure to fill up with gas before setting off. There is a single Texaco station in Hana if you find yourself running low.

Mobile phone coverage is limited on the route, and whilst there is coverage in Hana, the signal can be intermittent in more remote parts so plan in advance and print off the route in advance.

Traffic congestion can be an issue on the drive, given the nature of the road, especially in peak season, and in the height of summer and holiday season, it will be more congested.

Driving the route on a Thursday or Sunday is advisable as these are popular days for airlines to land and leave the island so there is less traffic on the road.

Tips to drive on the Road to Hana in the safest way

Driving the route safely is paramount, and there are a few things you can do to ensure your trip is as safe and enjoyable as possible:

  • Setting off early in the morning will allow time to visit many of the attractions along the way and avoid the heaviest traffic. Making the trip on Sundays and Thursdays are the quietest days for traffic.
  • Pull over and let locals pass - the narrow road makes overtaking difficult, and they will know it better than you.
  • Keep a safe distance from the car in front, giving yourself plenty of time to adjust if they stop suddenly to take in the stunning views.
  • Plan your drive so you aren't driving back in the dark. There are no streetlights, and tackling the high number of turns, with the sheer drops, on unknown roads in the dark is not advisable, and it is better to use the loop.
  • If you're hiring a car, don't get an SUV, larger vehicles will hog the road and can be difficult to drive on narrow roads.
  • Make sure you have adequate fuel for your journey - fuel up at Kahului before setting off to avoid running low.
  • Do not drive in torrential rain. Stay in a hotel in Kahului or Paia instead.
  • Always check ahead for weather and traffic information. You can check the latest travel advisories here.
  • Do a “virtual drive” using Google Street View so that you can prepare yourself and “see” the route for yourself beforehand.
  • If possible, have two designated drivers share the load so you can stay fresh, and let the more confident driver take the wheel for the more tricky parts of the route.
  • Always stick to the speed limit, and drive with extra care when close to sheer drops.
  • Be alert for pedestrians on the road.
  • With limited facilities along the route, stock up on water and snacks for the journey, and any other essentials you may need.

Alternatives to driving yourself on the Road to Hana

Driving the Road to Hana is a memorable experience, allowing you to explore the natural wonders of Maui at your own pace. However, if you would prefer to see the beauty of the area without taking the wheel yourself, there are several alternative options available.

There are a few local companies offering guided tours, and this is a popular choice for visitors to Maui who don't have access to their own vehicles.

This is an excellent way to sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey with a knowledgeable local guide pointing out the landmarks and popular attractions. It is also a great way to experience the Road to Hana if you are apprehensive about driving the route yourself.

You can also take a bus along the route, and the local public bus system runs a Hana Highway Tour. This option will be cheaper than a guided tour, although times will be limited by the bus timetable so check in advance for the available options.

If you are a keen cyclist, then you could take to two wheels and cycle the route or take a guided bike tour and enjoy the Road to Hana at a more leisurely pace. It's a great way to feel closer to nature and the scenery.

Best time to drive on the Road to Hana

The Road to Hana is a magical drive and a year-round experience. But the weather can have a big impact on the journey and as Maui has a rainy season, it is best to avoid making the trip in winter. November to March is the rainy season, and flash floods are common, making driving conditions hazardous.

Road to Hana alongside the coastline, with steep winding highway, and rocky green landscape, Maui, Hawaii
The winding roads leading across Road to Hana enjoy stunning coastal views, with plenty of lookouts and attractions to enjoy along the way.
William Powell/

Over the summer months, the Island can get crowded with tourists flocking to drive the route, so traffic congestion can be a problem.

Visiting in spring or fall is the ideal time to drive the Road to Hana. The weather is comfortable and the roads are quieter, and given the nature of the route, fewer people will make the drive much more pleasurable.

Setting off early in the day will not only give you superb photo opportunities, seeing the Island at sunrise, but it will also allow you to arrive at the main attractions along the way without them being crowded.