Hana city sits pretty on the east coast of Maui in Hawaii and the roads leading north and south along the coast offer some of the most captivating driving in the state, if not the entire US. The Road to Hana, or the Hana Highway, as it’s also known is a 64-mile (103-km) run incorporating parts of routes 36 and 360 from Kahului (or Paia, depending on who you ask) in the north, through to Hana and further south towards Wailua Falls. The route passes by the coast then moves slightly further inland, incorporating a winding series of tight bends and dozens of bridges beset on either side by teeming rainforest. The road is a joy to drive, although with so much to see, many prefer to let somebody else do the hard work so you’ve more chance to take in the view.
Road to Hana tours are becoming an increasingly popular way to explore the Hana Highway route. There are many options available, most of which utilize a minibus and driver, with plenty of stops thrown in along the way at the various viewpoints. Some people take to the skies instead, choosing the helicopter tour, which soars over this remarkably beautiful stretch of land as a shorter but more revealing alternative. Of the tours available, we bring you the top five here, taking various factors into consideration, like the value for money, duration and itinerary (particularly with the driving tours). Previous guest reviews were also factored in. Here are your five best Road to Hana tours.
FROM: $140/per person
For a ten-hour tour that’s essentially a road trip, there’s a surprising amount of physical exertion required on this excellent option. That is because the day’s itinerary is packed with stops along the way. The tour to Hana, which follows a commonly used loop, first heads south inland via Keokea, before turning eastwards and connecting with Route 360 towards Hana. From there it is back up the Hana Highway to Kahului. Visit the rolling pastures of Kaupo Ranch first, you’ll get to see Maui’s rural, wilder side. After passing the impressive Wailua waterfall you will then enter the Road to Hana, stopping for a picnic lunch at Koki Beach, Hana Bay and the black sand beach of Wainapanapa. More waterfalls and fresh water pools await, with the chance to swim in Pua’a Ka’a State Park. Among the many other stops, a visit to a traditional Hawaiian village is another highlight.
From $145/ per person
Another popular tour is this small group option, where numbers are limited to eight people. Completing the full Hana loop during the ten-hour tour, there are no fewer than 25 stops along the way, taking in beaches, villages, lava tubes, waterfalls and bamboo forests. You will also stop at the great American aviator Charles A. Lindbergh’s grave in the highlands, before negotiating the 617 curves and 54 single-lane bridges that form the main Road to Hana. Naturally the road and journey can be quite tough so, as with all the tours on the list apart from the helicopter one, it might not be ideal for anyone with a bad back or for pregnant women. Breakfast of Maui-grown fruits and pastries is served, along with a Tahitian barbecue for lunch.
From $162/ per person
If you want to take an even longer small group tour (this time limited to 14 people) with a local twist, then this tour, led by a local guide has an added air of authenticity. Sticking to the Road to Hana, this tour has plenty of local in-the-know touches, from the best viewpoints, such as those of the coastline from Kaumahina State Park, to the best local cuisine. Sample the ono grindz as it’s known, which literally means ‘delicious food’, at an eatery in Hana. Classic ono grindz dishes include taco rice topped with a fried egg. Other tour highlights include swimming in a natural spring and a drive up to the summit of the starkly beautiful Haleakala mountain.
From $177/ per person
It has never been more important to travel in an eco-conscious manner, which goes beyond simply depositing your trash in a bin. This tour is especially eco-friendly, with the organizers thinking of novel ways to minimize the impact of their guests at every possible opportunity. This includes sending 1% of all proceeds to the ‘1% for the Planet’ campaign which puts revenue towards the work of nonprofit environmental organizations. Breakfast is at Jaws Country Store, because it offers vegan and gluten free options, plus vegetarian breakfast burritos. There is a similar consideration for lunch at an organic farm where part of the proceeds helps local health initiatives. Over 11 hours you’ll visit a plethora of charming villages and scenic views on this tour.
From $299/ per person
When time is at a premium but money is less of an issue, the alternative to taking the Road to Hana is taking to the air above Hana. Departing from Kahului Airport, this 40-minute flight sweeps over the lush rainforest south towards Hana, taking in the coastline, the winding road and some stunning waterfalls. You get the best of both worlds as the chopper touches down on an old taro plantation in the Wailua Valley rainforest, leaving you with around 30 minutes (in addition to the 40 minutes of air time) to explore this remote stretch of land, with its banana trees and wild flowers. Back in the air you’ll return via a different route. Your pilot will also provide in-flight commentary along the way putting names to the beautiful places unfurling below you.