If you are planning a drive to Hana in your rental vehicle, set aside at least one whole day to make the trip, there is so much to see and do, and the road takes time to travel. Plan on starting your trip very early in the morning, by 7 am or earlier, if possible to avoid a lot of the traffic.
Preparations for your trip should include filling your gas tank the night before as there are no gas stations on the road until you reach Hana. Pack a light jacket or raincoat, as it could be raining early in the day. The rain usually stops later in the morning, so getting some of the driving done during the early rain will put you ahead of the crowd. Bring a bathing suit, towel and possibly a change of clothes. Pack your breakfast and lunch if possible, there are a few stops along the way where you can pick up a packaged lunch, but to save time, it is best to be prepared ahead of time and save your stops for the scenic stuff.
A good Hana map is a wise decision, as it will show you where all the stops are, and you can identify them by the mile markers along the way. A Road to Hana app or Audio guide may also be worthwhile. As the road changes a few times along the way, 31, 36 and 360, and the mile markers will also start over, so it is important to pay attention if you are looking for something near a mile marker.
There are so many great waterfalls and places to stop, you may want to skip some of the first ones, and research the ones you must-see, this will also put you ahead of the tourists who just have to stop at everything.
The road is well paved, but the average speed on this road is 15 miles per hour. There are 56 one-lane bridges to cross, and over 617 hairpin curves. The total distance is 53 miles, but can take many hours to complete, one way. Remember that the drive back can also be long so leave yourself time to make that return trip before dark. A warning “do not speed”, not only is it treacherous, but there are often police across from the school near the Wai’anapanapa State Park protecting the 25mph speed limit, with fines that could stretch to over $200, and a chunk of your precious day taken up as well.
Another option would be to plan a 2 – 3 day trip and stay in Hana. From there, you can venture back to a few of the spots you want to spend more time in, and really take the time to relax and enjoy them
Hana is small and quaint. There is some accommodation there if you are planning on staying for a visit, but best to book ahead, as there isn’t a lot of accommodation.
The back road out of Hana on the north side is not recommended for tourists, and most all rental car companies have restrictions for their rental cars, they are not allowed on sections on this road. Here is a little write up from Go Visit Hawaii website on the back side of this road.
However, there are some great sites to visit on that side of Hana, and rental cars can get to these, they are before the restricted area.
A few considerations if you are planning a trip to Hana.
1) You might want to prepare yourself for the possibility of motion sickness.
2) If you have more than one driver listed on your rental contract, you may want to plan to change up the driving so everyone can have a look at parts of the tour, and because the drive can be stressful for one person. If you only have one driver listed to save money, you might want to consider adding a second driver just for this trip.
3) Do your research ahead of time on which stops are the most important ones to see and stick to your plan, as there are far too many potential stops, and your day could slip away before you get to see the most important ones.
4) Don’t forget proper shoes if you plan to do any walking and shoes may get wet and muddy. Sunscreen, hats, drinking water and mosquito repellant are also handy to bring along. And of course a camera with a fully charged battery is a must.
5) Always lock your car when leaving it, and do not leave any valuables in the car.
6) If you are slowing the traffic behind you, please be considerate and pull over to let the traffic pass, a lot of locals also use this road, and they are always appreciative of the tourists letting them pass.
7) Check the weather forecasts, even though it often rains in the mornings, and clears, a sunny day is better than a rainy day for viewing and taking photographs.
8) Check for any temporary road closures before you get on the road.
9) Take cash “small denominations” all of the little fruit stands along the way take cash only.
10) An Audio Guide is available at the Shell station near Costco on the Hana Highway.
Have a great trip!!!!!