The Best Things to Do in Hāna, Maui
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Hāna, often referred to as ‘Old Hawai’i,’ is a small community on the northeast coast of Maui, surrounded by lush rainforest and the lower hills of Haleakalā National Park. Hāna is known for its beautiful beaches and landscapes, touting Maui’s natural and untouched beauty. If you’re looking for an adventure into the heart of nature, you have to make it to Hāna.
The Best Things to Do in Hāna
We are so grateful to experience the beauty of Hāna every day, and we want you to enjoy the best of it too! We put together this list of the best things to do in Hāna, Maui, to make it easy for you! The spots are listed in order of location if you’re coming from Kahului, so you can make your own little Hāna tour!
We reckon it would take two or three days to enjoy all the things on this list, so we recommend making an overnight trip out of it!
The Road to Hāna
The historic Hāna Highway runs along Maui’s eastern coast and connects Kahului to the town of Hāna. The drive twists and turns its way along cliffs, past waterfalls and rushing rivers, and through some of the most beautiful rainforests you’ve ever seen. Its curvy nature may have some riders feeling a bit car-sick, so be prepared with ginger candy or anti-car sick pills.
Along the road, you can spot much of Maui’s iconic foliage, such as Rainbow Eucalyptus trees and the Bamboo Forest. Stop by the Wailua lookout for a rest and feast your eyes on some of the most stunning sea and mountain views. Once you land in Hāna, you’ll be met with the soothing trade-winds, red, white and black sand beaches, and white-capped waves.
This popular trek gets a lot of deserving traffic, and with its many one-lane bridges, can get a bit backed-up. We recommend coming over in the early morning on weekdays or after the afternoon traffic. Many locals use this highway every day for their commute to work, so please be considerate and pull into pullouts to let cars behind you pass. If you decide to pull over to take pictures, remember to take extreme caution. Pullover only in safe designated turnouts, never on bridges or off the side of the road.
One of fifteen National Tropical Botanic Gardens, Kahanu Garden is nestled in the Hāna hills, about five miles outside of Hāna Town, down Ulaino Road. Here you can learn about the many plants that are seen across the Polynesian islands and are important to the Hawaiian people. The garden is home to the largest variety of Ulu (breadfruit) cultivars, making it a key location for preserving this cultural plant that has been used in South Pacific cooking for centuries.
The garden is located on the terraced land of Honoma’ele, which is home to Pi’ilanihale Heiau. This huge lava-rock formation is believed to be the largest man-made structure in Polynesia and is registered as a National Historic Landmark.
Entrance into Kahanu Garden is $12 per person and allows for a self-guided tour. Give yourself at least 1.5 hours to leisurely enjoy this stunning garden. Opening hours are from 10 am to 3 pm. For more information, visit the garden’s website at https://ntbg.org/gardens/kahanu/.
The Hāna Lava Tubes
Also on Ulaino road is the Hāna Lava Tubes. Ka’eleku Cave is the largest lava tube in Maui, with one-third of a mile of tube available to explore. Lava tubes form when lava flows cool and harden on the surface, funneling hot lava for miles beneath the surface. Most lava tubes cave-in after the volcanoes that feed them go dormant for some time, and the Hāna Lava tube is one of the only lava tubes left for exploring on Maui. This place is one of the veins that pumped lava into the sea as Haleakalā erupted.
Not only is it an interesting geographical stop off, but it can also be a nice break from the heat and sunshine! The cave is dark, cool, and large enough that those who experience claustrophobia will be able to enjoy it. Kids will love the lavacicles, the ‘bowling alley’ - an ancient lava formation and what appears to be a chocolate river frozen in time.
The cave is open from 10:30 am - 4 pm. Entry is $12 per person (free for kids under 5), and includes a short orientation and flashlights (hint: take a moment to turn them all off at once, if you dare!). For more information visit http://mauicave.com/.
Wai’anapanapa State Park
The next stop on your Hāna tour is Wai’anapanapa State Park. Home to the northwestern portion of the King’s Trail and a beautiful black sand beach, this park touts some of the most magical views in Hāna. The black sand beach, nestled in a small cove, was created over millennia as the ocean crashed against the shoreline of lava. Here, the contrast of the black sand, the blue sea, and the white wave caps makes for a stunning scene. From certain parts of the beach, you may be able to see blowholes shooting water into the air as the sea crashes against the porous lava formations surrounding the cove.
King’s Trail is a moderate level hiking trail that extends for over three miles over the coastline to the town of Hāna. King Kamehameha used to march his armies across this trail, keeping guard of his island from invaders from the Big Island. The historic trail is a beautiful place to watch for humpback whales in season, from late fall to early spring.
Entry into Wai’anapanapa State Park is free and is open during daylight hours. Some camping is available for a fee.
Snorkeling at Hāna Bay
As you make your way through Hāna town, you might want to stop and take a dip at Hāna Bay. Also known as Uakea, this is one of our favorite places to go snorkeling on Maui. The black sand beach is well-protected and shallow, making it a perfect spot for first-time snorkelers or children. Here, you can spot some of the most colorful and beautiful fish in the world, such as the Angelfish, Yellow Tang, Butterflyfish, Parrotfish, Black Triggerfish, the Green Hawaiian Sea Turtle, and more.
The best time of year to go snorkeling at Hāna Bay is spring to late summer. This is when the water is clearest and it’s easiest to see most of the underwater world. During the winter months, natural silt can cloud the water, although it’s possible to still get a good session in, and you might catch a humpback whale! When starting your snorkeling adventure, enter the bay between the base of the wharf and the light beacon at Pu’uki’i Island.
Recently, Hāna Bay’s reef has had the chance to regenerate as tourism has been restricted. Please help us in trying to protect this natural ecosystem by wearing natural sunscreens without harmful chemicals. Never touch or move the coral.
Hasegawa General Store
This small store is not only a great spot to stop to stretch your legs and grab snacks, but it’s also a historic landmark. Hasegawa General Store is the oldest store in Hāna and the oldest family-run business in all of Maui! It was founded by Shoichi and Saburo Hasegawa in 1910 and has remained in their family for four generations. This place is a must-stop for a complete Hāna tour.
Although the outside of the shop isn’t much to look at, the parking lot itself offers beautiful views of the ocean. Grab some local stickers, snacks, and souvenirs inside. You’ll be supporting true Hāna livelihood!
The store is located in the center of Hāna town and is open Monday-Saturday 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A favorite among Hāna Farms residents, a day at Hamoa beach is definitely one of the best things to do in Hāna! Hamoa Beach is an idyllic beach of white sand, with beautiful green hills rising up from the sea on either side of its cove. Often listed as one of the most beautiful beaches on Maui, Hamoa promises a relaxing and lovely day in the sun. The beach break and lack of rocks makes Hamoa an awesome place to swim, however, currents do get strong here so use caution. For a more family friendly beach, we recommend Hāna Bay.
Hamoa has a surf break offshore, known as one of the waves Hawaiians have been surfing for centuries. You can also boogie board or bodysurf at Hamoa. The best snorkeling is found around the left side of the cove, but use extreme caution here as the beach is exposed to the open ocean and some days powerful currents are present, especially towards the ends of the beach. Talk to someone who knows the beach well to get the scoop on the day’s currents and riptides.
Parking for the beach is available alongside the road. You can make your way down to the beach via stairs at one end, leading down from the hotel shuttle drop off, or a small service road at the other end that’s walkable.
Seven Sacred Pools
The famous Seven Sacred Pools, or Pools of ‘Ohe’o, are just a short 30-40 minute drive south of Hāna on Highway 31. A rainforest stream cut the ‘Ohe’o Gulch valley over countless millennia, resulting in this gorgeous string of pools. The view from the Kīpahulu coastline near the lower pools is one of the most striking sites you’ll ever see. Lush, green landscape spreads out over the lower Haleakalā hills, while the rushing stream cascades from one plunge pool to the next, on its way to the deep-blue Hawaiian ocean.
It’s not advised to swim in the pools themselves, as quick changes in weather up the mountain can affect water levels suddenly. However, the photo opportunities are enough to keep you busy for an hour or two. We recommend catching this spot during golden hour for the most stunning shots.
As part of Haleakalā National Park, the pools are easily accessed through Kūloa Point Trail from the Kīpahulu District Visitor Center. The entrance fee is $30 per vehicle or $15 per pedestrian and is valid for three days. This pass is also valid for your trip up to the Haleakalā summit. For more info visit the park’s website https://www.nps.gov/hale/index.htm.
Come Visit Us!
If you feel like making a stop for some fresh Hāna-grown produce or Hāna-made handicrafts, come visit us at Hāna Farms on your way in or out of town. We’d be a good interjection between The Hāna Lava Tubes and Wai’anapanapa State Park. Our farm stand makes great sandwiches and our restaurant offers a full menu of farm fare. We are open Mon-Thurs 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Fri-Sat 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
We hope you enjoy your tour of the gorgeous northeastern Maui. A quick word to the wise - never take sand, lava rocks, or other natural items from Hawaii! The islands only have a finite amount of resources, and legend has it that it’s bad luck to remove these items. Many tourists that take from the sacred land end up sending their ‘souvenirs’ back.