Travel Tour Reviews

The 5 Best Road To Hāna Tours In Maui

Maui is a beautiful island, and one of the most stunning areas is found along the northeastern shore. This is where Hawaii Routes 36 and 360 shadow the coastline and cross dozens of streams using the famous Hāna Highway’s 59 bridges.

This ancient road was originally built by royal decree long before the foundation of the United States. King Pi’ilani designed this route between Kahului and Hāna in the 16th century, making it one of the oldest roads in the Union.

Along the roadside are views across the lush tropical rainforest, black sand beaches, and picturesque waterfalls. Nearby are the Koolau Forest Reserve and Hāna Forest Reserve, making the Hāna Highway a direct route into the unspoiled rainforest.

There are many organized Hāna tours that explore the Hāna Highway. I’ve selected 5 top-rated tours I really like. Please take a look at my reviews below and see which Road to Hāna tour is best for you.

Best Road To Hāna Tours In Maui

 Maui: Private Rainforest or Road to Hāna Loop TourMaui: Small-Group Road to Hāna Sightseeing TourMaui: Eco-Friendly Road to Hāna Tour with Pick-Up
editors choice
Departure PointHotel pick-up Hotel pick-upHotel pick-up
Departure Time7:30 AM, 8:00 AM, 8:30 AM7:00 AM7:00 AM
Duration 10 hours10 hours11 hours
IncludesTransport along the Hāna Highway, water, towels, umbrellas, sunblock, bug spray, first aid kit, walking stick, coconut opener, other hygiene necessities, and local guideSmall group transport along the Hāna Highway, breakfast, barbecue lunch, beverages, and certified local guideTransport along the Hāna Highway, breakfast, lunch, and local guide

Quick Answer: The 5 Best-Rated Road To Hāna Tours In Maui – 2020

  1. Maui: Private Rainforest or Road to Hāna Loop Tour
  2. Maui: Small-Group Road to Hāna Sightseeing Tour
  3. Maui: Eco-Friendly Road to Hāna Tour with Pick-Up
  4. Maui: Road to Hāna Waterfalls Tour with Lunch
  5. Maui: Small-Group Road to Hāna Tour With a Local

Road To Hāna Tours In Maui Reviewed

#1. Maui: Private Rainforest or Road to Hāna Loop Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Hotel pick-up
  • Departure Time: 7:30 AM, 8:00 AM, 8:30 AM
  • Duration: 10 hours
  • Includes: Transport along the Hāna Highway, water, towels, umbrellas, sunblock, bug spray, first aid kit, walking stick, coconut opener, other hygiene necessities, and local guide
If you want flexibility in your Road to Hāna tour, this trip is a great choice. Your Road to Hāna guide will be able to introduce you to all the local geographical features and sites of natural beauty.

You get to choose between a straight loop tour of the road or a journey into the back rainforest covering the lower slopes of the Haleakala Volcano.

This exceedingly well-supplied trip provides you with the flexibility to decide what you want to see along the north shore or inland in East Maui.

Visit the Haleakala Volcano via a scenic drive. Spend some time in Keanae, a town that boasts a unique lava rock coastline. Talk with your local guide and plan out the perfect tour for your group.

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Take some time to enjoy local specialties, such as banana bread and smoothies from Aunt Sandy’s and homemade coconut ice-cream from Coconut Glenn’s. In Hāna, you’ll be able to sample local cuisine from the gourmet food trucks.

Along the road, you can explore a fascinating lave cave and lava tubes. On the shore, check out the red and black sand beaches and sea caves.

If you’re lucky, you’ll see green sea turtles lazing on the beaches. The best thing about this excursion is it’s so flexible that it’s like your own Road to Hāna private tour.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#2 Maui: Small-Group Road to Hāna Sightseeing Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Hotel pick-up
  • Departure Time: 7:00 AM
  • Duration: 10 hours
  • Includes: Small group transport along the Hāna Highway, breakfast, barbecue lunch, beverages, and certified local guide
This is the best Road to Hāna tour if you love to explore exotic locations in a small group where you can make new friends and ask questions of a local expert.

The Hāna Highway is one of the most beautiful roads in the US, and this is your opportunity to explore the route and its highlights in depth.

Your certified local guide will tell you stories along the way to enlighten and entertain you about the history and culture of this unique area. Learn how the indigenous people rationalized the volcano, rain forest, and stunning waterfalls through legends and mythology.

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You’ll have the opportunity to swim off a picturesque beach or under and amazing waterfall. Once you’ve gained your appetite, enjoy a Tahitian style barbeque lunch.

After lunch, your guide will take you to visit small towns and villages where you can learn more about the local people and their traditional lifestyle. Visit the tropical fruit farms and discover where your breakfast came from.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#3. Maui: Eco-Friendly Road to Hāna Tour with Pick-Up

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

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  • Departure Point: Hotel pick-up
  • Departure Time: 7:00 AM
  • Duration: 11 hours
  • Includes: Transport along the Hāna Highway, breakfast, lunch, and local guide
Life is all about the journey, not the destination. And that’s what this tour is all about. When King Pi’ilani originally designed this route between Kahului and Hāna, he was only focused on the destination.

Today, you can relax and enjoy the stunning scenery and fascinating landmarks along the way.

You’ll set out on the main road but return more slowly through the back roads of East Maui. You’ll have a chance to relax and swim in the Pacific Ocean both before and after lunch.

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Your experienced local guide will introduce you to the hidden beaches and backwater villages along this historic route.

You’ll have so many photo opportunities that you’ll be thankful digital cameras hold so many more images than the film cameras of the recent past.

By choosing this tour, you also contribute to preserving Hawaii’s natural landscape. This tour company donates 1% of each tour ticket and 1% of annual company revenue to the For The Planet environmental campaign.

Also, you’ll be treated to lunch at Hāna Fresh, an organic farm that uses its sales proceeds to support Hāna services and health programs.

At the end of this tour, you can rest assured that you’ve contributed to the local community’s welfare and rainforest conservation.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#4. Maui: Road to Hāna Waterfalls Tour with Lunch

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Hotel pick-up
  • Departure Time: 6:30 AM
  • Duration: 10 hours
  • Includes: Transport along the Hāna Highway, breakfast, lunch, beverages, and local guide
If your main aim is to visit the most beautiful Road to Hāna stops, swim off secluded beaches, and admire stunning waterfalls, this is a great tour for you.

Don’t forget your camera because you’re going to see a lot of spectacular rock formations and unique beaches.

Your journey of discovery will take you to Hookipa Beach Park, where you can enjoy stunning views over the Pacific Ocean.

Then you’ll visit Pua’a Ka’a Falls, where you’ll be amazed at the beauty of this waterfall surrounded by rainforest.

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In Wainapanapa State Park, you can stroll across the black sand beach and explore the lava flow rock formations.

Once you reach Hāna, you’ll have an opportunity to stop t the fruit stands and sample the fresh tropical fruit grown on the local farms.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#5. Maui: Small-Group Road to Hāna Tour With a Local

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Hotel pick-up
  • Departure Time: 6:00 AM, 12:00 AM
  • Duration: 12 hours
  • Includes: Transport along the Hāna Highway, breakfast, lunch, bottled water, and a local guide
This tour is a great way to explore the Hāna Highway in an intimate small group tour (maximum 14 passengers) with a local guide. If you want to swim in the Pacific Ocean and explore beautiful beaches, this is a great road trip for you.

The Hāna Highway is one of the most picturesque roads in the Union. The winding roads cut through the edge of the rainforest, take you over the top of cliffs with breathtaking views, and alongside beaches with unique colored sand, some red, some black.

With 59 bridges, most single-lane, the journey is an adventure in itself.

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As your adventure continues, your local guide will entertain you with legends from the local mythology and stories from Hawaii’s rich history.

Listen as the expert guide links the landmarks you pass to historic events and tales from an age long gone.

Your journey will include many stops at beautiful locations where you’ll have a chance to take unforgettable photographs. You’ll also have the opportunity to swim beneath a stunning waterfall and explore a scenic state park.

In Hāna, enjoy the traditional local food for lunch and then go to the top of Haleakala Volcano for its spectacular views. Just make sure you take along a sweater for the cooler air way up there in the sky!

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



Maui Travel Guide

When Polynesian adventurers found and settled the previously uninhabited island of Maui, they thought they had found Paradise. You will too!

maui road to hana tours

There is so much to see and do on this compact island that you are spoiled for choice. You can go whale watching, climb a volcano, hike through tropical rainforest, and learn how to hula dance from professionals.

Before you go, it is in your interest to fully research the accommodations, transport arrangements, local foods, and attractions to ensure you get the most out of your visit. This guide is designed to help you on your way.

Airports & Entry

Most visitors to Maui arrive on an airplane or a cruise liner. Using either method, you’ll most likely arrive in Kahului.

Kahului is the main settlement on Maui, hosting its commercial shopping centers, light industrial areas, a deep-draft harbor for cruise liners, and Kahului Airport.

Although Maui only boasts a population of 155 thousand, over 5 million passengers pass through Kahului Airport every year. Many flights from the mainland involve a layover in Honolulu, but there are direct flights.

When booking, try to get a direct flight to save time. There is only one terminal building at Kahului, but you can find all the usual amenities on the second floor.

The Visitor Information Office in the central building is open from 7:45am to 9:45pm, and there are information desks throughout the airport.

ATMs and internet stations are found throughout the second floor. The airport shops—a DFS, gift store, jewelers, and newsstand—open at times varying from 6am for the newsstand to 8:45am.

All the shops close around 9pm. While the earliest of the 9 food outlets—Starbucks—opens at 5:30am, they are all closed by 10:30pm.

There are 8 car rental companies operating from the airport, but it’s a good idea to book in advance to save time at the airport and ensure that there’s a vehicle available.

A convenient and affordable shuttle service connects the airport to the main tourist accommodation locations on the island, including Wailea, Napili, Makena, Lahaina, Kihei, Kahana, Ka’anapali, Honokawai, and, of course, Kahului’s commercial center.

The Maui Airport Shuttle Service desk can be found in the Baggage Claim area, and no reservations are required. The desk opens at 5:30am and closes after the last flight arrival of the day.

If you are traveling light, the local public transportation system is an affordable option. Cash fares on the Maui Bus service are $2 per person for a single ride or $4 for a day pass.

Route 35 (Haiku) and Route 40 (Upcountry) operate every 90 minutes from 5:30am and 6:00am to 9:40pm and 10:11pm respectively.

However, the public bus has a strict luggage policy, so only one suitcase or carry-on bag is allowed and must fit on the passenger’s lap or under their seat. So, Maui Bus is only an option if you are a “hand luggage only” kind of flyer.

Taxis pick up from the front of the baggage claim area, but they are expensive. The metered rate is $3:00 per mile. That means it would cost you approximately $65 to Makena, $78 to Lahaina, and $105 to Kapalua.

Cruise ships moor at Pier 1 in Kahului Deep Draft Harbor. Maui Bus operates a service that stops at the harbor, and taxis are an option.

It is a 25-minute walk from Pier 1 to the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, Kahului’s main commercial center and transport hub.

Planning Tips

It’s always best to be prepared. Here are 5 tips to help you make the most of your stay on Maui.

Tip #1: If you want to see whales, go in winter

During the summer, humpback whales feed and congregate around Alaska. In winter, they migrate south to mate and calve. From mid-December to mid-April, there are an abundance of whale sightings in Maui.

Between 10 and 12 thousand whales congregate in these tropical waters. Whales are often visible at a distance from the beaches and will circle any small boats that approach their pods. Winter is the best time to whale watch in Maui.

Tip #2: Take your time to appreciate all that Maui has to offer

Perhaps you only want to see the whales or surf in the sunshine, but there’s a lot more to see and do in Maui.

Don’t miss the opportunity to climb a volcano, explore inside a lava tube, experience a traditional luau, and visit the historical royal town of Lahaina. See the information on Nightlife and Attractions below.

Tip #3: Book Maui tours in advance, especially during winter

Maui is a popular destination for tourists, so tours quickly sell out. Book in advance to avoid disappointment. You wouldn’t be able to forgive yourself if you went all that way only to miss your opportunity to whale watch because the tours were full.

Since many tours offer free refunds up to 24 hours before the activity begins, you’re not taking a risk if you book before you go. Just check the refund policy of each tour before you book.

Tip #4: Take summer clothes and raincoats

Because Maui is tropical, you need to pack summer clothes. However, don’t forget it also rains a lot on the island.

Light raincoats are an excellent idea. If you intend to see the sunrise or sunset from the top of Haleakalā, you will definitely need a jacket.

And if you plan to visit a plush Martini lounge or attend a luau, you should bring something a bit smarter for those special occasions.

Tip #5: Buy traditional local craft souvenirs

If you want to take home something unique, check out the Maui Crafts Guild in Paia, a small settlement a little east of Kahului just off the Hāna Highway.

This store is a member owned and operated cooperative where you will find the actual artists inside the store eager to speak to you about their arts and crafts.

Restaurants & Eating Out

Maui not only has a unique ecosystem with plants not found in the other 49 States, but it also boasts an uninterrupted cultural history.

That means during your stay you have the unique opportunity to taste genuine Polynesian food untainted by European colonial influences.

Because Maui is an island surrounded by abundant marine life, it’s no surprise many restaurants feature seafood on their menus. A popular dish is Opakapaka, which is crimson snapper either steamed, baked or grilled.

Monchong is a deep-water fish marinaded and grilled. Raw tuna is a favorite with the locals and is found in traditional foods like Poke.

Poke is like Japanese Sashimi but with the raw fish served in hearty chunks rather than thin slices.

Something unique to the Hawaiian Islands is luau food cooked in an earth oven called an imu. A tasty example of luau food is Laulau, made with pork, chicken, or fish.

The selected meat is wrapped in taro leaves and then cooked inside the imu for hours until it grows soft with a smoky taste. Delicious!

While many North Americans might consider either bread or potato to be their staple food during meals, on Maui taro is the staple root crop.

Taro is most often consumed as Poi, a thick paste that is either baked or steamed. Poi is slightly sour due to fermentation during its preparation.

And for dessert, why not try some Banana-Apple Fruit, Breadfruit, or Kulolo. Banana-Apple is a common fruit eaten cold or hot. Breadfruit is melon-sized and is served boiled, deep-fried, baked, or steamed.

Kulolo is steamed taro pudding. Yes! Taro is a versatile root.

Nightlife & Entertainment

Despite Maui’s small size, you will find a good selection of venues to let your hair down. The island offers something for everybody’s taste, from a plush Martini lounge to a rowdy beach watering hole where locals play pool and watch the big game live. But something truly special only experienced in the Hawaiian Islands is a luau.

If you want to dress up and drink in style, you could head to the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua and visit the Alaloa Lounge. They offer outdoor or indoor seating and live entertainment Thursday through Monday. The Kapalua Martini is a local specialty you should try.

At the other end of the scale is Life’s A Beach in Kihei, a beach lounge frequented by locals. As well as the football and pool tables you’d expect from a popular watering hole, they also have regular evening entertainment. They offer everything from open mic nights to live reggae bands.

But for a fun-packed evening of traditional songs, stories, food, and drink, you won’t do better than an organized traditional luau.

For around $130, you can experience Lei Greetings, observe the Imu Ceremony (cooking a pig in an earth oven), Hula Dance, and play Hawaiian games. The highlight is a performance by locals telling the story of how their ancestors first discovered and populated Maui, aided by the gods.

Getting Around

If you want to explore the Hāna Highway with the flexibility to stop wherever and whenever you choose, your best option is to rent a car.

However, if you don’t want to do this, you can get around by public transportation, shuttle bus, on a tour, or by taxi. Maui Bus, the public bus service, is an extremely efficient and cheap way of getting around the island.

But Maui Bus’ focus is on getting the locals where they need to go, which might not be what you want to see. A tour bus will take you exactly where you need to go, but on their schedule, not yours.

Taxis are an option for nearby attractions, but at $3 per mile, they are expensive for long journeys.

Accommodations

Most visitors to Maui stay near one of the larger settlements along the coast, but not Kahului, which is relatively industrial and less touristy than other towns.

Popular locations include Kā’anapali, Kapalua, Kihei, Lahaina, Mākena, and Kapalua. There are also hotels and resorts in the Up Country area around Kula.

When deciding where you want to stay, think about what you most want to see and do while you’re on the island.

Bear in mind that towns like Kā’anapali, Kapalua, and Lahaina on the leeward, west coast will be a lot drier and a little warmer than towns like Hāna on the windward, east coast.

Also remember that although the island is small and settlements close to one another, the roads meander, and there are mountains in the way. If you decide to stay in Hāna but intend to visit Lahaina, allow 3 hours each way for the drive.

When you’ve chosen your target location, you will find lots of resorts, hotels, hostels, and B&Bs to choose from. Tourism is big business in Maui, so there are rooms available to suit any budget.

Weather

Although Maui is a small island, you will experience several distinctly different climates while traveling around. This is a product of the island’s unique geography.

There are two important variables: elevation above sea level and position in relation to the two mountainous regions.

If you are on one of the whale tours in Maui, your boat will be at an elevation of 0 feet, but if you are admiring the view from atop Haleakalā, your elevation is 10,000 feet.

The higher you climb, the cooler the air temperature will be. As a rough guide, every 1,000 feet you rise above sea level, the temperature will drop 3.20F.

This means that when the beach is 700F, the summit is 380F! Although Maui’s climate is tropical, snow sometimes appears at the summit.

If you decide to climb Haleakalā, make sure you take warm clothing in your backpack. You may begin your ascent in the tropics, but you’ll arrive to weather more like the Arctic.

Up Country Maui is wetter and cooler than neighboring South Maui because it sits at a higher elevation.

The low-lying central valley, where the airport is situated along with Kahului and Maalaea, is windy but dry and usually sunnier than other areas. The trade winds hit the windward, eastern shores of the island, bringing moist air.

As that air climbs the mountains, it releases the moisture as rain. This leads to a lot of rain on the east side of the island, hence the rainforests.

The leeward, western shores, because they are sheltered from the wind by the mountains, only get a remnant of the rain. This makes the western shores relatively dry, especially where sheltered by Haleakalā.

The average temperatures on Maui don’t change too much from the winter to the summer. Because the island is in the tropics, it’s almost always warm. In the coolest winter months, the average high is 800F and the low 650F, but around 10F cooler along the Hāna Highway.

If you want to snorkel, the ocean temperature is a pleasant 750F. Winter is the season that sees the most rainfall. In the warmest summer months, the average high is 840F and the low 700F but 830F-690F around Hāna. The ocean temperature rises to around 800F in summer.

Attractions

Maui is an island steeped in natural beauty and cultural history. There are many interesting places to visit and activities to enjoy.

You can hike through the rainforest, snorkel in the crystal-clear water offshore, watch whales in the Pacific, or attend an authentic luau.

Maui is volcanic in origin, created by lava flows from two volcanoes. Haleakalā is the larger of the two volcanoes, responsible for over 75% of Maui’s landmass. You can find Haleakalā at the heart of Haleakalā National Park, which is a popular destination for tourists.

If you enjoy photography, you’ll love the sunset over the Pacific Ocean viewed from the summit of Haleakalā. And once the sun has gone down, Haleakalā is also a fantastic place to stargaze, when it is not cloudy.

At 10,000 feet elevation and with no light pollution, you get an uninterrupted view of the cosmos. The main feature of the park is the volcano’s crater.

It is 7 miles long, 2 wide, and approximately 2,600 feet deep. Another popular attraction inside the park is Hosmer’s Grove.

This is an unusual collection of invasive trees from all around the world, including eucalyptus from Australia and pine from North America.

Visitors love to explore the Hāna Highway—Hawaii Routes 36 and 360. The highway winds along the North Shore between Kahului in Central Maui and Hāna in East Maui.

Built by King Pi’ilani in the 16th century, this ancient road has a longer history than the Union. It is only 64½ miles long but features 59 bridges, most only one lane wide, and many sharp bends.

Driving along the highway, you will frequently stop to photograph the lush tropical rainforest. You can also visit waterfalls, walk along stunning black-sand beaches, and view scenic mountains.

However, if you decide to travel this route, expect delays. Even without stopping, the drive between the two towns takes 2½ hours.

Over in West Maui, the most popular destination for hikers is Iao Valley State Park. This is a stream-cut valley within the tropical rainforest, which features a distinctive natural landmark. Rising 1,200 feet from its base, the Iao Needle is a stunning basalt formation.

Not far away, on the north coast, you can find Nakalele Point. This scenic area of cliffs is famous for its blowhole, which spouts jets of seawater 100 feet into the air like a geyser.

Tourists fascinated by the cultural history of Maui flock to Lahaina, the largest settlement in West Maui. Once the residence of the royal family, Lahaina was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1820 to 1845.

Here is where you’ll find the oldest buildings and learn about local history. Lahaina still projects the ambiance of a 19th-century whaler’s seaport.

The settlement’s historic district boasts 9 important historical buildings built between 1823 and 1901. The 1859 Court House was constructed over the site of the royal palace, and the United States Marine Hospital dates to 1842.

Banyan Tree Park occupies the site of the 1831 Lahaina Fort and features the largest banyan tree in Hawaii planted in 1873.

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We chose the Maui: Private Rainforest or Road to Hāna Loop Tour as our favorite Road To Hana Tour.

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Robert Baker

I had the good fortune to be born in a first-world country at a time when fast international travel became possible for average people. Having shared meals with families in huts with no electricity and dirt floors, I appreciate the "little" things that my fellow Englishmen take for granted. Over the years I've worked in many different fields. I've been an archaeologist in the Scottish Hebrides, an accountant in London, and taught English in China. However,I've never enjoyed any other job as much as writing.

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