The Hawaiian island of Maui is a destination for true nature-lovers. You can stretch out on warm, golden sands, or hit the surf for an unforgettable windsurfing or snorkeling session. Driving the scenic road to Hana along the island’s northeastern shore will be among the most spectacular journeys of your life. This island is amazing and definitely worth the visit!
We were lucky enough to have a local to tell us all the must-see sites on the island. I also looked up things to do in Maui prior to our trip, so I added some of my own randomness into the mix as well. And I’m here to share them all with you!
The name Ho‘okipa means “hospitality” in Hawaiian. Ho’okipa Beach Park is located on Maui’s North Shore alongside the Hana Highway. There are picnic facilities and observation decks for visitors. This beach is the go-to spot if you want to see sea turtles!
Please be respectful of the turtles! Feeding or touching turtles in any way is considered a disturbance and is therefore considered illegal in Hawaii. DLNR advises the public to keep a 6 to 10-foot buffer as a best practice for sea turtle viewing.
Road to Hana
If you’re going to do ONE thing in Maui, this is it. The Journey Begins in Paia. Before you even start out, fill up your gas tank. Gas in Paia is expensive (even by Maui standards), and it’s the last place for gas until you get to Hana, some 42 miles, 54 bridges, and 600 hairpin turns down the road.
Warning: Mile Markers are screwy. They start over after #16. Also, after Hana Town, they jump to #51 then go backwards. It can be a little confusing, so it’s best to plan what stops you want to do before you start your journey. I’m going to highlight the stops we chose to do. They are all amazing, so you really can’t go wrong!
twin falls: Mile marker #2
Twin Falls is the first easily-accessible string of waterfalls and pools on the Road to Hana. There’s also a snack stand! You’ll be surrounded by the lush, green jungle and wild flowers along the trails.
After about a half mile or so, the wide path splits off into two foot-paths that fork in the general direction of Ho’olawa’s two main tributary streams. To the left lies Ho’olawa li’ili’i (Little Ho’olawa) Stream, and to the right Ho’olawa nui (Big Ho’olawa) Stream. Hang a left at the fork, and the foot-path will take you to one of the more popular falls, commonly called “Caveman” by local residents.
Garden of eden: mile marker #10
This was my favorite stop!! This little bit of paradise is a must-see! Note: there is an admission fee of $15/person over 16 years of age, and $5 for under 16. If you think that’s steep, you probably shouldn’t go to Hawaii. Everything is expensive……but worth it! The Garden of Eden is pretty dang big! Here’s a map:
Twenty-six acres of trails alive with brilliant colors, unique flowers, rare trees, and the sweet aroma of tropical blossoms in a uniquely natural island setting. You’ll see some of Maui’s most breathtaking ocean views and photo opportunities. The opening sequence of the film “Jurassic Park”, was filmed here! Come walk and explore over 26 acres of Maui’s finest nature trails. You have to see it in person!
Wai’anapanapa State Park: Mile marker #32
After 52 miles of winding roads through the Hana Highway, you’ve made it to Hana Town. It’s a quaint little town with 3 restaurants. Wai’anapanapa, which literally means “glistening water”) State Park, is located on the outskirts of Hana, and is definitely unique. There are over 120 tropical acres. You can find some amazing things here, like: a seabird colony, natural stone arches, ancient lava caves, hidden blowholes, and panoramic views.
Wai’anapanapa State Park is most commonly known for its black beaches. How cool is that?
Wailua Falls: Mile Marker #45
Wailua Falls is a stunning site to see. It’s a side-of-the road, 80′ waterfall and plunge pool. You literally park, run across the street, see it, photograph it, and leave. You’ll do it fast too, if it’s pouring rain – like it usually is!
Hamoa & Koki Beach: near Mile marker #51
Over a half mile past mile marker 51 beyond Hana town, you’ll come to a road on the makai side of the highway named Haneo‘o Road. Koki beach will be on your left. Heading farther down the road beyond Koki Beach, you’ll discover one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Hawaii – the world famous Hamoa Beach.
Pua’a Kaa State Wayside Park: Mile marker #22
Around a half-mile past mile marker 22, you’ll find Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park (good luck saying that, or any of these names, for that matter). You’ll find a paved trail to several small falls and a picnic area. A larger fall can also be accessed upstream via a dirt trail. Talk about beautiful. It’s like something out of a magazine! (The falls, not us) Ha!
The surfing goat dairy
Surfing Goat Dairy is located in Kula. So much goodness in this place! Of course, they have goats, which is awesome. But they also do tours and sell award-winning cheese made right there on the farm! You need to see this adorable place in person!
Ali’i Kula Lavender
Also located in Kula, with breathtaking views and beautiful walking paths, Ali’i Kula Lavender is the perfect place to wander! They offer 5 guided walking tours to share their history, inspiration and plans for the future. Unless you’re us. We showed up in the pouring rain, so they let us in for free but none of those options were available. So, we just wandered and enjoyed the experience on our own!
Kepaniwai Park & heritage gardens
I’ao valley state park
If you’re into seeing the tropical forest side of things, this is your jam. Forget what I said about doing ONE thing in Maui, make it two, and add this to your itinerary.
pa’ako cove & little beach/big beach @ Makena
Okayyyyyyy…..WORD OF WARNING: Little beach is a nude beach. Yes, nude. You’re welcome for telling you so you’re not shocked like I was. Pa’ako Cove (aka Secret Cove or Secret Beach) is one of my favorite beaches on the island. With the waves crashing up over the lava rock and the turquoise-blue water, you can explore, take in the views, and get that Instagram-worthy snap-shot.
The banyan tree
Planted in 1873, this tree dominates the courthouse square in downtown Lahaina. Spanning 1.94 acres and rising more than 60 feet, Lahaina’s banyan tree is the largest banyan tree in the USA. It’s quite the sight to be seen!
I also recommend walking across the street to grab a bite to eat. They have live music with delicious food and drinks!
No matter what you decide to do in Maui, you really can’t go wrong! Let me know if you decide to explore anything I’ve listed!