Welcome to the ultimate guide to the best things to do in Hana, Maui!
My boyfriend and I recently had the opportunity to explore the smaller towns of Hawaii, and Hana quickly became our favorite. It was our first time spending a few days in the town, and we were completely captivated by its stunning landscape, rich culture, and laid-back atmosphere.
We knew that a trip to Maui wasn’t complete without a drive along the Road to Hana, but we were so glad that we decided to stay and fully immerse ourselves in all Hana has to offer.
From hiking through beautiful state parks and swimming at scenic beaches to exploring its historical sites and savoring the fresh, local cuisine, there was no shortage of amazing things to do.
So, I’ve compiled a list of Hana’s top activities and attractions based on our personal experiences and recommendations. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, there’s something for everyone in this charming Northeastern Maui settlement.
Trust me, after reading this article, you’ll be itching to book your own trip to Hana. Let’s get to it!
Drive the Scenic Road to Hana – Best Thing to do in Hana
Driving through the Road to Hana is your best bet if you’re looking to explore Maui’s gorgeous landmarks in a day or two. Also known as the ‘crown-jewel’ of Hawaii driving tours, this is a 64-mile long drive through the Hana Highway with endless waterfalls, deep valleys, hidden beaches, and small towns along its path.
You’ll no doubt find plenty of ways to travel this Road, but there are a few places you can’t miss. We always start our tour from Paia, where you can enjoy a meal and stock up on snacks and essentials.
From there, stop at Wailua Falls at mile marker 45, which you can see from the highway, or drive to its lookout point in a parking lot. These falls offer breathtaking views of the lush green valley and bubbling pool below. My boyfriend loves stopping here and getting snacks from vendors in the lot.
Another great stop if you want to wander around the area is the Pipiwai Trail, starting at mile marker 42. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful hikes in Hawaii, the trail stretches through a dense bamboo forest, passes through freshwater streams, and ends at the cascading Waimoku Falls.
Pipiwai Trail is also great for families to trek since the whole thing is raised on wooden planks and is only steep for the first few inclines.
As the Road to Hana is accessible to everyone, it’s one of the best things to do in Hana. Some things to consider before taking it:
- You can book guided tours for this Road that often stop at hidden landmarks or get a rental car for a self-guided tour.
- Download the paid Gypsy app, an excellent tour guide through Hana that works in areas without signals.
- Many places require reservations to enter after COVID, so check online before making your travel map.
Explore Hana’s Famous Beaches
Hana has some of the best beaches on Maui, and all at a short distance from each other. Make sure to stop by at least one of these and dip your feet in the refreshing East Coast waters.
Hamoa Beach is a great stop for surfing on its gigantic waves.
You’ll love Hana Bay as it’s an excellent spot for snorkeling.
Koki Beach is a must-stop for families to enjoy the views and a meal.
Hamoa Beach is a Hana favorite for its clear, blue-green waters and soft sandy shores. You can relax in its many shaded spots after completing Road to Hana since this is near the end of it.
As the water gets rough and high tides come in, people often surf here. Also, the lack of crowds and vast shoreline give this beach a secluded environment.
However, the waves get harsh depending on the weather, so be careful.
Hana Bay Beach Park is a favorite spot in Hana for its great swimming waters and abundant marine life, making it perfect for snorkeling.
You can find this beach at the end of the Road to Hana, and most people stop by for a picnic with the gorgeous views.
Koki Beach – Best Fun Thing to do in Hana
Like most beaches on Maui’s East Coast, this beach’s waters aren’t safe for swimming and best enjoyed from a distance. Although, it’s a neat beach to sit and have a picnic on the sand or from your car in the big parking lot.
There’s a Huli Huli Chicken place near here that most people come for. My boyfriend and I usually get a meal from here to go, but this time, we sat down on the many picnic spots and took in the lovely views.
Since the water is only safe to play or dip your feet in, families can bring children here during the day when the waves are calmer.
Spending a day at the beach is one of the most fun things to do in Hana. Here’s why you’ll love it here:
- Koki Beach has fruit stands in the parking lot selling delicious fresh fruit.
- Hamoa Beach has parking spaces on the roadside, so get there early for a good spot.
- Hana Bay has plenty of parking in the Bay area, but it can get crowded on the beach.
Visit the Waianapanapa State Park
The Waianapanapa State Park is an excellent stop on the Road to Hana for its scenic trails and stunning black sand beach. However, you need to get reservations before coming here in advance and pay a small parking fee to enter.
You can drive through the State Park and enjoy the views from your car, but taking the trail down to Honokalani Black Sand Beach is highly recommended. The beach has rough waves crashing on the black sands, but don’t go deep in the water as it’s not safe for swimming.
Instead, you can enjoy the scenery from the surrounding valley and then explore the small cave on the side of the beach stairs. Many families visit the park as it’s a great spot for children to run around on the spacious beach.
If you don’t want to hike the area, drive around and see a blowhole, sea-sculpted lava formations, a birthing pool, a hidden swimming hole, ancient Hawaiian burial sites, and finally, the summit. We’ve been here a few times on our Maui trips, and it never disappoints!
In addition, the State Park is strict about timings, so make sure your trip ends in the designated slot. We were early to our reservation and had to wait outside on the road for a while.
Exploring Waianapanapa remains unmatched as the best thing to do in Hana. Some things to know before you visit:
- Parking in the lot is $10 for cars and $5 per person.
- The reserved time ranges between 2.5 – 3 hours, so make sure to explore as much as possible.
- Don’t go barefoot on the black sand beach since the sand is made of gravel and black rocks.
Enjoy a Meal in Hana
Hana doesn’t have a lot of dining options, only a few grocery stores, one fine dining restaurant, and farmers markets. But the few options available are serving the most delicious food for miles.
Try Thai Food by Pranee, which serves authentic Thai food made from fresh catch, that’s just the right amount of spicy. The local chef has run the food truck for years and has perfected her recipes.
We love their Pad Thai noodles, drunken Opakahapa, and whichever special is up for the day. The truck has a homely location under a thatched roof house near the baseball park.
You can find Braddah Hutts BBQ Grill outside Hana’s city center, a pop-up serving the most delicious barbecued meat. The business is family-owned, and their food truck serves great tacos, mac and cheese, and a lot of meat options to choose from.
My boyfriend loves their bbq and will stop in town just for this food truck.
I guarantee you’ll love the food at Hana and keep coming back for more (I’m guilty of this.)
- Hana’s food stands also have many vegetarian options; just ask the chefs, and they’ll incorporate them into the menu.
- Pranee’s food truck is one of the few open after 5 pm so don’t miss it.
- Joel’s on Keanini Drive is also an excellent option for seafood (try the garlic shrimp!)
See the Hana Lava Tube
This lava tube is inside the Ka’eleku Cave and is Maui’s largest and most accessible lava tube. You don’t have to be a geologist to enjoy this cave; since it’s spacious and well-guided, anyone can explore it.
The people in charge give you a brief explanation about the tube’s formation, provide everyone with flashlights, and then you’re on your own. Since it’s a self-guided tour, you can roam around as you please and read the placards along the way for information.
We were surprised to see families with younger children here, but they seemed to enjoy running around. Plus, the cave is pretty spacious so you won’t feel claustrophobic at any point.
The guide told us that most lava tubes cave in with time, but this one is still standing. So consider this your cue to visit this exotic cave before it’s too late, as it’s one of the most fun things to do in Hana.
- There’s plenty of parking and clean restrooms on-site.
- There’s a $15 charge per person for exploring the cave.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat since there’s a lot of dripping inside the cave.
Stop by Hana Cultural Center and Museum
This small museum in Hana has preserved the town’s culture in the best way possible. You can see the historic Hana Courthouse, Jail, and native family homes (called Kauhale O Hana) from earlier times.
Since it’s based in a modest setting, most people don’t stop by here. But if you want to explore the town’s roots, chat with the friendly staff who’ll explain the history in great detail.
Also, there’s a great little gift shop in the Museum, so make sure to buy Hawaiian artifacts and souvenirs here.
Visiting the Cultural Center and Museum is one of the best things to do in Hana that makes you appreciate the town.
- The Museum suggests making a $3 donation, but everyone coming here should donate as it goes towards maintenance.
- You can explore the museum in an hour and take great photos with the antiques.
- It’s located in the heart of Hana at Uakea Road.
Conclusion: The Best Things to do in Hana
Hana is every beach freak, waterfall enthusiast, and small-town lover’s dream. There’s an abundance of gorgeous places lining its winding highway that you need days to explore completely.
Not to mention, the town has the best people and places to get familiar with. We’ve made such good friends from the locals in Hana on our visits that they feel like family now. So you can always count on this town to give you a perfect ‘home away from home’ feeling.
Want to see the best beaches in Hana? Visit Koki Beach, Hamoa Beach, and Honokalani Black Sand Beach.
Only have a few hours to explore Hana’s natural beauty? Then, you can’t go wrong with Waianapanapa State Park.
Want to learn about the town’s history and culture? Stop by Hana Cultural Center and Museum.
Frequentlt Askes Questions (FAQ):
What is Hana Maui known for?
Hana is known for the Road to Hana drive that goes along Hana Highway and passes by scenic trails, beautiful waterfalls, lush forests, and quaint towns.
How many days do you need in Hana?
Ideally, stay for at least two days while on the road trip so you can see all the great sites in Hana without rushing through them.
Is a tour of Road to Hana worth it?
The tour is worth it, especially for people who have trouble accessing steep hills and hikes since you can drive to every scenic location in a few hours from the comfort of your car.
What are the best places to eat in Hana?
Hana has delicious, small-scale eateries that have something for everyone. Try Thai Food by Pranee for excellent Thai food, Braddah Hutts BBQ Grill for the best American BBQ, Joel’s for scrumptious seafood, and I Lava Tacos for tasty tacos.
Last Updated on January 26, 2023 by Brigitte