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Guide to North Maui

Updated on September 5, 2018
Pools of Oheo Gulch
Pools of Oheo Gulch

North Maui

Northeast Maui is for nature lovers, and any visit to Maui would be incomplete without a trip along the famous road to Hana.Here are some of the highlights along the way.

Paia is a small village along the Road to Hana. Its main street is lined with old, wooden, colorful houses. Henry Baldwin founded the village when he built his first sugar plantation close by. Paia means "noisy" in Hawaiian, which definitely describes the early days in Paia. Today most of the houses are small souvenir shops, art galleries, restaurants, and windsurfing stores.

The whole town seems crowded with a colorful mix of European and other windsurfers from all over the world, and every visitor always asks the same question : Where do all these long - haired people work ?

Here is the secret - They just don't,dude. In Paia you have the last chance to fill up your gas tank before you reach Hana town. Windsurfing schools teach and rent equipment out here. About 10 minutes outside Paia you will pass Hookipa Beach County Park. During the afternoon, when the wind picks up, the number of windsurfers will drastically increase. That’s the best time to watch the colorful spectacle. The beach is not suitable for swimming. While the windsurfers enjoy the ride on the left of the beach, the surfers go for the better waves on the right. Park by the roadside and leave the lower spots for the guys who have to carry their equipment into the water. Stay at Michel's House if you want to be close to it all, or at Bobs vacation rentals on the beach by Spreckelsville.

After a few miles you can turn off the main road and head towards Haiku. Haiku was known for its two canneries, which were recently converted into two Hawaiian style shopping places.A great place to stay here is Puo Koa, a haven for windsurfers,or one of the Dream Bungalows. Haiku is Hawaiian for "abrupt break", which is related to the fast changing weather there.From here you continue along the road towards Hana. Another bargain in beautiful surroundings is the Haiku Ranch.

Road To Hana

This is the road where you finally realize that you are the only tourist that knows how to drive a car, and while all others risk their life by driving and at the same time gazing at waterfalls, the lush forest and the steep cliffs that surround you, you keep your eyes on the road.If you don't feel like driving the sometimes difficult road, join a narrated tour.

This is also the road where tourists sometimes think that locals are rude. But imagine that on your way to and from work you were constantly stuck in a parade of convertibles filled with honeymooners that have all the time in the world... so let them pass, and you will see countless smiles.

Fill up your car with enough gas, pack some water and a couple of snacks, and off you go! There are some fruit shacks along the way. The local farmers sell their fresh fruit and juices here.

An excursion to Hana should be planned as a whole day trip, or to overnight in one of Hana’s lovely Bed & Breakfast places and hike up the 7 pools the next morning. Until 10.30am you will have paradise all to yourself. If you love nature, spent your whole vacation in one of the awesome vacation homes out here. The ultimate honeymoon is the heavenly Hana House.

The 52 mile long drive usually takes about 3 hours, and is filled with natural wonders. Numerous waterfalls are directly next to the road.Four miles before Hana you will hit Waianapanapa State Park. This 120 acre large park offers some rugged coastline and some great black sand ( stone ) beaches.

You can hike over black lava flows and explore the Waianapanapa Caves, the black sand beach or ancient Hawaiian sites. While swimming at the black sand beach is rough, the water in the caves is calm, cold, and clear.


Hana, with its 2000 residents, will give you an excellent feel of Hawaii at the turn of the century. Years apart from civilization and stress, Hana has its special flair. Operating hours for the bank are uniquely Hawaiian - its open when its open, otherwise its closed.

Hana’s economy changed significantly during the 1940s, when the local community realized that growing sugar was not profitable anymore. Instead, cattle from Molokai were brought over and the Hana Cattle Ranch was established , which encompasses some 14000 acres. In 1946 the Hotel Hana Maui was opened. The hotel belonged to a millionaire, who accommodated mostly his friends and celebrities, and later opened it to the public. The hotel is very popular with repeat visitors, many of them celebrities who cherish the luxury and the remoteness of the place. Horseback riding is one of the best past times and is rewarded with magnificent views of Haleakala and the ocean.

In the 70's Realtors witnessed an increase in interest from clients to purchase homes out here, and the former "wilderness" changed into a desirable " country living" by adding an additional "0" to the pricetag, upping it from $ 20.000 to $ 200.000 per acre. If Hana sounds like the place for you, check out the great Plantation Homes.

The small town slopes down to Hana Bay. The bay was a favorite spot for Hawaiian royalty but also served as an important strategic spot, when attacking the Big Island. It is also said, that it was here, where Kamehameha’s favorite wife was born. Close to Hana Bay is the Red Sand Beach.

Hana also has a small airport. Aloha Island Air offers scheduled flights to and from the other islands in small propeller aircraft. Two helicopter and one sailplane company offer great tours over northeast Maui from here. Some celebrities who have homes out here use the airport to land their private jets.

The Road Beyond Hana

12 miles behind Hana Town you will get to the 7 Pools of Oheo Gulch in the section of Haleakala National Park. As if you had stepped on some tropical movie set, the fresh water pools are so stunning that almost everybody’s heart is going to melt. The most popular pools of the Oheo stream are below the bridge close to the ocean. If you have the time and enough sense for adventure, try to hike up along the river until you reach the Makahiku Falls and then the Waimoku Falls. The trail can be really slippery on rainy days, so use caution! Once you make it up to the Waimoku Fall you will be surrounded by the highest ridges, and the most amazing waterfall. It is not very powerful, so you can stand underneath and enjoy a spectacle of rainbows and sunrise. Hana Tours are offered daily and local guides explain the legends and the magnificent beauty of this magic place.

Only 7 miles outside Hana you can visit the Wailua Falls.

Charles Lindbergh, the first pilot who crossed the Atlantic, is buried here. He decided even one year before his death that he wanted to rest in peace here. He had been living in Hana for several years. A beautiful church overlooking steep cliffs and the vast channel to the Big Island is next to his grave.

You can follow the road along the southern coast, but when you come to the point where the road is unpaved it is suggested to turn around and drive back. Most rental car insurance's do not cover any damages on Hwy. 37, and once you are stuck out there, immersed in stunning nature but with virtually no phone for miles, well, towing gets expensive, and it gets quite chilly at night. Continue at your own risk.If you have a 4WD, it is definitely the way to go. The views of the back of Haleakala and the channel are priceless.

Beaches Of North Maui

Northeast Maui Beaches offer a great variety - from the world's most famous windsurfing beach to what Marc Twain called " the most beautiful beach in all of the Pacific ", Maui has it all.

Waianapanapa State Park

Awesome black sand beach. Small, rocky lava bay. The beach is really something you have to see. Due to sharp lava rocks and strong currents, not suitable for swimming. There are a lot of things to explore. Also refer to ROAD TO HANA section.

Kaihalulu Beach (Red Sand Beach)

The beach is only accessible by walking. The trail is rough and narrow. The trail bears some dangers. At one time the trail is only 2 feet wide and at the edge of a 60 feet high cliff. The effort is though worth it. The red sand is a result of a red volcanic cinder cone. Swimming is generally safe, but be careful to your left, there are some tricky rip currents.

Hookipa Beach Park

This beautiful park is located about two miles past Lower Paia on the Hana Highway. The park is well equipped with restrooms, showers, four pavilions with BBQ.’s and picnic tables, paved off-street parking and a tent camping area. Although the park has a small white sandy beach, swimming is not advised. The north swells provide for good surfing conditions year-round whereas sometimes it provides for excellent conditions in the winter. Internationally, Hookipa is best known as one of the best windsurfing spots in the world because of the consistent surf and wind. Even if one is not interested in these water sports, this park is worth visiting. Stay close to all the action and spent your vaction at Bob's vacation rentals on the beach - the best beachlaunch around.

Hamoa Beach

A few minutes past Kiki on the Hamoa Road you will find the Hamoa Beach, which Mark Twain called the ‘best beach in the Pacific’. This beautiful beach is in a very tropical setting.Maintained by the Hotel Hana Maui, the beach is facilitated well. The beach is the site of the weekly luau held by the Hana Maui Hotel. The hotel guests are taken to the beach in hay wagons.


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