Maui Day 3: Our Road to Hana Itinerary

It’s been a dream here in Maui. We decided to do another early morning activity our second day while we still had the time zone adjustment on our side. The Road to Hana is Maui’s epic drive of winding roads and one-lane bridges rewarded with hidden waterfalls, beaches, charming towns and markets, tropical rainforests, and much more… The photos you’re about to see were so beautiful I would have thought they were fake if I hadn’t seen these places with my own eyes. It’s recommended to break up the drive into at least 2 days so you can fully appreciate the many gorgeous views, hikes, and places to play—and so that you’re not driving dangerously in a rush. “It’s about the journey, not the destination” really helps the Aloha Spirit on this adventure that can be stressful at times. All that being said, if you do try the Road to Hana in one day like we did, we still had an unforgettable time! Read on for photos.

Getting Started

To maximize our Road to Hana trip in less than a day, we made a plan before getting in the car and chose only 2-3 things to do and got there early! We were on the Road to Hana by 6am with a full tank, full bellies, and ready for the eye candy. We loved having the stress-free space on the one-way bridges and tight hairpin turns and arriving at our stops before the crowds. It was also great having a compact car to hug the corners without stressing about hitting the oncoming traffic of giant trucks, locals speeding through, and jeeps that spilled into our lane.

Get the GPS-guided Gypsy app for this journey where cell service is nonexistent! We enjoyed not being lost, having a “tour guide”, and taking some detours at Gypsy’s recommendation that were magic. Here is the first unplanned stop we made at a lookout early in our journey of a breathtaking view just as the sun rose, with our first bathroom break soon after!

The stops we chose were at the END of the Road to Hana, so we decided to keep driving passed most of the waterfalls! Many we could even appreciate and photograph from the car. We planned to come back and take our time for the first part another day. Before we started, we ate homemade breakfast sandwiches in our kitchen where I also took a motion sickness pill, and packed a subway sandwich, beef jerky, lots of cold water bottles, and granola bars along with our beach and hiking stuff. No need to stop for banana bread or fresh flowers along the road since nothing is open that early!

Pai’loa Black Sand Beach

Wai’anapanapa State Park (Mike Marker 32)
This beach was everything I wanted and more for our first adventure after arriving on Maui. A romantic, secluded, and small shoreline ranging from fine grain sand to rocky pebbles and larger rocks for climbing or exploring underwater with a snorkel. This was my first black sand beach, uniquely formed from volcanic rock which makes it ultra awesome. We literally had this glorious place to ourselves when the only other couple who arrived before us left as a light rain drizzled. We explored the caves and the striking colors of bright green fauna against black lava rock and a turquoise ocean along a short hiking trail.

Koki Beach

Mile Marker 51. This was the 2nd unplanned quick detour we made from Gypsy’s recommendation, and I’m so glad we did! Kōkī Beach has red sand and is one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever beheld! Lots of warning signs were posted about past drownings and the strong waves/rip tides at any time so we almost didn’t get past the parking lot. However, the ocean seemed calm for a stroll along the beach and even got a picture with the coconut topped ‘Alau Island in the background.

Hamoa Beach

Mile Maker 50. Gypsy app guide suggested this for the win! Our third and last unplanned detour was at Hamoa Beach, a tucked away paradise with amazing light sand and turquoise waves. We spent more time here than at the other beaches to relax and swim together. It was already afternoon and I wish we got more photos; there were lots of cliffs and naturally shaded areas that were perfect for drying off, as well as a shower to clear off the sand before heading out.

Haleakala National Park

Mile Marker 42. Think of the most gorgeous tropical hike you can imagine. That was the Pipiwai Trail in the Haleakalā National Park. We originally came here hoping to dip into the Oheo Gulch (aka Pools of Oheo since “Seven Sacred Pools” is apparently not an accurate name at all), but it was closed for unknown reasons. There was still so much to see! The 2 mile hike took us through a beautiful rainforest to a Giant Banyan tree, a boardwalk in the Bamboo Forest where the wind caused the bamboo trees to clack together in a neat chorus, through bridges and streams to Waimoku Falls. We only visited the waterfall very briefly because we needed to head back. It took us about 2 hours up to the falls, and an hour to race back to the car. Surprisingly it was actually more comfortable to climb up to the falls wearing sandals, and back down in hiking or water shoes after they had dried a bit from our beach trip.

Mama’s Fish House

I made our reservation for Mama’s Fish House months in advance, so when we realized we might not make it we booked it down the trail back to the car. We drove down the way we came rather than the backside of the crater because we can’t afford to take chances of breaking down in a small rental car on remote roads that would violate our rental agreement. Anyway! We enjoyed the 2.5hr commentary by Mr. Gypsy Guide on Hawaiian history on the way back, and got to Mama’s Fish House exactly to the minute of our 5pm reservation (not without much awesome driving from Jeremy). When the valet came to park, we were still halfway changing clothes in the car!

No makeup on, hair disheveled and sand in all sorts of places made me feel self-conscious surrounded by ladies in elegant resort wear—but the manager came over with a fresh flower lei, wished us a heartfelt Happy Anniversary, and told Jeremy about the custom of giving a lei and kissing on each cheek. It was a super sweet moment to slow down from the rush with my darling. The flowers instantly elevated my look, and I was put at ease with stellar food. Everything we ordered was a masterpiece!

Mr. Gypsy Guide said we should try Maui Beef, so we did! Clockwise from the top left: Haleakala Ranch Beef in a grilled Hana papaya (appetizer), Fresh Fish, Mama’s Stuffed Fish with lobster and crab in a Macadamia nut crust (garnished with petite lobster tail), Strawberry Guava Fizz drink. Our favorite, though, was the Crispy Fried Kanpachi Collar! I have to mention the details that really impressed me about Mama’s Fish House besides the wonderful service from everyone involved including the special visit from the manager. We had a personalized Anniversary Card at our table, fresh tropical flowers on every surface including the extra toilet paper rolls in the restroom, warm or cold hand towels between each course, and a newly printed menu for each day showing the freshly caught fish and the name of the fisherman who caught it! The beautiful woods that comprised every bench, all the chandeliers and even the seating podiums were made with large fancy shells, and the open walls let the gorgeous ocean views in every corner!Crispy Fried Kanpachi CollarWe didn’t have enough room for dessert but if it’s anything like the rest of their food it is ONO delicious. The restaurant is right on the beach so we took a walk and barely missed the sun set before catching a glimpse of a turtle coming up for a rest. What a lovely way to end our action-packed day. I can’t believe we did all of that in ONE DAY! My husband is my driving-hiking-lei’ing hero, so thankful we went on this adventure together…

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