Escape winter, motorcycle the Road to Hana! It is a twisty road offering extreme diversity, thrill and beauty–all within one ride covering about 180 miles.
After weeks of rain and many cancelled motorcycle trips because of weather, we could take it no more! We searched for destinations within 600-mile radius which might have a better weather forecast we came up empty. With my son set to travel 2500 miles to spend a 6-day motorcycle adventure with us we were getting desperate for sunny destination.
Travel, Lodging, Cost
Jon and I both came up the idea of Motorcycling the Road to Hana and were lucky enough to find a last-minute travel deal from Hawaiian Airlines so we booked it. Five days in Maui at the Hyatt Regency Resort, airfare included for approximately $1300 a person, plus food, and for us plus motorcycles. The most affordable and convenient deal for motorcycle rental for us was with Eagle Rider. On Friday afternoon, we went to Eagle Rider and picked out our ride. Saturday morning by 10 AM, kick stands up and we were rolling toward Hana.
CLICK HERE for access to enlarged and printable map. We took Hwy 30 in a southwest direction, turned right on 380 to 36 which becomes the Hana Highway, and traveled in a clockwise direction around the island. We stopped to top off our tanks in Paia and get bottled water.
The trip starts with ocean views with whale watching opportunities. At our first stop we were thrilled to see one giant beast soar from beneath the ocean reaching for the sky and then back down broadside creating a massive explosion of sea water, all within 75 yards of where we were standing.
As we continued, the landscape changed to tropical forest with dense foliage. The road became curvy and damp sometimes with spots of algae growth thus requiring focus and caution on the motorcycle. Occasionally caravans of autos made travel slow and the road was crowded. But most drivers were courteous and pulled over to let us pass. I would never want to do this road in a car.
Being on the motorcycle gave us flexibility to stop and park almost anyplace with ease and flexibility. It was also easy to navigate narrow sections with one lane bridges. It was easy to motorcycle along without having to stop with the auto caravan. However, we stopped at our leisure many times to enjoy several waterfalls and watch as others swam in the frigid lagoons.
Our lunch stop was at a hot dog stand in Ke’Anae. The menu also included tropical fruit drinks, banana bread and ice cream. An ocean-side ball park at Ke’Anae Lookout Point offered a restroom and spectacular views of lava rock shorelines with rough, crashing seas.
As a side trip, we took the road to Nahiku which descends to the ocean through a lush, dense forest. However, the road was closed because a bridge crossing was barricaded and deemed unsafe for travel. Indeed, it was. The timber was rotten and almost unsafe for foot traffic.
We bypassed Hana Bay because we had been there before and wanted to save time. It is beautiful and worth the stop if you have time. But, we don’t recommend the hamburger stand there. We stopped for gas at the end of town. After town you can stop at the Kipahulu Visitor Center (National Park Fee required) and see the Seven Sacred Pools or Hike some of the Pipiwai Trail.
Many visitors stop here, visit the sites, then reverse their direction of travel and go back along the same route. The road changes after Kipahulu to become rugged, patchy, with some spots of gravel and mud. We were lucky to have had good weather so we ventured onward on big touring bikes without difficulty. After a break at Kaupo General Store, the unpaved rough road presented blind curves and narrow sections. I was nervous as I navigated the heavy Softail along this route which seemed treacherous to me at first. It really wasn’t all that difficult but I constantly imagined something impassable around the next curve. But, it never happened and soon we came upon a section of rough patchwork asphalt that eventually gave way to smooth highway.
Piilani Highway (31) eventually carries you across a dry, grassy part of the island used for ranch and grazing land. The landscape is entirely different than the first part of the journey to Hana. It is wide open spaces and sparsely travelled so you almost have the road to yourself. And, it is a blast on the motorcycle. It is curvy with hills and dips and smooth asphalt. Here you can roll on the throttle, lean into the curves and fly with the wind, and it can be very windy! Do watch for the occassional rut in the bottom of a dip where streams sometimes cross the road. Somewhere along this part of the route the road changes to Highway 37 and then we took a right to Haleakala Hwy (377) passing around Kula. If you want a delightful stop, have dinner at Kula Lodge. Walk through their garden and smell your pizza baking in the stone oven. See beautiful Curtis Wilson Cost landscapes in their Gallery and enjoy the view of the ocean from within the lodge. CLICK HERE to see a sample of his fabulous work.
As we were nearing the end of Haleakala Hwy the sun was getting low in the sky and we were anxious to get back to the hotel before dark. We turned left on Hwy 36 and were greeted with a spectacular and unusual scene as the sun dropped between the mountains.
Traffic was beginning to pick up. Before long I was hating the Harley’s clutch and heat coming from the beast below my right leg. We endured another hour of stop and go traffic in the dark to reach our destination.
Lessons Learned and Recommendations for Next Time
It was a fabulous ride. If I were to do it again what would I do differently? Take two or three days, swim in a lagoon, see more sites, stay at Kula Lodge, rent an adventure or dual sport bike instead. If I only had one day to do it, I would leave earlier in the morning. This would require picking up the rental bike at closing time the day before rather than at shop opening on the day of the ride. The entire route is a full day trip. If you want to spend anytime at Kipahulu Visitor Center, Seven Pools or Pipiwai Trail I recommend you leave at sunrise. I would not like to be caught on the end of this route after Kipahulu in the dark.
Read Andrew Doughty’s guidebook “Maui Revealed.” We found it accurate (except closed bridge at Nahiku Road) and insightful.
CLICK HERE to see photo gallery of this trip.
CLICK HERE to see a short Go Pro video of paved sections of Hana Road.
CLICK HERE to see a short Go Pro video of most difficult, unpaved section of this motorcycle adventure.