8 practical tips for driving Maui’s Road to Hana solo in 1 day

Mar 8, 2023

The Road to Hana in Maui, or Hana Highway, is a 64-mile scenic road trip on the northeast coast of Maui, Hawaii. Bubbling waterfalls, black lava sand beaches, rainbow bamboo, plunging sea cliffs, and overflowing tropical gardens of Jurassic Park caliber make this one of the best road trips in the United States.

Is the Road to Hana dangerous? Can you drive the Road to Hana in one day? Can you drive the Road to Hana solo? With 600+ turns and 50+ one-lane bridges winding back and forth across narrow sea cliffs, driving the Road to Hana solo may not be for the faint of heart. But in my experience, a little planning can go a long way to creating an absolutely magical once-in-a-lifetime experience in one of the most stunning places in the world!

BUT, there are a few critical things that you HAVE TO KNOW before you take on this adventure.

8 tips for driving Road to Hana in Maui in 1 day

  1. Get the Road to Hana guided map from the free Gypsy Guide app. It’s a flexible and fully automatic audio tour guide app with perfectly timed stories, tips, and directions for the Road to Hana. 

Your Apple/Google Maps app WILL NOT WORK on Road to Hana, so this is the only real way to get directions other than buying a physical map. 

Using the Gypsy Guide Road to Hana guided map (which costs $9.99 and is worth every penny) is like having a friendly Maui local in the passenger seat of your car. The guide talks to you about the upcoming stops, where to to park or turn, information about what you may or may want to skip, and entertaining cultural tidbits along the way. Listen to a quick sample here!

You MUST download it and purchase the map before you go. I did it in my hotel the night before and would have been so lost without it.

2. There’s no wifi, data roaming, or cell service of any kind. 

  • Again, download the Gypsy Guide map the night before. 

  • Download offline messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp (you won’t be able to text) the night before so that you can contact someone in case of an emergency.

  • Screenshot any important email or web-based info that you may need to access while you’re on the Road to Hana. You won’t be able to Google or check your email, but you’ll be able to see your photos.

Pro tip: Maui is a long flight, so they can get expensive. Use my step by step quick guide to learn how to use Google Flights to find the cheapest flights! And don’t forget to make sure you’re ready for a comfy flight with these long flight essentials.

3. Bring snacks and drinks.

Food and drink stops are few and far between. I packed up a cooler and loaded it into the passenger seat of my jeep when I left in the morning- I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it would have been without it!

4. You need cash. 

While the Road to Hana doesn’t have an entrance fee, some of the locally-owned scenic stops ask for an entrance or parking fee and only accept cash. I recommend bringing about $50 if you’re driving Road to Hana solo, which you may or may not need depending on where you stop. 

For example, Twin Falls asked for $5 in cash for a parking fee, but the Garden of Eden was $20 per person, cash only. Better to have extra than not enough! Haleakala National Park has a $30 entrance fee, but accepts credit cards. **Pricing information is from 2022. 

5. Fill up with gas right before you hit the road. 

Gas stations are nonexistent until you get to Hana. Since the Road to Hana starts in Paia, I recommend filling up there before you hit the road. If you don’t, you wouldn’t believe how expensive a tow truck is on Road to Hana! 

6. Take your time driving.

Like I mentioned before, the Road to Hana has hairpin turns and one way bridges— be patient and cautious as you navigate these. Rain showers are common randomly throughout the day in this tropical climate, so be prepared to be extra patient (wondering what the best time to visit Maui is? Find out here!). Also, some of the best stops on the Road to Hana came up fast and I blew by a couple. Backtracking was difficult and honestly unsafe. Remember to take your time- the journey is the destination! 

7. Use the bathroom and fill up on water whenever you find an opportunity to do so.

You never know when the next opportunity will be. Some of the spots that I read about offering restrooms or water refill opportunities were closed or the situation had changed on the day that I was there.

8. Plan plan plan- even if just to deviate from it! 

To get the most out of an epic 1-day solo drive on the Road to Hana, you must have a rough plan, even if just to deviate from it. 

Not knowing what you may want to see or skip on the Road to Hana means you’ll either miss out, waste precious time, or both. It’s virtually impossible to double back, and as someone who bounces back and forth between being a planner and being totally spontaneous, my plan was a skeleton built for spontaneity and deviation. The important thing was that my priorities were outlined so that I could decide what was most exciting or important to me in the moment. 

  • Wake up EARLY. Want it to be less crowded and to hit more stops? Then you have to do what others won’t! I started my drive in the semi darkness of pre-dawn. When I arrived at the first stop on the Road to Hana, the sun was rising and I was the only car parked in the lot, bathed in golden pink morning light. It was a beautiful, peaceful start to the day. 

  • Keep up with your timing, especially if you’ll be nervous driving back down the sea cliffs in the dark if you get off track. When I outlined my plan I made rough estimates of the time I would spend at the stops I prioritized. Most importantly, I found the “midpoint” of my stops (I did 13 stops in 1 day!) and knew that if i wasn’t there by halfway through the day, that I wouldn’t get to the last half of things I wanted to see. Two major timestamps that helped keep me on track was my reserved entry time for Waiʻānapanapa State Park (1:00PM) and knowing the hours of Haleakala National Park (they closed at 4:30PM when I went in 2022). 

  • Safety: I never felt unsafe on the Road to Hana. The drive has some twists and turns that you need to navigate with care, but as far as classic safety advice for female solo travelers, I felt 100% safe. Just remember to lock your car when you get out and bring any safety products that you usually would. Check out these 8 fantastic travel safety products for women under $20 on Amazon!

  • Maui was actually my first “big” solo trip. Whether you’re a new or seasoned solo traveler, check you this quick list of the BEST destinations for your solo international trips.

Looking for more? Don’t miss the best-of-the-best!

Are you new here? Let’s be friends! I’m Sarah— a solo female traveler (& world’s okayest travel blogger) helping you travel the world, discover surprising destinations, & have a laugh getting off the beaten path. Scroll to the bottom of this page to sign up to stay in touch (I promise not to spam you- just to share the best travel hacks, guides, itineraries, embarrassing stories, and unmissable experiences)!

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