The famous and beautiful Road to Hana along the southeastern coast of Maui passes incredible waterfalls, stunning hiking trails, and sweeping views of the lava strewn coastline. While the road is a great day trip on Maui and one of the most popular things to do on the island, the drive is along a narrow and windy road and has a reputation for being dangerous. In this article we will give you basic information on what to expect and answer the question: is the Road to Hana dangerous?
Want a complete guide to the Road to Hana? Check out: How to Drive the Reverse Road to Hana Loop
Is the Road to Hana Dangerous?
The quick answer is that the road to Hana is narrow and winding with many sharp turns. If you aren’t familiar with this type of driving the Road to Hana can feel dangerous, however if you take your time and drive slowly and cautiously this stretch of the road is generally safe to drive.
We found that most people driving the Road to Hana were cautious and slow drivers and most people paused at the one lane bridges to let each other pass. In general the most dangerous parts of driving to the Road to Hana include:
- Narrow one way bridges
- Sharp and blind turns
- Few places to pull over
- Additional dangers caused by bad weather
What you won’t find along the Road to Hana:
- Huge Cliffs with drop offs (there are some steep sections but nothing crazy. If you decide to drive the backside of the Road to Hana loop you will find some steep drops along the road)
- Cell service – if there is a problem, cell service is spotty
- Many huge trucks – there were a few larger trucks along the route, but nothing huge
Should you Take a Tour or Drive Yourself?
If you are wondering Is the Road to Hana Dangerous, you are probably wondering whether you should drive yourself or book a guided tour. There are pros and cons to each option. If your biggest concern is safety, tour drivers are experts at driving this route and know the turns and where to use caution. Booking a tour can give you piece of mind and let someone else worry about the driving. You can see some of the best tours below, or visit Viator to see more tours.
A tour will also show you the most interesting things along the Road to Hana and can be a more relaxed way to travel.
On the other hand, if you are an experienced driver, especially with mountain roads, you should feel confident to drive yourself along the route. This gives you options to stop when you feel like it and adjust the trip as you go. We chose to drive the Road to Hana ourselves and we felt confident and safe along the route.
What Type of Car do you Need to Drive the Road to Hana?
The easiest place to get a car on Maui is at the Airport. You do not need a special car to drive the Road to Hana or a 4×4. Since the road in winding and narrow, choose a comfortable car. We’ve had a lot of success recently booking a car through Discover Cars. You can find most major car rental companies through this site, often at big discounts. We booked a mini-van and while it was a long drive in the car, we were comfortable along this route.
If you are driving the Road to Hana as a loop, there are several parts of this road that as dirt and have biggest drop offs. You still don’t need a 4×4 for this route.
It’s worth double checking that the car allows travel along the Road to Hana and insurance fully covers you.
Understanding the Road to Hana
In the next section we’ll go into more detail of exactly what to expect on the Road of Hana and how to minimize the factors that make this Road Dangerous
While accidents and incidents can occur along the road, statistically, the overall number remains relatively low considering the high volume of visitors. Factors that contribute to potential dangers include challenging weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall and fog, which can affect visibility and road conditions. Additionally, reckless driving, speeding, and inattentive driving behaviors can increase the risk of accidents.
It’s important to debunk common myths and misconceptions about the road’s danger level. While it is a winding and narrow road, with proper caution, preparation, and adherence to traffic rules, the Road to Hana can be navigated safely. Understanding the risks and taking appropriate measures can help ensure a safe and enjoyable journey along this iconic Hawaiian route.
Tips for Staying Safe on the Road to Hana
There are many things you can do to minimize the dangerous aspects of the Road to Hana.
- Preparedness and planning are crucial. Research the route, weather conditions, and potential hazards before setting off. Heavy rains will make this drive difficult, so double check the forecast.
- Choose a reliable vehicle with good brakes and suspension to handle the road’s twists and turns.
- Utilize a guidebook or GPS navigation system to stay on track and avoid getting lost, although there are very few turns.
- Take regular rest breaks to combat driver fatigue and stay alert throughout the journey. Remaining focused on the road and surroundings will help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
- Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you to allow for sudden stops or unexpected maneuvers.
- Utilize turnouts or pull-off areas to let faster vehicles pass safely, promoting a smooth flow of traffic.
- Drive at a comfortable pace that allows you to navigate the winding road with confidence and control.
- Be courteous and patient towards other drivers, respecting their right of way and practicing common road courtesy. Also respect the locals who are tired of all the extra cars on this route.
- Stay alert for pedestrians, cyclists, and wildlife that may be present along the road.
- Check for any road closures before heading off on the route.
Is the Reverse Road to Hana Dangerous
The Road to Hana is generally a safe road if you use caution, the reverse Road to Hana is more challenging. In general, we think that the Reverse Road to Hana loop (specifically along the Piilani Highway) can also be a safe drive, there is a section of the road that is even narrower and winding than the Road to Hana. There are also several areas with steep drop offs to the side of the road, but we never felt like the road was truly dangerous. One the entire stretch, only about 2 miles were unpaves.
After you get past this narrow and winding section, the road becomes wider and much straighter and is an easy and beautiful drive along the southern coast of Maui. We highly recommend taking this route if you are driving the Road to Hana as it offer more variety.
Summary: Is the Road to Hana Dangerous?
To wrap up the question – is the Road to Hana dangerous, our general view is that if you are prepared, the weather is good and you drive safely and cautiously, the Road to Hana is not dangerous.
Looking for more information about the Road to Hana or other things to do on Maui? You might also like:
- How to Drive the Reverse Road to Hana Loop
- How to Visit the Beautiful Black Sand Beach and Walk the Waianapanapa Coastal Trail, Maui
- Pipiwai Trail Hike & the Bamboo Forest Maui: How to Hike this Incredible Trail
- How to Visit the 7 Sacred Pools in Maui
- How to Drive the West Maui Loop Drive: An Incredible Hawaiian Day Trip