(Closed) Has anyone been to Maui? Advice/Opinions needed!

posted 4 years ago in Honeymoons
  • poll: Road to Hana: Should we drive ourselves or take a bus tour?
    Drive yourself- it'll be an adventure! : (29 votes)
    91 %
    Take the bus tour- you won't have to stress about driving! : (3 votes)
    9 %
  • Post # 3
    316 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: August 2014

    @Imabigkidnow:  I am mostly commenting to follow, since we are also planning to go to Maui for our honeymoon.

    That said, I feel like everything I have read about the Road to Hana has said that it is 100% about the journey rather than the destination…and I question how much of a journey you’re going to have on a crowded bus tour.

    We will probably ask the hotel concierge for can’t-miss stops on the route and then drive ourselves.

    Post # 4
    2197 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: March 2013

    @Imabigkidnow:  I did the drive before with my ex husband. Not the bus tour. We had a good time. But we did not go all the way to Hana. After awhile we just decided to turn around because it was such a long drive. Yes, you know it will be long, but we just didn’t want to spend THAT much time doing it. We stopped off and watched locals jumping into this very narrow but deep pool of water off of some ciffs, saw waterfalls, looked at the gorgeous scenery. 

    Personally, I wouldn’t want to commit to the 12 hours on a bus with who knows how many annoying other people. Go at your own pace and have fun!

    Post # 5
    117 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: February 2000

    We took our two daughters all the way to Hana AND all the way around!  In an SUV no less!  tip: rent a small vehicle or a scooter!

    Post # 6
    14064 posts
    Honey Beekeeper
    • Wedding: June 2011

    Drive yourself.  It’s easy and you don’t have to work with anyone elses schedule, wait on people, be rushed to leave or be crowded with an entire tour bus at every single stop or anything like that.   It’s not that bad.  My dad drove it and my uncle in a mini van followed.  If my uncle could do it in a mini van, anyone can!

    Post # 7
    5664 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: August 2012

    I don’t even need to read the entire post to tell you DO NOT DO A BUS TOUR. Bus tours are not for outdoorsy adventurous people. They are for people who want to sit back and relax, who are afraid to drive the road to hana, and want to be at the mercy of everyone else’s schedule!

    We drove the road to hana last February, it was by far the most fun day we had while we were in Maui. We rented a topless jeep for only about 80.00 and drove it ourselves. we had NO PROBLEM driving it. It is not that dangerous if you can properly drive a vehicle and know how to yield. It rained on the way up and I drove, I got to see plenty and we stopped whenever we wanted to take photo’s of view’s if we wanted to. My husband drove down and it was nice then so we had the top down. The views were fantastic and I so enjoyed looking up and seeing all the vegetation hanging over the road and looking around. Frankly I’m way more into lookylooing while in the car than he is anyway. One thing I kind of wish we had done was drive the entire loop. Some people say not to do it, it’s illegal, blah blah blah, but I think it’s much more updated than it used to be and honestly it would have been perfectly safe. If you do that, then you come down on the sunset side and I just think that would have been fantastic. My brother did it that way.

    I cannot even tell you how many stupid tour busses we passed on the way up. They stop at all the major “typical” stops, so you don’t get to see any of the secret spots, or just stop at a look out to take photo’s. You’re also on someone else’s schedule. I could not have handled standing at one spot for 20 mintues if it took me 5 to take pics of it. They actually say if you have time, to spend a night or two up in Hana. It’s completely cut off from the internet, phones, etc. There are some fabulous beaches, and it’s just really quaint and quiet. 

    We did take “Maui Revealed” with us, which outlines some really cool spots to stop that aren’t on the “tour guide” list. It’s a really great tour book so if you can pick one up for cheap or borrow it I would recommend it.

    Oh, and take sunscreen especially if you do the top down jeep option (I HIGHLY recommend this but you really need to make sure you reserve one before you leave, we had a hard time finding one on the fly). We did not apply sunscreen when we took the top off and we got pretty burnt. OOPS

    OH… and leave early, plan to be on that side of the island by around 7, so depending on where you are staying on the island you need to plan accordingly. 

    Post # 8
    178 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: August 2015

    @Imabigkidnow: Do it yourself! The road is a little tight, but it’s nothing to bicker about (think driving in Europe). There’s this cd available, we found it on amazon years ago, that talks you through the drive, points out places to pull off and hike, snorkel etc. Just start it when you start the drive.

    There is this elderly man that has a little farm/shop (looks like a barn with the doors open and you will see it from the road) about half way through. He sells nuts and fruit and all sorts of things he grows. He’s super nice (taught me how to open a coconut the right way and crack a maccadamia nut). He makes this coconut candy (not actually candy just baked with a little sugar) and it is ridiculous. I always buy some for everyone at home.

    Also, once you get towards the end there will be a poi farm and a little white shack that has a sign saying ‘best banana bread in the world’. They are not joking, stock up.

    Post # 9
    147 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: November 2013

    Don’t do the bus tour.  Our concierge was hyping it up to the older folks at our resort, and then told us we could totally drive it ourselves.  We downloaded an app to our iphones that was like a tour gide along the way which was awesome – it tracks your location via GPS and tells you when you’re about to approach something special, or if you should keep going to the next attraction.  It was only $5 and well worth the money.  You will see a lot of older people doing the bus tours, and they stopped at a lot of things that honestly we didn’t think were all that great. 

    One of my favorite memories on the road to Hana was swimming under a waterfall with my new husband, and it was especially wonderful because no one else was there!  There are lots of scenic pull over spots so the driver does get to experience the view.



    Post # 10
    2974 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: September 2012

    it is kind of a stressful ride/drive, but we didn’t get into any arguments or anything and i would do it again. just do plenty of research in advance (or get the cd or app that was suggested above) so you’ll know where you’ll want to stop along the way. the roads are so narrow and wind that it’s not very easy to turn arounds and go back to something once you’ve past it. we didn’t do a whole lot of research and i feel like we missed out on some cool spots. we drove around the whole island (which i found out later we were not supposed to do in a rental car. oops. haha) and that was definitely an adventure. we got a little nervous at that point, haha, but it was still really cool.

    there’s a botanical garden along the way called the garden of eden that’s beautiful! we stopped there to eat the lunch we had packed and we spent a couple hours exploring the grounds and looking at all the beautiful plants/flowers. 

    Post # 11
    1439 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: May 2012

    @Imabigkidnow:  I say definitely drive yourself. It’s a bit windy, but not a big deal at all. My husband drove, and still got to see a lot of beautiful things. We were newly weds and didn’t have any snafus, but I guess it depends on your tollerance for being in a car for a few hours together. Of course, we made frequent stops because there were so many watefalls, and I was dreaming of seeing every one. On the other hand, we briefly crossed paths with another couple who had the same guidebook we did. He ran out, saw this awesome waterfall (you can stand at the top and look down on it) and ran back to the car and his frustrated looking wife. So, that could be less than fun. 



    My favorite part was a hike with 4 waterfalls on one river/stream. I can’t remember what it’s called, but I’m sure it’s online. Here’s my husband jumping below the final one (sorry, I don’t know how to make it not huge), which you have to swim to. It was awesome. 



    I didn’t have the same experience that PP had in Hana itself. We stayed over night in a lame B&B though. There is one big (and to me expensive) hotel, but I think if I ever wanted to stay again I would just look around when we got there because there were tons of B&Bs, but only one that I could find online. 


    We kept going aroudn the south side of the island which I also wouldn’t do again because it was windy/nerver wracking like the road to hana, but also ugly (for Hawaii). We did go to the Venus Pool, and the State Park past Hana which were cool, but I’d just turn around and go back after that. 


    Venus Pool



    I’m a beach snob and was a bit disappointed in the beaches on Maui in general (we’re from Oahu), and I didn’t go to any beaches on Hana, but I wouldn’t stay over there for those either. We went to the black sand beach nearaby, which was fun, but none of the beaches we tried all around the island were better imo than the ones in Kihei. We were there in June and it wasn’t even very crowded. 


    Post # 12
    1214 posts
    Bumble bee

    @Imabigkidnow:  Drive yourself, for sure. I actually wouldn’t recommend booking tours for anything on Maui. You can do everything yourself. And its better, because all the people I saw on the tours were old. You can snorkel off many beaches for free, drive up Haleakala for almost free (pay the fee to get in), and hike for free. 

    We did Road to Hana ourselves. We got up really early (which is easy with the time change) and enjoyed a lazy day of driving. We didn’t fight at all. We did, however, get into a giant fight taking the “scenic” road to the airport. If you are staying on West Maui, do not take the road heading directly north. It takes 5 times longer than the road cutting across the middle of the island. One lane, unpaved, no guardrail in certain areas. Plus no gas stations. I cried because I thought we were going to run out of gas. Ha. 

    Post # 14
    147 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: November 2013

    @Imabigkidnow:  The app is called Road to Hana GPS Driving Tour.

    We were also cross referencing with the Maui Revealed guidebook, which I reccomend getting if you don’t have it already.

    One other tip – remember to bring a cell phone car charger!!  We were dumb enough to forget one so everytime we went out and needed to use GPS on our phones, by the end of the day our phones would be dead.  I can’t believe we forgot that!

    Whenever we go back to Maui (hopefully soon!) we will definitely stay at Honua Kai again.  It is right accross the street from a supermarket, coffee shop, and some restaurants.  Our first night we just ate at Duke’s restaurant on the property which was really good, and the next morning had breakfast at the coffee shop at the resort.  Very little effort needed for the first day if you want to just take it easy and relax! The pools are really well maintained and the beach is just gorgeous and not too crowded.  The beach chairs rented for about $10/day per chair (for the beach) so check if your condo includes beach chairs or it might be worth it to buy a cheap one at the grocery store.  On our last day we drove accross the street to a food truck called Shark Pit for a quick lunch and it was our favorite meal on Maui – you guys should definitely check that out!  Also we stopped by Maui Brewing Company since DH is big into beer, and it was a tasty and cheap place for lunch/dinner – we actually ate here after doing the road to Hana!

    Overall – Maui is the best place on earth and you are going to have an amazing time!!

    Post # 15
    5664 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: August 2012

    @Imabigkidnow:  I’m answering one of your other questions LOL. Venus is before the halfway point, pretty far before if I remember correctly. We hit it on the way back. I didn’t swim because I didn’t want to be wet, had I taken a full change of clothes I woul dhave but the large pool was too rough for swimming anyway. My husband got in the smaller area.

    Halfway point is about where the book says, I think it says where you should turn around, but it’s past the city of Hana. Don’t worry too much about where it is, you will kind of know agter you start driving into cow country again AFTER Hana, Hamoa beach, etc… that you’ve come to the point where you start driving around the point of the island and heading the other way.

    Going up we stopped at a pretty decent sized food stand and had kahlua pork tacos for “breakfast” (it was around 10) and bought our coconut candy there. It was SO good. Revealed says to stop at some place that is supposed to be the original stand and coconut candy, which we did, and Ididn’t like theirs nearly as much as the place at the food stand area, plus the better one was cheaper. However the banana bread they talk about was really yummy

    Post # 16
    1439 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: May 2012

    @Imabigkidnow:  No problem, I’m glad you liked them (and I love looking at them, I’m obsessed). 


    So, Maui is like two big circles that are connected in the middle (they used to be two volcanos, and then colapsed onto each other or some such thing I believe). The Hana Hwy drive starts around where the two circles touch each other, on the North side. Hana is around the eastern most point of the island, so around half way around the big circle that is the East side. The Venus Pool is a little bit farther around the big east circle (as is the national/state park with this awesome waterfall):



    There are a lot of conflicting reports about rental cards and driving around the south east side of Maui. Our rental company didn’t say anything about it though, and it can be done (or could two years ago). I thought it would be fun, an adventure if you will, and it was fine, but not worth the time. I would sooner enjoy the Hana hwy again than the leeward ‘desert’. It was an adventure in the sense that there was an accident on the one highway through, and the rode was closed (for who knows how long). Some kind people set up a detour through their lawns and were directing traffic through. There was a smallishg gravel hill involved, and the truck that went up before us got a bit stuck which made us extra nervous. My husband went pretty fast the whole way up the hill because we did have awd to get us out and gravel was flying everywhere. The roads are also small, with very sharp turns, right next to cliffs. Not much worse than the rode to Hana, but again, you don’t really have as much to show for it. I’m glad we did it, but I definitely wouldn’t do it again. 


    If you have any other questions about Maui I’d be happy to share what we learned, we were only on Maui for a week or so, but do consider ourselves Hawaii experts in general, both having been on Oahu for most of our lives :).


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