Highway 360: The Road to Hana

Article by Linda Nagata

The road to Hana is a journey through spectacular scenery and white-knuckle adventure along the fabled Highway 360 – the only road around Maui’s northeast coast. The highway itself is nicely paved and generally well-maintained, but it’s famously narrow: for much of its length two-way traffic will slide safely past – but only just. It is not so much winding, as serpentine: curling around headlands and doubling-back to climb yet again out of narrow valleys graced with streams and waterfalls. Stone walls guard the edges of sheer cliffs standing high above the ocean, while the rainforest reaches out over the road, sometimes enclosing it in an arching roof of living green.

All along the road the scenery is breathtaking – but ironically, if you are the driver, you won’t see much. Your attention will be fixed on oncoming traffic, or on the brake-lights of the car in front of you. Expect a lot of braking! All the bridges are one lane – and there are a lot of them. Some say there are fifty-two, some claim as many as sixty. We always lose count. Many sections of the road are one lane too – but all the narrow parts are marked with yield signs.

There is no point in being in a hurry if you are touring the road to Hana. Stop often and enjoy the scenery. Use the many pull-outs you’ll find along the way. Be sure to pull all the way off the road so traffic can squeeze past. And don’t forget to look in the rearview mirror. If you’ve seen the same car behind you for more than a minute or two, find a safe place to pull over and let traffic go by. There’s no need for you to hurry, but not everyone is sightseeing, so have sympathy!

The road is long – expect a journey of at least two hours once you leave the divided highway. Snacks can be had along the way at roadside stands, though you never know what will be available – or what will be open. To be safe, bring your own drinks and snacks, and look for lunch in or near Hana Town.

Hana itself is a lovely little town, full of green lawns, palm trees, and large, old churches. But going to Hana is less about the destination than the journey – and your journey isn’t done yet! Many travelers will continue on, another ten miles to Kipahulu, the coastal section of Haleakala National Park.

Of course, the most relaxing way to make the journey to Hana is to let a professional do the driving. Take a van tour - then everyone will get to lean back and enjoy the view!

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