Hana is one of the best areas on Maui for ocean activities; it also boasts a wealth of nature hikes, remote places to explore on horseback, waterfalls to discover, and even lava tubes to investigate.
If you're a tennis player, you can take advantage of the free public courts located next to the Hotel Hana-Maui, available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Beaches & Ocean Activities
Hana's beaches come in numerous varieties -- white, black, gray, or red sand; perfectly shaped coves, crescents, or long stretches -- and they're excellent for just about every kind of ocean activity you can think of. My favorites are:
Hana Bay -- The waters in Hana Bay are calm most of the time and great for swimming. There's excellent snorkeling and diving by the lighthouse. Strong currents can run through here, so don't venture farther than the lighthouse.
Red Sand Beach -- The Hawaiian name for this beach is Kaihalulu (Roaring Sea). It's truly a sight to see. The beach is on the ocean side of Kauiki Hill, just south of Hana Bay, in a wild, natural setting on a pocket cove, where the volcanic cinder cone lost its seaward wall to erosion and spilled red cinders everywhere to create the red sands. Before you put on your bathing suit, there are three things to know about this beach: You have to trespass to get here (which is against the law); due to recent heavy rains, there have been several serious injuries on the muddy, slippery terrain (enter at your own risk; it can be extremely dangerous); and nudity (also illegal in Hawaii -- arrests have been made) is common here.
If you are determined to go, ask for permission at the Hotel Hana-Maui. And ask about conditions on the trail (which drops several stories down to the ocean rocks). To reach the beach, put on solid walking shoes (no flip-flops) and walk south on Uakea Road, past Haoli Street and the Hotel Hana-Maui, to the parking lot for the hotel's Sea Ranch Cottages. Turn left and cross the open field next to the Hana Community Center. Look for the dirt trail and follow it to the huge ironwood tree, where you turn right (do not go ahead to the old Japanese cemetery). Use the ironwood trees to maintain your balance as you follow the ever-eroding cinder footpath a short distance along the shoreline, down the narrow cliff trail (do not attempt this if it's wet). The trail suddenly turns the corner, and into view comes the burnt-red beach, set off by the turquoise waters, black lava, and vivid green ironwood trees.
The lava outcropping protects the bay and makes it safe for swimming. Snorkeling is excellent, and there's a natural whirlpool area on the Hana Bay side of the cove. Stay away from the surge area where the ocean enters the cove.
Koki Beach -- One of the best surfing and boogie-boarding beaches on the Hana coast lies just a couple of miles from the Hasegawa General Store in the Oheo Gulch direction. There is a very strong rip current here, so unless it is dead calm and you are a strong swimmer, do not attempt to swim here. However, it's a great place to sit on the white sand and watch the surfers. The only facility is a big parking area. To get here, drive toward Oheo Gulch from Hana, where Hwy. 36 changes to Hwy. 31. About 1 1/2 miles outside of Hana, turn left at Haneoo Road.
Hamoa Beach -- For one of Hana's best beaches -- great for swimming, boogie boarding, and sunbathing -- continue another 1/2 mile down the Haneoo Road loop to Hamoa Beach. There is easy access from the road down to the sandy beach, and facilities include a small restroom and an outdoor shower. The large pavilion and beach accessories are for Hotel Hana-Maui guests.
Waioka Pond -- Locally, this swimming hole in a series of waterfalls and pools is called Venus Pool. Unfortunately, it has become overrun with impolite tourists who park on the narrow highway, tear down the fence, and aren't very considerate about cleaning up their trash. The land owner, Hana Ranch, has put up NO TRESPASSING signs and is enforcing trespassing laws. (Getting arrested is not a great way to spend your vacation.) I recommend you skip this pond and keep driving to Haleakala National Park down the road. The park has adequate parking as well as restrooms. If you hike just 10 to 15 minutes upstream from the national park's parking lot, you will find much better pools and most likely have them to yourself.
Hana is woven with hiking trails along the shoreline, through the rainforest, and up in the mountains.
Another excellent hike that takes you back in time is through Kahanu Garden and to Piilanihale Heiau, one of the largest ancient Hawaiian temples in the state. To get here, look for mile marker 31 on Hana Highway, make a left onto Ulaino Road, and drive a little over a mile down the paved road (which turns into a dirt road but is still drivable) to the first stream bed (about 1 1/2 miles). If the stream is running with water, do not cross it, as you most likely will get stuck; turn around and go back. If you can forge the stream, cross it and park on the right side of the road by the huge breadfruit trees. The trees are part of the Kahanu Garden (tel. 808/248-8912), owned and operated by the National Tropical Botanical Garden (www.ntbg.org). Admission is $10 for adults and free for children 12 and under. The garden is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 2pm. Allow an hour and a half for the self-guided tour. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and long pants, and bring mosquito repellent, a hat for shade, and water. The guided tours are Saturday at 10am and cost $25 per person (free for children 12 and under). Reserve in advance at tel. 808/248-8912 or www.ntbg.org/gardens/kahanu-tours.php.
The 122 acres here encompass plant collections from the Pacific Islands, concentrating on plants of value to the people of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. Kahanu Garden contains the largest known collection of breadfruit cultivars from more than 17 Pacific Island groups and Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Seychelles.
The real draw here is the Piilanihale Heiau. Believed to be the largest in the state, it measures 340*415 feet, and it was built in a unique terrace design not seen anywhere else in Hawaii. The walls are some 50 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet thick. Historians believe that Piilani's two sons and his grandson built the mammoth temple, which was dedicated to war, sometime in the 1500s.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.