What You'll Find at the End of the Long Winding Road.

hana maui
  • Hana means “work or profession.”
  • Paia means “noisy.”
  • Haiku means “sharp break” or “talking abruptly.”
  • Charles Lindberg, the first pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, is buried at Palapala Hoomau Congregational Church in Hana.
  • Peahi, aka “Jaws,” is one of the most famous big waves in the world, requiring surfers to be towed in by jet ski.
  • Hookipa Beach is a world-renowned windsurfing spot.
  •  Wind Surfing

First off, be sure to say  hah-nah and not “Hannah” when referring to heavenly Hana, as it’s known. Paia (pie-ee-ah) and Haiku (hah-ee-koo, but commonly called high-koo) share the intimate country feel of Maui’s East Side. Visit boutique shops, galleries, and delicious restaurants like the popular Paia Fish Market in the rustic, bohemian town of Paia. Take your lunch to go and sit at Hookipa Beach, the windsurfing capital of the world, to watch kiters and wind surfers glide through the water. The viewpoint for Peahi  (pay-ah-hee), the world-famous big wave nicknamed Jaws, lies a short drive down a rugged, 4WD-only road; during big swells in the winter, you can watch from a distance as intrepid surfers charge up 60-foot-plus waves. Take a detour to the quaint town of Haiku and visit the Haiku Marketplace, formerly the Haiku Cannery and now the hub for the local community with restaurants, food trucks, two general stores and a grocery store. Keep adventuring up the mountain to Makawao (mah kah wow), Maui’s cowboy town.

Probably the most famous excursion on the East Side, the Road to Hana is a 52-mile-long windy road that begins near the airport in  Kahului and  takes you around the east tip of the island through bamboo and tropical forests. Stop for a waterfall hike, visit black-sand beaches, or enjoy banana bread from one of the many stands. Depending on how many stops you make (only in legal spots to park, please),  this drive can take anywhere from three hours to an entire day.

The modern history of the East Side towns of Haiku, Paia and Hana reflects the significant role of Maui’s sugar plantations.  In 1858, the Haiku Sugar Company was founded and began production at the Haiku Sugar Mill. After years of sugar, Haiku eventually became a site for pineapple plantations. The Haiku Cannery eventually  became the Haiku Marketplace, while the Libby, McNeil Pineapple Cannery 2 miles to the west is now the Pauwela Cannery retail center. Paia’s sugar plantation was first built in 1880, and the town rapidly grew, at one point reaching a population of 10,000 people. In the 1980s, Paia became a hot spot for wind- and kitesurfers, with the last sugar produced in Paia was in 1994. Hana holds a special place in earlier Hawaiian history for being the birthplace of Queen Kaahumanu, the powerful widow of King Kamehameha the Great who abolished the traditional kapu belief system after his death. It’s also the site of  the largest heiau (stone temple) in Polynesia, Piilani Heiau. Hana’s first sugar mill opened in 1849, but the town remained small and relatively inaccessible until the sinuous Hana Highway was built in 1962. It’s since been widened and improved in a few areas, but still remains an adventure to drive—always better if you  follow this code of conduct.

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Best Things to Do in Hana

Hana's Annual Events

APRIL: The Annual East Maui Taro Festival celebrates and honors the Taro, a staple of Hawaiian diet, by educating locals and tourists during a festive one-day cultural event. Activities center around the Taro and food booths feature Taro as part of the meal. The festival also includes Hula, music, crafts and more.

SEPTEMBER: Eager to make your vacation a little more active? Grab a team of six and sign up to run in the 52 mile Hana Relay Marathon. The annual event challenges locals and tourists alike to run and compete for awards. After running through paradise, enjoy live music and food at the finish line.

OCTOBER: Aloha Week in Hana is packed with celebrations from daily events such as parades to activities such as contests and crafts. Take a look at the schedule and take advantage of the fun and festive week. 

*Things change, so please check in with the organizers of these events to make sure they are still happening.

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