Road to Hana + Waterfall Hiking in Maui

Hey guys! I’m back for another installment of our Maui, Hawaii adventures. :) See my first post (Hiking Maui, a Volcano Sunrise + Bike Ride and Scuba Diving Lanai) for more details on why Matt and I are here and what we were up to for the first few days of the trip!

We heard that driving the Road to Hana was a “must do” while in Maui, and we also wanted to spent some more time in Haleakalā National Park, so we signed up for an all-day waterfalls and rainforest hike adventure with Hike Maui that would cross both those things off the list!

road to hana waterfall swim

They picked us up bright and early at our hotel on Wednesday morning for the adventure. We’re staying on the northwest corner of Maui and Haleakalā National Park is on the southeast corner, so we were in for some serious time in the car. We did stop some for gorgeous views like this, though!

road to hana

On our way to the park, we took the southern Road to Hana – it’s a really rough and windy road up in the hills through some of the old lava rock areas, which were cool to see, although the long rough car ride had all of us VERY ready to get out by the time we made it to the coast for a quick break!

road to hana coast

The sand was all ground up lava rock – black! Cool.

black lava sand beach maui

By the time we made it to the National Park (at Oheo Gulch) it was about 10 a.m. and I was excited to stretch my legs! We beat most of the crowd to the park which was awesome – the parking lot was nearly empty. Off we went!

mount haleakala rainforest hiking

Our tour included a 4.5 mile hike round trip through the rainforest. It reminded us a lot of Costa Rica (where we went for our honeymoon back in 2012) – beautiful scenery! They don’t have these huge banyan trees in Costa Rica, though – cool!

banyan tree haleakala national park

Only a little bit into the hike and we were rewarded with our first view of Makahiku Falls, which we were hiking towards. Beautiful – so big!

makahiku falls hike

The trail was so pretty – a mix of bridges, dirt/mud/rocks, and elevated paths!

hiking oheo gulch

waterfall oheo gulch

I especially loved this gorgeous bamboo forest section – magical!

bamboo forest hike maui

The weather forecast was calling for rain all day so we weren’t surprised when about 45 minutes into the hike it started sprinkling. And then… it started POURING. Oh well – it’s the rainforest, right? Everything got muddy fast, though!

rainforest hike maui

muddy hike maui

The rain was so heavy parts of the path were starting to get washed out – but they were still easily traversable so we kept moving.

mount haleakala national park rainy hike

By the time we made it to our turn around point with the amazing view of the waterfall up close, it was POURING and the waterfall was HUGE thanks to all the rainwater – it was crazy up close with all the wind and spray coming off it! No swimming for us, that’s for sure – normally you can swim in the pools below it!

makahiku falls in rainstorm

Ahhhh! We were soaked – and so was my camera!

makahiku falls heavy rain


After we all got some quick photos we hightailed it back out of there – the mist and rain was getting intense and we wanted to make sure we could get back via the washed out trails!


We left just in time because the trails were getting more and more washed out – it required some teamwork from our group to help each other back across some parts!

maui rain hike

By the time we made it back to the original lookout the waterfall was noticeably larger from all the rain. Crazy! We also discovered this sign when we made it back to the trailhead – apparently they closed the park while we were in it! Yikes.

haleakala national park closed

We were all really glad to have been able to do the hike – would have been a huge bummer to drive 3 hours each way and not get to get out of the car!

We got back in the cars and started driving the northern part of the Road to Hana to get back – this part is all paved although it’s also very windy and right on cliffs. Beautiful views from up there – you passed waterfalls all the time! We stopped at one of them for a quick lunch (the tour company gave us all sandwiches)!


About halfway through the drive we found a waterfall that was small enough that we could still swim in it! Yay – the water was cold and I was chilly already from sitting in wet clothes, but I figured – when is the next time I’ll have the chance to swim in a waterfall in Maui?! So glad we went in. :)

waterfall swimming road to hana

There was an area behind the waterfall you could swim behind – neat!

maui waterfall swimming

It was a loooong drive back to our hotel (we didn’t get back until 7 p.m.) but it was definitely worth the trip. You can easily do this drive/hike on your own, btw, if you have a rental car – we just figured it was worth having a guide with us to show us all the cool spots (and to drive on that crazy windy road while we looked out the windows to see the view)!

As for our Thursday morning adventure, Matt and I took a surfing lesson via Maui Surf Clinics! :)

maui surf clinics review

We had our lesson in the water off the town of Lahaina and it was a blast! Decent, consistent waves and the instructor was really helpful, too. Matt and I both caught a ton of waves – and even rode some all the way in! I didn’t get any action shots because I was busy surfing, but it was a blast. :)

maui surf clinics surfing

After surfing, we grabbed lunch at a cute casual spot (order at the counter and eat out in the courtyard) called Lahaina Luna Cafe. I had the kale and brussels salad with almonds, avocado, and grilled mahi mahi, which was phenomenal – super moist.

lahaina luna cafe lunch

For dessert, we went to Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice next door and shared one with a macadamia nut ice cream base and mango, pineapple, and coconut shave ice on top. Sooooo good!!

hawaiian shave ice ululanis

One other food highlight in Lahaina – we went to dinner at Mala Ocean Tavern earlier this week and it was phenomenal – great food, cozy ambiance, and such beautiful views right on the water! Unfortunately it was pouring so we couldn’t sit in their outside waterfront area, but we still had nice views of the water from the window.

mala ocean tavern sunset view

The food was pricey but delicious – we started with the ahi tuna bruschetta, which was as good as everyone said it was!

ahi tuna bruschetta

And I had an Asian stir fry with their fish of the day. Also yummy!

stir fry mala ocean tavern

I will leave you with a rainbow! Now I know why they are on the Hawaiian license plate – they really are everywhere, especially during the rainy afternoons we’ve had! Beautiful.

maui rainbow

Have a great weekend, guys!


  1. 1

    I loved hiking the Pipiwai Trail! We never hiked as far as the falls though, bummer! We also started the Road to Hana the opposite way to get to the park first, but the delicious banana bread stands were shut by the time we got back towards them. Did you guys get to stop anywhere to try any?

  2. 3

    That hike sounds super intense! Love reading your recaps- Hawaii is definitely on my bucket list and you guys are doing so many fun things!

  3. 4

    What an adventure!! I’d love to visit some day!

  4. 5

    What a beautiful hike! I did one when I was in Honolulu, but it was no where near that beautiful with all the rainforest aspects.

  5. 6

    I remember going here when I was a teenager and being obsessed with the shaved ice!

  6. 8

    Really awesome (other than the torrential rains)! Truly neat adventure!

  7. 9

    We had a very similar experience hiking in Kauai! Glad you guys got to see the waterfall!

  8. 10

    Looks fun! Glad you got to go surfing! ;)

  9. 11

    While reading I was so impressed that there wasn’t flooding with the rain. And then of course it happened!
    We experienced that while hiking the Napoli Coast on Kauaii this spring. Forty people were stranded overnight due to flash flooding after rain. We were the last ones off the trail that evening. We too came back to a closed trail sign! It’s intense on those islands!

  10. 13

    You guys had some really cool adventures in Hawaii! Sounds like a great trip!

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