January 7, 2024 - There are two ways to get to Hana from Central Maui.
The first, known as "The Road to Hana," follows the Hana Highway (State Highway 360) all the way along north shore of Maui for 51.2 miles from Kahului to Hana. In absence of any traffic or delays, this could take about 2 hours by car. This road is known for its numerous twists and turns, scenic attractions, coastal vistas, waterfalls, hiking trailheads, and horrendously backed up traffic if you happen to get caught behind a tour bus.
The other way, known as "The Back Road to Hana," follows the Haleakala Highway (State Highway 37) along the contour of Haleakala first going through Upcountry Maui then along the south shore through the lava flows of Kaupo, that are only about 1,000 years old - relatively fresh by geologic time. This route from Kahului to Hana is 63.3 miles - so it's actually longer than the other way - but it's far less twisty and sees less traffic so in some situations it can be quicker. However, this road is poorly maintained. It is subject to rockfall, landslides and washouts. It has long unpaved unmaintained sections filled with road hazards that can damage a vehicle. The surrounding areas are unpopulated or very sparsely populated. There is no cell phone service. In case of a breakdown, ir accident, the cost of towing back to Central Maui can be more than $2,000 dollars. For these reasons, visitors are officially discouraged from taking this route. This directive comes not just from rental car companies, but from the County of Maui authorities.
To answer a frequently asked question: No, there is no way to drive to Hana directly from the South Shore resort areas of Kihei and Wailea. The road ends at LaPerouse Bay.
This week's car rental rates from Maui's Kahului Airport (OGG) are showing an uptick. These are the lowest advertised rate for a one-week rental beginning Monday, January 8:
Off-airport (with shuttle) $197.64
Airport Rentacar Center $270.60