Every place has its own unique etiquette. Part of the Road to Hana journey is the opportunity to experience Maui as the locals do. If you weren’t looking for a different aspect of island culture, chances are you would not have braved the Hana Highway’s one lane and hairpin turns. However, many Maui locals live and work around Hana, and it is important to share what is essentially their backyard in a respectful way that allows kamaaina (locals) and non-locals alike to make the most of Heavenly Hana.
#1. Be respectful of the locals and their property, and also of your fellow travelers. There are plenty of great sights to see on the Hana Highway in areas that welcome visitors, like state parks or other public places. Many Hana guidebooks will suggest stops that are actually on locals’ private property. If you want to avoid this, cross-reference these suggestions with more established guidebooks and choose suggested public access areas. If you can’t resist and you decide to risk checking out an even more out-of-the-way spot, remember you may come across a Hana local who isn’t thrilled to have you stumbling around their backyard.
For a positive experience on the Road to Hana, it’s also important to treat your fellow travelers with kindness and respect. The attractions along the Road to Hana are first come first serve, and if a particular swimming spot or waterfall is crowded, remember there is always an equally beautiful one right up the road.
#2. Drive safely and share the road. The Road to Hana is composed of blind curves, hairpin turns, and one-lane bridges. However, it only becomes truly dangerous when drivers don’t pay attention and share the road with each other. It’s great to drive at a speed you are comfortable with, however if the person behind you wants to go a little faster, it is considered good Hana Highway etiquette to pull over and let them pass. It’s simply the best way to allow everyone to travel at the speed they are most comfortable with. Also, if you decide to pull over and check out a waterfall or swimming spot, be sure your car is pulled completely off the road and isn’t blocking anyone. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, don’t leave valuables in your trunk or car – sadly, thefts have been known to happen. By the way, it is considered very “un-Aloha” to honk on the Road to Hana! If you’re stuck behind a slow moving car, take a deep breath and remember you’re on Maui time.
#3. Share picture duty with your fellow travelers. Everyone travelling the Road to Hana has the same goal – taking great pictures to remember their experiences on the Hana Highway. When we help each other out, everyone wins and takes home the best pictures possible. So, if you see a family taking turns to get everyone in the picture at a pretty waterfall or on a hiking trail, stop and offer to take a snapshot of the whole group. Trust us, they’ll be glad to return the favor.
#4. Obey any and all signs. Everyone knows it is important to obey yield signs and other traffic warnings. But, did you know there are many types of signs around the Hana Highway that give visitors important info on where to go and where to avoid? For instance, many beaches will have water safety signs or caution notices. Never ignore these! If a public beach has a sign warning visitors of danger, it’s there for good reason. Also, many locals will post no trespassing signs on their property, and when they take the time to put these signs up, they will often take the time to make sure they are obeyed. Following all posted signs on the Road to Hana is a great way to have a worry free day, and only fun times to remember from your Road to Hana adventure.
#5. Leave it like you found it. In other words, don’t litter! A lot of the Road to Hana is public land that we all hold in trust for each other. No cleaning crews are coming along to take care of any messes you may leave behind. A great way to be sure it’s easy to take care of your trash is to eat at public picnic areas, like Pua’a Ka’a State Park. That way, there are convenient trash cans provided for your use.
The most important courtesy to practice on the Road to Hana is to greet everyone you meet with Aloha. The Aloha spirit is the essence of Hawaii, and a big part of why visitors flock to the islands year after year. It’s a wonderful custom to observe as you travel around Maui as well as a great piece of island culture to take back home with you.