May 30, 2023

Why You Should Seriously Consider Shaka Guide for the Road to Hana

By Paul William

May 30, 2023

Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links which means I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through them.

Hello, fellow wanderers!

If you’re on Maui and preparing for a journey on the Road to Hana, you may have heard about the basically non-existent cell service on most of the road. And it’s true.

Steaming music? Forget about it.

Relying on Google Maps? Not unless you pre-download the entire map, which comes with its own set of issues.

Luckily, I found a few Reddit forums which pointed me toward the Shaka Guide app and their Classic Road to Hana itinerary.

Now that I’ve purchased and used it myself on the Road to Hana, here’s my 2 minute review on what exactly Shaka Guide’s Classic Road to Hana Tour does, the pros and cons, and whether or not it’s worth the $19.99 price tag.

How Does the Shaka Guide Road to Hana App Work?

To start, Shaka Guide is an mobile phone based guided tour app that works completely offline and can pinpoint your location without needing to use cell phone signal (of which there is basically none on the Road to Hana).

The app uses offline GPS to give you turn-by-turn directions to get to Hana, and along the way calls out upcoming famous points of interest, scenic stops, and some cool history lessons about Hawaii in the old days.

It’s basically like having a personal tour guide in the car with you who points out the famous spots as you go.

The narration starts around Paia Town which is the last real “civilization” until Hana, and where many travelers stop to grab breakfast on the way.

The narration continues all the way past Hana, and then continues as you drive back toward the cities of Maui and wraps up just as you’re almost home.

You can read more about my personal experience below, or learn more on the Shaka Guide official website

More Than Just a GPS Map: History, Stories, and More

In addition to the Shaka Guide’s main purpose of talking about the different locations and potential stops along the way (black sand beaches, waterfalls, famous food stands) it also tells entertaining stories about history and current events.

I was pretty impressed by the depth of the history shared and by how entertaining the narrator kept things. It truly added an extra layer to my trip and made me feel connected to Maui in a way I hadn’t felt before.

I can’t remember everything, but I remember learning about wars between the different Hawaiian tribes, the colonization of the islands, how tourism impacts the nature of Maui, how famous aviator Charles Lindbergh is buried near Hana, and many more cool facts that I won’t spoil for you here in case you use it yourself!

Traveling at Your Own Pace

The app is all based on GPS which means you can explore the tour route at your own pace and stop where you want, and the app will simply resume the tour when you start up again. It knows where you are, so you don’t have to.

It’s also worth noting that while the app claims the tour length is 10-12 hours, that’s assuming you stop at a lot of different locations and spend time exploring there. It’s definitely possible to do Road to Hana in less time, so don’t feel like you’re locked into 12 hours if you don’t want to go that long. My trip was probably closer to 7 hours total.

An overlook stop with restrooms about an hour into our drive. The app gave us the heads up that this was coming so we stopped to stretch our legs and it was totally worth it.

It seems like the app has been continually refined since it launched in 2016 seems to know exactly where you might struggle with directions and calls out some less-known spots that could be easily missed too, which really put my mind at ease.

Shaka Guide Classic Road to Hana Tour: Pros & Cons


  • Highly informative and educational. It successfully got me and my family to the end of Road to Hana and back while teaching us about the island and showing us the best places to consider stopping.
  • Eliminated the need for me to spend hours researching the must-see sights along the route. The app did all the heavy lifting, pointing out the sights I had to see and offering useful travel tips for my journey.
  • GPS based means lack of Road to Hana cell phone service was not an issue.
  • Keeps you entertained on the 600-turn road, which can start to wear on your spirit after several hours of exploring if you’re not keeping your mind occupied. I also personally suffer from motion sickness and found that the narration helped keep my mind off of that, which can go a long way in minimizing symptoms.


  • The only real con or drawback is that it costs about $20 to purchase. Of course I would prefer if it was free. But it seems like a lot of time, money, and effort went into making the best experience so I feel it’s a fair price. And honestly, if you’re on vacation in Maui, you can probably afford it without having to think too hard.
Road to Hana Shaka Guide

So is it worth it?

Final verdict: After buying and trying the Shaka Guide Classic Road to Hana Tour myself, I do agree with the many positive reviews online and now recommend it to anyone traveling on the Road to Hana.

I found the price more than worth it for the directions and the hours of entertainment it offered, and am impressed with the Shaka Guide team for their work on this product. Kudos!

Ultimately, whether or not it’s worth it for you will depend on how well you already know the Road to Hana, how much up-front research you want to do yourself, and how much you value the directions and entertainment.

If you’re someone who just wants to hit the road and not have to put in a ton of upfront planning, then Shaka Guide makes a lot of sense since it basically does everything for you.

Either way, I hope you enjoy your time on Maui and get a chance to visit the Road to Hana. It’s a one-of-a-kind drive and not many travelers are lucky enough to see it — so if you have the chance, please take it!

Safe travels!

The Pipiwai Trail located in Haleakalā National Park past Hana
The bamboo at Pipiwai Trail located in Haleakalā National Park past Hana. This was one of the last stops pointed out by Shaka Guide before it turned us around back toward the city.
Road to Hana Shaka Guide
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