Our Decision to Experience Road to Hana

Our journey for our Road to Hana was ahead of us. We chose to drive ourselves, but there are many different tour options as well (for those not comfortable driving). There are so many travelers who advise not to take young children (our aged 2 & 4) along on this journey, as it’s an exhausting day across 59 miles, 620 curves & 59 one-lane bridges.  Some adults can’t even handle this trip!  We then figured we traveled 9 hours from Chicago with them, so at this point we were going to attempt to tackle this once in a lifetime journey.

Start of Our Journey

The morning came early, but we decided to make it through to Hana. The car was packed with plenty of water, snack and car toys for the girls and were on the road by 6:30a.  Although we wanted an earlier start, we were happy to be moving. Our path took us through central Maui before starting off on the Hana Highway.  Let’s go!   Loading the Girls in the Car   On Our Way to Hana   As a tip, we highly recommend using an audio guide along the trip to Hana. The narrator that we recommend is GyPSy Guide Road to Hana. It’s an amazing guide and the prompts aligned perfectly with our location as we drove along. It doesn’t require cell service or internet after you download the tool, which is important as you will not have service in certain areas along this long trip.  We also followed the 7th edition of Maui Revealed and also some recommendations from others as well. Hana was in our future and we were ready to go. Our trip meter was reset to zero (as prompted on our audio guide at the proper position on the journey)!

On the Road to Hana

We started the trek with a beautiful rainbow over the highway. The scenery to begin our trip was absolutely stunning. I snapped a few pictures and the girls (and adults) were amazed by the rainbow.  The picture doesn’t do justice for the depth of colors that were presented in this rainbow.
We kept moving after seeing the rainbow. At the advice from our guide book & audio narrator, we passed by the Twin Falls (which is the first opportunity to visit a waterfall on the journey) when it was still a little cool and misty and continued on down the road. Our stop was about a half mile past mile marker 10. All the markers are labeled on the way out to Hana, so pay attention to where you are on the road.

First Waterfall – Haipua’ena Fall

We parked the car in a tiny pullout and carried the girls down a steep and rocky hill through the lush rainforest to our first waterfall of the day – Haipua’ena Falls. It was a decent waterfall and very tranquil.  We were the only people there for the first few minutes.  We put our feet in the cool water and enjoyed the view before a few other showed up.  
;   IMG_3298   Our next stop was a quick look out over Kaumahina State Wayside, mainly for a bathroom break.  The view is supposed to absolutely impressive if there isn’t any cloud cover.  Unfortunately we were experiencing a little bit of rain and clouds, so we moved on quickly from this area. Still a stunning view.   Lookout Point

Keanae Aroboretum

We almost missed our next planned stop, but fortunately we found the path to the Keanae Aroboretum. The paved paths wound around following a stream and passed by the most surreal Euclyptus trees.  The trees were multicolored as if painted by an artist. A real highlight of our day.     After leaving the Ke’anae Arboretum, the very next turn led us to the Ke’anae peninsula where we stopped at the infamous Aunty Sandy’s for warm banana bread and delicious Maui pineapple. This is a must stop for both of those items!  Extremely fresh and addictive!   Aunt Sallys - Amazing Monkeybread & Fresh Pineapple IMG_3330   We continued on towards Ching’s Pond just before mile marker 17. The area was just below a bridge with a small waterfall.   IMG_3348   We were already hungry again, so our next stop was another banana bread stop at Halfway to Hana, also warm and tasty. Maybe even a little better than our first stop at Aunt Sallys.  

Wailua Valley State Wayside Park

After stopping here, we continued our journey to the Wailua Valley State Wayside Park.  There is a nice lookout here. We took turns climbing the stairs for a quick look and got out of there as traffic was starting to build. The parking lot is small and it’s right by a tight curve, so be careful in this area!   IMG_3355  

Upper Waikani Falls

Our next stop was to the Upper Waikani Falls or Three Bears Falls. We had an easy view from the bridge but scaled a steep ledge to get a closer look and it was definitely worth it. Our biggest kid (Ari – 4 years old) fell asleep on my back as we hiked past the soothing waterfalls. We boulder hopped to get closer and stayed to enjoy the views. This was definitely a highlight on the journey, as the area is stunning and the falls are simply amazing to visualize.  We would have taken a nice dip in the pools below if we didn’t have the kids strapped on our backs (but we at least dipped our feet).       As we left that area, our next stop was just past mile marker 25, we quickly stopped to take a video of the Makapipi Falls plunging straight down to the pools below. This was a different angle from other waterfalls, as we were literally on top of the waterfall with a view looking down. Very cool (see video above).

Headed to Waianapanapa

As we moved along, the Nahiku roadside vendors were tempting as there were a lot of food options. We didn’t stop though.  We were headed to Waianapanapa. As we arrived, the trail down was incredibly bumpy but, luckily our youngest kid napped peacefully. We took turns viewing the area and  checking out the beautiful black sand beach. The lush greens contrasted by the dark lava rocks were breathtaking. We enjoyed some fresh fruit on the beach watching the waves crash. The area was stunning and we could easily have spent more time here exploring. There were a few paths and different areas to explore. IMG_3411 DSC06059     DSC06057   We enjoyed our time there and continued to move towards Hana. We passed by the Koki beach, a mix of black and white sand but decided to stop instead at Hamoa beach just a little further down the road. The sand was salt and pepper and the powerful waves crashed in the bay. We watched bodysurfers and played on the sand. The girls had a long bathroom break in the most primitive facilities here – we didn’t point out to them the spider (bigger than a normal human hand) until they were done! The creepiest spider that we’ve ever seen (aside from a tarantula). IMG_3428   DSC06091   DSC06113   DSC06119  

Close to Hana

As we continued, we had finally made it to Hana. The beauty is that Hana isn’t really anything too “special” as the final destination, but the journey along the way is the experience. We kept going a little past Hana, as there were some other must see areas close by. We happily took the guides advice and didn’t make any stops in Hana, and instead continued towards Kipahulu. Next we saw the Wailua Falls, which we stunning and covering the entire mountainside. There was a large group here, so we took a few pictures and kept moving! IMG_3452   IMG_4174 The most windy, narrow & bumpy roads ahead led to ‘Ohe’o Gulch or the Seven Sacred Pools. This was the final destination! After paying $25 to park in the Haleakala National Park. There were a few trails that we could have selected, but we did a shorter hike carrying the girls looping up the mountainside admiring the falls.  It was too late in the day but we’d like to return to follow the 4 mile Pipiwai trail.   DSC06145   DSC06157   DSC06151   DSC06174   DSC06155   DSC06169   DSC06133   IMG_4231 1   The kids play in the big grass areas by the park before heading back from this amazing experience.  We followed the winding highway back towards our place, stopping for a few beautiful sunset views in a lookout past Paia. We stopped for fresh Mahi takeout dinner at Coconuts Fish Grill in Kihea (which we highly recommend). IMG_3469     IMG_4239 1 IMG_4235 1  

The Road Back Home

We finally made it back home after the full day journey.  We enjoyed the 14+ hour journey and will certainly do it again in the future. The beauty of the trip is that there are so many areas and stops that you can make along the way.  We can make it a different experience on the next trip! Please contact us if you have any questions on navigating the Road to Hana trip! Also, we are happy to provide tips if you are taking kids as well (or even if you aren’t).  Feel free to comment if you enjoyed our blog post!

About Author

<p>World Traveler, Sports Enthusiast and Family Man.</p>


Mark townsend
November 22, 2017
Looks great we may make Hawaii the next family vacation and this should be on our list
November 29, 2017
Thanks Mark! The Road to Hana should definitely be on your list. Just make sure to go slow, plan out your stops and enjoy the journey. Happy to help give you tips as you get closer to planning!
Shalini Makkar
November 26, 2017
We drove the road to Hana 16 years ago during our honeymoon. It was our favorite part of the trip. We used an audio cassette tape and the Hidden Hawaii book for tips on where to stop. We’ve met several people over the years who disliked the drive. It always ended up being those who drove through and didn’t make all the wonderful stops along the way. Thanks for sharing! It’s inspired me to look back at our honeymoon pictures and reminisce.
November 29, 2017
Thanks Shalini. It certainly is an amazing experience. It's interesting to think how the technology has changed from the cassette tapes to the guided apps. We absolutely loved the drive and took our time to enjoy. Even with two kids in the back!
lauren pantano
December 7, 2017
A great resource for a trip I certainly hope to take with my family someday!

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