Be sure to fill your gas tank and pack some food prior to the 4-hour journey. Paia is the last "big" town at the beginning of Route 360. Calculating in the prices of gas on the islands and the costs of food it's better to do a tour!
We just returned from a 3 week vacation to Maui. It was AMAZING! We took our 3 children (ages 7, 4, and 1) and it was the PERFECT time to go. One of the must see, everybody talks about, places to go is the Road to Hana. Don't be fooled though - HANA is nothing special, the town itself is small and really has nothing but it's the ROAD TO HANA that is amazing and special.
I've gone 2 different times - once in May and now in February. December through February is the time to go. The kids will LOVE to see the tons of waterfalls just coming off the rocks and under the road and over to the ocean.
A couple of tips -
TAKE IT SLOW- don't just drive to Hana - if you do, you will be disappointed. As state above, Hana is not the point of the road, it's the beauty that you behold on the road.
MAKE IT FUN - It takes about 3 hours to go a mere 39 miles or so. There are over 52 bridges and over 500 twists and turns to the road. It does get small in places. If your stomach gets queezy do NOT attempt. To make it fun for the kids we would say "wheee" when going around the curves. We got out every chance we could- about ever 20-30 minutes
STOP AT WAINAPANAP - If you want to see the ONLY black sand beach on Maui, you must stop at Wainapanapa. There is also a natural spring water cave the family can swim in. At first it's a bit cool but the kids will LOVE knowing the swam in a cave. Wainapanapa also has 2 blow holes and an old Hawaiian cemetery.
PACK YOUR LUNCH - you will see all sorts of suggestions in the tour guides to stop in Paia and get a Picnic lunch. It is pretty much the last stop for real food. As you travel the road there are a few places to stop off the side where people are selling their own food. We chose to pack our lunch to keep costs down, however the local food on the road looked DIVINE!
All in all don't be scared! You will come to tight turns where it can get kind of scary but just keep trekkin to see some of the most WONDERFUL sights your children will ever see!
This is one of the only accessible rainforests that puts you in the drivers seat. You can wind your way through this rainforest which has plenty of visible and hidden waterfalls. Also along this drive you can stop on a blacksand beach and play. Just make sure that you pack lunch and dinner it will take a long time to complete the commute.
However, my advise is to not stop at the first water falls that you see they are generally small and they get better further up the road. Especially at the seven sacred pools. There is a 2 mile hike (1 mile through a bamboo forest). that leaves you staring at a 700 ft waterfall. Along the hike you run parallel to a mango field and the smell is wonderful.
A couple miles past the seven sacred pools is Charles Lindberg's grave. What a great oppritunity to teach your kids about aviation.
Best of all this trip is nearly free. All we pay for is gas food and parking at the national park.
I really did enjoy this little road trip! There is so much to see that you simply won't find in a brochure....Seven Sacred Pools, hidden waterfalls, beautiful hiking trails, tucked-away beaches...but it definitely isn't for younger ones. The roads are frighteningly narrow and a bit perilous. The trip is LONG...all day if you stop to see stuff...and you are in the middle of nowhere. There's not a lot to do if you're under 13. Otherwise, it's a great adventure with lots of fun discoveries. Pack a lunch/snacks, your swimsuit & towels and do the self-guided tour. You can get a map in any ABC shop on the island or online. Your car rental agreement probably has a clause stating that you will NOT take the road to Hana, but if you have a small car with 4-wheel drive (we had a Jeep) then you'll be fine.
If you are looking for scenic ocean views, this is not for you. If you are looking for lush rain forests, you're better off going to the island of Kauai. If you are prone to being car sick, and don't like vomiting all over other people's lap, don't bother. If you DO enjoy a senseless full day's driving, turning left and right every 10-20 feet, enjoy getting a headache and throwing up on other people's lap, and then after getting to the end, paying $15 for a $5 burger, this is the place for you.
If you truly want a beautiful rain forest, like the scenes you see from the movies, you should go to the island of Kauai instead. Take the dolphin tour to the Napali coast, where you can see hundreds of dolphins and see the beautiful scene where they filmed King Kong. The cost of living is also not ridiculously high in Kauai too.
Hana is a great place to go when you are visiting Maui. Why? Well, if you want to experience what Hawaii is all about it's where you want to go. It's not called Heavenly Hana for no reason. It is truly beautiful with the rainforest, amazing coastlines and friendly people who wave to you along the way. We have camped, stayed at the hotel, done day trips with friends and hiked all over the place. Our friends say the best day they had on Maui is when we took them on a tour with Valley Isle Excursions. We all hung out, joked and laughed all day long. We didn't have to worry about a thing. That's the best way to go cause the road is windy and the girls get sick easily. NOT having them to harp on you all day to slow down, watch out, be careful, don't follow, don't look at the scenery while you drive is definitely worth it. Very relaxing. The best is hitting seven pools park where we hiked into the bamboo forest and jumped off some waterfalls and lazed around at the side of some great pools. It was No Ka Oi.
A Beatles song comes to mind when describing this excursion: The Long and Winding Road. It is the most treacherous road in all of Maui and NOT for inexperienced drivers, people afraid of heights or very young children. The views as with ALL of Maui are Breathtaking,Aweesome! But the Road to Maui offers views of Maui vegetation that reflect the Season: eg. Bamboo Forest, Rainforest. It keeps changing and that makes it fascinating. We took pics at every Waterfall. The Black Sand Beach was a truly unique experience as was the 7 pools where we all took dips. The end of the road is kind of disappointing after such a long ride, but still worth it. Hawaii is ALWAYS MAGNIFICENT, BUT THE ROAD TO HANA IS A "MUST" to complete your trip!!!
The road to Hana is a great trip to get off the beaten path of the resort areas and explore some of Maui's more remote area. It is a very winding, skinny road that may not be for the easily car sick folks, but there are many beautiful sites along the way such as bamboo forests, magnificent waterfalls, black sand beaches. Talk to some locals to find out the best secret places to visit.
We loved the Road to Hana when we were in Maui. The scenery is breathtaking but I agree with many others that this may not be for you if you have wiggly kids. There are lots of places that you can get out to stretch and you will want to so you can take amazing photos.
Biggest suggestion: Bring some cash with you! There are so many great little fruit stands along the way but they only take cash. Let me tell you, there is nothing like fresh pineapple or mango in Hawaii!
Hope you don't get car sick! This road is no joke! I've been there twice. The other truck drivers coming down the road are fast and don't give you a lot of room if your driving your self. The scenery is beautiful and the experience is a must.
Once you are there the 7 pools are breath taking! There are a lot of people but if your willing to go to the top the fewer the people you encounter. I recommend finding a place to stay once your out there so you don't have to come back the say day (3 hours out, 3 hours back!).
The second time we went we got all the way out there and it was CLOSED! No signs... No warnings about not driving out there because they were closed! We were so upset! So make sure they are open if there has been any rain or flash flood warnings! Lesson learned!
The Road to Hana is one of the most memorable, but also a tad frustrating, excursions on Maui. It's a two-lane, narrow, twisty road that traverses through some of the most beautiful Maui scenery. It will take you about four hours to go down and back. Because of this (and the lack of places to stop on the way)...it's best for older kids. Get gas before you take off too. There is one gas station in Hana and it's very pricey.
We took this trip with an 11 month old in tow. There are plenty of places to get out and stretch your legs. The hiking is demanding, I don't think very young children would be able to safely do it. The views on this trip are amazing. Don't let anybody scare you from taking the Road to Hana because of it's length.
We took the Road to Hana. The scenery was beautiful but it took several hours to complete. I wouldnt recommend it to those with little restless kids, although you can stop and do hikes along the way. It is a windy road so if you are squemish becareful. It was beautful with waterfalls just off the road or a short distance from it. There is a lava tube you can explore but it was a little pricey. The views were breath taking. And the little hikes we went on were fabulous.
The road to Hana was very pretty, and very scenic. Plenty of great photo ops. There were also several small waterfall hikes along the way. Once in Hana there was not much to do, just a few houses and a cafe or two. The road was very windy and long, which I don't think would be super fun for the kids. So all in all the road was not very fun. It was beyond Hana that I found to be fun. The place they call he seven sacred pools was very fun to swim in and to hike. We also hike to the tallest waterfall in Maui, which in that same area. It was a great hike that I would probably do again. If you can get on the few small back roads near Hana you will find some awesome deserted beaches as well. I would love to go back to the falls and beaches, but I'm not quite sure the travel is worth it.
I think most people are surprised that I am not a fan of the Hana road. Yes it is beautiful. Yes it can be a nice day-long activity (and it really is an all-day activity). You may need to base your decision on the following questions: will I ever be returning to Maui and need to cross it off my list? How well does my toddler enjoy 6 hours of driving in the car?
The road to Hana is really neat and a must do on the list of Maui. But I wouldn't recommend taking kids who get motion sickness, or don't like long car rides. Wait until your next trip when they are older.
If you do go, it is worth picking up a little tourist guide so that you know where to stop along the way.
I think a helicopter ride to Hana would be the better way. Hana is magnificent, unspoiled and beautiful. The Hotel Hana Maui a laid back gem. I would love to go back!! However, people survive the road to Hana not due to the danger, but to the car sickness. The constant turns are nauseating, only exacerbated by a significant other that does not get motion sickness stopping every 10 minutes to take a picture of the view. The best parts of the ride are the beginning to watch the windsurfers and the end to stay at the beautiful Hana Maui!!!
The "road to Hana" is not a must do for everyone. I have done it many times with and without my children. Little kids are not going to enjoy, nor appreciate the beauty of the jungle on this slow going journey and on twisty roads.
However, if this is on your list of things to do while on Maui, my recommendation would be to stay at the Hotel Hana Maui (http://hotelhanamaui.com/) for the night. It is an oasis after such a long trek. The beautiful cottages and suites provide a respite from the endless "are we there yet?". It will also give you a chance to explore the seven sacred pools and surroundings without feeling rushed. If you book ahead of time, you can often find an internet special.
We just got back from our adventure to Hana. I really wanted the kids to be able to see the beautiful scenery so we packed them in the car and on we went! I would like to first is, I found road to Hana very safe and absolutely a delight! NOT Scary nor dangerous at all! I would strongly suggest to take snacks and a packed lunch and some plastic bags. My kids did amazing on the drive up there however they did get car sick and threw up =( Other than that they enjoyed it, they are the ages of 6 yrs.old and a 2 yr. old. We got to see all the beautiful waterfalls, greenery, plants and trees are amazing. My biggest tips are don't drive all the way up, once you seen the Waterfall which has 3 waterfalls together side by side you basically seen it all. Once yo get to Hana it's just another city nothing much to see. We did the extra drive to the Seven Pools, now that my friends is pretty scary, and Please Please Make sure to call ahead of time to the Park and check if the waterfalls have Water! We drove the extra 35min down a windy dangerous road and once we got there the Park Attendant notified us that the waterfalls were dried up due to lack of Rain! It took us about 2 1/2 hours to arrive to Hana,to get to the main waterfall it took us about 1 1/2 leaving from Maui. I would strongly suggest to make the trip but really really recommend turning back after the 3 Waterfalls that run side by side. Oh and no need to purchase the $20 CD the narrator is extremely annoying and impossible to follow once you've lost your place
How do I articulate the road to Hana? Are we there yet? Is about the only question and answer that comes to mind.
The road and the drive are beautiful. The stopping points along the way are gorgeous and if visiting in season, your view of the humpbacks along the Maui shore is spectacular. With that being said, this is not a fun activity for little kids.
This is a great activity for a couple or maybe a family with older kids. But for little kids - no thank you. Although the drive is just under 60 miles, it will take you at least have a day to get to Hana and then some more for the return. The stop off points are usually narrow shoulders along the way that go into the mountain a bit. Nothing like stopping on the side of a busy road and letting the kids out. The frequent stops are difficult with the kids, for a couple, getting in and out of the car isn't really a big deal. Three or four times in and out of the car, and the kids will be screaming because they don't want to get back into the carseat again (or they are screaming because they don't want to get out). So why does it take so long to drive so little? Aside from the frequent stops, the traffic is horrendous. Nothing like lining up behind 50 cars to enjoy nature. The heavy traffic along this scenic drive has also led to a litter problem - it is awful when the kids become more interested with the trash they can find / see. One last issue with the road to Hana - bathrooms. While there are reststops along the way and several do have bathrooms, the turtle pace and the traffic congestion makes it impossible to get to a bathroom when the kids need one. Consequently, the question about whether to let your kids pee on trees or not is really not a question - it becomes a choice, let them pee on the trees or let them pee in the car / carseat.
The phrase "I survived the road to Hana", in my opinion, has nothing to do with the actual safety or condition of the drive, it has to do with the mental stability of the parents after completing it and how many times the question are we there yet can be answered in one day.
If your kids don't LOVE car rides, definitely split this one up over two days. You will want to stop the car frequently to wander the rainforests and waterfalls. If you make it as far as Oheo Gulch/the Seven Sacred Pools, it's is at least 4 hours one way. It's absolutely worth it, you will feel like you entered a mini paradise. Just pace yourself with the little ones.
As a side note, if you are at all able to squeeze into a jeep wrangler and take of the top, it is the absolute best way to experience the stunning scenery beneath the rainforest canopy.