For some reason the Road to Hana is like some holy Grail in Maui. Can you drive it with kids? Should you drive it if you’re in Maui with kids? What are the best Road to Hana stops? Is it going to be a day of fun, or a day full of whining, screaming, and car-sickness? We thought about all these things and then decided there could be nothing worse than if we went home wondering about what this magical trip was all about. (I’m not always sure if we make the most rational decisions.) But off we went. These posts on Ohana Mama and Complicated Mama sold us on some stops we thought we’d see as well as convinced us to buy the R2H cd. I also followed along with our Maui Revealed book for more detailed information. (We were too scared to actually plan our route on the Road to Hana ahead of time. We thought we’d just wing it and we knew we would have lots of driving time to do the research.)
Of course, with me, our travels are always about food, so I’d read about this yummy bakery: the Homemaid bakery and I was happy it was nearby the start of the tour so we stopped and bought some yummy malasadas for the road. Satiated tummies at the start of a drive definitely makes a long journey in a car a happier one.
Then we stopped in Paia only to buy the R2HCD and a really huge latte from the Anthony’s Coffee store there and kept plugging along. (Ironically this was our last stop when we drove with the boys on our first trip.) I think it was around 7:30am. And yes, they were still in their pjs.
Our first stop on the actual road to Hana ended up being the Garden of Eden and we were the first ones there.
Admission seemed a little pricey at 15 dollars a person and we decided we would only go in if kids were free. (They were!) This was definitely an amazing stop.
The kids enjoyed hiking around the foliage (and we survived a torrential downpour) and we laughed for a long time because a duck decided to stop our car and parked himself as close to the front bumper as he could.
We also got to see the Jurassic Park rock.
Then we heard that Sandy’s banana bread was the best on Maui, so that became our next ‘must-see’. There were some amazing waves crashing along the nearby shoreline at the Keanae Peninsula. Hot-just-out-of-the-oven banana bread and some neat pictures made this stop totally worthwhile.
Our next stop was the Waikani Falls and the hubby thought we would definitely get to hike down to the waterfall and swim. The parking lot for this one made us walk a little too long on the actual Road to Hana for my comfort and on the way to the waterfall we heard the sound of what seemed to be an excited growling dog and a screaming pig and it was just terrifying. We got to the waterfall, looked for a path, but nothing seemed suitable for our guys and we didn’t see anyone else heading down to swim(there were probably 20 people standing there at this spot) so we took some pictures, turned around to go to our car and saw a pig that was definitely on its way to becoming someone’s dinner. We squeamishly got in our car and drove on.
We drove along and listened to the cd for the next little while. If something looked interesting we took a peek or the hubby popped out for the picture.
At this point, I will definitely admit the ride became a little long and we were getting hungry and grumpy. I wish I’d packed more snacks. The guys did not want to stop for lunch so we grabbed bagels and treats from a coffee shop in the Nahiku marketplace to eat at the black sand beach. But once we got there we could have stayed at the Wai’anapanapa beach all afternoon. The sand was gorgeous. There was a neat little cave to explore. The guys had fun throwing coconut husks into the water. (And when we left one of the locals showed us how to use the coconut husk to dust the sand off your feet. Brilliant!)
But as we were not staying in Hana, we had to leave and continue on our journey. When we left the beach, I realized we’d passed the lava tubes I wanted to stop at. We were actually at Hana and the caves are just a little before. We turned around and found a big sign to what looks like a residential driveway. We paid 25 dollars for the family (kids under 5 are free!) and pretty much went into someone’s backyard exhibit. I was terrified at the beginning but so were the kids so I had to pretend this was a fun adventure and not just something that made me want to curl up and go home. I made us all wear helmets.
Once we got down into the tube it was pretty phenomenal. Despite being a homegrown type of project, everything seemed safe and well-marked. There was a lot of neat information about the tubes but we just wanted to plug on to the end. I’m glad I wore a helmet because with scared kids you don’t always think about your own safety and I totally wacked my head when we had to duck under a section of lava. (And yes, I got a giant bump, so if I didn’t have a helmet it wouldn’t have been pretty at all.) I would do this one again because it wouldn’t be so scary the second time around.
The lava tube did us in for the rest of the trip-we were explored out. The rest of Road to Hana became one long drive with me watching beautiful scenery, the kids snoring and the hubby making sure the car didn’t go off any cliffs. We caught a glimpse of the Seven pools, but at this point we were done. And I got a random shot of this neat little cave I read about while we whizzed by but now I can’t find the story for the life of me.
I’m glad we did the road to Hana because now I don’t have to wonder about it. It was probably about an hour too long for active kids but that was overcome by all the spectacular beauty that we saw. And know one puked, or had a panic-attack from the scary views or became super grumpy. We all enjoyed the drive. If I did it again, I would love to stop in the Hana area and just stay there for a night or two. It would have been nice to just explore a little while longer at a more-relaxed pace.
(PS. I’m so curious if the R2H people are the same as the Hawaii Revealed people-my favorite guidebook for the Hawaiian Islands. I noticed that there was a part about taking pictures near waterfalls that was word for word like the book……hmmm.