Road to Hana with two active boys (Maui with kids)

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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.)

driving the road to hana with kids on maui

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.

Stop to get malasadas on the Road to Hana at Home Maid bakeryStopping at the Homemaid bakery for treats before heading on the road to Hana with kids

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.

driving the road to hana maui with kids with a stop to Paia to get our guidebook

Our first stop on the actual road to Hana ended up being the Garden of Eden and we were the first ones there.  What our kids wore on the Road to Hana in Maui

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.

bring raincoats in maui with kids on the Road to Hana

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.

Garden of Eden on the Road to Hana with kids

We also got to see the Jurassic Park rock.

Jurassic Park Rock on the Road to Hana with kids at the Garden of Eden

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.

road to hana maui with kids and what they wore

banana bread on road to maui with kids

Banana Bread at Sandys on the Road to Hana

Banana bread stop on the road to Hana with kids

Stops on the way on the Road to Hana with kids

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.

Stops on the road to Hana with kids

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.

Waikani Falls on the Road to Hana with kids a good Road to Hana Stop

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!)

Black sand beach on the road to hana with kids

black sand beach on road to hana with kids

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.

A lava tube adventure on the road to hana with kids

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.

lava tubes on maui with kids on road to hana


A lava tube adventure on the Road to Hana with kids

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.




road to hana on maui with kids

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.

PPS. here are a couple other sites about the road if you’re curious and want to drive: Best of Maui Guide: Hana, Go Hawaii: Hana 

and here’s my post for our drive to Haleakala with our guys, an awesome snorkel tour and some other things we did on Maui too!)

18 thoughts on “Road to Hana with two active boys (Maui with kids)

  1. I enjoyed seeing your photos! We skipped the Road to Hana when we were in Maui partly because I wasn’t sure that Emma would like spending so much time in the car and partly because my husband had fallen and broken his hand. We are definitely going to have to return to experience it for ourselves!

  2. We went as far as Mile marker 8 because we ran out of time and the Road to Hana didn’t seem plausible with a boy who got car sick on the way down from Haleakala. Thanks for this tour and so glad you survived it with everyone intact. The scenery does look beautiful. This will have to be on our priority list when we visit Maui again. Love the photos of the boys enjoying the adventure.

  3. You did it right with the kids. Lots of short little stops and plenty of fun exploration. Going all the way around with them is great. When we go ourselves the kieki normally nap on the backside so it’s a quiet although bumpy, a free massage.

  4. I’m so glad to read this! We have plans to brave the Road To Hana and now this just made me feel more confident on this decision. I’m excited! Thank you!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Happy holidays! Totally hope to visit Maui again:) any tips for Oahu? (We’ll be heading there soon)

  5. So glad to hear our post inspired you to take the ride with the kids!! My kids are still talking about it. The crashing waves by aunt Sandy’s are gorgeous!! Now I just wish I had the banyan bread 🙂

  6. loved reading about your trip. We are going in April with our 4 yr old boy and are now thinking that we WILL actually make the drive. Do you remember how many hrs total you ended up spending on this trip? seems like you started around 7:30am?

  7. Our day on the Hana Highway was good for the first couple of hours. We found it too long, too many corners and frustrating that you have to return the same way you get there.
    Everyone was car sick except the driver, lucky for me that was me!
    I’m glad I can say that I did it but I won’t be doing it again.

  8. WOW… I am scared to take my boy on this road trip coz he does really have bad motion sickness. How bad is it? I mean…scary?:) BUT you’re right, maybe stay a day in Hana will be a good idea. thanks for this post:)

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