I’m going to start by saying that I don’t recommend that people try what we did. We went to Haleakala and did the Road to Hana in the same day. It made for a long day and we only went as far as Hana on the Road to Hana because we were spent (there are couple of sites past Hana on the Road to Hana that many people want to see like the O’heo Gulch Pools a.k.a. The Seven Sacred Pools). And I don’t mean to be a downer on the Road to Hana, but honestly I could have done without doing it. It was a beautiful drive and we saw beautiful sites. But it was long and windy, and for people prone to car sickness – difficult. Our kids were whining well before we got back to Paia.
We started out our day early, leaving the hotel at about 4:30 AM. That sounds worse than it was. Since we were still on East Coast time, it really didn’t feel early (since it was 9:30 AM on the East Coast). The sun was set to rise at about 6:45. We got to the summit at about 6 AM and there were already a lot of people there. And unfortunately, we had a terrible day for seeing a sunrise at Haleakala. The outside temperature was 32 degrees and there were strong winds. On top of that, the entire top of the mountain was in a cloud. So we did not get to see the sunrise. And our kids were complaining the entire time when were weren’t in the Visitor’s Center. That just the luck of the draw. It seemed like most days we were in Hawaii had similar weather at the summit. As you can tell, my kids were not happy.
After the disappointing sunrise, we started as our trip to the Road to Hana. One item I suggest you get for the Road to Hana is the Gypsy Guide. It is a GPS that gives you information about sites to see based on your location. This device has information for most of the roads you will travel in Maui. It cost us around $40 for a day, but I think you could also get it for about $100 for 3-4 days. After renting one of these, I figured there must also be a phone app with similar functionality. I’m not positive, but it seems like Maui GPS Tour Guide has similar functionality. It’s $2.99 in the iTunes app store for the base software and then you pay additional amounts for each tour you want (i.e. Road to Hana $5.99, West Maui $3.99, Haleakala $3.99, South Maui $3.99, Central Maui $3.99 or $11.99 for an All Tours Bundle). There aren’t a lot of reviews on the app and cell phone service is spotty to non-existent on the Road to Hana. But it could be a big cost savings so it might be worth looking into.
There were 2 narrators on the Gypsy Guide - a man and a woman. The woman narrated the Halekala tour and the man narrated the Road to Hana tour. Our kids are Pokemon fans so we nicknamed them Jessie and James. That made it fun for them. We’d make comments like, “Oh James, you don’t steer us wrong.” And whenever we stopped somewhere, the boys would ask if we made sure to put James away.
I highly recommend getting a Gypsy Guide or the phone app. The Gypsy Guide had a list of the top 5 places to visit on the Road to Hana. James gave descriptions of many places around the way, but the device would make a special sound if the site was one of the top 5. Having this device allowed the freedom of just enjoying the views because we didn’t have our heads in a tour guide book. (I was quite thankful for that because I think I would have gotten car sick really fast if I was trying to read a tour book while we were on those windy roads.)
As recommended in our tour guide books, we stopped in Paia to get a picnic lunch (we had already gassed up before heading to Haleakala – otherwise we would have also gassed up). There are several places you can get a picnic lunch at in Paia. We got ours at Anthony’s Coffee Company. And our lunch was really good. If you’re staying in the Ka’anapali Beach area, you might also consider going to C.J.’s Deli & Diner. They also do a picnic lunch for the Road to Hana. And it was one of my favorite places to eat on Maui (I’ll write more about it in another post).
Here are a few pictures from the Road to Hana.
Painted Eucalyptus Trees at Ke’anae Arboretum (one of the coolest trees I’ve ever seen)
Wai’anapanapa’s Honokalani Beach (black sand beach)