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10 Epic Fails Every Family Makes on the Road to Hana—And How to Avoid Them!

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Are you planning on driving the Road to Hana on Maui with kids? Keep scrolling to find out the top Road to Hana mistakes families make and how you can avoid them like a pro.

Ah, the Road to Hana.

Just mentioning it brings back a flood of lush greenery, cascading waterfalls, and the endless curves of that famous road on Maui.

As a parent who’s tackled this adventure several times, I’ve gathered quite the collection of do’s, don’ts, and “I wish I hadn’ts.”

Planning your first family trip down this iconic route? Well, you’re in for a treat—and I’m here to make sure your experience is more “wow” than “whoa” with a few lessons learned the hard way.

Top Road to Hana Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

Mistake #1: Starting Too Late in the Day

The Road to Hana isn’t just a drive; it’s a full-day adventure. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is starting too late.

This winding road through Maui’s rainforest is not where you want to be rushing, nor do you want to navigate its curves in the dark.

Parent Tip: Kick off your journey early—aim to be on the road by 7 AM. This gives you plenty of daylight to enjoy all the stops and sights, and trust me, there’s a lot you won’t want to miss. Plus, the earlier you start, the less crowded the spots will be!

Mistake #2: Overpacking the Itinerary

You might think, “It’s just a drive, how many stops could there possibly be?” Well, a lot.

From waterfalls and hiking trails to scenic viewpoints and food stands, it’s tempting to cram everything into one trip. But with kids in tow, less is more.

Parent Tip: Choose a few must-see spots and a couple of nice-to-haves. I’ve got a list of 20 kid-friendly Road to Hana stops that will get you started.

Keanae Peninsula and Wai’anapanapa State Park with its black sand beach are always hits with the kids. Remember, the journey should be fun, not a checklist to rush through.

Image of Waterfall on the Road to Hana, Hana Highway, Hawaii, USA.

Mistake #3: Not Packing Enough Snacks and Drinks

There are some cute spots to grab a bite along the Road to Hana, like the famous banana bread at Aunty Sandy’s, but don’t rely on these being open or having everything you need, especially with dietary restrictions or picky eaters.

Parent Tip: Pack a cooler with more snacks and drinks than you think you’ll need. Sandwiches, fruits, and plenty of water will keep everyone from getting hangry and help you avoid stops with long lines that eat into your exploring time.

Mistake #4: Underestimating Motion Sickness

The Road to Hana is famous for its beauty, but also for its 620 curves and 59 bridges. Motion sickness can hit hard, especially for little ones.

Parent Tip: If anyone in your family is prone to car sickness, prepare ahead of time. Over-the-counter motion sickness medications can be a lifesaver, and it’s best to take them before you hit the road.

Our kids like using Relief Bands. Keeping the windows down for fresh air and making frequent stops also helps.

Image of So called “rainbow tree” or sometimes called “painted forest” on the Hawaiian island of Maui at Mile 7 along the Road to Hana

Mistake #5: Skipping the Gas Station

The last thing you want is to be low on gas with no station in sight. The road can feel remote quickly, and you don’t want to stress over fuel.

Parent Tip: Fill up your gas tank in Paia. There are no gas stations once you start on the Hana Highway, so this is your best spot to ensure a full tank.

Mistake #6: Ignoring Local Driving Etiquette

Remember, the Road to Hana is not just a tourist attraction; it’s a road that locals use daily. Respecting local driving customs is not only courteous but also keeps traffic flowing smoothly.

Parent Tip: Always pull over to let faster vehicles pass in designated areas. And if you’re stopping to enjoy a view or snap a photo, make sure you’re in a safe pull-out spot and not blocking the road.

Beautiful tropical beach on Maui island, Hawaii

Mistake #7: Forgetting to Bring a Change of Clothes

Between the waterfalls, the beaches, and the sporadic rain showers common in tropical climates, chances are you’ll get wet.

Parent Tip: Pack a change of clothes for everyone in the family. It’s no fun sitting in a car with soggy clothes, and being able to change into something dry will keep everyone comfortable for the drive back.

Mistake #8: Not Downloading Offline Maps

Cell service is notoriously spotty on the Road to Hana. Relying on live GPS can lead you to lose your way at the most inconvenient times.

Parent Tip: Download offline maps or have a physical map handy. This way, you’re never truly lost, and you can always find your way back on track.

Image of Upper Waikani Falls on Maui

Mistake #9: Leaving Right After Reaching Hana

Many people think the journey ends at Hana. They turn around and head back immediately after reaching the town. But there’s so much more!

Parent Tip: If you can, explore beyond Hana. The Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) in Haleakala National Park is stunning and offers some great hiking. Consider staying overnight in Hana to truly soak in the experience without rushing.

Mistake #10: Not Living in the Moment

Finally, the most crucial tip. With all the focus on making it perfect, it’s easy to forget to enjoy the moment.

Parent Tip: Breathe in the fresh air, soak in the lush landscapes, and enjoy the smiles on your kids’ faces. These are the moments that make family vacations memorable.

BONUS #11: Not Making Reservations for Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach

Something that families often don’t realize is that they need a reservation to check out Maui’s black sand beach.

It’s really easy to do before your trip here: https://gostateparks.hawaii.gov/waianapanapa

Road to Hana Mistakes Wrap-Up

Traveling the Road to Hana with your family can be an incredible experience filled with stunning sights and precious moments.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you ensure that your journey is not just enjoyable but truly unforgettable.

So buckle up, take it slow, and enjoy the ride—Hana awaits!

Looking for more Road to Hana resources? Check out 16 Things to Know Before You Drive the Road to Hana, Twin Falls Maui Waterfall Tour Review, 20 Best Kid-Friendly Road to Hana Stops for Families, Amazing Road to Hana Tours Worth Booking for Maui, Best Road to Hana Stops: Garden of Eden Arboretum, Pua’a Ka’a Falls, Best Things to do in Hana Maui, and Best Places to Stay in Hana Maui!