Three for the Road

Amazing family-friendly scenic drives in Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming
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The Road to Hana
Maui, Hawaii: 52 miles
The road to Hana, along Maui's northeastern coastline, is one of America's great drives. For 52 miles from Kahului to Hana—about three hours' drive—the route gifts a panorama of beaches, cascading waterfalls, and lush vegetation. Sweeping vistas of coast, cliffs, and clouds inspire; even better, few hotels, billboards, or condos mar this near-uninterrupted commune with nature. Cabbage-sized yellow and red hibiscus, sprays of purple Queen Emma blossoms, African tulip trees, wispy palm trees, and delicately fingered ferns accent the blacktop.

Plan enough time for this drive, ideally at least two days, including an overnight stay in Hana. With frequent ascents, descents, twists and turns, plus narrow lanes, the road is demanding and not for those subject to car sickness.

The first must-see on this adventure comes within the first two miles. Pull over at Hookipa Beach, one of Maui's best windsurfing spots, to watch scores of local aficionados skip across the water. Further along, hau tree branches form a light-splintered canopy before the road unfurls into a sun-dappled landscape of hillsides feathered with wild eucalyptus, mango, guava, and papaya trees that billow down toward the sea. The rustle of 30-foot-tall bamboo stands sounds like soft rain, and the rush of nearby waterfalls lures you across the many one-lane bridges.

About 23 miles from Hookipa Beach, stop at Puohokamoa Falls, just a short stroll from the highway. Complete with waterfalls and bathrooms, Puaa Kaa State Park, about 14 miles before Hana, is a good place for a picnic. Hana itself, low-key and inviting, curls around the harbor then stretches for several blocks before fading into grass-covered mountains and fields. Just one-and-a-half miles from Hana is Hamoa Bay Beach, one of Hawaii's most beautiful beaches.'s resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 31 Jul 2006 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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