Like Us


The Road to Hana

This is the number one road trip on Maui and a must do for first timers.  I’ll just give you some highlights.  And, by no means, is this all you’ll see.  Your Maui Revealed book will be especially handy on this trip.  It’ll tell you how to get into areas only the locals knew about before the book.  Yes, they hate it.  From Kihei, it’s a 20 minute drive north to the starting point.  Best to leave at first daylight and arrive at the start (Paia) between 7-8am.  The traffic will get heavier, the later it gets, and driving can be a bit tricky.  It gets tight in a lot of two way traffic areas, so you have to stay alert.  Which means the driver can’t turn his head to look at scenery in some places, because it’s too dangerous.  That’s why you plan an entire day for this, so you can go at a leisurely pace and make plenty of stops.  I prefer driving it myself and picking my own spots to stop instead of taking a tour bus, and being at their mercy.

On the road, you quickly get enveloped by green, as you drive through lush tropical rainforest. The road twists and turns for almost the entire 52 miles to Hana (68 if you choose to continue to Kipihulu, and Charles Lindburgh's grave). Someone once counted 615 turns, and I'd say that's a good guess. But virtually every one of those turns treats you to another breathtaking surprise. Turn inland, and you see unimaginable green and rushing waterfalls. Turn outward, it's sapphire and foamy white sea crashing onto black lava rock. You really have to choose your spots to stop wisely, because there are so many, you couldn't possibly see them all on one trip.

One of our first stops is a fruit stand in Huelo. They have all the fresh tropical fruit you can think of, and then some. A nice lookout in back, too.  

They’ll make you a smoothie, a crepe or chop open a fresh coconut.  There are many of these stands up and down the road, offering everything from fresh Pineapple to homemade Banana Bread.

This is the place to really get away from it all, 
and one of the few areas on the island still unspoiled.

Three great views of Keanae. The first is the Keanae Peninsula from a distance. 

The next is still on the way to the peninsula, looking back to where the 
previous pic was taken.  
If you look closely at the green cliff across the bay, you can see the roadway carved through the trees.  

The last is from the peninsula itself.

Navigating the Hana Highway can be challenging at times, with it's 72 one lane bridges, rubbernecking drivers and crazy locals. 

So take your time, and be cautious. Getting to Hana is not the purpose of this journey.  The journey is the purpose.

Just beyond mile marker #31, is 'Ula'ino Road. Follow the road to the end and park. Walk approximately 200 yards along the rocky shoreline and you're rewarded with this view of Blue Angel ('Ula'ino) Falls and Pool.  I swam under the falls.  It’s invigorating.  You have to remember the water is coming off a 10K ft. volcano.  Word of caution; do this knowing that other things occasionally fall from the volcano, like big rocks.  That could ruin your whole day!  Also, don’t swim in any fresh water if you have any cuts and try not to swallow it.  Leptospirosis is a bacteria sometimes found in Hawaii’s fresh water streams.  It’s easily treatable if caught early.  But, who wants to deal with that on vacation?  

This is also a good opportunity to remind you, this is not Typhoon Lagoon at Disneyworld.  There are no safety rails.  The attractions are not inspected daily for your safety.  So, use your common sense.  Watch your footing.  Lava rock is very porous and fragile, and it’s not uncommon to feel it crumble beneath your feet.  I prefer sneakers which I don’t mind getting wet, over watershoes for walking on jagged rock, unless they have sturdy enough soles to protect your feet.

Wai'anapanapa State Park is a must see along the way.   The black lava rock is covered with lush green vegetation.  There are many areas to explore.  

You could even bring a tent and camp here over night if you were so inclined.
Sea Cave
Black Sand Beach
Sea Arch

When you reach Hana, don’t be underwhelmed.  As I’ve previously stated, this journey about the journey, not the destination.  You may want to make a pit stop at Hasagawa’s General Store.  You can buy a snack and a t-shirt signifying your survival of the 
Road to Hana.

If you choose to go beyond Hana, there are a few more things to see.
One is Ala'u Island. The palm trees at the top of the island were planted by two native brothers prior to their shipping off to World War II. They swam out and planted the seeds in case they didn't return from the war so their parents would have something to remember them by. (They did return)

Another stop on this trip is Oheo Gulch, better known as the Seven Sacred Pools. It's actually a series of 26 pools, one cascading into the next and eventually into the Pacific. The legend goes that if you start at the ocean and swim in each of the first seven pools, hiking up in between, you erase each of the seven sins.
The park is actually called Hale Akala National Park.  There’s a $10 per car admission.  Make sure you save your receipt if you’re planning on visiting the summit of the volcano for sunrise another day.  It’s in another area of the same park, so you can reuse it.

This is the point most decide to turn around and head back home.  Yes, on the same twisty road.  
It might be a good idea to switch drivers.

From In mid-August 1974, a cancer-ravaged Lindbergh lay in a New York hospital room. He was told that he only had weeks—maybe only days—to live. Doctors advised him to remain in New York.  He said, “I would rather live one day in Maui than one month in New York.”
The road does continue on to Kipihulu, where you’ll find Aviator Charles Lindbergh’s final resting place.  I’ve gone beyond there a couple times.  You can circle the island and arrive back at the starting point.  Earthquakes and floods close that part of the road from time to time, so it's good idea to check before you go that way.  You can ask at Oheo Gulch (Haleakala Nat'l Park), and the Park Rangers will have any updates.  You can also check this website prior to leaving, or even subscribe to updates there.  Judging from my first trip around there, I used to say there wasn’t a lot to see, as it gets kind of barren as you head southwest and leave the rainforest.  But, since this second trip, I have a new appreciation for the beauty of this rugged coastline.  I think next time we may start the trip on that side of the island (since it's a shorter ride), to allow us more time at Oheo Gulch earlier in the day.  

Update: We did start the trip on that side in March of 2015.  I don't think I'd recommend it for first timers.  I would rather they see it as I did the first time, and experience all the green and the waterfalls.  However, if you've already done that at least once, going around in the opposite direction is a nice change.  Start by going to Kahului and finding the Haleakala Highway.  Take it to toward Kula, but instead of turning into Haleakala Nat'l Park, continue to upcountry.  You'll be treated to some nice views from above Kihei and Wailea.  We were able to reach Oheo Gulch (Haleakala Nat'l Park) in about 2 1/2 hours.  That gave us enough time to hike to Waimoku Falls (4 miles round trip hike), and take a swim in one of the seven sacred pools, before returning to Kihei.  
I'll post some pics below. 


Here are some pics on the road from Oheo Gulch to Kaupa.

No comments: