Today we’re driving the famous Road to Hana. In hindsight to really do this justice, we should have planned to say a day or two in Hana instead of just driving there and returning to the condo in one day, perhaps next time.
We start of by crossing the middle of the island and stoping in at our old friend Paia, or more correctly the near by Ho’okipa Beach Park to watch some surfers and check up the wave action. From there it’s a leisurely drive along the Hana Highway and we’re taking in the sights as we move through farm land towards the rain forest. First major stop is to check out the Rainbow Eucalyptus trees. We might have driven right by, but there were quite a number f cars stopped so we did too and then we noticed what all the excitement was about.
Next up is a short 1/4 mile hike through the rain forrest, and yes it’s raining, and the whole area is quite damp. The road is starting to live up to it’s billing as it narrows and gets even more twisty. All the bridges, of which there are many, are one car wide and you need to negotiate who will cross 1st if you meet some oncoming traffic.
Now the road is closer to the coast line and we’re enjoying the view from Kaumahina State Wayside park, and a short distance later Honomanu Park where a solo surfer is working the waves.
Speaking of waves, we detour off the highway and out onto Ke’anae Peninsula for some spectacular shore line and pounding surf. The Ke’anae Peninsula is a dramatic half-mile long finger of newer lava sticking out from the cliff line of the Hana Highway where there is a historic old Hawaiian village. After taking a lot of photos, we stop at the snack shack for smoothies, banana bread, and coconut candy, all locally produced.
One of the best side trips of the day is when we head down the Nahiku Road to a park which overlooks the Kipakaon and Honolulu Nui Bays. It’s several miles off the Hana Highway and just as we’re getting close to the park there road is blocked off with a traffic cone and a truck is doing some sort of work on the road. The two cars in front of us turn around and head back. I think about it for a bit and turn around as well, but then I reconsider. There is no sign saying the road is closed, and I turn back just in time to see a car coming out from behind where the road work activity is happening. That’s it, we’re going in. As we edge around this truck a guy is cutting some branches that are overhanging the road, and the road is totally passable. A short distance later we arrive at this beautiful park, and have the whole area to ourselves. The park has a short easy to remember and pronounce name, “Malama keia Aino o Nahiku”
From there we drive on without too many stops until we get to Hana. As I said earlier, we really didn’t give the Hana areas it’s due. By now it’s about 4pm and we’re interested in getting a little further down the road to see the Seven Pools and a couple of the bigger waterfalls before the sun goes down. We drive through downtown Hana and out onto the pier for a quick look at the Hana Beach Park, and then we off, heading down the road.
Next stop is the Haleakala National Park, not up on the crater, but down at the ocean shore where the Palikea Stream flows off the mountain forming the Seven Pools. Apparently, there are more but for the tourist it’s seven. We hike over to a couple of the lower pools and take a refreshing dip. I even swim over to one end of the pool and go under the waterfall, very cool, literally and figuratively.
Now it’s about 6 p.m. and the sun is about to go down. I’d been planning to head back the way we came, but overhear a conversation in the parking lot where a local says the road ahead, which the car rental company and severe tourist magazines say is quite rough and almost impassible, is actually pretty OK and we won’t have any trouble, not to mention its shorter that going back the way we came. I’d really wanted to drive that part of the road and that’s all the encouragement I needed, and we forge ahead for a real adventure.
Sure enough, the farther we head down the highway, the narrower and twistier it gets. It also goes from fairly nice asphalt to crummy asphalt, to gravel, and then dirt and then dirt with some pretty big pothole, but no worse that many Winnipeg streets. By now it’s dark, very dark. After winding along the coast line we head up higher on the mountain and are soon rewarded with a spectacular view from up high of the Kihei beach areas light up like Christmas along the shoreline.
We finish our drive by picking up some dinner and heading home to the condo and another full and rich day is done, good night Maui.