One of our greatest adventures on Maui didn’t exactly go as planned. Actually it pretty much wasn’t even close to what we planned, but we rolled with the punches, and made the most of it. We planned out a long, full day of exploring our way to Hana, on the famous Hana Highway. We planned many stops, to break up the treacherous drive. The road is full of many, many winding curves, one-lane bridges, best taken slowly, so we planned to head out very early to take things slow.
But… like I said.. it didn’t even go close to planned, and that all started the afternoon before. The evening before, we were enjoying a nice swim in the sea before dinner, where Lovely lost a very important article of “clothing” that would be very necessary for trekking on a long, treacherous journey–his glasses! Ack! They fell right off his face with the gush of a big wave, and as the ocean washed away them away, it washed away our plans right along with them! Luckily, there was a Lenscrafters on the island, that so happen to be a town on the way to The Road to Hana, but we wouldn’t be able to order glasses until the next morning, putting a damper on the time we could set out to Hana. But we didn’t let that stop our adventure, after all it was now or never. So the next morning, we got to Lenscrafters in Kahului as soon as they opened and ordered glasses for Lovely (thankfully he had a current prescription already on file with them), and placed the order. Now, it couldn’t be that simple, turns out their machine was broken! Ahhhh!! They assured us it would be fixed right away, and we’d have the glasses in no time. So, we walked around the rest of the mall, ate lunch, found a few souvenirs in the form of fab Hawaiian style Christmas ornaments (Mele Kalikimaka, remember), and sure enough the glasses were ready. So we began our journey to Hana around noon, only 4 hours behind schedule. Being so behind, we knew we wouldn’t make every stop on our list, so we picked a few must stop spots as we started out.
From Kahului, we ventured towards Paia, passing the famous “Jaws”, where some of the biggest waves in the world form, 130+ feet! We didn’t stop but just saw it in passing, and wow, there were brave souls surfing out there! Our first stop was at mile marker 7, the rainbow eucalyptus trees, also where we first hit rain.. Along the road, are mile markers indicating where various stops are, if you refer to our itinerary above, you can see each stop is indicated by a mile marker, makes for easy finding. Anyway, the trees, these were so very neat! Now, admittedly, the trees are not as bright & vivid as Pinterest indicated (#surprisesurprise), but beautiful nonetheless. We didn’t stay long here, just enough to snap a few photos. From there we stopped at Kaumahina State Wayside, where we took advantage of the restrooms, took in views from the lookout, and awed over the plants! Here I knew we weren’t in Kapalua anymore, it was as if we stepped into the jungle, the rain forest. And how very fitting, as the rain began to fall, HARD!
We continued on our journey, passing amazing waterfalls, beautiful rain forest, and close-to-ancient one lane bridges. Now, keep in mind, the rain is coming DOWN! We pressed on, slowly, enjoying the views as we went.
Finally, we made it Halfway to Hana, and stopped at the sweet little stand to have famous Halfway to Hana Bread, a yummy banana nut bread perfect for a mid-journey snack. We stretched our legs a bit, added our “where you’re from” thumb tack to Waco, Texas, and carried on. I definitely recommend stopping here, if not for the banana bread, then to stretch your legs and get a mental break, if you will, from the curvy road.
After Halfway to Hana, we drove along until we reached Hana. By this point on our journey, we were exhausted mentally and so very sick of the rain, but all of the views were absolutely worth it–never seen so many ferns in my life, just growing like weeds off the sides of cliffs! By the time we actually made it to Hana town, the rain had stopped, so we stopped at Hana Beach. The sand here were incredible, black from the volcanic rock making up the island. This little town was so sweet, with the most quaint buildings, so picturesque. Since the rain had stopped, we decided not to stop there. We continued on past Hana in search of the Seven Sacred Pools.
I have to say this was probably my favorite part of the journey, from Hana to Kipahulu at Haleakala National Park. It took us about 30 minutes more from Hana, and was well worth it! We passed off the grid houses, beautiful land overlooking the ocean, wild poinsettias (I learned these are a tropical plant! Who knew?!), and a little cattle ranch that smelled like home. 🙂 At the end was the grand finale, Oheo Gulch, better known as the Seven Sacred Pools.
Though the entire Road to Hana is breathtaking, this was the icing on the cake! Oheo Gulch at Kipahulu at Haleakala National Park is seven freshwater pools stair stepping down from the volcano to the ocean. They are filled from rainwater runoff from the mountain, and are framed by a stunning bridge up top. Each pool trickled down to the next, and had people climbing everywhere to dip their toes in the ancient pools. I wasn’t quite brave enough to venture down to the pools themselves, but I feel fulfilled having seen their beauty. We spent about an hour here, hiking around the trails, taking in the scenery from the north side of the island. We didn’t want to wait too long to leave, as we wanted to be off the curvy Road to Hana by dark.
We ventured back toward Paia, taking the same route, this time with no stops. We left at just the right time, because we hit another massive rainstorm, and it got dark just as we were getting out of the winding road. The road has around 620 curves and 59 bridges! So that paired with the rain, made for a long, exhausting journey. We were glad the journey was over, but so, so glad we made the adventure, set backs and all!
If you are planning a trip down the road to Hana, I advise you of a few things:
1) Make a plan. Feel free to use the itinerary I created above.
2). Take your time. Set out early, try to start out in Paia around 7:30 or 8am so you can fit everything you want to see in.
3) Accept that you can’t see it all. But know you won’t be disappointed.
4) Pack snacks & drinks.
5) Enjoy life and whatever the Road to Hana throws at you! Odds are, you will run into rain. Just take it slow & enjoy the views.
Thank you so much for going on this adventure with me! I have loved sharing it with you. Aloha!