Not Hana, but the Road to Hana, a narrow, winding, white-knuckle drive through tropical forest, over one lane bridges, with dramatic views of waterfalls and the Pacific Ocean. Yes, this is the ultimate road trip and you’ll find it on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Perhaps I’m thinking of Maui today because I wish to escape from the monsoon rains that have finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest. (It was inevitable.) Perhaps you also need to escape for reasons of your own and if so then this post is for you.
Now assuming you do not actually live in Maui, you first need to get to the island. That is NOT a road trip. Once there however, you can hit the road like we did leaving from our hotel on Maui’s south side, heading north toward Kahului. According to Wikipedia, “although Hana is only about 52 miles (84 km) from Kahului, it takes about 2.5 hours to drive even when no stops are made since the highway is very winding and narrow and passes over 59 bridges, of which 46 are only one lane wide. There are approximately 620 curves along Route 360 from just east of Kahului to Hana, almost all of it through lush, tropical rainforest.”
What’s not to like about that? Well believe it or not, all those curves can be rough for those who are prone to car sickness. Not knowing for sure we took the advice of a friend and rented a convertible and made the drive top down, with fresh island air filling our senses and yes, it was awesome. In fact, I wish I was there right now but this little reminiscence will have to do.
We left early in the morning in hopes of beating the crowds – well, it was worth a try – and once past Kahului, headed east through Paia – worth a separate trip of its own – and soon we were are on that famous winding road.
The only tough part would be to decide where to stop, for there are all kinds of charms and attractions and they are marked on maps you pick up for the drive. Gardens? Yes, we stopped at the Garden of Eden (honest) where we got a peek at this lovely waterfall,
and a look at this view made famous by Jurassic Park.
We saw many more waterfalls alongside the road or at the end of short hikes so here are a couple more.
As far as stops go, did I mention the banana bread? Famous along here. We stopped by the village of Keanae where we saw this charming stone church, built in 1856,
and enjoyed our fresh-baked banana bread while watching the waves crash on the shore.
It was all wonderful but I think my favorite stop was at the black sand beach – the beach that starts with a ‘W’ – that I can neither say nor type.
For me this was a real ‘pinch me’ moment; like seriously, how lucky was I to be on a beautiful and remote black sand Hawaiian beach??
And so I was overcome by the Joy of it all as you can see in the picture below. (Please ignore the boy in the background. My husband took the picture and I don’t currently have the software or skill set or energy to crop him – the boy that is – out! 😉 )
After a few hours we arrived in Hana which you might have thought was our destination.
But no, as you have probably guessed by now, it was the Road to Hana we were after and we enjoyed it immensely. Many people turn around at this point and go back the same way they came (recommended by tour books and car rental companies) but no, not us. We took the advice of those in the know and continued our journey around the lonely backside of Haleakala where we had the road to ourselves, save for a few cows.
The Road to Hana; it puts the Road, back into Road Trip.
P.S. This post was inspired by Gin & Lemonade’s prompt, Road Trip.