The Road to Hana is one of the most famous, and in my opinion, most fun and interesting things to do on Maui. It’s also ranked as one of the ten most beautiful drives in America. It is a long, slow, winding road, with an alleged 617 curves, through what can only be compared to the Garden of Eden. You’re surrounded by green, lush vegetation, with hidden (and sometimes not so hidden) waterfalls around many a bend. The waterfalls are often accessible by short hikes, and they have beautiful clear pools at the bottom just made for swimming. Hana itself contains many beautiful places, but this drive is definitely more about the journey than the destination.
One morning we had made a spontaneous decision and left at 8:30am to drive to Hana with our free Hana audio tour CD from Boss Frog’s. Our first stop was at famous Ho’okipa Beach to watch the surfers. After a few minutes back on the road we noticed there was a relay race going on, and at first thought, how fun! After a while we hit some major back-ups due to the race. After sitting still for twenty minutes, we asked a few people and were told the back-ups would continue all day. At about mile marker nine we hit our second major back-up, and decided to turn around. How sad.
We were determined not to let it ruin our day or our plans to get to Hana though. On our way back, we stopped at Twin Falls at mile marker two. Normally, we would skip this waterfall because there are better ones further along the road to Hana. We hiked to the falls and enjoyed them a lot. It was crowded but we got a few fun photos and had a blast swimming in and under the falls.
Just two days later, we made our second attempt to get to Hana. This time we were determined to drive and make it all the way there! On the way we stopped and viewed Lower Puohokamoa Falls, and then I swam at Haipua’ena Falls. We stopped and admired the gorgeous Ke’anae Peninsula. We hiked up the dry stream boulders to Punalau Falls, at the 1911 bridge. But the falls were dry, and there was nothing at the top other than some drips of water down a huge wall and a tiny pool with some creatures swimming in it. I enjoyed splashing myself with the water to cool off while Elliott checked out the tiny creatures (shrimp? crayfish? aliens?) in the water. We stopped for views of Honomanu Bay and looked back at the road to Hana zig-zagging its way along the coast. To our left were beautiful fields of taro, a food staple of the early Hawaiians.
Before we knew it, we were taking pictures of the Halfway to Hana sign. We pulled over after one of the old bridges, took the big step down and short hike to Upper Waikani/Three Bears Falls, and had them pretty much all to ourselves. There are three separate falls there and they were at full flow and just super beautiful.
After the 21 mile marker we hiked up a dirt hunter’s road to a nice waterfall and pool and gorgeous valley. We had it all to ourselves, so we sat and ate a picnic lunch. When we got to Makapipi Falls (Elliott just *loves* his original pronunciation of the name of these falls), which flows directly underneath the bridge you drive over, we were disappointed – they were completely dry! We couldn’t believe it; our second dry falls for the day. So unusual for the road to Hana, which is normally so wet.
Our final destination on the Hana drive for the day was Waianapanapa Park. This park is one of my favorite places on Hawaii because of the number and uniqueness of its geographical features. First, it has Pa’iloa Beach, which is a black sand beach. The beach was formed when lava flowed into the sea and shattered upon contact with the cold water, breaking into the little grains of black sand there now. I was struck again by the beauty of Waianapanapa, especially the blue water against the black rock, and I realized the beach there may be my favorite beach in the world. Elliott took a nap while I went swimming and then when he woke up he joined me in the water. (It only makes sense, since his answer to “Wai’anapanapa” is always, “because I’m sleepy sleepy.”)
After we got out of the water, we followed the trail for a bit to look at the natural sea arch and to try and find the blowhole. We decided it must not be blowing well today because we never did find it, just some water on the rocks that looked like evidence of it blowing another time. After a couple of good photos with the beach behind us, we turned around and went and found the caves at Wai’anapanapa. Wow! I thought we had been there before and had just forgotten, but there is no way I would have forgotten this. The caves are spring-fed and filled with fresh water that is as clear as water gets. I spent the entire time convincing Elliott to come in, even if for just a second. I was super psyched when he agreed, and we jumped in together, and it was seriously one of the cooler(est?) experiences in my life. Yes, it was freezing. But oh so cool. The water was so perfectly clear.
After a few hours at Wai’anapanapa, it was already time to head back home in order to avoid driving the twisty road to Hana in the dark. As random as this may sound, on our way back from Hana we started discussing how we both wanted to pick up a hitchhiker sometime. We never had, due to fear, I guess. I said we should add it to our bucket list. Within a few minutes we passed a guy hitchhiking and we stopped and picked him up! His name was Chris. He was originally from Utah and then lived in Las Vegas for a few years before heading to Hawaii for vacation. He never went home to the Mainland. He was a super nice guy, and it turns out he lives in North Kihei just a few blocks from our hotel! It was meant to be. We dropped him off at his street, and headed off to enjoy another beautiful Maui sunset.