Sunday, March 2, 2014

Maui, Hawaii: Road to Hana

It's a LONG curvy, yet amazingly beautiful, road!  I remember our first attempt at this.  Just my husband and I on our honeymoon with no plan except to visit this famous road.  Oh how we were not prepared!  First of all, don't look at the miles and think that it will just take a couple of hours to get to Hana and back!  The road is curvy and has a very limited view of oncoming cars.  Plus, all of the bridges (well, don't quote me on "all" but I think I am correct) are one lane.  You have to take turns crossing each bridge with oncoming traffic.  The busier the day, the longer it takes to get across each bridge.  Our first attempt on this road was on a very busy day and I have to guess a worst case scenario.  So glad that our 2nd, attempt 10 years, later was much better!

Parking at most sought after sites is very limited, if its an option at all.  And there is no place to wait for a spot to open.  This can be frustrating!

If you pass something and want to turn around to to get back to it...  Good luck!  The next turn off road is usually your best/only option!  

There are a couple of good places to grab some food or snacks while on the road.  However, I highly recommend that you bring some snacks and drinks in case the options are not appealing to you.  This time around we noticed a few places promoting box lunches for Hana.  Many come in an ice filled cooler.  The company we used offered a free cooler (with a coupon) but it had to be returned to get our "deposit" back.  The town of Paia (the last town before starting the "Road to Hana") promotes picnic lunches from the Hana Picnic Lunch Company.  I had actually heard a lot of great things about this place! 

The place we purchased lunches from (near the resort we were staying at).  It had great options and even vegetarian.  
The Road to Hana - our experience:

Twin Falls:  Just after mile marker 2, pull into the large turnout on your right.  There is a nice roadside stand where you can purchase a variety of local produce.  You can take a short hike to the falls.  We did not visit the falls, only because of the warnings of high theft in the area.  We had the top off our car and decided it wouldn't be a good idea to leave it like that.  I read that both falls have a pool of water that is great to take a dip in.

We purchased a delicious banana and a coconut beverage.
BTW:  we were not familiar with the true "beverage" of coconuts.
I thought we would be drinking coconut milk.  That is actually from the "meat" of the coconut.
Coconuts are filled with "water".  Our coconut was full of warm horrible tasting water.  Many people were buying them ($5 each) and loving them.  We used ours for pictures and then tossed it.  It was an educational experience ;-)
There is a lot to see around mile markers 10 and 11!  There is the Waikomoi hike and falls, the Garden of Eden Arboretum, Haipuaena Falls, and the Puohokamoa Falls.  Eventually you just have to choose what you want to see and if you can see it (due to limited parking).  I have heard that the "Garden O f Eden" is beautiful!  There were also portions of Jurassic Park taped there.  But, there is a per person fee and we already had a long day ahead of us.  So, we opted out of visiting.  We were able to see a little bit of it from the road.

I believe this is Haipuaene(just after mile marker 10).
I lost my notes but I think I remember clearly ;-)
Plus, there are so many waterfalls in this area - it's hard to really know which each one is named.
During really wet times you will see multiple waterfalls out of this.

I have found that it is very hard to identify waterfalls while comparing pictures online.
The amount of rainfall in the area provides a drastic difference in what the falls look like!
Punalau Valley Falls:  About 1/4 mile past mile marker 13.  There is a small amount of parking.  You can see the falls from the road but with some careful rock jumping and hill climbing you can get close (and wet).  There are also two levels of the falls.  We made it above level 1 but the 2nd level required more rock jumping than what my kiddos could have done (without falling into the pool).

Above the 1st waterfall.
Halfway to Hana:  At mile marker 17.  This is a great place to take a break from all the curvy driving!    It's also a picture opportunity to mark that you are halfway to the end!

Great banana bread (famous for it), shaved ice, hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, fresh fruit.
Lots of parking!
Shade area to eat and portable toilets.
We were there a little before lunch time but it did get busy before we left.

The view along the way!
Make sure you take pictures as you see views that you like!
I missed out on a great picture.  For the trip back the sun had moved and it wasn't the same....
Pua'a Ka'a State Wayside Park:  Between mile markers 22 and 23.  Lots of parking, restrooms (flush but were in desperate need to be cleaned when we visited), picnic area, trail, and easy access to waterfalls.

You could swim in the pool!
I have heard that the water flow varies a lot through the year depending on rain fall.

Hanawai Falls:  Mile marker 24.  We did not visit this but it's notable for future adventurers.

Nahiku Marketplace:  Mile marker 29.  We did not stop here but it looks very interesting!  I think it is definitely worth checking out!  I saw signs promoting fish tacos and coffee (I'm a huge coffee lover and this was the only place on the Road to Hana that I saw that had it).  However, at this point on the road, we gave into just being tired of stopping.

Hana Lava Tube:  Mile marker 31.  We did not discover this until after our Hana adventure.  I have heard it is AMAZING!  So, I have it added to my "must do" list for next time!

Wai'anapanapa State Park:  At mile marker 32, the park features a black sand beach, fresh water caves, and blow holes!  There are also restrooms, camping and cabins.

You can swim under the water to a section of air hidden inside.
We did not do this but we watched and listened to others that seemed to be having fun.
It is dark so a water light is needed.

Black sand beach!!!
I have also seen a lot of people snorkel in this area.
The waves were crazy on this day but our previous trip (in October 2003) had perfect water conditions!

Cave at the beach.


This beach reminds me more of how the boulder becomes a rock, the rock becomes a pebble, and the pebble becomes sand....  There isn't a lot of "sand" on this black sand beach.  It's mostly a variety of rocks and pebbles.  I highly recommend not trying to walk this beach without shoes!

Picture taken under the water.

Hana: We made it!!!!  Mile marker 34 brings you into Hana.  What to expect?  Well, it wasn't much. We at least wanted a shirt that said we had made it to Hana.  We found two stores.  One was for a ranch and only sold shirts with the ranch name.  The other...  well, it's pictured below.  This was a "store" and we did find shirts.  Hana was very interesting but don't expect the type of options and services that you get in the more populated areas of the island.

The store where we found t-shirts for the kiddos.
The shirts.
This was their "I did the road to Hana and all I got was this stinkin' shirt" pose - LOL!
A side note about Hana:  there is a red sand beach.  We couldn't find much out about it but it appears to be mostly accessible from the resorts on the beach.  You could hike to it but there was no open parking anywhere near the area when we visited.  Since our kiddos are still little, and it had already been a long day, we decided to not make the hike this time.

  • There is a road that can be taken out of Hana to get back to the main area of the island.  However, it is a rough road, not recommended, and most rental cars are not covered to drive on it.  So, you have to turn around and make your way back through all the curves and bridges to get out.  
  • There is so much to see and you would have to be really ambitious to see it all.  Pick what's important to you and then make other stops as you choose.  
  • I like to do everything on the way to Hana.  Most everything is on that side of the road so it's a lot harder to make these stops (especially because of parking) on the way back.  Plus, on the way out we are just ready to be done.
  • It's a LONG adventure so make sure you set aside an entire day!
  • I don't know what the magical time is to start your Hana trip.  I have heard that early morning is best.  I know that the first time we attempted this the road was very busy and it took forever to get over all the one lane bridges!  Plus, no room for parking!  This last trip we got to mile marker 1 by 10:00 am.  The traffic was pretty good.  We did have some parking issues but we didn't have many delays due to 1 lane bridges.  
  • Motion sickness meds!!!  I needed them and I don't even have problems.  There are a lot of tight curves and hills that can make anyone ill.
  • We are not into hiking but there are MANY opportunities (not mentioned in this blog).
  • If you see a line of cars behind you, pull over when possible to let them pass.  The locals drive a lot faster than the tourist who are admiring the surroundings (and less familiar with the road).
Have you made the trip to Hana?  I'd love to hear about your experience!

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