"" Writer's Wanderings: Maui - The Road to Hana

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Maui - The Road to Hana

One of the most favorite things to do when you visit Maui is to drive the curving, winding road to Hana on the east side of the island. The first time we did it in a Miata convertible but this time we were glad for a roof over our heads. The road to Hana takes you through a rain forest and, well, it's best to expect at least a little rain in a rain forest. But we had rain that day most of the way.

You pick up the road just past the airport in Kahului. There are all sorts of places you can stop and get a picnic lunch to take with you. You will want to be prepared with something to eat along the way since there are few places that offer food.

We enjoyed our CD of the Haleakala trip so much that we decided to buy another one for Hana and listen to it this time as we drove. Unfortunately we didn't do our homework ahead of time and bought the first one we saw offered at the Hana Bay Picnic Company in Paia, a little town at the start of the road to Hana. It was $17.99 and came with a poor map, a few pictures of some plants and animals, and a recorded guide that turned out to be more of a stop-here-for-an-opportunity-to-buy narration. I'm convinced there was a lot more history and culture and tradition that could have been given along the way. (Since our return, I found the R2H guide which may be better. It also has a digital download. There are samples to listen to at the website.)

Hana is the destination but the enjoyment is in the drive getting there. Along the way are many places of interest to stop including a surfers' beach, an area where taro farming was popular, waterfalls, hiking trails, beautiful vistas, and much more.
The groves of African tulip trees with their bright red-orange blooms provided a striking contrast to the greens of the forest along the way.

The little town of Hana has a few things to see including a beach with black sand created by the lava rock. And just beyond Hana is the other side of the Haleakala National Park, the Kipahulu Visitor Center. You will need a pass to park there but its good for both the top of the volcano and this park as well for three days unless of course you are a senior whereby you purchase a lifetime pass to all National Parks for the same rate of $10.

The bad news for us was that we had little sunshine for pictures. The good news for us was that with the rain comes wonderful waterfalls! The Wailua Falls is probably the largest one nearest the road. Others are a short hike on a trail but with the rain and our limited time (we did this on the day we were to fly out of Maui in the evening) we opted not to do any hiking. At the Kipahulu Visitor Center, is the `Ohe`o Gulch pools or Seven Sacred Pools. When the area is not flooded or rushing with water as it was the day we visited, you can swim in the lower pool.

Had we more time, we would have also continued on past the park and revisited Lindburgh's grave. He is buried in a small churchyard just before the road becomes rough stone and dirt and continues on around the base of Haleakala--not recommended for rental cars and especially without four wheel drive. So most visitors turn around at the park after taking a short walk to see the Seven Sacred Pools.

On our way back to the airport, we stopped once again in Paia and had a light dinner before turning in our rental car and getting on our flight to Arizona. Next stop: Indians' Spring Training Camp!

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