The Road to Hana
60. The Drive to Hana 61. Hire a Driver for the Jaunt to Hana 62. Detour for Ke‘anae Peninsula 63. Take a Breather 64. Walk Through a Lava Tube 65. Hear Hana’s Story 66. Go Beyond Hana 67. Stroll Through a Pandanus Forest 68. Laze by a Mountain Pool 69. Legend and Leisure 70. Follow the Path of the Ancients 71. Talk Story in Kipahulu
60. The Drive to Hana
Life is a journey, not a destination, and the same could be said of the road to Hana. With zigs and zags that travel over 56 one
lane bridges and snake around more than 617 hairpin curves, this scenic drive truly is a heart-pumping adventure that’ll leave you breathless with anticipation for what lays around the next turn. But in order to appreciate the natural beauty of all you’ll encounter along the way, it’s best to take things nice and slow. Among the unwritten rules for Hana are:
• Don’t be in a hurry, or you’ll miss the panoramic beauty
that distracts and delights from both sides of the road.
• Switch drivers halfway through the route so each person
can appreciate the stunning vistas.
• Don’t expect a big payoff once arriving in sleepy Hana (unless you’re treating yourself to a luxury stay at the new
Travaasa Hana)— it’s a tiny cattle town with merely a general store, gas station and post office.
Although the Hana Airport is only 53 miles from the Kahului Airport, the drive and its distractions can be an all-day event.
Get an early start. Pa‘ia is a good place to fill your gas tank and stock up on soft drinks and snacks.
The road to Hana is certainly a photo opportunity: waterfalls, tropical jungle, checker-board fields of green taro patches, black lava rocks rimmed with white foam lodged against
towering cliffs in an ocean of the bluest blue. Even at a vexing 15 mph, this is a drive that overwhelms the senses, tempting one to just pull off the highway and stare.
Enhance the drive with the Hana CD Guide. It provides narration coordinated with maps, a tropical flower guide, plus a photo beach guide and a Hawai‘i DVD. Available at the Shell
Service Station on Route 380, this guide is a great tool for your
drive to Hana, and makes a wonderful souvenir as well.
• Hana CD Guide www.hanacdguide.com
61. Hire a Driver for the Jaunt to Hana
Though the road to Hana can be negotiated by almost anyone in possession of a driver’s license, there are easier ways to get there. You can spend a few bucks and take a private tour in a limo; you can take in the view from reclining captain chairs in a
12-passenger van; or you can motor in and hele (go) out on a
combination limo/helicopter tour.
Some companies go to Hana and points beyond, then return the way they came via Hana Highway. Others go full circle,
returning to civilization around the backside.
Carey Town and Country Limousine offers private Hana road tours in its Limo-Trek. The day begins at 8 a.m. with a hotel
pick-up in either a new Lincoln Navigator or a stretch limousine.
After lunch, the tour continues beyond Hana to Tedeschi
Winery for free wine tastings. Carey Town and Country also offers a fly-drive package.
Navigating and showing off the wondrous sights along the
road to Hana is something that The Maui Touring Company specializes in. And, they do it in style. Starting with a morning
pick-up in a Cadillac Escalade, guests are then treated to a continental breakfast in a sunny Pa‘ia town coffee house.
Next, tour Ho‘okipa to witness surfers challenging the waves (and maybe see some green sea turtles). Then, it’s off on a Hana road trip adventure! Once in Hana, guests are then treated to a
gourmet lunch at the five-star hotel, Travaasa Hana. The Maui Touring Company then leaves Hana via the less-traveled “backside” of the road to Hana, making one last stop at Tedeschi
Winery, where guests can enjoy a free wine tasting before
heading back to Pa‘ia.
• Carey Town and Country Limousine (808) 572-1800 or (855) 572-1800
• The Maui Touring Company (808) 214-5804
62. Detour for Ke‘anae Peninsula
The Ke‘anae Peninsula is an isolated and wildly beautiful place where the surf pounds against jagged lava rocks that edge a gnarly coastline. Turn left on Hana Highway, a half-mile past mile marker 16. This is a detour that won’t disappoint and, as luck would have it, boasts public restrooms.
Ke`anae was almost destroyed in 1946 when a tsunami hit the area, killing 20 children and four teachers. The only structure left standing was the Ke‘anae Congregational Church, which remains today. The church, which dates to 1860, is the centerpiece of this predominately Hawaiian community, where taro fields and free-range livestock dot the landscape.
The Ke‘anae Landing Fruit Stand is a tempting stop for smoothies and banana bread.
Nearby Ke‘anae Arboretum is located in a tropical forest setting on leveled terraces built hundreds of years ago by Hawaiians for taro cultivation. A short, relatively flat asphalt walkway travels through the arboretum, but no guided walks or facilities are available.
To find the arboretum, take Highway 360, a little more than half a mile past mile marker 16. Parking is on the side of the road near the arboretum sign.
63. Take a Breather
As you approach the halfway-to-Hana point at mile marker 16, watch for a fruit and refreshment stand appropriately called “Halfway to Hana” and check out the banana bread, which is baked by the proprietor and comes with a glowing reputation. Another quick stop off the highway is the tiny village of
Nahiku, one of the wettest spots along the northern coast of East Maui and once the site of the Nahiku Rubber Company, a short-lived venture that went down the tubes in 1912. It seems the constantly wet weather made for poor conditions for crafting latex.
Today, Nahiku is best known for its coffee shop, smoked fish stand and a gallery. It’s located off Hana Highway on Nahiku Road between Wailua and Hana.
64. Walk Through a Lava Tube
Wannabe spelunkers, take note: Hawai`i is one of the world’s best places for lava tubes, and Hana boasts the largest one on Maui. Even better, you don’t even have to break any laws to get there—instead, Hana Lava Tube offers an affordable self-guided tour complete with a flashlight, hardhat and pitch-black cave. Walking the winding trails of this ancient subterranean
river of lava is fun, safe and easy. Liquid rock oozing under
cooled surface flows created the passages 1,000 years ago, which in turn cooled into myriads of beautiful stalactites,
stalagmites and flowstone. The temperature in the cave averages 60 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, and bats and mosquitoes are nowhere to be seen. A smooth cinder pathway through the cave makes it easy to navigate.
While there, visitors who have a little spare time or are afraid of the dark also can check out the Red Ti Botanical Garden
Maze, which also is on the property. Hana Lava Tube, located at 205 Ula‘ino Road in Hana, offers self-guided tours Monday through Sunday.
• Hana Lava Tube (808) 248-7308
65. Hear Hana’s Story
The Hana Cultural Center & Museum, developed by local residents to tell the story of this unique Hawaiian community, overlooks Hana Bay and is home to a traditional Hawaiian
village, a historic courthouse, an old jailhouse and a museum. The village presents an opportunity to glimpse Hana’s past and present. In the village, there are replicas of four traditional thatch structures, or hale (which sounds like “hall-eh”), as well as an ethnobotanical garden. The structures represent early Hawaiian life, with hale of living, meeting, cooking and canoe building/storage spaces.
The museum contains more than 560 artifacts, more than 600 books, a bottle collection and some 5,000 photographs from the Hana District. A gift shop offers a selection of greeting cards created by more than 120 local artists and photographers.
Built in 1871, the Old Historic Courthouse was refurbished in 1989 and is still used for county court. The Old
Historic Jailhouse, also built in 1871, was renovated in 1997. Located at 4974 Uakea Road near the turn-off to Hana Bay, the center is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Christmas and New Year’s Day.
66. Go Beyond Hana
Pi‘ilani Highway, just outside Hana, is a tight, mountainhugging road with blind turns, one-way bridges and heartstopping views from sheer cliff drops. The drive may be risky, but it’s worth the draw of Maui’s off-the-beaten-path wonders.
Watch for Wailua Falls, a 95-foot cascade located about 5 miles past mile marker 45 on Highway 31. Makahiku Falls (clocking in at 185 feet) is a half-mile hike up the Pipiwai Trail, which also takes hikers upstream along the Pools of ‘Ohe‘o and
ancient Hawaiian taro farm sites. Further along the way are several small settlements, including Kipahulu and Kaupo. Finally, you will pass the famous ‘Ulupalakua Ranch and Tedeschi Winery before arriving
back in “civilization.”
67. Stroll Through a Pandanus Forest
The 464-acre Kahanu Garden is situated in one of Hawai‘i’s last remaining native pandanus forests. A botanical and cultural research facility, the garden’s plant collection grows in the shade of an ancient Hawaiian temple.
Kahanu Garden boasts the world’s largest collection of ‘ulu (Hawaiian for “breadfruit”), with more than 120 varieties from 18 Pacific island groups, including Indonesia, the Philippines and Seychelles. It also features a Canoe Garden, which showcases 24 species of plants brought by ancient Polynesians on their ocean voyages to Hawai‘i.
Hale o Pi‘ilani Heiau, a lava-rock place of worship built between the 13th and 16th century, is a notable historic
attraction on the premises. Kahanu Garden is located off Hana Highway on ‘Ula‘ino Road. Guided tours are available between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
on Saturdays; self-guided tours are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Call (808) 248-8912 for reservations.
68. Laze by a Mountain Pool
Hawaiian legend has it that giant mo‘o (lizards) live in
mountain pools. Before going for a swim, make an offering to the resident mo‘o by dropping a flower or small tree branch into the water. Ask his permission to enter, and see if the flower disappears. If it does, skip the swim—the mo‘o is warning you to stay away. Heed the legend when swimming at the pools of ‘Ohe‘o
Gulch, located off Route 31 about 10 miles past Hana. But more importantly, heed any signs that may be posted around the pools.
Warning: There are no lifeguards on duty, and the waters can be dangerous. When in doubt, skip a dip in the pools and admire from dry land.
Though regularly referred to as the Seven Sacred Pools, there are actually more than 20 pools carved from volcanic rock and fed by ‘Ohe‘o Stream. The chain of pools is connected by
picturesque waterfalls and short cascades.
69. Legend and Leisure
Take in a day at a beautiful state park just outside of Hana. Meaning “glistening waters” in Hawaiian, this spot features a natural stone arch, a blowhole and hiking along two sections of the old King’s Highway.
A freshwater pool located in a cave within the park is the subject of a tragic Hawaiian legend, the place where beautiful princess Popo‘alaea fled to hide from her cruel husband. While searching for her, his men saw her reflection in the pool. Popo‘alaea’s husband dove into the pool, entered the cave and killed the princess. To this day, the pool’s water is said to turn red on the anniversary of her death.
Permits are required for camping in Wai‘anapanapa. For more information, contact the Hawai‘i State Office Building, located at 54 S. High St. in Wailuku, by calling (808) 984-8100.
70. Follow the Path of the Ancients
You’ll get to know Kipahulu and its Native Hawaiians when you set off on a horseback ride with Maui Stables. Each tour begins with a traditional pule, or prayer, and native
chants are used as part of the tour narration. This unique ride leads through a land of place names that tell hidden stories of an ancient culture, sites, battlefields and mythological ancestors whose deeds were larger than life.
Kipahulu, just beyond Hana, is a wildly beautiful and ancient place where people still engage in traditional Hawaiian practices, and their life stories are written much the same as the tales of their ancestors.
Guided by the belief that a culture dies when it stops being practiced, these people, often at great hardship, hold close their relationship with nature, taking seriously their role as caretakers of the ‘aina (land).
Maui Stables is located 50 miles from major resort areas near the pools of ‘Ohe‘o Gulch. Call (808) 2487799 for directions.
71. Talk Story in Kipahulu
Located 30 minutes from Hana, Kipahulu is an isolated
community predominately populated by Native Hawaiians who continue to share the traditions of their forefathers.
To hear their stories, take a hike through the Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park. Native Hawaiian guides will tell tales of old Hawai‘i and stop at treasured cultural
sites like Kapahu Living Farm, where traditional taro patches have been restored to active production.
The hike is operated by Kipahulu ‘Ohana, a nonprofit organization that helps sustain the community’s lifestyle and provides work opportunities for residents.
Most Kipahulu families’ genealogies extend back hundreds of years. Guides will share that history in the most authentic of ways—with personal knowledge.
In cooperation with the National Park Service, Kipahulu ‘Ohana created a program to demonstrate how traditional Hawaiians once lived on the ‘aina (land) and how they have adapted and evolved on it today. The 2-hour, 3-mile hike ($49/person) includes features like:
1. Ancient habitation areas where stone walls and house
sites are visible. 2. ‘Ohe‘o Bridge, with a scenic view of the famous Pools of ‘Ohe‘o. 3. Historic Kanalulu House, built in the 1920s and
restored in 2002. 4. Scenic overlook to the stunning 180-foot Makahiku Falls. 5. Remnants from the sugar cane industry. 6. Kapahu Living Farm, an ancient taro farm restored to
active production. 7. Sampling of traditional Hawaiian foods grown at the farm. 8. Ethnobotanical sharing about the plants seen along the route, including native (endemic) Hawaiian plants, “canoe plants” (Polynesian introduced) that are of special importance to Hawaiian culture, and exotic invasive plants.
A 3.5-hour hike ($79/person) is the same as the 2-hour trek, except it includes the Pipiwai Trail through bamboo forest to the 400-foot Waimoku Falls. For reservations, email tours@ kipahulu.org or call (808) 248-8558.