A Journey In Time
Maui’s most famous road, Hana Highway, is a winding stretch of a road that runs along Maui’s northeastern coast. The road is technically a two-lane highway that is a 52 mile trek from Kahului to Hana. I always tell my clients to plan a traveling time of three hours as the winding roads can cause car sickness. Along the highway are many accessible fresh water ponds and beautiful waterfalls to cool off in.
Swimming in the sacred watering holes is not only an experience but a privilege. Ancient native Hawaiians had immensely strong connections to their aina (land) and believed that it must be treated with the utmost respect. Due to the traveling time and the narrow roads, Hana remains not easily accessible. In other words, Hana is one of the very few places on the island that remain untouched by the rapid development on Maui.
The Sights Along the Way
Although 52 miles does not seem like much, but on Hana Highway 52 miles seems like 500 miles. So with that in mind, the simple day trip to Hana is about the journey and not the destination. I recommend splitting the up the drive into small sections with a few different stops planned for the trip out and the ride back.
Below are just some of my recommendations of stops along the way. For those who prefer to not drive the road but would still like to experience the magic of Hana, there are other options. I recommend two companies that offer tours on their buses with a paid driver/road guide: Roadtohana.com and Valley Isle Excursions.
Jaws AKA: Peahi
If it’s winter, you are in for a treat. Jaws is famed for their winter swells where the waves can reach upwards of sixty feet. Just off Pauwela Point is the famous surf spot known as as Jaws (because the waves will chew you up), where expert tow-in surfers (who use jet skis to pull them into the wa) can perfect their craft.
Also note that after the paved road ends, the dirt road shifts private property (Maui Land & Pine), so you may have to hike in about a mile and a half to get close to the ocean. Practice aloha, do not park in the pineapple fields, and do not pick or even touch the pineapples. Be very careful along the oceanside cliffs.
Twin Falls are the first waterfalls on the Road to Hana. Several trails lead to these falls (which actually number more than two). These falls are not as spectacular as some of the other falls along the Road to Hana but, if you have the time and it is not raining, they are worth the stop.
Koolau Forest Reserve
After Huelo, the everyday Haiku vegetation seems to turn to jungle, as if Mother Nature herself poured Miracle-Gro on the tropical landscape. This transition point is the outermost edge of the Koolau Forest Reserve.
Koolau means “windward,” and the eastern shores are the greatest example of a lush windward side of the island: The coastline here gets about 60 to 80 inches of rain a year, as well as runoff from the 200 to 300 inches that falls from farther up the mountain. You’ll see trees laden with guavas, as well as mangoes, java plums, and avocados the size of softballs. The spiny, long-leafed plants are hala trees, which the Hawaiians used for weaving baskets, mats, and even canoe sails.
A little ways past mile marker 10 is the Garden of Eden Arboretum and Botanical Garden, a lush 25-acre (10-hectare) plot of land famous for its exploits as the opening sequence of the film Jurassic Park.
Unique aspects include native and indigenous Hawaiian plant species—they boats an amazing collection of Ti plants. They also house exotic flora from many tropical rain forests and the islands in the Pacific. Kids will most definitely enjoy the ducks, chicken, and geese that roam the landscape.
Long considered one of the most gorgeous resorts in the island chain, Travaasa Hana (formerly known as Hotel Hana Maui) has kicked it up another notch. In fact, it was even voted the “No. 1 Resort in Hawaii” in Condé Nast Traveler‘s 2011 Reader’s Choice Awards.
Located in the town of Hana on the eastern tip of Maui, Travaasa Hana is the first resort on the island to greet the rising sun. Set amid rolling grass fields and palm trees above Kaihalulu Bay, Travaasa Hana will immerse you in the real Hawaii.
Contact a local Expert
I’ve traveled to many beautiful parts of the world, and Hana Maui is on the top of my list. This is one epic place on Maui! Please contact me if you’re looking for any further recommendations on places to stop on the way, or places to eat in Hana town.
Anthony Sayles R(S)