The highway to Hana, Maui should be listed as another wonder of the world. Each day thousands traverse the narrow road that hugs the coast of southeast
Maui. It is a miracle that the over fifty one-lane
bridges, many of which are over a hundred years old, don’t collapse beneath the
steady stream of cars. Drivers are rubber necking to see the most beautiful
waterfall, and angling to find a pullout near unmarked trail heads to take a
closer look. Pesky locals press tourists trying to take in the beauty on the
unfamiliar curvaceous highway to go faster. That distracted drivers careening
around blind curves don’t plunge over the steep precipice into deep gulches to
an instant death is a mystery to me.
Chaos can be avoided if you do the highway my way. Make arrangements to spend at least two nights in Hana, rather than rushing in and out in one day to the Seven Sacred Pools aka O’hi’o Gulch. This gives you time to explore and make stops along the way. Fuel up at trendy Pa’ia, the gateway to Hana, where there are several good eateries. While you are there, stop at the Mana Food Store to pick up a few supplies for picnic lunches. Leave at about noon giving the rest of the travelers a head start.
Stop at the Garden of Eden about halfway into the drive. There you will find miles of manicured lanes winding through an incredible array of tropical plants shaded by the canopy of towering mango, banyan, and enormous fanning palms. Viewing platforms framed in luxuriant foliage overlook a vast blue expanse of the Pacific and stunning
. I strolled through the garden in
reflective solitude on a sunny day in January, peak season in the Puohokamoa Falls Islands. When you leave the Garden of Eden keep an eye
out for the trail head just past the eleven mile marker to the pool beneath where you can take
a dip. Upper Puohokamoa
I wanted to make this journey back to what is left of Old Hawaii to revisit a time when I was in formative stages. Seeing the lush tapestry of deep ravines cloaked in deep green and spiked with orange African tulips soothed my weary little soul way back then and still does today. I dropped out of society to live on the north
in 1978. I found
peace there listening to the patter of rain on the leaves, lull of the surf breaking
on the reef a half mile out, and waking to the chorus of birds. I remembered
taking long walks on lonely beaches and just being there. I hoped Hana would
allow me this once again. shore
There only a few places to stay in Hana: the exclusive Travassa Resort, a smattering of bed and breakfasts, or setting up camp at Wai’anapanapa-Black Sand Beach. The beach park is riddled with sacred sites, burial grounds, and caves that are easily accessed on a coastal trail that wraps the bay. Ferocious bearded monsters pummeling the black lava into sand make a dramatic show, but don’t make for safe swimming. I found an eco-lodge tucked in the
close to the beach park. The entrance to
Kahanu gardens, the site of the largest and one of the best preserved heiau (temple)
in the Hawaiian Islands was about a half mile from my rustic digs. You must
make reservations to tour this 15th century heiau that spans three
acres. Hana Botanical
I rose early and drove through sparkling, dew-laden meadows stopping to take in splendid
Wai-lua Falls along the way to .
I was eager to hike the Pipiwai Trail, a root and rock strewn path that traces
a death-defying gorge up to the Haleakala National Park , a 400-foot plunge
down a sheer rock face. A portion of the track took me though a towering
wind-whipped bamboo forest that felt like being inside a giant wind chime. By
the time I got back to park headquarters the tourist vans had arrived. I shared
the famous Seven Sacred Pools with other travelers from around the globe. Bracing,
sweet water spilling over rock ledges to form three large pools did not
disappoint. I swam in the second pool that is said to “free limitations.” Waimoku
The rest of day was spent lollygagging at a scalloped-shaped cove where gentle, turquoise waves curl onto a powdery sand shore.
by far the best swimming beach at this end of the world, is not to be missed Hamoa Beach
|Ka'ahumanu (Wai-nani ) as I see her|
Kauai is where I fell in love with the relaxed ways of the
Islands, the warmth of the people, and beauty without end.
That is where I met Captain James Cook, Kamehameha the Great, and his favorite
wife Ka’ahumanu who became the inspiration for my novel Wainani; A Voice from Old .
She was a royal whose mother hid in a cave here in water-rich Hana so that her
child would not be killed by her jealous ex-lover, the ferocious ruler of Hawai’i Maui. Hanalei on
the north , most recently
the backdrop for the film The Descendants,
was a sleepy, backwater when I was there. That is what Hana still is
today—remote, rugged, rainy, undisturbed, gorgeous, and inhabited by a few
lucky souls who want to keep it that way. shore
On the way back to civilization I enjoyed a diversion to the Ke’anae Peninsula. This road hugs a dramatic coastline and deposits you at a handy beach park. While sitting beneath a broad-leafed tree on a rock perch watching enormous swells cresting into foaming white against jutting lava, it became clear to me; the searing sunsets, the embrace of warm translucent waters, the endless azure skies, and the wind voices had spoken. My imagination was ignited once again by primal elements; earth, wind, fire and the ceaseless energy of sea as sure as these
Islands continue to be forged
by them today— and forever will be.
Take Maui Revealed by Andrew Doughty with you. It is an excellent guide to the
Hana Highway experience.
Hana Maui home page