One of the most unforgettable journeys of our life is the incredible drive along the world famous road to Hana in the eastern coast of Maui, the “Valley Isle” of the Hawaiian archipelago. It is certainly an ultimate epic eco-adventure!
Travelling through Highway 36 our first stop after the “Halfway to Hana” is at the Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park, a rainforest with a 15 to 20 feet waterfall and fresh water pools.
Back on the road we’re heading to Wai’anapanapa (meaning “glistening water”), a beautiful park that encompasses a picture-perfect black-sand beach posing a stark contrast to the blue ocean waves, dramatic sea arches and freshwater-underwater caves, lava tubes and blowholes shooting water into the air. The state park also offers stunning panoramic views of the rugged east Maui coastline. Here at the park are remnants of the first road built around the island, the old King`s Highway. The park is very unique because the tide pools in the park are known to turn bright red several times every year.
Local legend says that the water turn red for the blood of a certain princess known as Popoalea who was murdered by her husband in a nearby cave.
Next is the quaint Hana Town, famously regarded as Heavenly Hana! Full of old Hawaiian history the town in itself with more than twelve hundred friendly residents is very quiet, sleepy and rural. Attractions in Hana include the Hasegawa`s General Store, the oldest traditional Hawaiian-style and family-owned general store which is also a great place to grab snacks and souvenirs and the Hana Cultural Centre which features a museum and an ethnobotanical garden.
While most visitors on the road to Hana turns around and head back we drive past the town to explore further all the way around the pretty upcountry Maui where the car rental agencies don`t want you to go because the road on the backside of the island is partially unpaved, gets bumpier and windier, very narrow and steep at times. Signs counseled a safe speed of 15.
At the Kipahulu district along Hwy. 31 is the Oheò Gulch famous for the Pools of Oheò (aka Seven Sacred Pools) featuring cascading waterfalls and deep freshwater pools along a stream surrounded by rainforests and jungles of natural beauty.
Located about 8 miles south of Hana on a narrow road around mile marker of the highway is, to our surprise, the Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. grave located under the shade of a java plum tree behind a church. Lindbergh, Jr., the American aviator who made the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to Paris, died in 1974 after living his last days on the lush Hana coast.
We continue our long drive passing through empty sand and rock beaches, Kaupo Store in the middle of nowhere, and finally Tedeschi Winery in the beautiful upcountry area of Ulupalakua. Tedeschi Vineyard acclaims island vintages, especially their superb pineapple wine.
Just a few minutes north with a panoramic view of Mount Haleakala is the historic town of Keokea which was originally settled by Chinese immigrants. Chinese revolutionary hero and first president, Sun Yat-Sen lived here for a while in 1931 while working to found modern China.
By sunset we`re back to the Kaanapali Beach Resort Hotel.