Making the most of our travel to Maui, the Valley Isle and the best island on earth according to the Conde Nast Travelers, we considered it mandatory to challenge the beautiful drive along the world-famous road to heavenly Hana. (When will you come to this place again?) This time it is more about the journey through valleys. beaches, bamboo and lush rainforests, waterfalls, landscapes, and cliffs than the final destination.
The famed Hana Highway (Hwy. 36) of 53 miles along the coast of Maui with no billboards and no signs along the way to indicate stops or points of interest twists and turns 617 times on very narrow two lanes often going down to one and passing over 56 picturesque aging one-lane bridges. So by necessity we take it slow; this is not a trip for tentative drivers or those prone to carsickness. (Note: Billboards are banned in Hawaii since 1927 thereby enhancing the attractiveness of the Aloha State. In addition to Hawaii, three other states in the U.S. prohibit billboard advertising – Vermont in 1966, Maine in the early 80’s and Alaska in 1998.)
We start our journey from the cool, laid-back town of Pa’ia with a full tank of gas early at 8:30 in the morning. (Avoid driving at night.) An old sugar mill town and now surrounded by sugar cane and pineapple fields, Pa’ia is known for its wide variety of art galleries and antique shops. Driving time is approximately 3 hours to Hana, much longer if you stop at the numerous sites along the way.
Just a few minutes east we experience Ho’okipa Beach Park, a mecca to windsurfing . Ho’okipa means “hospitality” in Hawaiian. Surfers have flocked to this white sand beach since the 1930’s due to its wind-blown waves breaking across a system of reefs across the bay and strong winds. If you are lucky you might see a Hawaiian green sea turtle near the reefs.
Next is Twin Falls, the first easily accessible string of waterfalls and pools on the road to Hana. We hike the short distance to the tropical waterfalls before refreshing ourselves with freshly squeezed sugarcane juice at a family-owned farm stand.
Back on the road we pass through the rural area of Haiku where we see banana patches, sugar canes, papaya and kukui nut trees, and avocadoes.
At Kaumahina State Wayside of exotic plants and forests we watch from the Kaumahina Lookout the beautiful scenic view of Maui’s north coast. A picture-perfect sight for an excellent photo opportunity!
A must-see stop is the Ke’anae arboretum and botanical garden of native Hawaiian flora and foliage Here you’ll see and admire rainbow eucalyptus, blue marble trees, fruit trees such as breadfruit, papaya and mountain apple.
“Halfway to Hana” has become a local landmark on the famous road. Home of “The Original” banana
bread, it offers fresh fruits aside from the famed banana bread, ice cream and shave ice.
We are only half on our journey. Now we’re approaching Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside.