The Road to Hana is a popular must-do attraction for many visitors to the island of Maui. Guidebooks and audio tapes are available with descriptions of places to visit along the way, pinpointed by mile markers. This is quite confusing as the mile markers start over three times along this 12 hour route. Some tourists display the ‘Aloha’ spirit and take their time crossing the 50+ narrow one-way bridges, and navigating the twists and turns. Others are in the rush-rush mode, making the trip to Hana memorable and challenging in numerous ways.
Most people stick to the paved highway route to Hana, starting in the small quaint town of Paia. On a separate visit to this town, I would suggest a good dinner at the Paia Fish Market and viewing the wonderful underwater photography of sea turtles and marine life at the Cesere Brothers Photography Gallery. Just outside this town I spent over an hour looking for the Rainbow Eucalyptus trees at mile marker 7.5. After driving up and down several side roads, giving up and continuing on, the highway markers started over, so I hoped a second 7.5 mile marker would soon be coming up. My research regarding this grove of rainbow eucalyptus trees said to respect the private property and do not climb over the fence….. Too late! The fence was mostly trampled to the ground, a muddy path was worn between the trees and tourists had carved their names in the bark of the beautiful trees. Look toward the bottom of the tree trunks in the photo below and the appearance is not as clean as it is higher up on the trunk. I’ll never understand what makes so many people behave so badly when viewing such beautiful sites.
In small towns gainful employment is often had by what I call ‘eking out a living’ by whatever means available. Along this Road to Hana, some residents sell beautiful tropical flowers or tropical fruits from their yards. Another person needed donations to help support the care and feeding of his many trained macaw parrots. He would take a photo of you with your camera with at least seven birds on your arms and head, for a $20 donation. In my case he charged just $10 to take some photos of the birds. These birds can live 75 years.
While rounding the many, many 140 degree turns, the vegetation can quickly change. Around the turn in the picture below the geometric patterns of the bamboo struck me as interesting.
There are a couple of botanical gardens along this route. This lush landscape is quite a change for someone who grew up in the arid Southwest. It is very likely you will eventually be rained upon ten or more times traveling to Hana, so the lush landscape makes sense. Just as in Ruidoso, New Mexico, the locals scoff or laugh at the tourists who stop and ogle at the deer crossing main street, I’m sure the locals shook their heads at me, setting up a tripod and taking a picture of the beautiful red flowers along the roadside, or paying $10 to go see more of these flowers they likely have growing in their back yard…. Can you spot the ant crawling on the flower below?
Have you ever heard the cry or screech of a peacock? It is multiple times more loud and jarring than any rooster. Worse, the call is not reserved for the morning. This particular peacock became very interested in his reflection in my rental car, pecking at it and strutting up and down the length of the car and chasing me as I drove off.
Another sought after site is the very remote Palapala Ho’omau Church near Kipahulu where Charles Lindbergh and his wife are buried. It is difficult to accurately convey the remoteness of this location where this American icon chose to live out the remainder of his life. I visited on two occasions and each time there were no more than two other people visiting. The 50+ bridges going to Hana apparently wear out most people well before this destination. Approaching this church in a counterclockwise direction requires negotiation of even sharper turns on a dirt road along steep cliffs. Either way you are several hours from the main population of Maui.
This back road to Hana is supposedly banned to all rental cars. I was comforted by the carefree attitude of the other rental car drivers who felt there was no GPS tracking on our vehicles and there should be no problem….. and there wasn’t.
By the way, I’m only able to recount the names of these churches and towns now with the help of the internet. Could the Hawaiians use any more vowels? I do not think so. I simply called this the “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” church after the nonsensical doo-wop song of the 60’s.
Near the “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” church is a second entrance to the Haleakala Volcanic National Park. No volcano is visible here, just several interesting sites along a four mile hike to an off-limits 400 foot waterfall by way of the Pipiwai Trail. If time permits, this is a highlight of many visitors to Maui. Just starting out on the hike I noticed an almost sickening sweet smell. Turns out the extra-large mango crop was now a bit over ripe and falling on the trail and rotting. Where they had not fallen, it was clear we were walking on what remained of last years crop, being smooth black seeds. A path of mango seeds! Who knew?
The first major site on the Pipiwai Trail is a huge banyan tree. Here too, tourists have defaced every inch of these majestic limbs with their all important initials, who loves who (or is it whom) and of course the dates….. This happens to be a stitch of nine photos combined.
There are several swimming holes along the way, full of young college kids and families. This will be an all-day adventure for them. Waterfalls dot the landscape leading to the next major change in the scenery, the bamboo forest. This provided me with many opportunities for abstract compositions while waiting for the other tourists to pass by.
I’m not sure this is a hike one returns to over and over, but it should certainly be on your list when visiting Maui.
Maui, Hawaii is one of the few spots in our travels where we were not ready to leave at the end of our scheduled stay.