The Hana Highway is a 52 mile road that encompasses Hawaii Routes 36 and 360 in the northern portion of the island of Maui. It has 46 one lane bridges and approximately 620 curves - though I didn't count. It's a badge of honor for tourists who come to the islands to say "I survived the Road to Hana" and you can even buy the t-shirt. Most people drive it making a few stops and then turn around and go back the same day. But we didn't. Come along as we drive the Road to Hana.
We drove the Hana Highway on New Years Day. Good decision. It was the only time I've driven it but from what I hear it can get quite congested - especially with all those one lane bridges. We were practically the only car on the road all day until we got to Hana. It was leisurely, and beautiful, and we had lots of time to pull off and stop to see what we wanted to see. Including the famous rainbow eucalyptus trees of Maui.
If you consider the road starting at Paia Town, the first stop is at Ho'okipa Lookout, at Mile Marker 9, which is famous for being one of the best surfing spots in Maui. Some of the best waves are in the winter and you can sit on the beach watching surfers here.
Our first stop was at Mile Marker 12 at Kaumahina State Park. It's a beautiful wayside park with awesome views of the Hana Coast. Also, it helpfully offers bathrooms.
We next stopped at the Wailua Valley State Wayside. The people here grow taro, bananas and yams and you can look down at all the farming fields. Great views. And a great place to have a picnic though there is not room for many cars here.
At Miler Marker 32 is a black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park. There is a loop trail to take you down to some sea caves and you are allowed to camp here with a permit that must be obtained in advance.
One of the highlights of the Road to Hana is Kipahulu in Haleakala National Park. This portion of the park includes Oheo Gulch, or the Seven Sacred Pools You must pay a National Park fee to enter. The day we were there was very rough surf so there was no swimming allowed. We walked down to the ocean for the gorgeous, windswept views. Don't miss this spot - at Mile Marker 42 - if you drive the Hana Highway.
I would be remiss if I didn't let you know about the snack stands all along the road. Since we were there on New Years Day there weren't many open - I think I only saw one. But there are stands selling fresh fruit, banana bread, smoothies and shave ice. Bring your appetite and support the locals plus quench your thirst and hunger. And beware - there are no restaurants or gas stations!
We made it to Hana Town and went to the Hana Kai Condominiums where we had booked our condo for the night. If you decide to spend the night in Hana, book your lodging as soon as you know you are staying as lodging is extremely limited. While we were waiting on our condo to be ready, we chose the Hana Ranch restaurant for lunch on their outside patio.
The greenery of Hana and the cross dedicated to Paul Fagan, the man who established cattle ranching in Hana and started the only hotel here, which is now Travaasa Hana.
After eating, we decided to try to find Charles Lindbergh's grave. The first man to fly across the Atlantic had so much fame and notoreity in his life that he retired to Hana to live in solitude. When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he lived out his final days here and is buried at Palapala Ho'omao Church. You can go visit his grave but it isn't easy to find. Located at Miler Marker 41, look for the stables to turn in to see it.
Our condo at Hana Kai was a studio with a full kitchen. There was a balcony with a slight view of the ocean - and a black sand beach right behind the condo complex. It was perfect for what we needed and I'm really glad that we chose to stay the night. We cooked dinner in - and enjoyed our balcony for the evening.
Our drive back the next day was uneventful but still as beautiful. I'm really glad that we survived the Road to Hana. I'm not sure I feel the need to do it again - but if the opportunity arose, I just might. Besides, I didn't buy the t-shirt and I maybe I need to buy one!
There is a Road to Hana CD that you can purchase to give you all the highlights along with maps you can download or purchase. We were fortunate that our friends gave us the CD to use. It was interesting and helpful giving you info about each mile marker. I highly recommend having some sort of guide for the road.
I'm linking up with Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes & Beyond, Friday Postcards at Walking On Travels, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner!