Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Road to Hana

"Well, there's the Hana Ranch restaurant and the hospital cafeteria. Um...that's about it." Our condo in Hana on the island of Maui wasn't ready yet so I asked the front desk employee where we could grab some lunch until we checked in. And this was her answer. So you know that Hana is a small town. Really small. It has the highest percentage of native Hawaiians living here than any other town in the Hawaiian islands.And reaching it is the stuff legends are made of.





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!

24 comments:

  1. I've taken the Road to Hana on two different occasions. One where we made a round trip in one day, and the most recent where we stayed the night -- the latter begin so much more fun! Beautiful road trip, even when a bit congested, but you really hit a good time being there on New Years Day. Thanks for the virtual road trip -- enjoyed seeing your pics of the gorgeous sights along the way. Your condo looks nice, too!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! I really enjoyed our drive and am glad we stayed the night, too Beautiful part of the island!

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  2. That was lucky that you did the drive on New Years Day and I would choose to stay the nights and return the next day as well. Great photos of the bridge and waterfalls and that purple sunset is beautiful.

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    1. Thanks Jan - and thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I've yet to visit Hawaii, and never thought of it as a road trip kind-of-place. But this looks gorgeous.

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  4. What a lovely trip! I've only been to Maui once and wanted to drive the road to Hana, but somehow we ran out of time with so many other fabulous things to see and do. You've got me longing to book a trip back to Maui.

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    1. Me, too! It's on my 'go back" list! We stayed on the southwestern coast of the island and made it to Lahaina, Hana, and Makawao but never even made it north of Lahaina. Too much to do!

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  5. It looks beautiful...worth the trip

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    1. Definitely worth the trip! And thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Wow - Hana looks so beautiful. I haven't been to this part of Hawaii, but I'd sure like to go now :-)

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    1. Hope you get there someday - it's worth the trip!

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  7. This is one of my favorite places to go when we travel to Maui. There are so many beautiful spots on the road where you can stop and take great photos. I especially enjoy stopping at the Seven Sacred Pools. Thanks for joining us for #TheWeeklyPostcard, Jill.

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  8. We've been to Maui a couple of times and have yet to take the road to Hana. You make me think that next time we must.

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    1. I definitely think it's worth a visit - and the journey is the visit as Hana is very small. Beautiful scenery, as in all of Maui!

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  9. Thanks for sharing your experience. We never made it out to Hana when we got married in Maui many years ago!

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    1. A wedding Maui - beautiful! When we were there, a wedding ceremony took place on the beach right outside our hotel room. We were the only guests!

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  10. How beautiful. I haven't been to Hawaii in years....years! I need to go explore some of the smaller islands!

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    1. Thanks! I'm so wanting to go back! This time I want to do The Big Island as I've never explored that one. Working on a plan! Thanks for visiting!

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  11. What a coincidence. When we drove out to Hana, we also spent the night at Hana Kai. It had a great black beach outside that we loved. We also cooked dinner in that convenient little kitchen since I had read that restaurants were scarce there. Your photos and story have brought back many happy memories.

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    1. Small world! We stayed at the Hana Kai on the recommendation of a friend who had also spent the night in Hana - and I'm so glad they told us about it. Spending the night made it a leisurely, instead of, rushed trip. Thanks for visiting!

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  12. We did the road trip to Hana in a small bus tour. What was good about that was #1) we didn't have to drive and it wasn't New Year's Day, so there was traffic and #2) we were able to continue on beyond Hana on a road that most rental car companies won't let people go on, so we did an all day loop rather than have to return on the same road we drove in on. I'm with you. We're planning to return to Maui in February 2016 (our last visit was as a cruise port stop), but like you, we probably won't sign up for the Road to Hana ride again. I bet we can find a Tshirt elsewhere on the island. ;-)

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    1. I love the small bus tour idea - and I never even thought about looking into that. My husband wanted to go on beyond Hana on the gravel road but luckily we were running out of time as we had a rental car and I wasn't willing to risk taking the car on that road. If you find that t-shirt let me know so I can get one! Thanks for visiting!

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