Getting to Hana
The Road to Hana
Before you start your trip to Hana you need to know
what lies ahead…. The
road to Hana is windy. In a
stretch of about 25-30 miles you will go through over 50 one-lane
bridges and 600 turns. Years
ago this trip took about four hours to cover the 50 miles from Kahului
to Hana, with the majority of the time in the last 25-30 miles.
I understand the road has been improved somewhat and the journey
now is generally closer to three hours.
There are a number of options for the trip to Hana.
I will provide a brief overview of the top four: driving, van
tours, fly in and out, and day helicopter tours.
Driving to Hana - If you chose to drive to
be sure to leave early and plan a rather long day.
You may even consider getting a place to stay in Hana so you can
enjoy the area before having to travel the winding roads back out.
The main road in is highway 360 from Kahului to
Hana. If you are seeking a
change of scenery on the way out you can continue past Hana to circle
around Haleakala. The road
is not paved all the way around, and car rental companies do not
recommend driving there. With
this said, the road is usually travelable in a standard car.
Only during heavy rains can the unpaved road become problematic.
Before you start the round trip to Hana be sure to
start with a full tank and any food supplies you may want along the way.
There are a few stops near the start (like Paia), and some in
Hana; there is little in between.
Van Tours – There are a number of
companies offering van tours to Hana.
With this option you are freed from driving all day, get the
inside information and are assured of hitting the best stops, and can
travel in comfort. Some companies offer full packages with meals included.
It’s a lot of driving and long day, so be sure you are up for
the trip when you book. If
interest, here is a link to one activities site that books Van tours: http://adventuremaui.com/islandtours.htm.
Fly & Drive Hana Tour – The fly and
drive Hana tours are becoming more popular.
With these tours you take a helicopter flight across the island,
spend some time in Hana, then take a 3 ½ hour van tour back out along
the Hana highway. The
obvious advantage to this package is you will enjoy the helicopter
flight over Haleakala, have more time to spend in Hana, and enjoy all
the sites along the Hana highway that a drive provides without having to
retrace your path for hours of driving out.
Hana Helo tours – If time is a concern,
and money is not, you may consider a Hana helo tour that includes the
flight in and back out. While
this will get you to Hana without the drive, you will miss the sites
along the way. You can
for options on private helicopter tours.
Along the Way
If you are planning a day trip to Hana plan about
half of your time just for sightseeing along the way.
Hana is the endpoint, but many of the truly lush areas and large
waterfalls lie along the windy Hana highway.
Hookipa – Windsurfing
Near the start of your Hana trip you will pass
through the small town of Paia. This
is a good place to stop for any last minute supplies you may need for
the day ahead. A few miles
past Paia is Hookipa Beach park – a popular surf and windsurfing site.
If you are fortunate enough to be there when the winds are up you
will see some of the worlds best windsurfers throwing forward and
backward loops high above the waves.
Not far past Hookipa the road will begin to narrow
and wind along the coast.
Kaumahina State Wayside
This park is located about 28 miles from Kahului
along highway 360. There
are scenic views and places to take a lunch break.
This is a forested area with views along the coast.
About a mile prior to this park you will have
passed the Haipua`ena Falls and Pool; one of the first small waterfalls
along the way.
Puaa Kaa State Wayside
There are numerous waterfalls and scenic spots
along the Hana highway. Many
of these are just pull-outs along the road which justify a brief break
from the drive to take in the surroundings.
The next big park along the highway is Puaa Kaa
State Wayside located about 38 miles in (between mile markers 21 &
22). There is a spectacular
waterfall and pool.
Waianapanapa State Park
Waianapanapa State Park is 52 miles in as you
approach Hana. The park
offers picnic tables, camping, and day hikes along the lava flows.
Waianapanapa is a tropical area with lava flows
that extend into the ocean. The
erosion of the lava has created a nice black sand beach unique to the
island. There are also lava
caves that can be explored from the water (flashlight recommended).
On my trip to Hana I camped at Waianapanapa State
Park. Maximum stay is five
days, so when my time elapsed I packed my gear and moved to an open
camping area past the seven sacred pools.
This worked nicely for an extended stay, but ended abruptly when
a fierce storm pulled up my tent stakes and left me sleeping in inches
of water the remainder of the night.
After that I headed back to the drier side of the island….
If interested in camping, or staying in the park cabins, see: http://www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dsp/fees.html.
Life in Hana
Life in Hana is much different than other areas of
Maui, and for good reason. You
do not live three hours from main civilization unless getting away from
it all is one of your desires. While
thumbing a ride in Hana I was picked up by a father and son both with
Mohawk haircuts. When
asked, the father replied, “We had a bet… I lost”.
There are a limited number of stores and
restaurants in this area – just enough to cover the basic needs.
Hana is the rainy side of the island with over 100
inches of rain a year. While
spending time there I found this generally a pleasant rain and had more
than enough sunny days to spend along the coastal beaches.
Hana has an interesting diversity of beaches.
As previously mentioned there is the black sand beach of
is also a red-sand beach, and the standard beaches as well.
Hana’s red-sand beach is located a short walk
from the end of a road in town behind Ka'uiki Hill.
The red color comes from erosion of the cindercone.
The trail can be slippery and dangerous, so use caution when
hiking to the beach. The
water can be rough, but offers good snorkeling near shore on calmer
days. This is a clothing
The Hana beach park is a large beach near town.
While traveling this area I came across actor Chris Christoferson
and friends at this beach racing into the waves, being plummeted onto
the beach, and racing out again for more.
The Seven Sacred Pools (a.k.a. O'heo Gulch)
The seven pools are located about 10 miles past
Hana. The area provides
trails for hiking, and excellent scenery.
Normally the pools provide a nice place for a swim, but may be
dangerous during high rains. During
our last trip to the islands the pools were closed due to deaths caused
by flash floods at the pools.
The seven pools can be a busy place, and there is a
lot to see. If interested
in seriously hiking this area you need to start your trip to Hana
extremely early, or plan a night in Hana and hiking the following day.
If you are going to Maui for a tropical vacation,
the road to Hana is probably the place you envisioned.
Your day trip to Hana will provide you with a variety of tropical
scenery from waterfalls and isolated ponds, to lush rainforests, quite
beaches, and beautiful hikes. If
you are up for the drive, Hana will provide a memorable Maui excursion.
article is provided by Mr. Marc Elpel and SunsetMaui.com.
Mr Elpel has been an avid activity based traveler for years with
extrended travels to the Hawaiian Islands and south Pacific.
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