Hana and Maui’s East Coast – December 2017
Every few years, we like to visit Hawaii. Recently, we returned to Maui. Since we have already been around the entire island and done pretty much everything we have wanted to do on the island, we focused on repeating many of the activities that we have enjoyed in the past plus a few additional fun-to-try activities.
We started our trip in Hana and the island’s wilder, less populated east coast.
We left for Hana directly from the Kahului Airport. Since our flight arrived about 12:30, we needed a bit of sustenance before the long, challenging drive. This called for a stop at Mama’s Fish House, an island institution that is located in a beautifully landscaped lot on a beautiful North Coast Bay (see the Maui Restaurant blog for an overview of our meal.)
Navigating the Hana Highway
The cliché about getting there being half the fun applies in spades to Hana. No wonder that people buy t-shirts that say they survived the road to Hana. The Hana Highway is a beautiful, 42-mile road that winds a tortuous path around a reputed 617 hairpin turns and over 56 one-lane bridges through vegetation-clogged, emerald green ravines, around roaring streams, past dozens of waterfalls and a few tiny, sleepy villages. And all this must be navigated while admiring the incredible scenery, watching for a peek at the next waterfall and avoiding oncoming traffic while travelling at what is for this road, the death-defying speed of about 25 miles per hour. Not a drive we would normally relish, but worth an occasional trip to the quiet side of this tourist-packed island.
Although the road has a number of stretches where there is no room to pull over and admire the scenery, we did find several stops to enjoy the views and commune with the abundant nature. These included:
- Twin Falls. Two, roughly 20-foot waterfalls followed by another, about a quarter mile up a gentle trail, to another faster, higher-volume, two-step falls and a swimming hole. The trail also skirted a pretty, small, bamboo grove.
- Waikamoi Ridge. While we did see a small, non-descript waterfall, we took a short hike up a muddy, barely-maintained trial with the hope of seeing the star attraction, a a 70-foot falls that is typically only visible after a rainfall. Alas, no rain and no falls.
- Keanae Peninsula. The coastline of this fishing village, a short drive off the Highway, is is lined with sharply-eroded black lava rocks that are continually buffeted by the north shore’s large waves. This makes this stretch one of the most ruggedly beautiful of the island’s coasts.
- Puaa kaa. A pretty, roughly 30-foot waterfall that falls into a pretty pond. A steep, muddy trail is supposed to take you up to a larger upstream falls. Although time-constraints kept us from getting to this falls, another short walk took us to a steep falls on the other side of the road and a particularly lovely view of the 30-foot falls, visible above a small dam that had two small rivulets streaming down its face.
- Waianapanapa. This lovely state park, a couple miles before “downtown Hana” is blessed with all manners of coastal scenery. The shoreline and surrounding cliffs consist primarily of jagged, black lava rocks that are being continually beaten by pounding surf. One stand of rocks has been eroded into a sea arch, a few into black pebble and sand beaches, a number into narrow coves and at least one blowhole. And that isn’t even to mention the lava tube that ends in its own, small black sand beach. The black lava continues up the cliffsides to form spectacular viewpoints and a large lave field that is broken up by large patches of bright, almost fluorescent-looking green plants and shrubs. A lovely park in which it is easy to spend hours.
The Highway is also home to a couple of arboretums and tropical gardens which we had visited on previous trips, but not on this one.