Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Maui - road to Hana

More than 600 hairpin turns, 54 mostly one-lane bridges, lush tropical forest, numerous waterfalls, stunning landscapes - all that on the 37-mile-long road to Hana, by many called "heavenly Hana". Even if you know in advance that you should expect a narrow, extremely curvy road (600 turns per 37 miles per 2h = 18 turns per mile, 5 turns per minute), still, once you actually start driving there, you find yourself in disbelieve that a such road exists. I was the lucky driver in our party and I enjoyed driving on the road to Hana more than you can imagine. Driving there felt more like playing a computer game rather than driving a real car!

Our hotel was located near Lahaina (on the western side of Maui), which is only 71 miles (but around 3-4h according to all guidebooks) away from Hana. Therefore, we decided to start heading in direction of Hana at 4 am, so that we could get there before sunrise and all the other tourists. In that way, we figured, we would be out of sync with the crowds, and we would have the beautiful Hana road only for ourselves both on the way there and back.

Let me start with saying how impressed I was by my parents, who were amazing enough to wake up at 3:30 am and be ready to leave the hotel room by 4 am. All that without uttering a word of complaint.

Second, if you ever happen to be planning to drive to Hana, I would strongly recommend that you start as early as we did. Even in a retrospect, I think it was a very smart idea to start driving so early. There was basically no traffic anywhere, and thanks to that, our trip to Hana took half the time it would normally take.

A few minutes after sunrise we stopped at Honokalani Black Sand Beach (aka Black Beach) where we had a well-deserved breakfast. Afterwards we went for a short hike along the coast that I described in a separate post. From there we drove to Oheo Gulch, which is located a few miles past the city of Hana. Surprisingly, the road leading there is even narrower, more windy, and in general in worse condition than the road leading to Hana! I think my father was close to a heart attack several times as we were approaching some of its narrow blind turns located too close to the cliff as for his taste...

On the way back from Oheo Gulch we stopped for a moment in Hana. There is really not much to see in this city. I guess the only highlight of Hana is its unique red beach (see photos below). But as all guide books tell you: the road to Hana is all about the journey, not so much about the destination... Part of our journey was stopping at the Lava Tube Cave (see this post) and several beautiful waterfalls that you can see on the photos below.

One of many waterfalls:

Tropical forest:

A tree with strange root-branches:

Red lava beach:

My happy parents:

Young bananas!

Yet another waterfall:

It is easy to give flowers to a woman if there are so many of them growing around you...

Lava coast: