Friday, June 7, 2013

The Road to Hana (aka #HanaTrip): Highlights and Overview, Post 1 of 7

Hana to Maui is what Maui is to the rest of the world. 

Maui is an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 
Hana for Mauians is an oasis from the grind of Maui life. 

Incomprehensible to think that Maui is other than a perfect paradise. But even on Maui there are distractions and tasks: cell phones, to do lists, honey-do lists, family stuff, emails, internet troubles, meetings, termites, and that four letter word… W O R K. You didn’t think we sat at the beach all day?

Then there is Hana. Hana to me always feels like a breath of fresh air after being under a blanket of vog. In all fairness, Hana residents have work and families and demands on their time too. It’s not all wine and roses in Hana, or Hawaiian-style kava and plumeria. Still yet, how can I pass up a chance to go to Hana? As we say on Maui, “Thank God for Hana!”

There is Hana and then there is the road to Hana. Both are legendary. Sure, you can fly to Hana (easy peasy) or take a boat (difficult to arrange and I don’t know anyone who does this), but most people drive there. Some people may even bike the road to Hana, but…I hope they are well-insured.

A month ago, exactly today, I toured the road to Hana with some other Maui bloggers and social media peeps in a VIP style, air-conditioned bus operated by Valley Isle Excursions.

Full disclosure here: The tour was offered free by Valley Isle with the hope that we would provide good publicity and social media coverage. Travaasa Hana paid for our lunch there and gave us a tour of their resort for the same reason. BTW, Travaasa is not included with the standard Valley Isle Excursion Tour. Moreover, snacks and tips were included and we were given a free CD of the Road to Hana. This trip was arranged by Maui Information Guide and assisted by @erikblair. Moreover, a carrot was dangled in front of us: the best instagram photo of the Road to Hana, the one that most captured the essence of the Road to Hana, would win a  $50 gift card.  We were also encouraged to tweet using the hashtag #HanaTrip.

As the reader, you are asked to employ your powers of reasoning and realize there is some inherent bias here. Enough said.

I love Hana and the road to Hana so much that it’s really hard for me to do just one post on this excursion. I can’t do it. So this will be the first in a 7 part series. Some of the posts will be on my blog and a few will be posted as guest blogs. I will let you know where and when.

Hana - it looks closer than it really is. 
Why is the Road to Hana so legendary?

·        It’s windy and sinuous, full of sharp s-curves and old one-lane bridges. It's very narrow in many places.

·        It’s beautiful. Even on a cloudy or rainy day, it is still magical. There are unexpected panoramas and vistas. There are waterfalls along the side of the road, hiking trails and paths to explore, fruit stands to visit, quaint shacks and jungalows to gaze at, while passing by.

·        It invites you to slow down and enjoy the moment. The Road to Hana is not about getting to Hana, but about the journey. Although Hana is still pretty amazing too.

·        There is nothing like it on earth. I’m sure that there are other magical roads around the world, and I haven’t traveled everywhere, but this road is like a road that goes back in time, to a less developed Hawaii.  There is nothing like it on any of the islands. Yes, there are plenty of tourists on the road to Hana, but there are no golf courses, big resorts, strip malls or McDonald’s. There are no gas stations on the Road to Hana, so fuel up before you go!

Nothing like the excitement of driving the Road to Hana.
So glad I wasn't driving a bus full of distracting Social Media peeps.

Is the Road to Hana a must-do?
I am not crazy about the term “must-do” since it is usually someone else’s good idea. I love the Road to Hana and most people really enjoy it. But a few people don’t:

·        The road is very curvy, and some people can get motion sickness. If you are a sensitive person, you may want to be the driver and control the pace of the trip, go on a tour which I had to admit, was very comfortable and smooth, or not go at all.

·        It is an all day trip. Don’t go for a few hours and think you can do some other big activity on the same day.

·        If you don’t like scenery and nature, it may not be for you either. DH enjoys travel but is not a sightseeing kind of tourist. He could go on the Road to Hana once a decade and be perfectly fine. I could go almost every weekend.

Wailele Farms, better known as Twin Falls. Our smoothie stop.
@MauiMamala and @Maui Carmel pose in the bottom picture.

A few highlights of our Hana Trip, on the way to Hana:

Twin Falls – Gotta love the smoothie stand at Twin Falls. A converted school bus recycled into a fruit stand. Twin Falls aka Wailele Farms is operated by a group of Maui residents, healthy crunchy granola types I might add, since I know some of them. We didn’t actually hike to the falls this time, and yes, there are two waterfalls. The one on the right side (closer to Kahului) even has more waterfalls up top. I’m not sure about the left side. (FYI, this is not a usual stop on the normal Valley Isle itinerary, but a special add-on just for our trip.)

More pics of Twin Falls.

Ke’anae Peninsula – About halfway to Hana. A side road takes you down to the ocean, with more views and lava rocks. Aunty Sandy’s banana bread stand is here. On the other side is the Ke’anae Congregational Church.

Beautiful Ke'anae. Hard to resist buying banana bread from Aunty Sandy's. 
@RoxanneDarling posing in front of the sign.

Waterfalls and Ching’s Pond -  Every one-lane bridge offers an invitation to step out of the car, look over the bridge to see if the stream is running, and hike uphill to find a waterfall. Some streams are very full and others nearly dry.

A crazy Road to Hana Story:
Some tourists I met recently shared a story of going on the Road to Hana this spring during the drought. They stopped near one of the bridges and were so disappointed that there was no water flowing, that the driver cussed, “Where’s the f’’ing water?” and there was a big roar, and water started gushing into the dry stream bed. In a few minutes, it was completely full and he said he was so grateful that they weren’t along the stream bed when it happened. He said it was the most amazing experience to watch the stream bed fill up with water. I don’t know if this was an irrigation dam that was released, or what, but it’s definitely a strange incident.

One of the most well-known waterfalls is right on the side of the road, Waikani Falls aka “Three Bears Falls” because it usually makes three parallel waterfalls.

Hana style bridge, Waikani Falls to the right, Ching's Pond on the bottom.

Ching’s Pond is a popular swimming hole with very cold water. Some people jump into the water off the side of the bridge. 

Wai’anapanapa – This is a state park outside of Hana with exquisite black sand beaches, caves, and an air of mystery. I’ll be writing about this place in the next post in my 7-part Road to Hana series. Update: Post #2 is up! The Trek to Waia'napanapa AKA The Harrowing Story of One Hobbit's Journey...

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading!

P.S. Please feel free to check out some other posts by Maui bloggers who also went on the trip:


  1. Interesting content. Good font size for my android smartphone and good use of highlighted words and keywords. Takes time, but good habit, I tend to have a hard time with bolding and feel like I over do it sometimes. Nice though.

  2. Very detailed! Looking forward to the other 6 in this series! Aloha

  3. Thanks Jim and Erik, much appreciated. Jim, thanks for letting me know it's a good font.

  4. I love exploring places or roads like this, it's so much fun. I'm not much of a golfer or resort person so if I ever made it to Maui this is the kind of thing I would want to do. I'm curious to read the next post in the series.

  5. I think you would really enjoy it, as well as Haleakala Crater and some other nature spots.

  6. Hello Courtney, am going to Ty again to leave a comment! Your post is so beautiful with its story and photographs, I feel sure I will return to it again.

  7. Courtney, I have tried a few times to comment on your lovely post with no luck in so doing so I am trying another way just to see if this goes through...

  8. Lovely post Courtney thank you so much. When I received it a few days ago I could not send my comment on it, it was so frustrating, but now I seem to have solved it! Sorry about the other comments below. I look forward to next posts!

  9. Yes, I know how frustrating that can be! Mahalo for commenting. Let me know when the error happened and what platform/device you were using, if you have time. You can also tweet me @mauijungalow


Comments are important to me, so mahalo for adding a comment! I will try to follow up when I receive one.