A January 2003 trip
to Hana by lcampbell
Quote: In Hana, the overdevelopment and crowds of West Maui are left behind, and peace and serenity overcome. Small and quaint, Hana will charm you. Beaches of black, red, and golden sand dot the scenic coast, while botanic gardens, hiking trails, and waterfalls abound inland. Hana really is heavenly!
Most people come to Hana as part of a day trip, a road trip on the famous Hana highway. They drive for many hours, making many stops along the way, then take a quick look around Hana before either heading back to West Maui or onward to Kipahulu. The ONLY way to truly experience Hana is to spend the night. Better yet, many nights. As the day-trippers leave, calm and peace dominate. Quiet solitude fills the air. The starry sky will amaze you and the ocean will whisper in your ear.
My favorite activities in Hana include swimming and boogie boarding almost daily at Hamoa Beach, hiking the King’s Highway Coastal Trail, Waianapanapa State Park, and hiking at Kipahulu. Kahanu Gardens and Hana Cultural Center are worthwhile and must see activities in my book.
If a local person offers you some extra attention, definitely be flattered! If they offer you food, eat it. If you have food to share, share it. That is how it works all over Hawaii – generosity is a priority.
Hana residents often save the "shaka" greeting only for other locals (they can spot a rental car a mile away!), but if they give you this hand signal (thumb and pinky out, middle three fingers in, palm facing the shaka giver, not the receiver), you can be ultra cool and return it!
A large percentage of the population in Hana is of native Hawaiian ancestry, making it one of the most "Hawaiian" towns on Maui.
Find Hana information at this website and Maui information at this one.
Check out my other Hana journals: Hana Practicalities and Where to get wet in Hana for the complete Hana experience.
If you want to fly to Hana, the only commercial airline to service the VERY small airport is Pacific Wings. Dollar is the only company that has rental vehicles in Hana. They have a limited number of vehicles, so call early.
If you are staying at the Hotel Hana-Maui, they have a shuttle that will pick you up at the airport or take you to see the local sights. Most of Hana is accessible by foot, and hitchhiking is legal on Maui (and usually easy to do).
If you only have a day to see Hana and want to sit back and let someone else do the driving, there are numerous companies that offer day trips from West Maui by van. Some even combine their ground tours with a helicopter tour that leaves from Hana airport. I know that Polynesian and Temptation do day trips to Hana.
I have seen a number of lava tubes in other places, so I was surprised when I actually learned a few things. Plus, Chuck was so enthusiastic it was hard not to get excited about what he was showing us. Chuck said that the lava in his cave (he owns the whole darn thing) flowed 1000 year ago for about 2 years at around 1200 degrees F. Because lava flowed through for such a long period of time, the walls are very thick (20-70 feet) and the tube is very large.
Chuck spent 9 years exploring the cave and removing 17,000 lbs of cow bones (dumped after slaughter) before starting to give tours. Recently he spent 2 years removing a pile of rocks that were placed in a vent (hole to ground level) in order to make a part of the cave into a fallout shelter. He thought the project would take a month, but he spent the 2 years working on it because he had a feeling there was more cave behind the "wall" of stone. He was right! He found another 1.5 miles of lava tube, making his about 2 miles long and the 18th largest in the world. And the new section that he uncovered was filled with a lot of unique and rare features such as gold bacteria, "chocolate" flow, lava waterfalls, lava pearls.
In addition to the tube itself, there are also numerous side rooms, one just discovered by Chuck 3 weeks before my tour.
I thought it was really interesting that the cave is exactly how is was 1000 years ago. Any pieces that fell off ceiling happened 1000 years ago, upon cooling when shrinkage cracks formed in the tube walls. Also, there were six separate flows, seen in layers in some spots of the cave.
The prices of the cave tours include all needed equipment. Please wear tennis shoes or similar footwear (no sandals) and long sleeves and pants for the adventure tour. Reservations are recommended, especially during the summer.
The walking tour is just that, a walking tour. There is no crawling or climbing. It is great for all ages. Chuck could sense my adventurous spirit, and let me crawl through a small hole to a little room. He said that if I wanted to return for the adventure tour, he would subtract the price that I just paid for the walking tour from the price of the longer tour, so make sure to ask him if you want to play some more in the cave.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 10, 2003
Po Box 40/ula'ino Road
Hana, Hawaii 96713
There are basically two main components of the garden: the plants and Hale O Pi’ilani Heiau.
Kahanu Garden has a high quality collection of native and introduced plants. The focus of the garden is on the ethnobotanical aspects of the plants. The extensive brochure for the self-guided walk explains in depth the relationship between the Hawaiian people and the plants they used. The first plant display that you will notice before even entering the garden is the Ulu(breadfruit) grove. This is a stand of over 200 trees(123 varieties). The breadfruit was a staple food, and is still eaten today.
Other food-providing plants at the garden are Mai’a(banana), Ko(sugarcane), Kalo(taro), Niu(coconut), Ohi’a ‘Ai(mountain apple), and Uala(sweet potato). Awa(kava) and Noni were primarily medicinal plants, as well as the Ohi’a ‘Ai. The Ipu(bottle gourd) was used as containers. Hala leaves were weaved into mats, baskets, thatching, etc. Wauke(paper mulberry) was used primarily to make kapa, or barkcloth. Kapa-making is an ancient art – more can be learned about it at the Hana Cultural Center, and kapa paper can be purchased there as well. Almost all parts of the Kukui(candlenut) tree were used in various ways: fishing, lighting, eating, construction, dye, and for medicine.
The second significant feature of Kahanu Garden is Hale O Pi’ilani Heiau. "Heiau" is the Hawaiian word for sacred spot, and Pi’ilani Heiau is believed to be the largest remaining ancient structure in Hawaii. Archeologists estimate is to be about 500 years old and think that it took about 128,000 man-days to complete. It is 3.8 acres in size and 50 feet tall! Chief Pi’ilani commissioned the building of the heiau and it is named after him. It is strategically located to spot canoes in the ocean many miles away. Visitors are NOT allowed to climb on the heiau – it is a sacred cultural spot and should be respected as such. It is also designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Make sure to stop at Hale Ho’okipa (the welcoming house), a traditionally-built structure overlooking Honomaele Bay. This is a perfect spot to eat a picnic lunch if you brought one. There is also a display describing the restoration of Hale O Pi’ilani Heiau.
The $10 entrance fee (12 years and under are free) is a bargain. Kahanu Garden and Hana Cultural Center are a great cultural and historical tour combination.
Hours: Mon-Wed-Fri, 10am-2pm.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 10, 2003
Kahanu Gardens and Pi’ilanihale Heiau
PO Box 95 / Ula'ino Road
The King’s Highway Coastal Trail, or Pi’ilani trail, is part of an ancient trail that encircled the island of Maui, connecting villages and heiaus (sacred spots). The trail was commissioned by King Pi’ilani, a 14th century chief of East Maui/Hana district who conquered the rest of the territories on Maui and united Maui under his rule. Only one other section of the original trail remains, and that is the Hoapili Trail near Kihei. The original trail was "paved" with smooth rounded lava stepping stones, many of which are still in place today.
From Waianapanapa State Park, the trail goes approximately 1 mile northwest (ending at approximately the Hana airport) and also to the southeast approximately 3 miles (ending about 1 mile from Hana Bay). To hike the northwest segment, go down to the black sand beach at Waianapanapa and cross to the far side. The trail goes up onto the cliff edge and follows along the scenic coast. The black lava rock (a’a) provided a sharp contrast for both the bright green hala and naupaka plants on the cliffs, as well as the intense blue of the ocean crashing against the cliffs. The color combination was incredible.
The southeast segment of the trail is similar to the northwest segment, but with lots of added features! It starts in front of the Waianapanapa picnic area and heads toward town. It is great to hike all the way to Hana Bay (4 miles total) if you can arrange your transportation accordingly.
About ¼ mile along the trail, there are some tidepools that are always fun to look in. At ¾ mile, you will find an ancient heiau. Heiaus were built for a variety of reasons - spiritual shrines, fishing shrines, or even human sacrifice. The purpose of this heiau is unknown.
After the heiau you will pass a fishing shack perched near the cliff edge. After the fishing shack, the trail is a bit harder to follow (but not too bad) and you will likely start to feel the effects of the intense heat reflecting off the black rock. That, and distinct lack of shade, will leave you hoping you brought enough water and sunscreen.
The trail ends at a large rocky "beach". This is the turn around spot. Otherwise, you can get to Hana Bay by following a road that starts about 100 feet from where you come out on the beach. Always stay left at road junctions and you will eventually get to Hana Bay, a great place to cool off with a swim, use the restroom, and grab a snack at Tutu’s hamburger stand.
King's Highway Coastal Trail
Waianapanapa State Park
The main building of the HCC contains various displays related to the history of Hana. There is one area dedicated to the history of quilting in Hawaii. It seems quilting was brought by missionaries and taught to the Hawaiian women, who logically thought is was silly to waste cloth by cutting it apart and then sewing it back together. And they didn’t understand the need for blankets in the warmth of Hawaii either. Smart ladies. But nevertheless, quilting became a part of life in Hana, but with quilt patterns unique to Hawaii such as a graphic representation of ulu, or breadfruit, a staple in the traditional Hawaiian diet. There is an incredibly beautiful quilt on display at the HCC which took one local woman 10 years to make.
Other displays included artifacts found in the Hana area that were related to fishing and daily life. There were implements to make kapa (bark paper), to process taro root, another food staple, and old canoe paddles, fish hooks, and octopus baits. The were old stone carved bowls that were used as lights, with oil from kukui nuts for lamp fuel. One of my favorite displays was blown up photographs of Hana residents from 30 years ago. The volunteer working at the HCC called it "rainbow of faces" and said that most of them still live in Hana.
The gift shop had many interesting items, including woven bags, paintings on kapa, quilt squares, books, and many other items, many made by local artists and crafters.
Next to the main HCC building is the old police station and courthouse building. It is still used to hold court once per month.
Finally, my favorite part of the visit was walking around the traditional hales (houses) which had interpretive signs and were surrounded by plants that were (and still are) used as food, medicine, and for spiritual ceremonies. Hales are open walled buildings with roofs thatched of pili grass or ti leaves. Hale building is a special art that is making a comeback, with a possibility for building codes to be changed to include them as a choice in modern homebuilding.
The HCC has examples of a cooking hale, a canoe building hale, a men’s sleeping hale, and an all-purpose hale. Before European contact, it was customary when building a hale that a human sacrifice was buried under the center post in order to bring spiritual power to the hale. Normally, a favorite male cousin was chosen for the sacrifice. Some of the plants found around the hales included aloe, kukui, ti, banana, coconut, taro, ulu (breadfruit), and papaya.
Hana Cultural Center
Hana, Hawaii 96713
There are two trails that leave from the Kipahulu Ranger Station.
The shorter hike, which is on the ocean side of the road, is the Kuloa Point Trail. The trail itself only takes 20 minutes to walk, but prepare to spend some time in your swimming suit! Deep freshwater pools with splashing waterfalls and an ocean view make for the ideal Hawaii experience. Just be sure to go early to avoid the crowds.
The Pipiwai Trail is 2 miles long (4 miles round trip). It starts on the ocean side of the highway, at the Ranger Station, but crosses to the north side of the road and continues uphill along Oheo Gulch. About ½ mile along the trail is Makahiku Falls. This is a tremendously scenic area of basalt cliffs.
In the next stretch of trail, my husband and I found a still backwater section of the river with a cave across the water. We did not go down and over to explore, but this might be something for an adventurous type to check out!
About 1 mile into the hike, near some sturdy wooden bridges, starts my favorite part of the hike – The Bamboo Forest. The absolute BEST experience is to sit in the bamboo and close your eyes. It is so loud! Look up, and the tall skinny bamboo stalks sway and pop in even the slightest breeze. The boardwalk going through the bamboo forest was also very impressive.
After the bamboo forest is grand finale. 400-foot Waimoku Falls drops down a sheer vertical cliff. Due to the frequent rockfall in the area, I do not recommend swimming in this pool. For those really wanting to swim, my guidebook recommends hiking back to the creek crossing (about 100 yards back from the falls) and following the creek upstream about 10 minutes to a different waterfall and swimming hole. I did not check it out, but it might be worth a look.
Hikers are not allowed past Waimoku Falls into the Kipahulu Valley Biological Reserve. This is one of the last intact native rainforest ecosystems left in Hawaii. This area, thankfully, is closed to the public in order to protect it. Researchers study the area and attempt to keep it free from invasive non-native plants and animals.
Back near the Kipahulu Ranger Station, visitors will also find a free campground and restrooms. There are also free naturalist programs and guided ranger walks starting at the Ranger Station. Ask a ranger about the Junior Ranger Program!
For more information on the Kuloa Point Trail, see the separate entry in my Where to Get Wet in Hana journal. For more information on Haleakala National Park, see my separate entry in my West Maui Ocean Fun and Hiking Adventures journal.
Kipahulu - Pipiwai Trail
Haleakala National Park
When the festival finally came, it was unfortunately accompanied by the hugest downpour I had seen in Hana during my three month stay. The rain was so hard and constant that I didn’t even try to venture out for the symposium Friday night to see Taro Geneticist Dr. Jon Cho and Lisa Raymond of Maui Nui Botanical Gardens.
When I awoke Saturday morning, the rain had stopped. Hurray! My goal for the day was to eat as much festival food as possible. We waited to go to the Hana Ballpark closer to noon, so we would be good and hungry. Of course, it started raining again at 10:30am and it didn’t stop, so we donned raincoats and went anyway. Many other people had braved the rain, and there was a decent crowd. Music, chants, and hula dancing were still going on at the entertainment tent, and yippee! the food booths were all open for business.
Here is just a partial list of Ono Grinds (delicious food) that were found at the Taro Festival: Taro Seafood Chowder, Poi, Taro Bread, Kalua Pig, Squid Luau, Chicken Long Rice, Sushi Rolls, Grilled Mahi, Taro Burger, Pohole Salad, Smoke Pork, Sweet Potato Lomi Salmon, Crab, Opihi, Mango Seed, Chicken Katsu, Taro, Smoothies, Shave Ice….
My stomach is still smiling….
In addition to the food and entertainment, there were two huge tents set up for a Farmers’ Market and Information Tables. The Farmers’ Market had fresh fruits and vegetables, cooked food, crafts, fresh flowers, plants, leis, and a poi making demonstration. I found the poi making especially interesting. It was being filmed by a pretty professional looking crew which ended up being from The Food Network. My husband recognized the host of the show The Food Hunter, a crazy English guy who somewhat mocked the Crocodile Hunter guy. The information tables included presentations by East Maui Irrigation, Maui Invasive Species Commission, National Park Service, Sierra Club, and The Nature Conservancy, and more that I’m sure I missed.
Saturday also included an open house at the Hana Cultural Center, and on Sunday there was an open house at Kahanu Gardens, a National Tropical Botanical Gardens in the area.
On Saturday night, Marti Dread played at Hana Ranch Restaurant. This reggae band did all cover songs, but they were excellent. There isn’t much live music in Hana, so a lot of people showed up. The dance floor was immediately filled and some local guys even got up and sang – they were great!
The rain stopped on Sunday, and I enjoyed a sunny Taro Pancake Breakfast to end the festival.
11th Annual East-Maui Taro Festival
Port Angeles, Washington