A January 2003 trip
to Hana by lcampbell
Quote: A guide to the more practical aspects of Hana, Maui – where to stay, where to eat, services available, and a brief history.
Hana is different than the rest of overdeveloped Maui. It is small and peaceful. The pace is slow. But if you want a relaxing and beautiful environment, and have patience for the way things are done here, it is a rich and diverse place to spend time. A longer stay will give a better appreciation for this than a day trip, and the purpose of this journal is to give some more practical information about Hana, especially for a longer stay. I will detail where to eat, where to stay, services available, and a brief history.
Pack raingear, as it is the rainy side of the island. But don’t fear too much, the rains are usually short, followed by rainbows and sunshine!
There are no resort beaches like other places in Hawaii. The beaches are small and secluded, with no beachchair beverage service. Bring your own food and drinks, and everything else you will need.
Find Hana information at this website and Maui information at this one.
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.
We stayed at the lovely Hale O Pulelehau, on the outskirts of Hana. The location was wonderful, out of reach of the tourist bustle of town. And the property was fantastic. The 12 acre parcel is also a flower farm with 10 resident cows, who for some reason like to listen to guitar music.
The owners of Hale O Pulelehau are Bob and Maddi Getzen, assisted by their son, daughter-in-law, and adorable granddaughter. Because we stayed on the property for three months, we got to know this loving family very well. We felt like part of the family. I even got to be the "auntie" to the baby. Bob is an artist. He designed and built the vacation home, along with his son, over a period of 8 years. Maddi and son run the flower farm and care for the cows. The daughter-in-law is a schoolteacher.
Hale O Pulelehau has two bedrooms, each with queen size beds, and a loft with two twin beds. The master bedroom has its own bathroom with jacuzzi tub. There is a modest living area and a nice kitchen with all cooking supplies provided. The large refrigerator and industrial-type stove are impressive. There is cable television, but we rarely used it, since it was so much nicer to be outside and exploring the Hana area. The living area also has a bathroom. Going up the spiral staircase, the loft has a couch/play area that can also be used for sleeping in addition to the two twin beds. There is a half bath in the loft.
By far the best part of the house is the deck. This deck is huge, and has lounge chairs and tables to sit around. The views are lovely, and it is a great place to watch the brief rains pass by, followed by the often-visible post-shower rainbows. Make sure to plan for a cookout, as there is a nice propane grill on the deck!
I highly recommend this vacation property. You will not meet nicer people than these. They will give you a tour of the farm, and happily answer all your questions. The house is clean and comfortable, complete with everything you might need. A quiet and beautiful location near Waianapanapa State Park, Hale O Pulelehau is a wonderful place to stay.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 15, 2003
Hale O Pulelehua
PO Box 214
Restaurant | "Dining in Hana"
Hotel Hana-Maui: The Hotel Hana-Maui is supposed to have very good food, but I have not tried it because of the prices. Dinner entrées are $25 and up, and the buffet on Thursdays and Sundays is $37 per person. I think that breakfasts and lunches are more reasonably priced.
Hana Ranch Restaurant: I haven’t been impressed with the food at Hana Ranch Restaurant, although they do serve a pretty good pizza on Wednesday nights. Price is $15 for a three-topping pizza that should serve two.
Hana Ranch Lunch Counter: I have eaten many meals at the lunch counter due to its convenient location, relatively cheap prices, and fast service. I would classify the quality in the fast-food category, so I think you can imagine. Hamburgers are $5, or $6 with fries. There are other sandwiches and usually a local meat/rice plate. I really liked the chicken caesar salad. The garden salad is a super bargain at $4 for a huge salad of greens, shredded carrot, red pepper rings, black olives, cherry tomatoes, shredded purple cabbage, and cucumber slices. During the weekdays especially, the cook is especially generous with the non-lettuce vegetables.
Hana Ranch Store – This is a grocery store, so of course it has the usual grocery items. In addition, there are sometimes prepared salads in the cooler: poke (raw fish salad) and seaweed salad (my favorite, unfortunately only available about once per week). On Fridays you can get sushi rolls by the cashier counter. And, last and definitely least, you can get chili and rice or a chili dog at the cashier counter for $2. This is the cheapest option in town, which is why you will see all the local folks eating it. Think Hormel-out-of-the-can chili served over white rice, or a hot dog with the same chili. At least it’s filling. Sometimes there is a decent BBQ pork and rice plate for $6 – look for the meat roasting on the rotisserie.
Hasegawa General Store – Hasegawa’s has a smaller grocery selection.
Tutus – Tutus is another fast-food hamburger counter located at Hana Bay. The view is definitely better at Tutus than at the other eating establishments. The food is average but fairly cheap. The one shining star is the Taro Burger – yummy!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 14, 2003
This said, the coast that the road follows is a beautiful one. Although I don’t think it is any more or less impressive than other coastal drives. Many say that a trip to Hana is more about the journey than the destination, but I disagree. In my humble opinion, the stressful drive is only worth it if one plans to spend some time in peaceful Hana. My Lonely Planet guidebook says that "you won’t have to save too much time for sleepy Hana, since there’s not much there at the end of the road." Read my Heavenly Hana and Where to Get Wet in Hana journals to find out why LP is wrong on this one!
To drive the Road to Hana, drive east out of Kahului on Highway 36. After going through the funky town of Pa’ia (good place to pick up last minute snacks and information), the road goes past the famous windsurfing beach Ho’okipa. Farther east the road turns into road 360 and stays rural until Hana.
I recommend an early start on the Hana Highway to beat the crowds. But others seem to be following this same advice, so even the early morning hours can be busy along the road. The drive takes about two hours without stops, but there are some worthy sights along the way:
Mile Markers 9 to 11 – this stretch of road has a number of stop to look at small waterfalls. Choose which one to stop at by your ability to safely park.
Mile Marker 14 – Honomanu Bay. Take the small dirt road just after crossing the bridge. Not safe to swim, but very scenic.
Mile Marker 17 – Keanae Peninsula Lookout. The Keanae Peninsula is large and flat, and is primarily a quiet farming area. Keanae village does not have much in the way of tourist attractions, but the lookout gives great views of taro patches and animal pastures.
Mile Marker 22.5 – Puaa Kaa State Wayside Park. Waterfalls, swimming hole, restrooms, telephone, picnic tables.
Mile Marker 29 – Nahiku Ti Gallery & Café. Actually, it is the barbeque stand next to the gallery which is a must. Make sure to try a fish kabob (very yummy!) and some taro or breadfruit. The fruit stand has good selection, but somewhat expensive.
From this point, you are just about in Hana, where you will best spend your time at Kahanu Gardens, Waianapanapa State Park, Hana Cultural Center, and Hamoa Beach. See my other Hana journals for details.
It is possible to continue on past Hana to Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park and on even further in a loop back to West Maui. Most car rental agencies forbid driving past Kipahulu, as the road is gravel and sometimes washes out. Four-wheel drive is best for this, but I have seen passenger cars make the drive. I would say that it is a bit ambitious to try to include Kipahulu in a day trip to the east side. If you want to see this area, it is best to book a night or two in Hana and take your time rather than trying to rush.
Please, drive slowly and carefully on the Hana Highway. If you see local vehicles, please let them pass and let them cross one-lane bridges first. Gaining 10 minutes is not worth compromising safety. And no matter how safe you drive, there will plenty of others on the road who will scare you. Finally, take snacks and beverages with you, as there are not many places to stop along the way.
The first is that dining options are very limited. Actually, I’d say the situation is just barely a step above non-existent. So, if you plan to stay in Hana for a while, make sure to get a room or vacation rental that has kitchen facilities so you can cook your own meals. It is less expensive to get groceries in Kahului before coming to Hana, but there are two small grocery/general stores in Hana: Hana Ranch Store and Hasegawa’s General Store (featured in the Disney movie Lilo and Stitch).
Both stores have a fairly decent selection and similar prices. There are slightly different things at each store, so you may want to comparison shop (the stores are across the street from each other). Hana Ranch Store has more grocery items, while Hasegawa’s has more in the way of hardware and general goods. You can rent videos and DVDs at Hasegawa’s as well. The cheapest lunch around is at Hana Ranch Store - $1.99 for chili (think Hormel out of a can) over rice. Both stores close by 7pm.
The only bank in Hana is the Bank of Hawaii which has extremely limited hours. They are open Monday to Thursday from 3pm-4:30pm, and Fridays 3pm-6pm. Fortunately, there is an ATM at Hasegawa’s General Store.
If you are driving to Hana, fill up your gas tank before coming! Put it this way, they don’t even post the prices at the gas station in Hana. And, like everything else in Hana, the hours are very limited, I think closing by 6pm.
The post office in Hana is open Monday to Friday, 8am-4:30pm. If you get postcards at the gift shop across from the Post Office, you can also get stamps at the cash register.
Finally, you will not find an Internet café in Hana. The only place to check email would be at the small public library at the elementary school. But in order to use their computers, you have to have a library card. A three-month visitor card is $10, and I think you have to have a local address and phone number as well as your home address and phone number. There are three computers with Internet access (slow) and you are allowed 50 minutes per day. The library hours are Monday-Tuesday-Friday 8am-4pm, Wednesday-Thursday 11am-7pm. I think you could also use this card at the other libraries in Maui. There is also a great selection of books on Hawaii, other books, magazines, newspapers, and some CDs. You can rent a video from the limited selection for $1 per week.
According to my Lonely Planet guidebook, Hana was the "seat of power" for East Maui. In the 14th century, Hana Chief Piilani conquered the rest of Maui from this remote location, making the first united Maui under one ruler. King Piilani built the largest heiau (temple) in Hawaii, Piilanihale Heiau, at the size of almost two football fields. Piilanihale Heiau is located in the Kahanu National Botanical Garden in Hana (see my entry in my "Heavenly Hana" journal). Other projects by King Piilani include the construction of fish ponds and the "King’s Trail" that circled the entire island of Maui. A four-mile section of the King’s Trail still remains in the Hana area (see my journal entry also in my "Heavenly Hana" journal).
Next, according to author Rita Ariyoshi in her book "Maui on My Mind," Hana fell under Big Island rule. She writes:
"In the beginning of the 14th century, a Hana romance sparked the first interisland invasion. Two sons of Maui’s King Piilani both fell in love with the same chiefess, sister of a powerful chief of the island of Hawaii. After a long and bloody siege, Hana fell to Big Island rule. It remained a part until the 18th century, when Maui’s Kahekili finally won it back."
In more recent history, whaler George Wilfong arrived in Hana in 1849. He purchased 60 acres of land and planted sugar cane. A small mill was built and a short section of rail connected the fields to the mill (I often walked on the old railroad bed which was near my temporary home in Hana). When Wilfong couldn’t find enough willing workers in Hana, he offered 10-year labor contracts. According to Rita Ariyoshi, the offer was "150 dollars cash up front, and a company store to get the cash back. When the Hawaiians declined, Wilfong brought the first Chinese laborers to Hana in 1852. His mill eventually burned and arson was suspected. More plantations were founded in the rolling hills, and by 1942, sugar dominated the economic life of the Hana coast." But in the 1940s, Hana could no longer compete with the larger suger plantations on the west side of the island, so the local mill shut down.
Next arrived San Francisco businessman Paul Fagan. Fagan was the owner of the Puu o Hoku Ranch on Molokai, who then purchased 14,000 acres in Hana. He started with 300 cows at Hana Ranch and opened a small ranch hotel for his friends to stay at. He also brought over his minor-league baseball team, the San Francisco Seals, for spring training.
The hotel is larger now and is known as the Hotel Hana-Maui, an upscale establishment. The ranch is also still in operation with thousands of cattle. Paul Fagan definitely brought jobs to Hana, and the start of the still-modest tourist industry. After a 1946 tsunami wiped out many businesses in Hana, many people went to work for the ranch. In her book, Rita Ariyoshi explains a local monument: "The grateful community erected a memorial stone cross on Lyons Hill in back of the hotel when Fagan died."
Port Angeles, Washington