The Hana Highway, aka Road to Hana is famous in Maui and around the world. There are over 600 hairpin turns and nearly 60 small one-lane bridges on the 68 mile route that takes you to Hana Bay. The roadway is narrow and at times rather frightful. With locals cruising the road like they own it, I prayed at every turn that there wasn’t someone zooming towards us from the opposite direction.
The views were spectacular over cliffs, out to the ocean and into the forest. It was a remarkable drive, perhaps one of the most scenic I have personally ever taken. As you drive along, you will come to some places were you will want to get out to take photos, especially when you see other cars parked along the shoulder of the road. Unfortunately, it just isn’t that easy. We had to by-pass at least four or five places where there were waterfalls and beautiful scenery. Come coming back from Hana, the beautiful sights are easily missed because you are by them before you realized “that was the place” you wanted to stop. To avoid that, I would suggest taking some notes so that if you can’t stop, you will remember where you wanted to stop on your return back.
At around mile marker 16, consider taking the turn off to Ke`anae Peninsula. The small nearly abandoned village community provides one of the most beautiful shorelines with large lava formations and rough ocean surf splashing up high on the land. Some of my most beautiful stereo-photography (3-d) was taken here!
Along your journey, be sure to stop at the Waianapanapa State Park. There are beautiful lava formations including caves, arches, and blow holes. The forest is very thick, with lots of coconut palms. As you hike the trails you will see where campers have shucked them for the milk and perhaps coconut meat. There are very nice rest rooms here that are clean and well maintained. The black beach is beautiful, but didn’t seem like the type of place you would want to lay out and the water was too rough for swimming. There are a lot of hiking trails and an area for picnicking.
If you are thinking about taking the Hana Highway, be sure to allow yourself plenty of time and get an early start. For us, it was a 13 hour day. You will also want to have water and snacks with you as there are very few places along the way to stop for refreshments. At Hana Bay there is a snack shack where we got burger and fries before heading back. And DO NOT head out for Hana without topping off your gas tank first!
Our last suggestion would be to stop at the Shell Station to buy the audio cassette that provides you with in-car tour guide messages throughout your trip. This is something that while sounding boring is really fantastic. The voice is entertaining and not monotone, and his story telling along the way helps to understand what you are seeing and experiencing.