Road to Hana Maui

Ask any concierge, local, or even tourist what one of the top things to do on Maui is and you are bound to receive the answer, “Drive out to Hana”.  Go in any t-shirt souvenir shop on the island and there will be a shirt you can purchase that shows a jeep or convertible weaving around a hairpin turn with two wheels off the road and the slogan “I survived the Road to Hana”.  There are so many outlets encouraging guests to take a trip out to Hana, but visitors always ask us “what do we do when we get there?”  This blog post will hopefully shed some light on the road to Hana experience and why it should be on the top of your list when visiting Maui.

Let’s start with some numbers.  The road to Hana, which starts in Kahului/Paia is a two-lane coastal road that winds back and forth for 52 miles. It will take you about 2.5 to 3 hours if you drive over all 59 bridges (46 are one lane) and make all 600+ curves without stopping for a break.  That alone is an adventure on its own!

The most obvious answer as to why the road to Hana is special is because of the natural beauty.  Drive past gushing waterfalls, through lush vegetation that drowns out the sun and along coastlines that drop into deep blue ocean.  Keep the windows rolled down/convertible reclined so that your other senses can kick in to deepen your experience.  Smell plumeria pedals that hang from trees.  The scent of mangos that have been freshly run over also hangs in the air. Hear exotic birds chirping or water droplets falling from who knows where against the road.

As all your senses are on overload, your brain starts to urge you to get out an explore and you react on impulse.  As you pass a fruit stand, you decide to pull over and sample a guava strawberry smoothie. A sign that reads “Explore a Hawaiian Lava Tube”, pulls you in like a moth to a candle. You see a couple of cars parked next to a sign that says “blue lagoon 400 yards away, $2 parking, Mahalo” and you impulsively park the car and wander off for a blue lagoon having no idea what it will be. A table of six children is set up along the road selling some sort of edible something for a school fundraiser and you stop without hesitation.  You spot some tourists walking back to their parked car from an unmarked trail in their swimsuits with huge smiles on their faces and you are overcome with jealousy that they know something you don’t.  The list goes on and on (seriously, I could list off 10 other real experiences).

Sure there are guidebooks and audio tapes that will tell you certain spots to stop, like the Seven Sacred Pools, Venus Pools, Wainapanapa Black Sand Beach, Red Sand Beach, and botanical gardens, which are all great stops, but the real “Trip to Hana” experience is just surrendering to the beauty of your surroundings and natural impulse to get out and explore.   For this reason, like a snowflake or a Phish concert, no trip to Hana is ever the same.  You may never remember the exact pullout you stopped for lunch or rain pool you stopped to take a swim in. You will however remember the amazing adventure you had on this magical 52 mile road that is more about the journey than the destination.

[Image source: wikipedia user Brian W.]

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