Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Road to Hana... Backwards!

Landing the Seminole in Hana, Maui.

Most tourists who travel to Maui, take the road to Hana-a legendary windy road that passes waterfall after waterfall.  It is a beautiful trip, and after having driven this road along the North coast a few years ago, Nick and I decided to drive the backside of Haleakala first, going opposite to the typical route.  This southern road is not depicted on all maps, and often marked as restricted when it is. Rental car company's do not allow their cars to travel along this road, and those that do require it to be a jeep. 

Look closely to see the one lane dirt road wind around the cliffs!

The majority of road to Hana tourists travel clockwise along the north shore. This route includes approximately 600 curves and 54 bridges.  They then return along the same route that they took to get there.  Instead, we left our hotel in Wailea and traveled the island counter-clockwise.

There were many severe dips in the road that were well masked.  We would have bottomed out had we not slowed down.  Most of the drive is through a lava field, and livestock wandering the road is a actual concern.  The road is not well maintained, and the bridges were pretty sketchy.  However, there were houses back along this road, leading me to believe there are people who travel this road every day...

My biggest concern with the road to Hana, backwards, was that much of it was one lane, with very sharp corners.  Go slow, honk before rounding a corner, and practice your backing up skills before the trip. :) And, most importantly of all, don't get stuck on this side of the island at night.

It was great marital counseling for us... Poor Nick had to hear "Ah! Slow down!" every few minutes. Lol! It was a fun trip, despite some anxiety, the waterfalls of Hana made it all worth it.  Make sure you pull off to the side of the road and hike to those that are not right on the road.  Whenever you leave your car, be sure not to leave any valuables in there. Your rental car is easy to spot.  In fact, when I lived in Hawaii, we flew to another island and rented a car. The locals I was traveling with went as far as bringing a local bumper sticker to tape on the back, ensuring we were not targeted as tourists.

'Ohe'o Gulch National Park 

My favorite spots to stop along the road to Hana include the 'Ohe'o Gulch National Park and the Wai'anapanapa State Park.  'Ohe'o Gluch (aka seven sacred pools) is a series of waterfalls and pools that you can swim and cliff jump into. There is a fee of $10 per car to enter this park. Wai'anapanapa is one of my favorite black sand beaches.  This park is a great place to camp for only $5 a night, enjoy the blacksand beach, and swim in a freshwater cave.  A friendly warning however, this water is cold!

Wai'anapanapa State Park

Check out the following video for a mile by mile guide of the road to Hana to get an idea of where you what to stop and spend your time, as there won't be time for everything.

Last but not least, keep your gas tank full (despite the high prices in Hana) and don't plan anything else for your day.  Enjoy the road to Hana!

Bon Voyage!

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