A few weeks ago, the BF and I were wandering aimlessly on a lazy weekend. After taking a quick spin thru Hookipa, we ventured partway on the road to Hana, ate some mountain apples, but turned around because it was late in the day. We vowed to return and do a full road trip to Hana and back one weekend. Yesterday was the day, road trip to Hana! And beyond…
We headed off with a cooler full of cold drinks and oranges, made our way thru Paia town. The weather wasn’t looking good, a bit overcast. After checking the forecast and looking at the skies beyond Paia, we decided to press on.
Next stop, Fukushima Store in Haiku. We grabbed some bentos, musubis, home maid bakery apple manju and some li hing mui mango. (Side note: The tuna musubi was ono! The rice was mixed with sesame bonito and maybe a little rice vinegar, not too much mayo in the tuna.) Fully stocked, we were good to go.
Much ado is made about the “road to Hana” in most visitors’ guides about Maui. I understand why, it’s a curvy road winding around the coast filled with opportunities to spot waterfalls, ocean views and gullies of green and exotic plants. It’s also an adventure with what feels like a neverending amount of blind turns and one way bridges. Tourists who have made the trip have often posted online, “it’s the journey, not the destination”. Great advice for life but I disagree when it comes to a trip to Hana. For me and the BF, it was all about the destination. It was also a slightly dreary day, the water a bit dirty from recent rain so you won’t see the typical “road to hana” pics here.
After maneuvering around rental cars and tourists armed with cameras, we arrived in Hana a few hours later and felt immediately at peace. Surrounded by beautiful lush greenery, many homes have huge front yards and wrap around porches. Easily one of the most beautiful areas on the Valley Isle, Hana also has the unmistakeable easiness of a small town. I still recall playing high school tennis matches in Hana with what felt like the whole town coming out to cheer on their team.
Across from the relocated Hasegawa General Store, the Hana Cultural Center was holding it’s annual fundraiser. There was live music, a silent auction and arts and crafts demonstrations which included haku lei making.
Farmers’ booths had huge beautiful eggplants for a dollar and boxes of fragrant sweet basil.
We headed toward the ocean seeing many families enjoying their weekend with the ohana and cool beach side surfer shack homes. I couldn’t help but think how much I’d love to live in Hana if I could work from home as we passed sign after sign indicating an artist or a potter resided within.
We had no intention to double back so started the long drive (40+ miles) toward Ulapalakua. After driving through huge green pastures, we found ourselves on winding roads passing a well tended taro farm, more waterfalls and spectacular ocean views.
We skipped the Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park due to the $10 entrance fee because our stay today would be too short but I definitely would want to return to camp or go hiking on another day.
As we headed toward Kaupo, there was a definite climate change. From lush green to dry and arid (just like the desert of Maui, otherwise known as Kihei). Kiawe trees and rocks in the large open spaces. I was surprised to see homes on this stretch of road, it felt so off the grid too me.
Our lunch break was spent on towels in front of the St. Joseph Church in Kaupo. Overlooking the ocean, this historical church served a large Hawaiian community in the area in the late 1800s.
We continued to drive, mile after mile, spotting cinder cones and paths where lava once flowed, driving slowly due to the condition of the road and also to avoid hitting the hundreds of grazing cattle.
As we neared the end of our journey, we spotted Makena and Kihei below us. Without warning, we were in lush greenery with a slight chill in the air as we entered Ulapalakua. Our road trip done, it was Costco time and then homebound.
I’m looking forward to returning to Hana but for a longer stay at a B&B or camping over the weekend. The drive on the road to Hana or from Hana to upcountry is not for inexperienced, inconsiderate or drivers lacking confidence or the ability to judge in a tight space. Roads can be narrow and close to either the side of a mountain or a drop with no guardrail.