So… I plan a quiet trip to Maui, and thinking it will be a little too quiet, include a new-to-me romp over to Lana’i for a new adventure. That part’s coming soon. It’s a GOOD ONE.
However, what actually transpired once I got here was so vastly different, I would have only labeled it dream material.
My sister ended up going to Maui at the same time at the same condo. As we were visiting one evening, she turns to me and very matter-a-factly states, “I want to go to Hana with you!”
My sister goes to Maui every fall, however they’ve seen so much of the island, they now just love to hang out by the pool and beach with their friends they also see.
Well! I have NO idea how she knew Hana was on my big-time-bawling-my-head-off bucket list but she did! Wendy had gone to Hana years ago, however the roads were poor back then and they drove it in one day. If she was gonna do it again, she wanted to do it right… with me.
For a family that always argues over who’s paying for dinner, I decided to zip my lip and accept!
So we discussed both our expectations. We’d make it at least a 2 day trip if not 3, and make so many picture stops mom-style (our mom always wore a camera up to her face), we’d wear out the parking lots.
Deal? Deal! So I quickly looked online and found a fab B&B off VRBO, booked one night, and we hit the road 2 days later!
I prepared. Oh did I prepare, and prepare some more. I had the handbook The Ultimate Guide to Maui in one hand, and several maps in the other. I read the book word-for-word by the pool, and wrote 5 pages of notes about Every. Single. Thing. there was to see. The front office even loaned me one of those CD tours.
Since we decided to stay 1 night, we knew (ok, the book said) it would be best to bring all our food for the 2 days of travel. So we raided our fridges and packed a cooler full of sandwiches for lunch, 2 steaks and potato salad for dinner, cereal and fruit for breakfast, and snacks to keep us going.
AND good coffee with real cream and sugar. This entry deserved a sentence all on it’s own.
Best thing we did was bring a huge jug of water to top off our smaller water bottles along the way.
Another good thing was Wendy’s little pack she found in her condo. It was like a travel purse that held her camera and worked as a purse, with space for the water bottle. I did bring a big backpack, but reasoned it would get to clunky and heavy, and ended up just wearing my camera bag as a purse and carrying my water. But Wendy’s set up was better as she got to be hands free.
So with good hiking shoes, bug spray and sunscreen intact, off we went!
We first stopped at the car rental place to put my sis on the list to drive too, however since I was using my own insurance, we couldn’t check if they’d cover her as a driver as the office back home was closed. Bah. Something to check on next round.
So… I just resolved to drive 100% and Wendy would have to try and read my 5 pages of chicken scratched notes glazed with sunscreen from around the pool and 20,000 crinkled up written all over maps.
For the ultimate Road to Hana and beyond experience:
See if the condo’s front office has Maui Revealed – The Ultimate Guidebook (Amazon Affiliate Link) you can borrow (ours did), and take plenty of notes prior.
Collect several different maps (that helped) and circle the hot spots.
Book at least one night near Hana. Two would have been better.
Check your car insurance prior to see if you can share drivers.
Start with a full tank of gas. Plan to also gas up in Hana if you wish to play it safe.
Bring all your food and drink so you can focus on your travels.
Pack a large water jug to fuel smaller water bottles.
Wear decent walking / hiking shoes.
Wear sunscreen and bug spray.
Bring an extra pair of good walking shoes in case you drench your feet in a creek. Ask me how I know…
Pack along a water resistant smaller travel bag with an over the shoulder strap that can hold small camera, phone, water bottle and credit card / cash. Much more convenient than a back pack you have to keep removing.
Amazon Affiliate links are below:
The first place of interest was Twin Falls. I had seen it last time I was out here so we passed it by this round, reasoning could either catch it on the way home or visit it another time as it was nearby. I vote to save the time for the farther away big guns myself.
However it was this area where things started to get so jungle like!
While the road has vastly improved over the years, it still resembles a race track, sharing exactly 59 one lane bridges and 620 hair pin curves. So whenever there was a pull out, this camera totin’ driver used one!
I sprinted out of the car like a kid on Christmas morning, gasping, ‘OH MY GOSH. Look at that old bridge! Oh my gosh, look at the jungle down below! OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH!”
Honestly, I was just freakin’ thrilled to finally be doing this, I would have been this stoked to view a pile of rocks! Wait… maybe that’s all it was…
Who cares! I was on the Road To Hana!
Side note: I also used the pull outs constantly to let people pass. It’s better to follow them so they can make the call on when to cross the one lane bridges. Then all you have to do is follow suit.
The book suggested to try and drive by yourself though. The book was right. On the way there, we pretty much had the road to ourselves and it was FABULOUS!
For those not having traveled this route, you’ll find this part helpful. The entire way is marked with mile markers, making it relatively easy to know when there was something to see when referring to a map or a CD playing.
Then again, some points of interest were only spotted via parked cars. So it’s a bit of a crap shoot if you are looking for something in particular. Best thing to do is stop where others stop so you know why they stopped.
This is because Hawaii isn’t best known for explicit instruction. So if you see a bunch of no parking signs near a pretty sight, all they say is don’t park. But they neglect to tell you parking is just ahead, which would be more effective.
So (ahem) people park illegally because they don’t know if they’ll get another chance to see a particular waterfall.
Which actually causes mayhem in front of one lane bridges.
There was a little climb to the right of it if you wished to go on top and beyond.
Our day was perfection with no rain. Even so, I hit a little mud so I turned back. There’s another taller falls if you keep going. But let’s just say, good footing was more important than risking a broken neck. The pathway was positively infused with roots making for a difficult climb.
Many attractions on maps are also on private land, so it pays to know where you are welcome or not.
Now this was an interesting stop. It’s called Keanae Arboretum Nature Trail. It’s a six acre arboretum and botanical garden you can easily walk along a smooth flat path. So while the plantings are man made, the species were incredible.
I truly wish this I could have captured this meadow the way I saw it. It was electric green, lit up by the sunlight. It was like something out of a storybook.
As we inched our way towards Hana, we did find some road side stands here and there.
However, we were good girls eating our sandwiches (darn it anyway) and kept going.
Some waterfalls you had to work for, and others you could see from the road. We were starting to get tired, so if we could see water from the road, we were all over those. But the hidden ones, not so much at this stage of the game.
It’s honestly IMPOSSIBLE to see it all in one day, let alone 2! You start to lose power and become jungle drunk, not even seeing how beautiful the area is any longer.
So if I had known what I do know now? 2 nights minimum would have been a must. Longer would be even better. But be sure to go with a true adventurer that wants to stop at every little thing. Because after all, that’s the whole point of this trip.
The most magnificent part of this drive is never knowing what’s around one of the hairpin curves. You may end up seeing a jungle showcasing the tops of a bamboo forest (spectacular sight!) a plunging waterfall, or a beautiful ocean scene.
This drive gave it all to you.
But my personal favs were the old single lane bridges. I stopped whenever I could to look back on one.
And am I ever glad I did this round.
Otherwise I would have missed this!
At this point, we hit the Nahiku area where our overnight stay would take place, a short 15 minutes from Hana.
I’m going to tell you more about this area in day 2. However I will say this. It IS the prettiest place on Maui, where the jungle appears to be the most dense. I am SO GLAD our cottage was right smack in the middle of it!
So we found our place which was just off the main highway (easy!), unloaded our groceries, then head out for 2 more stops ahead before we called it a day.
The Lava Cave Tour was a pretty good stop. Set on someone’s property, the steps led down into the ground, showcasing a very long underground lava tube with so many different types of surfaces. Some of the walls looked like dripping chocolate!
Pretty cool if you’ve never done a lava tour walk before.
And there was one more stop that we HAD to take in before night fall. And if you’re going to speed to Hana and back again in one day, put this on your MUST STOP LIST.
Along the other side of the beach was a long and winding walking trail we had to inspect.
This place didn’t even look real.
It’s safe to say, this last stop was the perfect way to end such an incredible perfect day.
We could have ventured more into Hana, however we desired to be done with the road curves by nightfall. So we head back so we could enjoy our Hawaiian cottage smack in the middle of our own jungle…
You heard that right!
That charming tour and the famous bamboo forest hike from the Pipiwai Trail are part of Day 2… stay tuned!
Have you been to Hana? What was your fav part about this tour? Would you do anything differently?