My 5 Favorite Stops along the Road to Hana
Whenever I travel to a new place, I like to dive deep into the local culture, so when I asked my friends about Maui I was flooded with the same response "Road to Hana". They know me so well. If you are seeking a road trip adventure full of jungle hikes, waterfalls, fresh water caves and stunning ocean views, you don't want to miss the road to Hana. There are so many wonderful treasures along the Hana Highway it is impossible to see it all, but no matter what you experience it will be just enough to transport you to the quiet Hawaiian culture of the past. Plan to stay a few nights in the sleepy town of Hana, where you will relax and rejuvenate your soul before your journey back to reality.
I was there during the rainy season but the intermittent tropical storms didn't interfere with my fun. I rented a jeep which was perfect for the wet, treacherous road and pulling off into the mud to see the sites. Aware that my specialty diet can make it challenging to eat in remote areas, I bought a cooler and stocked it full of healthy food from the natural grocery store, Mana Foods, in Paia before we headed out on the journey. Although there are several food stands along the highway, besides offering some fresh island fruit to snack on, they are not particularly healthy. Since the restaurants in Hana close early and choices are extremely limited I bought enough food to cook dinner the first night. There are two small general stores in Hana where you can buy fresh seasonal produce and other basic necessities but they close early and expect to pay a premium.
Bamboo Forest Trail
Park along the road at mile 6.5 and enter the thick forest to the left of the highway via multiple foot paths. After you cross the river the bamboo forest becomes thick. I was so enthralled by the magic of the tall rustling bamboo surrounding us that I missed the path to the waterfall and kept wandering until the the trail nearly disappeared. Luckily I hadn't walked too far and ventured back to the river to follow the path upstream. I don’t recommend flip flops as the rocks are extremely slippery, and even with my Merrell water shoes I lost my footing several times. I climbed up rope walls and wet rocks, getting muddy and loving every minute. Be prepared to get wet, that’s half the fun! There’s a lovely pool to take a swim and rinse off.
Coconut Glen's Vegan Ice Cream
A vegan dream, Coconut Glen’s ice cream is even more delicious than I imagined! Be prepared to wait in line, because Glen, wearing his flourescent tie die shirt, is on island time, so relax, I promise it’s worth every minute. There are a variety of flavors, but I went for their specialty, toasted coconut made with fresh coconut and chunks of toasted coconut. He also has fresh coconuts for sale that he’ll chop with a machete right in front of you.
Fresh Water Lava Caves in Wai’anapanapa State Park
Just a short walk from the Wai'anapanapa State Park parking lot are lava caves filled with fresh spring water making a cool refreshing dip. Take the plunge and jump right in or ease down the left side to enter by slow torture. The water is so clear I could see the small fish that swim around, but as I swam back into the cave, it became so dark I couldn't see anything. Scary! I recommend arriving early to enjoy the tranquility before the local kids get there in the afternoon.
Pa’liloa Beach & Pi’ilani Trail
I marveled at the black sand beach being washed upon by turquoise waves and the jagged black lava rock cliffs that surrounded the beach. The water was much too rough to swim in (it’s not recommended due to the strong rip tide) but many folks sunbath on the rough black sandy beach. Hike onward to the Pi’ilani Trail, a sunny black lava rock path dotted wth bright green succulents that follows the coastline. Although we only hiked for a mile or so, the trail continues for 3 miles and follows and ancient footpath called the King’s Path that once circled the entire island although . Bring sunscreen, a hat or visor & plenty of water!
Lyon’s Hill Hike
I love guava fruit and couldn't pass the opportunity eat a snack from the many guava trees that grow alongside this paved path. It leads straight up a hill from downtown Hana offering a view form the top, where a memorial for former Hana Ranch owner Paul Fagan stands as Hana’s most dominant landmark. The path begins behind the Travaasa Hana parking lot, enter the gate on the left and follow it up the hill.