After the Haleakala Sunrise on Day 1, and the clear, clean blue waters of Kaanapali beach, I was excited to go to the road to Hana. If you meet me, I might perhaps remind you of Hermoine Granger, hence it’s not a surprise that I had read all about the road to Hana on the plane, and was prepared to give an executive presentation on it if needed lol :). I had talked to Shanna about it on Friday, and she was up for coming along; I had the rental car so I would drive. Then on Friday at the beach, a french guy named Dan and his friend Kima (also french speaking) talked to us and asked if they could come along too. We still had space in our car, so I said why not? The more the merrier.
As you can see, I was becoming part of a french speaking clan which meant I was intently staring at them with focused, narrow eyes trying to grasp what they were chatting about with the select few french words I know 🙂 In fact, it was actually wonderful to hear a different language. Also, these girls were quite encouraging when I practiced my very barebones French that an English guy named Paul Nobel had been teaching me on my audio book during my commute.
We left at 7:30 am to go to Hana. A lot of people had advised against going all the way to Hana and back all in one day, so my plan was to go halfway to Hana, do some hikes along the way, and then drive back. Driving on the long and winding road (one of my favorite Beatles songs) to Hana is hard enough in the daylight, I didn’t want to be out there driving in the dark. I had been warned of road closings and one way bridges by concerned family and friends; but now I felt more safe because I had the moral support of 3 other people in the car 🙂 The first stop: Twin Falls, it is at mile marker # 2 past Paia.
Twin falls is a short, easy hike and I would highly recommend this for families with young children or someone who’s injured or otherwise has health problems and is unable to do strenuous hikes. You can see beautiful, rare, plants and flowers, and a gushing waterfall without going far at all. Note that when I went in Sept 2017 the main trail/hike was actually closed but if you go to the left when you first enter, you will see a waterfall in a short 5-10 minutes. The hike that is closed is still a wonderful walk, just that there is nothing at the end of it. Some of my favorite flower photos in Hawaii were at Twin Falls – the upside down red flower, and the plant called ‘lobster claw’ (yes, it actually looks like lobster claw, right!?)
The waterfall was a serene site, the sound of the gushing water could calm any storms you carried inside of you, it was healing to be there and experience that place.
The hike on the way out had a small bamboo forest area, and then as we were standing there taking photos with the forest we realized we were being bitten by mosquitoes all over! If you go on the road to Hana I would recommend wearing gym/yoga pants or jeans so the bugs can’t get to you so easily. We rushed to the food stand and shelled out a few dollars for a mosquito repellant spray that we all shared and sprayed plenty. I also used this as an excuse to buy myself a sugarcane juice, which was oh so fresh and delicious with some ice to help beat the heat and humidity.
After the mosquito spray business was all done, we headed back to the main hike just to check it out (even though it leads to a dead-end, but the walk is beautiful), and found this necklace lying on the bench made of real flowers. So, there I am, with the Hawaiian flower necklace and the sugarcane juice in hand, even though I didn’t make it to a Luau or Hula dance during this trip, this is as close as it came 🙂
We got back in the car and started driving forward – the next stop would be the Garden of Eden, @ mile marker 10.5 (this one has a big wooden gate so it’s hard to miss), which was privately maintained and charged a fee ($15 was a bit much, I think $8-10 would probably be more reasonable). It had tons of mature fruit trees, unique flora and fauna and spectacular ocean hikes.
The forest valley below is where the Jurassic Park was shot; I didn’t have my SLR so the quality of the shots is not the best, but you get the picture 🙂 There is also a cool youtube video about this.
There were papaya, banana and mango trees all around in this garden. And the end of the hikes culminated in a beautiful lotus pond that overlooked the deep blue ocean.
Kima saw a peacock and tried to take a photo with it. Suddenly, the peacock came closer and then she realized why, she had a cookie in hand! I will never forget this little cookie thief, perhaps the most beautiful thief that ever existed 🙂
After the Garden of Eden, we got back on the road and started driving again, this time going upto the farm stand at the Halfway to Hana point. I enjoyed a veggie sandwich which was very fresh, and the others mostly had burgers which I recall were good too! The banana bread here is famous, and said to be the best in Maui, so perhaps you can try it out. I already had banana bread in the fridge at the hostel that I bought at the local store in Paia (it was yum!), so I didn’t buy it here. I did go for a shaved ice with mango, pineapple and strawberry, which was delicious. Kima and I took some fun photos with the Halfway to Hana sign 😉
After some food to satiate our tummies, and some shaved ice for my sweet tooth, we were ready to start driving back. We had missed the bamboo forest hike @ mile marker 6.5 on the way in, so we wanted to try and do that hike on the way back.
Something about the road to Hana – I could see how this winding, narrow road could be treacherous in bad weather conditions such as rain, however if you check the weather and advisories beforehand, and you get lucky like us with great weather and almost no traffic, you could really have the drive of a lifetime, even enjoyable for the person who’s driving. I have heard a lot about the road beyond Hana and coming back to Paia from the other side of the island is much more muddy and dangerous, but again, conditions change, so depends on the season and the current road conditions.
We parked our car near other parked cars by mile marker 6 and asked around for the bamboo hike. It is not a marked trail but there were lots of people heading in or out of it, so we decided to give it a try. It was a beautiful hike through tall, proud bamboo trees, leading upto a waterfall, and then up another climb to a second waterfall. Luckily, a woman who had knee surgery recently met us at the start of the hike, and she gave me her large hiking stick (a big thick wooden stick!) which was very handy to navigate the muddy terrain; especially given the ankle injury I wanted to make sure I didn’t slip.
The rocks around the waterfall were hardest to navigate. Dan and I decided to skip the second waterfall and wait at the first waterfall, while Shanna and Kima decided to hike to the top waterfall. I went in the water in the first waterfall, but it seemed too mossy so I came out in just a few minutes and then we started to head back.
After a lot of help from Dan and Shanna, I was able to make it out of this hike without slipping and re-injuring my ankle, yay!! We made it. It was around 5:30 pm when we reached the hostel in Paia, still a good 10 hour day and we had only made it Halfway to Hana.
I was so glad we made this journey, it will always be special in my heart. If this unforgettable road is called “The Divorce Highway”, then there is nothing more beautiful, peaceful and powerful in this world than divorce, and I am happy I am on this road. Perhaps it is given this name because it is a journey of rediscovering yourself, pulling the lost threads of your personality and weaving them back together to one whole, wonderful self, that is way greater than the sum of its parts. Sure enough, it has some muddy, treacherous forests along the way to tackle, but with the help of good friends, and that ‘hustler’ New Yorker attitude, sure enough if you make it then the reward is the view of that majectic blue ocean and the ever-happy lotus pond.
If you visit Hawaii or Maui, do try the Road to Hana, and if you already have, please post your comments here to tell me about your experiences!
Until next time,