One of the most picturesque drives you can take in Hawaii or perhaps anywhere else in the world could very well be the road to the idyllic town of Hana on the island of Maui. The approximately 64 mile journey along the Hana Highway from Maui’s largest town of Kahului to Hana can take 2 ½ hours, provided you don’t stop along the way. But you should stop by as many places as you can because the when driving to Hana, the goal should not be the destination, but the journey.
Plan on making your sure-to-be memorable journey–to and from one of the most famous places on Maui–a whole day affair. Not only because there are a lot of things to see; but most of the road will be narrow and winding with more than 600 curves. There are 59 bridges along the way, while 46 of them can only be traversed by cars going in the same direction. The highway was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 2001.
There are many interesting and scenic stops that you should make during your journey to Hana as well as after you pass the town. You can visit one of innumerable secluded waterfalls in a lush tropical setting made possible by abundant rainfall along the northern slopes of Haleakala. Some of the more notable waterfalls that you can see on the Hana Highway include: Twin Falls at Mile Marker 2, Upper Waikani Falls or the Three Bears at Mile Marker 19, Hanawai Falls at Mile Marker 24 and Wailua Falls at Mile Marker 45.
There are a number of quiet and beautiful public roadside areas, such as the Kaumahina State Wayside Park, Wailua Valley State Wayside Park and the Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park. Stop at any one of these parks to take a break from your drive and enjoy some of Maui’s best places for leisurely strolls and relaxation. In addition to waterfalls and parks, there are numerous scenic lookout spots as well as roadside stands where you can sample exotic fruits and other locally made food products.
Other very notable places to stop include the Garden of Eden Arboretum and the Keanae Arboretum where you can see a large number of native plants and farm crops on display. You should also stop by the Kahanu Garden which is a part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Once used as a sugar plantation and pasture, the garden is now used to showcase Hawaiian plants, history and culture. The area is also home to the Pi’ilanihale Heiau or temple which is one of the largest in all of Polynesia.
Once you get to the town of Hana, take the time to explore the sights and attractions for which the town has become famous for. One of the things you definitely do here is to head out to Wai’anapanapa State Park, which feature the black sand beach named Pa’iloa. You can also visit the Wai’anapanapa freshwater caves which are good examples of anchialine pools, which are landlocked bodies of water, typically freshwater, with a subterranean connection to the ocean. Such pools are unique to places where there are aquifers within coastal bedrock formed by lava, as in the case of Hawaii.
Another must see place in Hana is the rustic and inventory-crammed Hasegawa General Store. The store sells almost anything and everything to the local Hana residents and visitors and has been a long-time part of local island lore and culture.
Don’t plan on just stopping in Hana as there is still much to see beyond this town. In Kipahulu, stop by the Palapala Ho’omau Church to visit the grave of one of America’s most famous aviators, Charles Lindbergh. In his latter years, Lindbergh and his wife lived in this part of Maui on a half time basis and loved it so much he opted to be buried here when he died in 1974. Another very famous attraction in the Kipahulu area is the Ohe’o Gulch or Seven Sacred Pools area. Here, you can find waterfalls, picturesque freshwater swimming pools, forest trails, waterfalls and a historic heiau. This area, stretching down from Haleakala’s summit, was added to Haleakala National Park in 1969.