Though the road to Hana is one of the most famous attractions
on the island of Maui, it's
really like leaving the island completely. A few
minutes on the Hana highway and you might be able to convince
yourself you are the only person within miles. Though
cars can fly by occasionally, considering what a tourist
draw the highway is, it's impressive how isolated
you can feel most of the time.
The road to Hana Maui is 52 miles long, following the old King's trail that had been the island's main path for years before the highway showed up. Though the term "highway" is used a bit loosely here - though the road is extremely good condition, considering the density of undeveloped forests that follow the highway's path - it is strewn with so many sharp curves and one-lane bridges that you will be hard pressed to make the trip in less than two hours.
But going fast is hardly the point of the Hana highway.
Beginning in the town of Pa'ia, the road to Hana
Maui is the physical manifestation of the proverb: "it's
not the destination, it's the journey."
Taking nothing away from the Hana Town - which lies at
the conclusion of the highway - there is nothing
quite like the scenery that avails itself to those traveling
the highway. Waterfalls and eucalyptus groves, and mile after mile of bamboo stretch
from the Hana highway, while the other side is bordered
by the Pacific Ocean, offering panoramic ocean views from
pretty much any spot you can park your car.
Though some of the viewpoints on the Road to Hana Maui are marked for the casual tourist, there is little you can find at these resting areas you will not find somewhere else along the highway's path. So if you want to avoid the tourists all huddled around the camera in the same spots as everyone else, there is no shortage of places to stop. Otherwise, there are a handful of fruit stands and other small businesses set up along the way. Asking the proprietors of these establishments has proved to be helpful more than once.
At the end of the road to Hana, you will the small town,
teeming with nature lovers and other visitors. Even
if you cannot afford a stay, stop in at the Hotel
Hana Maui and Honua Spa for an unrivaled look at the
island, not to mention a fine restaurant for those only
passing through. For the Hana highway is only half
of the journey, and further on there is plenty of other
equally likeable tourist destinations, from the Ohe'o
Gulch, Pipiwai Trail and Wailua Falls, all must-sees
for those in the area.