TRAVEL SERIES: ADVENTURES IN MAUI (DAY 3)
Day 3. Road to Hana
Cliff Notes Version
Where we stayed: Bamboo Inn (Hana)
What we saw: Twin Falls, Ho'okipa Lookout, Wailua Valley State Wayside, Hana Lava Tubes and more! (See post for the sites by mile marker on the Road to Hana). The Road to Hana has "52 cliff-hugging miles, 600 curves and 54 bridges. -- and all of it enveloped by sheer drops to the sea and vast glistening rainforests." (Roadtohana.com)
Where we shopped: Badass Coffee (T-shirt for pops); fruit stands
We started off the day with some iced coffee from Badass Coffee (no joke, great coffee and lots of funny t-shirts) and grabbed some fresh smoothies from Cafe Cafe Maui which was located right next to our hotel (Lahaina Inn). I tried out their "Veggie Style" bagel which was awesome -- tomato, avocado, sprouts, cucumbers, small spread of cream cheese on a toasted everything bagel. I needed to fuel up for the big day ahead of us.
While Brian was out for his 5 mile run, I found a great website that listed out many of the "must-see stops" mile by mile on The Road to Hana. The entire trip is ~52 miles, but the speed limit is 25 mph or less due to the windy roads.
IMPORTANT! One of the big takeaways -- the mile markers are totally screwy. They actually start over after mile #16 and then after Hana Town, they jump to mile #51 and then go backwards. There is a Hana CD Guide, but we decided to wing it based on my research. The mile markers are pretty well marked (little green signs), but can be easy to miss at times due to overgrown foliage. You can also take a van or coach tour depending on your preferences.
What we saw
Paia Town. Awesome, artsy, bohemian town. Great selection of boutiques for shopping, multiple coffee shops and cafes. We will chat more about Paia in Day 4. This town essentially kicks off your journey on the Road to Hana. We stopped at the Ku'au Store to stock up on some healthy snacks. Definitely worth the stop -- located just outside the downtown.
Ho'okipa Beach Park/ Lookout (MM #9). World-renowned windsurfing destination (who knew?). We saw a few surfers, chatted with some local vendors and admired the views from the cliff overlooking the "pavilions" (popular surfing end of the beach).
Twin Falls (MM #2). We flew right by Twin Falls because of the mile markers. Remember -- the Mile Markers reset at #16. Quick and easy access with ample parking. We decided to skip the longer hike and instead opted to see the falls at the first overlook. There was a really awesome Farm stand operating out of a vintage school bus selling fresh smoothies, fruit and coconut water.
Kaumahina State Wayside Park (MM #12). Quick stop here at the park to snap a photo of Maui's north coast. Great spot to take a bathroom break and have a picnic lunch.
Halfway to Hana Stand (MM #17). Two words "Banana Bread." There was quite a line at the Bana Bread Stand as I like to call it. For $6 you can score yourself a mini loaf that is just perfect -- not too sweet! There are also plenty of other refreshments, fruit and shave ice. I have to admit we didn't have any shave ice while we were on the island. For more info on Shave Ice or Hawaiian "Ice Shave" click here.
Wailua Valley State Wayside (MM #18). Another great spot for a picnic and to take some photos of the fertile and vibrant landscape. Parking can be tight with space for about 3 cars.
Upper Waikani Falls (MM #19). These waterfalls are nicknamed "3 Bears" due to the three, parallel waterfalls of varying lengths. There really isn't a turn out to see these falls, which is not uncommon on the Road to Hana. I was able to snap a quick photo as a passenger.
Pua'a Kaa State Wayside Park (MM #22). We stopped by this park to take a quick bathroom break. More importantly, we crossed the road and walked on a trail that leads to a waterfall and a small swimming area. There were maybe 1-2 people swimming and the weather was chilly so we passed on a quick dip. What I did notice is that there are a ton of stray cats in Maui -- we spotted more than usual at this stop in particular.
Hanawai Falls (MM #24). By this point in the trip we had already seen a fair amount of waterfalls. There wasn't really a place to stop, but the falls are visible from the road.
Nahiku Marketplace (MM #29) -- Day 4 Stop on the Road back from Hana
Hana Lava Tube a.k.a. Ka'Eleku Cavern (MM #31). By far this was one of the best stops along the Road to Hana. There is a sign around mile marker #31 that points to the Lava Tubes. We made a quick left on 'Ula'io Road and traveled about a half mile to the site. This is a self guided tour through the Lava Tubes (~30-45 minute tour). There was ~$12.50 admission fee. Flashlights are necessary and are provided as part of the admission fee. A backup was also provided. What we learned...
- History: Tubes were formed ~960 years ago as a result of spewing molten lava from the underground; lava slowly flowed towards the ocean.
- Types of formations that can be seen in the tubes: Moray eel, ropey pahoehoe, lava level lines, lava stagmites, and the chocolate corridor of stalactites.
- Atmosphere: Humidity of 70%; temperatures between 66-72 degrees F
Wai'anapanapa State Park (MM #32). Have you ever been to a beach with black sand and pebbles? If not, this is a must-see stop. The actual beach name is Pa'iloa Beach. We were crunched for time so we did a quick tour of the area. If we had more time we would have checked out the ocean cave, located on the east side of the beach. Other noteworthy mentions at the State Park include the lava arch in the water, freshwater caves, burial sites, a pictograph and ancient temples belonging to the ancient Hawaiians.
Hana Town (MM #34). We arrived in Hana Town around 5:30-6 PM and grabbed a bite to eat at the Hana Ranch Restaurant. We also stopped at Hasegawa's General Store to pick up some wine which we enjoyed later on our lanai at The Bamboo Inn.
What we skipped:
Waikamoi Ridge Trail (MM #9.5). Skipped due to muddy conditions.
Garden of Eden Aboretum (MM #10). Skipped due to floral expedition on Day 2.
Honomanu Bay (MM #14). Given that we were driving a Ford Focus, we were advised not to travel down to the Bay due to muddy conditions; 4x4 recommended. The beach is rocky and not great for swimming or sunbathing.
Ke'anea Aboretum (MM #16) Skipped due to floral expedition on Day 2.
Kahanu Garden (MM #31) -- CLOSED due to flooding
Check out our Day 4 stops on the "Road Back from Hana."
*Additional Sources: Valley Isle Excursions (Road to Hana Van Tours)