Updated: Feb 25
Wednesday, 15 February 2023, Highway to Hana
We awoke to the sound of waves lapping against the sea wall, far more pleasant than hearing cats pounding against the bedroom door before first light (which is our standard wake-up call at home). That gentle start raised our moods as we looked forward to sampling a pair of Maui's most-touted attractions.
On the agenda: we planned to start with a drive down the Highway to Hana.
The particulars make it a one-of-a-kind experience: literally hundreds of curves over thirty-plus miles with numerous one-lane bridges, as the road dances along Maui's southwest coast. Travel guides say to allow a full-day for the excursion. However, we would stop short of Hana, then return to spend the afternoon driving up to Haleakalā's crater for a hike and to see the sunset - another item considered a must-see.
That would make for a stellar day - unless we'd overextended ourselves. At home, we often drove from home (near Philadelphia) to Connecticut to see Sue's family. On those 3½-hour drives, we'd have to stop and switch drivers at least once when the back pain set in, and the last several miles each way always turned into an endurance contest. Now we faced a trip that would entail ten hours in a car, in a single day. With that perspective, it looked like sheer folly.
First we had to return to the airBNB we'd left yesterday - in our haste to get out, we'd left a cell-phone charger cable and Sue's earrings. Luckily, the hosts had found and bagged them for us, and it was along the way to the Hana Highway, so we wouldn't have a long detour.
Mile 0 of the highway occurs when HI-30 turns into HI-360. Along this coast (which Remy had mentioned gets 300" of rain annually), the rains courses down from the summit of Haleakalā, cutting ravines into the side of the mountain, nourishing the rain forest covering the land. Pullouts provided access to views of the rocky shores, or of the waterfalls punctuating the streams. I had found an online review of the drive, which called out a scenic peninsula and two waterfalls as the best stops in the first 23 miles, so we had our itinerary.
The drive revealed its treasures slowly at first - lush forest, narrow road,
one-lane spots. We even saw a cow wandering down the road in the opposite direction - not sure where it came from. The first few waterfalls and cascades gave us a mere hint of the pleasures in store for our eyes.
After 14 miles, a turnout gave us a view from afar of Ke'Anae Peninsula - a spot that the online reviewer had called his favorite spot on the coast.
Soon we turned left on the peninsula road, then cautiously slipped around the blind, one-lane curve. Ahead, we saw cars parking where they could - and people lined up at a small roadside hut. Ahh, Aunty Sandy's place! The online reviewer had said this woman baked the best, freshest banana bread on the island. He also said he had yet to try it, since she'd already sold out for the day before his arrival every time he came. Luckily, today the oven still did duty, churning out more product. Our loaf - still warm! - convinced us that nowhere else could be better.
Another hundred yards took us to the road's end - and out came my camera.
In front of us, palm trees led to a rocky shoreline. The sea glistened blue, throwing thunderous waves against the lava boulders, white water shooting up into the sky.
Some visitors stopped only long enough for a quick selfie; others pulled out telephoto lenses and filters to capture the artistic shots.
An occasional tourist would venture onto the rocks - one from a week ago took too great a chance, and now has a legacy of a rock named after him. (Darwin's theory proven again.)
For the full effect, I offer you my GoPro video, with music from Keola Beamer and George Winston (courtesy of my Hawaiian music CD collection).
Back to the Hana Highway, we drove another three miles to a beautiful double -- heck, call it multi -- waterfall. Camera out again.
Another three miles took us to our last objective, a roadside park and waterfall that attracted swimmers.
The spot also featured something else I remembered from four decades ago - feral cats! At least one has become used to people, not running away when approached.
We enjoyed the scenery heading back just as much as heading out. More pullouts with coastal views,
more lush forests - often with trees that reminded us of Africa.
We thanked our good luck for the perfect, blue-sky day. (The weather forecast for the Hana coast called for steady, saturating rains for nine straight days, starting tomorrow. Here comes some of that 300"!)
As HI-360 once again became HI-30, we noticed parasailers floating above a herd of cows grazing.
So far, so good - five hours of driving around, and our backs had no complaints. But we still had half a day to go...