If you’re visiting Maui you’ll definitely want to bucket list the road to Hana. It’s an unforgettable winding journey of amazing sights and scenery where around every corner there’s something new to make you gasp in awe!
The road to Hana is a 64.4 mile long stretch of highway connecting Kahului with the town of Hāna in east Maui, Hawaii.
The highway itself is extremely winding and narrow. It passes over 59 bridges of which 46 are only one lane wide.
There are approximately 620 curves endured as you travel along the route, most of which are through a dense tropical rain forest.
Our Day Trip On The Road To Hana
As you can imagine with such a challenging road to drive on and so much to see on that road neither Lynne nor I relished the though of me actually driving a car on such an unfamiliar route.
There was also another reason for us travelling on the road to Hana.
We needed to get to the other end, and our next destination, the Travaasa Hana!
So, we choose to get a guided tour of that road as well as a guide who could drop us off at that next destination.
Before we left Scotland we read up on loads of reviews of guides who could take us. We chose and booked with Jungle Tours Maui. Our tour guide, driver and owner of that business was Alec.
We chose well. Alec knew this road like the back of his hand. It was his “office” and boy were we jealous of his office!
Alec picked us and our luggage up at 0700 from the Hyatt Regency, Kaanapali beach for our journey to Hana.
It was such a great journey. To say the scenery was amazing would be an understatement. The running commentary provided by Alec on the history of the area as well as the pointing out of the sights not to miss, invaluable.
The weather was absolutely stunning too. Because of that, we made full use of Alec’s open top Jeep. We were lucky as the weather changed over the next few days to be more of a rain forest climate, well I suppose you can expect that being in a rain forest!
Alec took us to all the hidden waterfalls and pools that were further back from the main road and not seen by the more general tours and tourists on this route.
Alec is pictured above (Jeep in background) with Lynne over one of the 59 bridges that help to span the dramatic valleys and ravines.
I’m extremely grateful to Alec for taking some of these pictures for us on my camera and also providing us with a treasured DVD which he took of our day together (included in his tour package).
Waterfalls like this will take your breath away.
You can just sit for a while staring at the stream of cascading water throwing up white spray. Lost in your own happy thoughts.
Neither Lynne or I had ever been in a bamboo forest before.
The bamboo trunks make an amazing “clapping” sound when they sway in the wind and collide with each other.
Interesting bamboo fact (learnt from Alec) – each of those compartments you can see on the bamboo trunks are actually hollow!
Many of the waterfalls have pools that you can swim in too if you want to.
The water is cool, clean and crystal clear coming from the rain forests of Haleakala.
We’re fortunate being able to see sights like this from the modern road of which construction to Hana began in the 1870s.
An unpaved road was initially built to facilitate the construction of the Hämäkua Ditch, part of The East Maui Irrigation System.
The Hämäkua Ditch was built largely by Chinese labourers to supply water to support the then growing sugarcane industry in Maui.
The road we travelled on wasn’t actually surfaced until the 1960’s. Fortunately it has plenty of stopping places to be able to stop and see the views.
Here at Keanae peninsula (see map at top of post) we stopped to eat the best banana bread in the world!
It was devoured. That’s why there’s no picture of it (sorry!). Here’s my banana bread picture though. 😉
I also had an amazing chilli dog here for lunch which Alec had also recommended. Lunch was included in Alec’s tour package too.
The picture above shows a path round the rim of this stunning pool.
That path is part of the maintenance access for the Hämäkua Ditch but it also allowed us to walk all the way round to explore the pool further.
You can get a bit of an idea of how lush and green everything is here in the forest from the above two photographs.
There’s paths like this all through the forest allowing you to explore further, deeper into the wilderness if you have the time.
The coastline is full of jagged interesting shaped volcanic rocks.
Their shapes created by years of erosion by the powerful waves crashing against them.
It’s also funny to think that looking out into the ocean the next nearest place is Midway island and the next nearest landmass is actually the Alaskan peninsula!
On arriving into Hana, our journey on the road to Hana nearly complete, we stopped at the Hana District Police Station and Courthouse. It’s part of the Hana Cultural Center and Museum.
Although the building is now mainly a fascinating museum full of interesting artefacts and items of hitorical and cultural significance from Hana’s past it is still used as a courthouse.
The courthouse dates from 1871. The building having since been restored in 1991.
Other buildings here include a gift shop and visitor centre.
Well worth a visit to discover even more about Hana’s past.
The Travaasa Hana Our Final Destination On The Road To Hana
We stayed at the Travaasa Hana over the next couple of days.
It’s a complete paradise and staying there gave us both some well earned rest and relaxation from the hectic trip schedule we’d planned.
Our days were spent walking about, enjoying the scenery and waking up to sunrises like this!
Oh, and eating delicious black bean burgers!
The weather was a little less favourable than that we’d had so far, but we weren’t complaining.
Believe me, when you come from Scotland (where it was snowing at this time) and the temperature in Hana is still 20°C despite the rain you have nothing to complain about!!
Well folks, I hope the description and pictures and video above convey in at least some way to you what an amazing trip this was.
And I do hope you can join Lynne and I for the next instalment where we fly to Honolulu, Oahu and visit Pearl Harbor.
Another interesting fact about the bamboo–bamboo is not native to Hawai’i–it was brought over by one of the western countries and has now started to take over. It is actually a real problem in some areas of the various islands! And you can’t fully eradicate it because it is so invasive. When I did my trip to Hawai’i we spent time pruning a bamboo forest, which is how I know about this. But it gives you an excuse to wield a machete 😀
I wonder if it was the middle east labourers who were brought over to build the water trench to take water from Halekala to the sugar case fields that brought the bamboo with them?
I never knew that it had become an actual problem. We thought it was really interesting as we hadn’t seen such a specatacle before.
Please let me know if you are ever in possession of a machete again. Just so I make sure I am quite far away! 😀
Wow, I love this post, Neil! I’ve never been to Hawai’i, but it is definitely on the list. The problem for us is that Europe is closer than Hawai’i…and Europe will always win! (I know you’re from Europe, so it might some ‘normal,’ but we love our European trips!) Anyways, Alec seems like one amazing guide. You did such a a good job describing this adventure that I’m seriously tempted to put Hawai’i on the list sooner than later. I love those waterfall photos!!
Hi David, I’m so glad that you enjoyed this post and especially so in that it seems to have had the desired affect in tempting you to add this to your list of destinations to visit sooner rather than later!
We loved Hawaii and wouldn’t hesitate to go back, but it was “a trip of a lifetime” and a lot of saving up for it took place (but was well worth it!). We do love Europe too and still have so many places to visit there.
But yeah Hawaii, I hope you go for it. You and your family would love it, and if you do this trip, Alec is your man! 😀
Awe Neil, you have done it again. I’m all nostalgic sitting here in Ohio. I, too, have traveled the same beautiful highway but in the 70’s when the road was fresh and new. But I didn’t have Alex as my tour guide. I had George. My Dad. And we didn’t have a jeep, we had a rental car. We me, already a distressed teen, and hanging on for dear life as we careened down that narrow beautiful road. They were very brave, taking a teenager to such a beautiful place. But we had a blast and I hope I told them so, if not at the time, but at some point in our travels for taking me to one of the most beautiful places on earth. Am I right, Neil?
Hi Rose, that’s an amazing story! Wow! Its little wonder that you remember that road so well as it’s such a memorable experience isn’t it?
And, I bet back then in the 70’s it would have been a bit quieter than it is now, giving you even more of a unique experience.
Yes, you are right. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world and Lynne and I are so glad we made the trip.
Thanks for sharing your story on the road to Hana too! 🙂