The Road to Hana, Maui Part 1 of 3

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” – Laotse

The drive from Kahului to Hana is about 34 miles, offers 56 bridges and more than 600 curves. The traffic can be slow due to sightseers and photographers. If you are intent on reaching Hana, you will be frustrated and not enjoy this drive at all. Rather, the idea should be to enjoy the drive and experience all of the interesting things off the highway such as the town of Nahiku, Blue Pool, have a picnic at Pocket Red Sand Beach, photograph the sea arch and on and on. Hana should just be another experience in a wonderful day.

Your starting point for this drive is the once thriving sugar-mill town of Paia . Some folks like to refer to Paia as the windsurfing capital of the world, I found it to have interesting boutique shops and great eateries. Regardless, make sure you top off your gas tank while in town. It's a long drive with no gas stations along the way.

As you leave Paia, the road bends into an S-turn. In the middle of this S-turn is the entrance to the world famous Mama's Fish House. It can be distinguished by a restored boat with the Mama's logo on the side. While a bit pricey, Mama's has seafood that is out of this world with views of the Pacific and whale's frolicking during the winter seasons. Remember this place if you are hungry on the way home.

2.2 miles out of Paia, you will come to the Hookipa Overlook. To the left side, you will see the world famous beach. It is absolutely amazing to watch the windsurfers fly up 6 foot waves, rip off a back flip and then just ride away. Hookipa is a very nice place to soak up the ambiance and catch a few rays. About a mile up from Mama's Fish House, just before mile marker 9, you will find the entrance into Hookipa Beach Park.

At highway marker 11, you will go through a rural area called Haiku. Haiku is just a pleasant hamlet with guava trees, avocados, palms, patches of banana trees, kukui trees and lots of cane grass waving to you as you pass by.

Finally, at mile marker 16 the first of 600 curves appears. After highway marker 16, you are still on the Hana Highway but road designation now changes from Highway 36 to Highway 360 and the mile markers start over again at 0.

It might be a bit early in the day for a dip but at mile marker 2 you will see a parking lot to your right. You can park here and hike down to the first waterfall/pool in 3 or 4 minutes. There is a bigger pool another 10 minutes down the trail. Caution, the trails are slippery when wet and this is private property. However, if you are up for it, a dip in a tropical waterfall pool makes for a nice photo opportunity.

After mile marker 4, you will begin to pass by the Koolau Forest Reserve. This is the tropical, lush Hawaii that everyone dreams about with mango and guava trees growing up to 30 feet tall. The tallest trees (up to 200 feet) are the eucalyptus trees brought over from Australia over 100 years ago. These trees are very aggressive and are becoming a bit of a problem as they edge out other vegetation for space.

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