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We’re heading over to Maui for this post. Perhaps the island’s biggest tourist attraction is the Road to Hana. The road goes for just over 100 kilometres, but it has so many twists, turns and stops that you definitely need a full day of exploration. Once again, I opted to do a tour, because we all know driving on the other side of the road terrifies me. Plus, I don’t think I’d even drive on such a twisted highway in Australia.
The team at Valley Isle Excursions are Road to Hana pros. They have several small tour buses doing the route every day. The end stretch of the road is unpaved and very bumpy, so rental cars companies don’t insure for this trek. In doing a tour, I was able to fully complete the entire Road to Hana, which definitely feels like an accomplishment. Here’s a rundown on the sights I saw and my highlights.
Pick up and breakfast
I was picked up at a hotel next to my hostel again, at 7am. Our tour bus was small, with just 10 people (all Americans except for me). I liked the small size, and I honestly don’t think a large bus could handle the Road to Hana anyway. We were all staying on Maui’s southside and our first stop was for breakfast. I actually didn’t realise this was included, but I hadn’t eaten anything beforehand so it worked out well. Breakfast included fruit, pastries, juice and scones.
Road to Hana
Following breakfast we began our journey on the Road to Hana. We drove through Paia, which looks like a great village. Our driver, Barry has lived on the island for many years, so he’s absolutely full of interesting Hawaii and Maui knowledge. He points us the best places to eat, including Willie Nelson’s favourite restaurant. As we drive along the Hana Highway, Barry pulled over whenever he could for photo opportunities, which was appreciated. The area’s actually a rainforest, which receives rainfall most nights. It was lush, that’s for sure, and full of pretty waterfalls.
Our first major stop was Keanae Peninsula. The area’s black lava rocks — from Haleakala Crater’s lava flow a few hundred years ago — looked so beautiful juxtaposed against the North Shore’s crashing blue sea. There’s also an old stone church in the peninsula, and for some reason looking at it from afar, with the mountains in the background, I instantly thought of Jurassic Park. As you do.
Wai’anapanapa State Park
The next stop on our tour was Maui’s Black Sand Beach, which is a very sacred place for Hawaiians. The beach is made up of black sand and black pebbles. It looked like a beautiful spot to swim, if we had more time. I found myself once again thinking this area remind me of someplace else (I have no idea why). But with its deep blue sea and lush green coastline, I was transported back to Bali, and more specifically Uluwatu. I actually found myself thinking a lot about Bali on this trip.
We drove through the tiny town of Hana on our way to lunch. We were served a picnic-style lunch, which includes barbeque chicken, vegetarian pasta, garden salad and rolls. It was perfect and the setting, surrounded by a plethora of tropical flowers, wasn’t half bad either.
Oheo Gulch Pools
These pools are usually a perfect place for swimming, but not on the day we visited. The immense amount of rain the area had received turned the pools a lovely shade of brown. However, the coastline around the pools wasn’t awful to look at. The walk to the pools and back was also a good way to get some exercise, when sitting on a bus for the majority of the day.
Palapala Ho’omau Church
Known primarily as the final resting place of Charles Lindbergh, I honestly didn’t have a clue who Lindbergh was until Barry told me his story. But all of the Americans on the bus seemed to know about him, so I was definitely the odd one out. The church was built in 1857 out of limestone coral and it’s located at Kipahulu Point. It’s a peaceful area along the Road to Hana, and I can see why Lindbergh chose this spot.
On a side note…after I visited Maui and was at home watching Timeless, they did an episode featuring Lindbergh. At least I knew who he was at this time.
Road to Hana 2.0
Now it’s the fun part. The landscape changes dramatically on this unpaved section of the Road to Hana. This is the Kaupo area, and you go from rainforests to barren paddocks and volcanic rock. It was extremely bumpy, but once again Barry allowed us to get out when possible and take photos of the landscape. Once the lush vegetation is removed from the picture, you can also get uninterrupted coastline views along this section of the road too. We stopped one last time before heading back to our side of the island.
We ended up doing a massive circle of the island in 10 hours; just missing the west side of Kihei and Wailea. On the drive back we could see whales in the water, which was just so cool. I followed this with a whale watching tour the next day.
One of the things I loved about this tour in particular was the extras. There was an esky (cooler) filled with soft drinks (soda/pop) and water, which we could help ourselves to throughout the day. There were plenty of (clean) restroom breaks, plus we received a delicious breakfast and lunch, including macadamia chocolates as an after lunch treat. Valley Isle Excursions are pros, and it shows. I highly recommend this tour, especially because the company literally goes that extra mile on the Road to Hana.
• My favourite photos from Hawaii.
• A great Oahu day trip as well.
Have you survived the Road to Hana too?
Thank you to Valley Isle Excursions for the complimentary tour and for the opportunity to say “I survived the Road to Hana.” All opinions are my own.