Hana: The Road to Nowhere

Azure waves brush up against coral-strewn and lava coastlines. Each point, each gulch, along the way is so different from the rest despite being the exact same road. At times, that same road even becomes so narrow, it squeezes down to just one skinny lane.

This is the road to absolutely nowhere and back around again.

This is the Road to Hana.

The day started off easy enough: at approximately 6:30 in the morning, we got up, packed a small snack, got ready and left to get even more snacks, like spam musubi. It’s recommended that you need ALL day to go around the entire island. Maui is small, but the roads are windy and narrow and there’s so much to see. Sure enough, we needed the entire day.


Maui is sometimes referred to as being shaped like the profile of the woman. If that’s the case, we started our journey on her shoulder blade in a town called Paia. It was early in the morning, so nothing was open and already the sun was blazing. Our time in Paia was very short, though, because Hana–that elusive town–was calling our name.

This church. A church in Paia.


Ho’okipa Lookout

If there’s one recurring theme about our travel road trips, it’s that the coastline is always an incredible shade of blue. Even though I missed a lot of Croatia’s stunning coastline due to an insatiable case of the trots, I still managed to catch glimpses and it was stunning. Oahu’s beautiful coastline was also a site to behold. Maui is also one of those places where each part of the coast is unique. At Ho’Okipa Lookout, a lot of people were enjoying the day on the beach and you can tell people really like to hang out at this place. Just check out this tree:

The beer tree giveth and the beer tree taketh. The beer tree giveth and the beer tree taketh. Surf's up and stuff. Surf’s up and stuff.



Ke’anae was a little different. While the varying shades of blue remained true, the actual beach was a glistening shade of black. We climbed around the lava rocks and this is was probably my most favorite part: each pool of water in the lava rocks had all different kinds of sea animals in them! There were tiny rock-colored baby crabs climbing all over, and starfish with some seriously long tentacles. There were even little fish swimming around. I would have loved to stay all day and make friends with the hermit crabs, but once again, Hana was calling our name and we continued towards the lady’s butt (aka “Hana;” seriously, look at a map of Maui, Hana’s literally on the lady’s butt).

Little fishes! So cute! Little fishes! So cute! We lava this beach We lava this cove. We're serious about this whole "there's lots of lava" thing, because there really is a lot of lava. We’re serious about this whole “there’s lots of lava” thing, because there really is a lot of lava. Very green in Maui Very green in Maui.


Wai’anapanapa State Park

We’ve been to a lot of beaches in our time. Most of them have that golden sand we’re all so familiar with. I don’t think I have ever seen black sand, though. It’s shimmery and a little sparkly and, unlike it’s golden counterpart, once you get black sand in places (like a tush crack), you actually can get it out! Seriously, try it! It’s so much easier to clean off black sand and I’m pretty sure I won’t somehow mysteriously find it in my purse several months from now.

There was also a real cool blowhole. Previously, we really didn’t have much of an idea as to what a “blow hole” is. We thought perhaps it’s something with a hole that you blow (hmmm….kinky…). We were given a very nice introduction when the water blew through the hole and sprayed us in the face. So, that’s a blowhole: a rock with a hole with water that sprays your face.

Black Sand: Once you get it in there, you CAN get it out! Black Sand: Once you get it in there, you CAN get it out!


Red Sand Beach

But, you know what’s practically impossible to get out: red sand. Ok, so it’s not like its softer and more pesky counterpart: red dirt. It is, however, kind of slippery and full of lots of pieces of coral. We also found a coral conspicuously shaped like a penis. We would show photos, but just use your imagination and picture a penis-shaped coral (yeah, that’s it!). Perhaps the red sand gets its color from the vibrant penis-shaped corals. We learned something new that day, sand comes in pretty much all the colors of the rainbow.

Vibrant Red Sand Beach Vibrant Red Sand Cove.



After five hours of driving, we finally made it to Hana. Then we drove through it, realized the town was pretty small and promptly drove back. The town was–in fact–very small. A lot of restaurants and cafes were closed. There was only one place open and it was a food truck called Bruddah Hut. We ate some delicious Hawaiin barbecue.

And that was it.

Hana was done.


Haleakala State Park

South of Hana is one of the entrances to a very large state park called Haleakala State Park. When we reached this point, we seriously considered turning back after we were done in the park. The stretch of Pi’ilani Highway south of the park is even more narrow than road on the way to Hana. It’s also not really paved. To be fair, the road is not dirt, it’s just made of broken asphalt for short stretches. So of course we didn’t drive our rental car through that narrow stretch of road (::winkbecausetheressomethinginmyeyenotbecauseimsuggestingwedrovethroughthere::).

At the park, we hiked to a waterfall. We walked by a really old banyan tree and through a bamboo grove that had bamboo even taller than the grove in Japan (read: VERY tall). It took about an hour or so to get to the waterfall and it did not disappoint. The waterfall was tall and even kind of a little majestic.

The first waterfall. The first waterfall. This banyan tree has roots for days. This banyan tree has roots for days. Bamboo grove Bamboo grove Brave treacherous rivers and possible flash floods for this waterfall? Sure, why not. Brave treacherous rivers and possible flash floods for this waterfall? Sure, why not.



Well, the road back around ended up being a lot less dreadful than we expected. The road was very narrow with hairpin curves at times, but it was still somewhat paved. We did have a couple of narrow misses where we had to back up and let a fellow car go through. But, it wasn’t all that bad.

But, here’s the thing about Kaupo: that area of Maui is like a whole new world. For those of you who have seen the recent Mad Max: Fury Road movie, Kaupo looked a lot like that. It was very desolate, but with plains instead of desert. Clouds had rolled in and it was rainy and even a little bit cold. And what was worse: there was a ravenous pack of evil cows sitting in one spot and mooing fairly violently as we crossed them. They didn’t move. They just moo’d like an angry pack of heiffers.

There was also a a cliff with a ton of cars that had careened over. Let’s just be honest: that’s pretty weird.

Not a soul in sight..except for some angry cows. Not a soul in sight..except for some angry cows. Some mailboxes out on the road to nowhere. Some mailboxes out on the road to nowhere. There's a different landscape in Kaupo. Maui is quite the perplexing piece of nature. There’s a different landscape in Kaupo. Maui is quite the perplexing piece of nature. Hawaii version of Mad Max. Hawaii version of Mad Max. Why are these cows so angry?! Why are these cows so angry?! Does this not give you the heebie jeebies. Does this not give you the heebie jeebies.


Haleakala State Park

Our last stop for the day was right back at Haleakala State Park, but this time on the other side. At the very top of the park is Haupa’Akea Summit. At 10,000 feet up, that place was like landing on the moon (and it took just as long to get there). The landscape really started to change as we headed up another windy road. It went from sunny, to cloudy to downright barren with red rocks and space-age looking cactus plants. We were above the clouds at that point. It was freezing cold, too.

Haleakala's summit is soooo far up, that you reach the moon...or a reasonable--and just as cold--facsimile. Haleakala’s summit is soooo far up, that you reach the moon…or a reasonable–and just as cold–facsimile. Above the clouds now! Above the clouds now!

Our day finally ended at 9:00 pm. After about 15 hours, we finally headed back to our condo in Kihei. In just one day, we probably learned and explored only a fraction of the beauty of Maui. The Road to Hana may have been to nowhere, but our memories definitely felt like we were home.

Think you might try the Road to Hana? Let us know in the comments!

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