Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Maui - Part 2 - Road to Hana and Beyond

We had heard mixed reviews about the "Road to Hana" - a small town on the East side of the island of Maui.  We were warned that our kids would probably get too carsick and we would have to turn around.  Hana itself is nothing special but the journey of getting there (a winding, one and a half-lane road through the jungle) is spectacular.  We decided to take advantage of our 6:00 am wakings, get an early start and devote the entire day to this trip -with the goal to not stop just at Hana - but to drive the entire way around the Eastern part of the island.

As we started our journey - the landscape became more and more lush and green.  And soon enough - a warm rain/mist started to fall. But this is typical of the region (hence the jungle!).
We were in awe at the vistas and views.
The Road to Hana is known mostly for it's many waterfalls.  And soon - they started to appear.

The ponds were somewhat muddy due to the recent rainfall.  

But that didn't stop Isaac from taking a dip.
We spotted a large vine hanging on the side of the road and couldn't resist a Tarzan moment.

The kids made it look so easy - but the vine was wet and slippery.  Needless to say - I didn't make it very far.
We stopped for a bathroom break and were surprised to see several cats lounging around the area.  It was an interesting thing about Maui - we saw feral cats everywhere!

Hawaiian fern
Most of the first part of the Road to Hana is sheltered by the dense jungle.  Here we were able to get a peek back at the road we were just driving.
This was a beautiful valley - you can faintly see 3 waterfalls in the distance.
Of course I was distracted by the lichen - foliose I think!!

We took a short hike to see even more waterfalls!

Our guidebook recommended a hike through a cave (a lava tube) to a lovely grotto on the other side.  Here is the entrance to the cave.

We exited the cave over 100 feet later to this underground grotto.  These are not the trunks of the banyan trees - they are the roots!

Cate showing her affection for this place.

After the cave we came across one of many fruit and banana bread stands along the Road to Hana.  We stopped for a snack break and had some of the most deliciously moist banana bread I have ever had!  We then traveled to the black sand beach.  The black sand is actually lava fragments.

The town/village of Hana came and went and we were getting hungry.  We had heard about a Hawaiian BBQ stand off the side of the road that was owned by an LDS family.  So we stopped for some lunch.
This little guy welcomed us with the shaka sign.

As we moved along our journey - we saw yet another beautiful waterfall!
The destination for most people driving the Road to Hana is a group of waterfalls known as the "7 Sacred Pools" or more accurately,  Ohe'o Gulch.  The place was indeed beautiful but it was very crowded and we weren't allowed to swim in any of the pools so  this wasn't our favorite spot.
We continued on.  We decided to spend some time at a highly recommended beach - Hamoa beach.  It was by far the best boogie boarding of the entire trip!  The kids could not get enough!

It was late afternoon so we decided to pack up and push on.  We decided to hike to what became our favorite waterfall of all.  Alelele falls.  The hike itself was lovely - winding through what felt like a lush garden of unique trees and plants bordered by ancient stone walls.
We had the waterfall all to ourselves.

The road turned from pavement to gravel and became even more windy.  And the landscape slowly started to change.  At first we just emerged from the jungle into a wide open green space.  It was breathtaking with the sun's rays shining through.
And then the landscape changed to this!
Nothing but grey, grey, starkness as far as the eye could see.
It felt almost unearthly and we could not believe the contrast to what we had just driven through!  This South East side of the island has fierce winds and it almost never rains - so it looks almost completely barren.  It had a beauty of its own and we were so glad we made the decision to drive all the way around the island.
It was early evening, we were exhausted and starving but thrilled with the day.  We finished off our journey with a stop at the sugar cane fields for a taste.  The kids munched on sugar cane until we made it back to the condo.  
I think the Road to Hana is definitely doable for any family.  I think what made it work for us was that we had the windows rolled down, we stopped a lot for hikes and snacks and we devoted the entire day to the trip - so we were not rushed.  It was definitely a highlight of the trip.

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