Maui day 2: Road to Hana

Having gone to bed early and woken before the sunrise, my first full day in Maui started earlier than expected. Darn that three-hour time change! I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my day. Initially, I thought pool/beach day. Plus I had forgotten my cell phone charger so perhaps a trip to the store, and I knew I wanted to pop into a grocery store (there’s a mini refrigerator in the room so I’m thinking Greek yogurt for breakfast).

I packed my backpack with some just in case essentials, slathered on some sunscreen, pulled the top down on the Jeep and hit the road. When I came to the fork in the road, I just kept going and ventured to the Road to Hana.

I’m using the 6th edition Maui Revealed guidebook and had previously identified the top sites I wanted to explore. Seems my first full day of relaxation was going to be a busy one. I’ll admit I missed a few of my initial sights, not being able to identify the correct pullout and despite resetting my odometer at the zero mark, I was off about 1/2 mile.

The first falls I explored was Haipua’ena Falls. This is a small falls and pool down a short trail. When I arrived I had it to myself for a few moments.


Just past the 13 mile mark, after finding the correct pullout for the Punalau stream I found the purpose of my vacation. This vacation would be about taking chances and doing those things that may be intimidating. It was time to live without fear, whether it’s a hike or spending a day on the beach in a swimsuit.

With this emboldened attitude I took off for the falls. The short muddy trailhead winds though a bamboo thicket to the stream where you work your way upstream along the boulders. Yes boulders. My Kmart water shoes were essential for this as they allowed me to feel the rock and had grippy soles.

After about 10 minutes I could get a peek of what lay ahead.

As I worked my way further upstream it became a narrow vertical chasm with lush sheer walls teaming with ferns and moss. At the head a tall Lacey waterfall and pool which I had to myself.

Talk about breathtaking! The falls were worth every minute scrambling over those rocks and were mine alone. As I gazed in wonder at this enchanting chasm I could feel the magic of the island seep into my skin. Stress seemed to float away.

I sadly returned to the Jeep to continue to my next stop – Upper Waikani Falls. I had been warned that the first few steps down are horrific but the rest of the path was easy. Horrific is kind and easy is relative. Like a Dall Sheep, you rock hop a narrow and nearly sheer 6-8 foot drop with a few rock “steps”. One wrong move and you will not be having a good day. Remembering my purpose I cautiously made my way down, not wanting to think about the climb backup.

And boy was it worth it!

Ever want to stand under a waterfall? Well, I did! This was mine.

There was quite a bit of spray so my pics aren’t the best. Enough people braved the drop down to the tail so the crowds got a little thick, so time to move on. Much more to see and do!

I did take the road down to Nahiku which was through the lushest road imaginable. Having the top down was essential in order to take in the full impression of this area. However if you’re pressed for time, I’d skip this drive. Yes, the views from the end of the road are beautiful, but all the views are beautiful!

Next it was time for something completely different – a black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa Park. Unfortunately it also brought the crowds. Between a black sand beach and freshwater caves, what’s not to draw a crowd?

Actually, the beach itself wasn’t very crowded but I had been spoiled earlier with a complete lack of fellow tourists.

Soon, I arrived in Hana. As I had a particular beach in my sights I didn’t linger but continued on after making a quick u-turn to pick up a homemade mango popsicle from a roadside cart. Hmmmm, mango, cream and honey all frozen on a stick.

What was my goal? Hamoa Beach, which per the guidebook has the best bodysurfing on the island. Am I into bodysurfing? I am now! After my first pass the parking wasn’t looking good and the beach had some crowds, so I decided to keep going. Then after another mile, I flipped a u-turn and tried again. I wasn’t going to quit. I wanted to play in the waves and crowds be damned. Besides it’s still a sleepy beach by California standards and I had purpose. I also have a Jeep and scored a spot where other cars couldn’t park!

What fun! The sand was a salt and pepper mix and the waves were awesome. A handful of people playing in the surf, families and couples enjoying the sun, more enjoying the shade and some surfers catching some of the larger waves. I am so glad I kept to the motto. I also now have sand in places I don’t want to think about and discovered my halter style bathing suit doesn’t hold up well to large surf!

There are still many miles yet to complete the loop so after an hour or so it was time to get moving again. Only one more official stop was on my list – Haleakala National Park. Apparently it was on a lot of other people’s list as well and sadly due to very high water the waterfall pools were closed to swimming. Instead I enjoyed a short half mile or so loop trail hike out to a scenic overlook and falls before once again hitting the road. Had it been earlier in the day the 2 mile hike up the Pipiwai Trail, which is supposed to be amazing, required more stamina than I have at this point.

The rest of the drive brings some jaw dropping scenes as the road hugs the mountain with sheer drops to the crashing ocean below. Stunning and I’m glad this part of the road is less traveled as it’s certainly harrowing. Little surprises also await, such as this 1862 church.

And several miles further along, this stunning view of a lava arch.

This side of the island is more rugged, brown and full of cattle ranches. It’s more desolate and often seems like you’ve reached a different island than the lush tropical oasis left behind. The disparity is appealing, however the day has grown long and I’m ready to end my day.

I’ve arrived back to the resort 12 hours after I left. Tired, but yes, relaxed! We’ll see if I can spend tomorrow doing much less, but there’s so much to still explore!

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