Day 2 of my first interisland trip to Maui. After a long day at Haleakala Crater on Day 1, I was ready for something a little less physically demanding. I had to make it to Lahaina on the western side by the evening, so I decided to take the scenic way to get there and drive the famous Road to Hana, followed by a trip around Maui's North Shore.
I woke up around 5am to begin my drive. I would be going from Paia around the east side of Maui along the road to Hana. Assuming the entire road was open (sometimes they close portions due to flash flooding), I would continue around the southeastern tip of Maui to drive the full road. I snagged a breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee at Honolulu Coffee Company. Go figure, there's a place in Maui called Honolulu Coffee, but name aside, it was delicious.
As I sipped my coffee and began my drive, I saw the sun slowly rising over the Pacific. I really didn't take many pictures along this drive, but this was a picture I knew I had to get. I could tell from this sunrise, that this was going to be a great day.
The road itself really lives up to the hype of being a challenging drive. It is incredibly narrow and winds frequently. There are several blind turns that require you to creep around the corner to make sure you don't hit a car coming the other way. There are also many single lane bridges that you must use caution before crossing.
All that being said, the drive is totally worth it. There is lush green vegetation surrounding the road and several scenic coastal views along the road. If it has been raining heavily, there will be numerous waterfalls along the road you can stop and see. The day I drove it was relatively dry so the waterfalls weren't really flowing, but this also meant I would be able to fully drive the road. There are tons of local food stands along the road selling various fruits and breads. Of course, I started my drive so early none of them were open (island time ya).
There are many places to stop along the road for incredible views and scenery, including the Black Sand Beach and Red Sand Beach. However, my favorite stop of the day was Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park. There is an entry fee, but it is totally worth it. Here, there are a few beautiful hikes to do, including the Pipiwai Trail, a 4 mile hike that heads inland through a bamboo forest and ends at a 400 foot waterfall. Above is the Bamboo forest. These were the largest bamboo stalks I had ever laid eyes on. I felt so small in their presence.
There are several little waterfalls along the Pipiwai trail with bridges over them to provide awesome views. However, the real appeal is Waimoku falls, the 400 foot waterfall at the end of the trail. There was a sign that said the trail was closed leading up to the waterfall, but many people ignored it and went anyway. I followed suit. This was the first several hundred foot waterfall I'd seen in Hawaii. It was very impressive. Just don't get too close because there are a lot of falling stones that probably would hurt quite a bit if they clunked you on the head.
After finishing the Pipiwai Trail, it was time for a quick dip in the Pools of 'Ohe'o (commonly called Seven Sacred Pools) before my long car ride to Lahaina. The pools are a short hike from the main parking lot, but they are worth the effort. There are several levels of pools that eventually lead to the Pacific Ocean. The water was a bit chilly, but felt great after that physical exertion along the Pipiwai Trail. This place can get crazy crowded, so if you want it to be a little less hectic, get there early.
After my refreshing swim, I had my standard lunch of a PB&J before I got back in the car to finish the Road to Hana and continue my drive to Lahaina.
But not before I stopped for one picture of the end of road. This isn't at all representative of the beauty (or danger) of the road, but it just felt like a good bookend to the Hana drive
I would now be cutting through the island before taking a trip around the North Shore to Lahaina. I was basically doing a figure eight around the island. My plan was to make it to the Kapalua Coastal Trail, where I knew I could watch the sunset. The drive through the middle of the island was relatively uneventful, but since it was a clear day, you could see the full landscape of the island. Maui is basically two mountains with a bunch of flat land in between (at least that's what it looked like to me).
The road around the northern tip of Maui is no joke either. It's very similar to the road to Hana, with many blind turns and sharp corners. There were several occasions where I had to back up to allow another car to pass because the road wasn't wide enough.
I made one stop on the north shore at the Nakelele Blowhole. Despite living in Oahu for some time, I had never ventured to any of the blowholes, so this was my first. It's a short little hike to get close to the blowhole, but being close to eye level allows you to fully experience its power. Apparently the water can sometimes get to 100 feet high. This was just one of those places where mother nature puts on a show to display her true beauty.
Now, it was off to the Kapalua Coastal Trail, a path that runs along many of the hotels in Kapalua with amazing views of the ocean and the other islands. I figured it would be an awesome spot for a sunset.
And I was right. I managed to find a spot among the rocks a little off the main path. The water flowing over the rocks while the sun set behind Lanai in the background made for a perfect ending to my adventure around Maui.
Have you driven the treacherous but beautiful Road to Hana? Tell your story below!
Also Check Out:
- How to prepare for the Road to Hana
- Unreal Hawaii's Pipiwai Trail Experience
- Mauiguidebook.com, an amazing resource for all things Maui