Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Road to Hana

I'm so excited to share one of our favorite days in Maui with y'all today!  The afternoon we landed in Hawaii, we took a scenic drive up to our hotel and went to bed early so that we could be up before the sun to start the Road to Hana.  For those who might not know, the Road to Hana is a 50ish-mile road along the northeast side of Maui with winding roads, amazing views, and tons of banana bread (clearly my priorities are in order).  It takes almost a full-day to drive to Hana and back, especially because you will definitely want to stop at every lookout you see!  

When I asked for Maui recommendations, Road to Hana was definitely the adventure I received the most recommendations for: where to stop for the best views, where to eat, where to swim, and how to make the most of the day.  The tip we received most often was to start early, and with jet lag, waking up at 6:00am to start our drive felt like we were sleeping in!  If you're from the mainland, I would definitely suggest Road to Hana as an early trip day to take advantage of that jet lag!

The Hana Highway technically begins near the airport in Kahului but really starts to get scenic about 8 miles up the road in Paia.  From our hotel in Kapalua, it took just over an hour to get to Paia.  For the most part, places open on the Hana Highway no earlier than 8:00am.  I plotted out the opening times of each place we wanted to go to along with how many miles each spot was from the previous since I had heard that cell service can be spotty on that side of the island.  You can scroll all the way to the bottom of this post to see a full list of the places we stopped, along with a list of how far they are from one another in case you're headed on a trip to Maui and want to replicate our journey!

Our first stop of the day was Ho'okipa Beach Park to watch the surfers, kite boarders, and try to spot sea turtles.  There weren't any turtles, but the view was amazing!
Since we had been awake for a couple hours already without coffee, and we knew our next stop would be a hike at Twin Falls, we popped into Jaws Country Store for a quick coffee and pastry.  The passion fruit danish was amazing!
At the trailhead of Twin Falls was the best fruit stand truck.  Not only did I get a bunch of candied coconut and pineapple, but you could also pick your own pineapple and have them cut it to drink from.  The coconut water was delicious and the perfect snack for our walk to the falls.  Keep in mind (since I was 25 weeks pregnant), any walks/hikes you see listed here are something that anyone could do.  I definitely didn't venture too far from my comfort zone, though I definitely did a ton of research before the trip to see which sites would be the best payoff for the littlest effort - haha!
Back in the car, our next memorable stop was Kenae Road, down a hill to amazing lava beaches and the most well-known banana bread stand.  Over the trip, we taste-tested 5 different banana breads, and this one was definitely the winner.  You got a whole mini loaf, and it was still warm.  The views on Kenae Road from the beaches were amazing, too.
Zigging and zagging on Hana Highway, most bridges were one lane with awesome views in either direction.  Though, please, don't be that person who blocks the entire road to stop and take a photo as you're driving.  The photo below was taken as we were driving, so, I promise, it is possible!
Seriously, so much of this drive included food, and I loved every minute of it.  Coconut Glen's was at the top of my list because they make an assortment of coconut milk ice creams with no dairy.  The lemongrass and ginger one that I had was so delicious!
One of my absolute favorite stops of the day was our next one to the Waianapanapa picnic grounds and state beach.  Seriously, it was amazing for so many reasons!  There were adorably sweet feral cats all over the picnic area, and it was just a short walk down the hill to the black sand beach.  I really wish the photos did it just justice!  The sand was so smooth, and it was a great place to swim.
By this point, we were getting pretty hungry, so we took the suggestion of a friend to go to Bradduh Hutts BBQ, right in Hana - yes, we had made it!!  The lunch spot was basically a food truck and tent set up in someone's front lawn, and obviously, there was a cat there, too.  We ordered a couple different things to try: barbecue chicken plate lunch and shrimp pasta - both were delicious. 
We decided to keep driving through Hana, all the way around the island, instead of backtracking to Paia.  From our experience talking to people there, it seems like people are evenly split, whether they choose to drive back the way they came or continue on.  We wanted to keep seeing new sites, and even though the area south of Hana was much less populated (and the roads aren't paved as well), it's definitely worth it, especially if you're in a Jeep or larger vehicle.  We didn't need to use four wheel drive once, just FYI. 
One of our final stops was at Palapala Ho’omau Church where Charles Lindbergh's grave was.  The views at the overlook were amazing, too. 
You can definitely tell that the terrain is much different south of Hana, but we enjoyed the drive and are glad we did it this way.  From what we've heard, the roads around Hana can become pretty crowded as the day goes on, and continuing on, instead of backtracking, we barely saw another car.  The one piece of driving advice I can give you on Road to Hana is if someone is clearly driving faster than you and catches up to you, just let them pass.  You'll be less stressed, and the person behind you will be less frustrated!  Also, beware of tour buses - they drive crazy!!
Stops on the Road to Hana (mileage in parentheses denote distance from previous location):

  • Ho'okipa Beach Park and Lookout (1.5 mi from Paia)
  • Jaws Country Store (6.3 mi, opens at 7:00am)
  • Twin Falls fruit stand, waterfall, and trails (3.7 mi, opens at 8:00am)
  • Ka Haku Smoke Shack chicken and banana bread (8.2 mi, chicken ready at 10:00am)
  • Garden of Eden Arboretum - $15 per person (0.3 mi, 8:00am-4:00pm)
  • Kenae Road for lava beaches and Aunt Sandy's banana bread (6 mi)
  • Swimming at Ching's Pond (0.5 mi)
  • Halfway to Hana store (0.5 mi)
  • Wailua Valley State Wayside stairs (1.5 mi)
  • Coconut Glen's coconut milk ice cream (8.7 mi)
  • Waianapanapa black sand beach (5 mi)
  • Hana Tropicals flower shop - they'll ship their orchids back to the mainland! (1.6 mi)
  • Kaihalulu red sand beach (1.7 mi)
  • Bradduh Hutts BBQ (0.6 mi)
  • Hamoa Beach (2.7 mi)
  • Ohe’o Gulch Seven Sacred Pools (7.3 mi)
  • Charles Lindbergh's grave at Palapala Ho’omau Church (1.4 mi)
  • Drive back to the airport along Route 37 (52 mi)


Kate at Green Fashionista said...

Swooning over all these pics, and of course that fruit stand truck <3
Green Fashionista

Julie said...

How fun! If I ever get to Hawaii it's on my to do list!

Ashley @ A Cute Angle said...

I've heard about this so much, but to read your post and see your photos... wow! What an amazing way to experience the Hawaiian culture. I would love to see a lava beach and the black sand beaches! All of your food sounds and looks really yummy too!

Jen said...

The road to hana is absolutely amazing! It's one of my favorite things about Maui.

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