We finally made it to Hana. To call Hana a sleepy little town is to understate its quaintness. This is not to say it’s a one-horse town: We actually saw two horses at the Hasagawa General Store, whose long monopoly has now been broken by the Hana Ranch General Store. Still, you can find almost anything there
Nor is it a hick town: it has a three-star resort hotel (the Travaasa) which also houses a fashionable art gallery and one of the town’s two restaurants (the second being the Hana Ranch burger and sandwich café. That is about it for the town’s permanent commercial establishments; not to speak of the town’s dinner options.
But not all the town’s businesses are permanent, brick-and-mortar structures. The town is literally surrounded by farm stands and food trucks. And, we discussed in the Hana Restaurant section, two of the food trucks at which we ate lunches were quite good.
Hana also has a scenic coastline with black rock and sand beaches ringed by emerald forests and an especially rugged area just beyond the Hana Public Beach and Harbor.
Also of interest, which we did our last trip, but not this time; the Ono Organic Farms tour, where we toured the farm and its orchards and sampled many of their fruits and vegetables.
Although Hana is often thought of as the end of the road, this is not at all the case. Indeed, two of the most lovely spots on the island are a mere ten miles past Hana. These are:
- Oheo Gulch, which plunges to the ocean is home to the so-called Seven Sacred Pools, a grouping of cliffside pools (aka swimming holes) that actually have no sacred significance. Although closed to swimming due to early year rains and rockslides, the pools can still be seen. Fed by a confluence of streams flowing off Mt. Haleakula, the pools, which have been carved to up to 40-feet in depth, are fed by powerful waterfalls which connect the stair-step-like pools.
- Pipiwai Trail, which climbs upward from the pools, is at least as impressive. This four-mile, 800-foot elevation gain, round trip trail takes you past Makihiku Falls, alongside and over a steep, water-eroded ravine to its end at the base of the majestic, 400-foot Waimoku Falls. From our perspective, however, the most impressive of the trail’s sights is the huge, tranquil bamboo forest which you are in for almost half the hike. The scenic and well-maintained trail is the favorite of the several trails we have taken on Maui and one of our favorites in the islands.
A few miles past the park, the true “Back Road from Hana” begins. It takes you through many different climates and types of scenery, from the Hana rainforests, the Kipahulu jungles, dry grasslands, lavascapes and ultimately, into the lush, agricultural lands of the Uplands. Also, many spectacular views of the ocean and coastline, cliffs that plummet into the ocean, steep ravines, waterfalls, expansive valleys and upward, to the the mountain. All though the area, you pass all forms of black lava, from razor-sharp rocks, to eroded, smooth pebbles, through finely-ground black sand along the many beaches.
The road also provides a number of interesting sights and surprises. Among these are the:
- Hawaiian-style, Churchyard garden graves of Charles Lindberg (who lived the last years of his life on this side of the island), his friend, Sam Pryor and Pryor’s six pet gibbons;
- Heiau (ancient Polynesian religious structure) that is thought to have been built by the first wave of the island’s settlers from the Marquesas Islands;
- Rainshadow village of Kaupa town with its historic (circa 1925) General Store;
- Ten miles of unpaved road (not covered in rental car contracts) that is generally smoother and easier driving than some of the East Island’s paved roads.
All in all, the drive provides miles and miles of unspoiled, rugged beauty on a trip around the huge, 10,000-foot tall Haleakala Crater, from the shoreline to the 3,000-foot elevation of Maui’s Uplands. Although we passed briefly through this lovely area, we passed straight through to Kaanapali and the island’s Sunshine Coast. We would return another day to enjoy some of our favorite pastimes in this pretty region.