Hana Highway
We arrived at the Kahului airport on the island of Maui late in the morning. We'd heard that the Hana Highway is one of the most interesting drives in the world. We were not disappointed. After loading up our gear into the rental car, we proceeded down the highway through pineapple and sugar cane fields. Our first stop was in the small town of Pa'ia to buy essentials including the Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook. We liked the Hawaii: The Big Island Revealed guidebook so much that we decided to get the one for Maui. We also bought the Road Guide which is available free online.
We also stopped just north of Pa'ia at Ho'okipa Lookout (mile maker 9) to watch surfers. For more information on Hawaii surfing, check out the Hawaii Surfing News. We also saw a few wind surfers. There's always wind on Maui, so they can always find good weather conditions for wind surfing. The view was beautiful . . . looking out into the surf with the mountains in the background.
The highway trek was fun. Our guidebook said "if you're in a hurry to get to Hana, you're missing the point." With a mix of hairpin turns and one lane bridges, the drive was an adventure. We've always enjoyed mountain and coastal drives, so the driving wasn't a problem. Other than the locals in their small pickups, most drivers were honeymooners in rented convertibles. We teased that their trip would probably be spoiled by sunburned heads. Rather than stopping at the hot tourist stops, we selected more secluded falls and overlooks. If you want to see the falls, it's a good idea to get the 'Ultimate' guidebooks. Hawaii has very poor signage and you'd miss everything but tourist traps without a good guide. The trails along the road to the falls are short, so they make a good place to stop and relax. You can't see everything, so keep moving and enjoy some of the falls from the roadway.
Coastal Trail at
We particularly enjoyed the Wai'anapanapa (Why-A-Nah-Pah-Nah-Pah) Black Sand Beach State Park (mile marker 32). With trails along the coastline leading to blowholes, arches, a black beach, and temple ruins, it was a great place to spend the afternoon. The three pictures above show the coastal trail, a blowhole, and surf & beach.
The trail is part of an old system built by King Kihapi'ilani in the 1500s. It was paved with smooth stream stones all around Haleakala.
Annette finds a climbing tree

The bright, lime green plants were a beautiful contrast to the black volcanic rock. With their above ground root system and low, strong branches, Annette found that the screw pine trees (hana trees) were a perfect height for climbing. We spent lots of time crawling around the rocks; photographing and videotaping the waves crashing against the rugged shoreline.

The highlight of the park is its black beach. The beach is made of lava that shattered when coming into contact with the ocean. Fragments are still being crushed to form the sand but unlike coral beaches, this one will probably vanish into the sea.

The beach was made of a fine black sand, along with smooth black rocks. It was fun to people-watch at the beach. We enjoyed the music of a honeymoon couple playing the ukulele, a woman practicing Tai-Chi, and some guys watching driftwood float with the surf and tide.
A small heiau (temple) was discovered down the trail from the beach overlooking a cliff. Ahus (small piles of rock forming a pyramid) can be found on the overlook along with a bench and cross. We also saw many rocks wrapped in ti leaves that were left as offerings.
Annette and Larry
on the coastal trail
The guidebook suggested spending the night in Hana rather than speeding along the highways and missing the sights. Unfortunately the accommodations in Hana were very limited. We decided to skip the expensive hotel and check out the cabins at the Wai'anapanapa Black Sand Beach State Park. We assumed that they would be booked, but we thought we'd give it a try since it was a weekday during off-season. We were excited to hear that a cabin was available. When we asked about linens, we were told that there would be a sheet and blanket, but no pillows. We improvised a long pillow by rolling a blanket in a sheet. Other than a film of greasy dust in the corners of the kitchen, a little scum in the bathroom, and a few cute geckos, the experience was fun. Below you can see Larry downloading digital pictures to the laptop (yes, we carry our computer everywhere) and Annette checking out the guidebook. The middle picture shows a view from the cabin.
We found the Hawaii state parks in dire need of cleaning, restoration, and general TLC. The garbage cans were overflowing, the roads in disrepair, the signage was poor, and there was an overall feeling of overuse. The cabins were truly 'rustic.' But it was a great way to spend a night in the coastal woods, listening to the sound of palms and surf. At supper time we headed into town.
The guidebook said the best food in town was "whatever you brought with you", so we didn't even look for a restaurant. Instead we bought a frozen pizza at the small local grocery store and headed back to the cabin. The cabin came with a kitchen that included a refrigerator and stovetop -- unfortunately there was no oven. Again we improvised by making a double broiler-type oven with a combination of pans and a lid on the stovetop and somehow cooked our pizza - - one slice at a time.
More Information?
GORP: Hana Highway
Maui's Fantastic Hiking
State Parks on the Island of Maui

Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 12/00
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