Haleakala: The Road to Hana

When you go to Maui you will, or you should hear about the Road to Hana. It features 59 bridges, 620 curves and provides you with incredible views of the coast and rainforest. Do not be deceived into thinking that it is supremely dangerous. The road is well paved and marked. If you drive like a rational human being you will find it to be beautiful

Trevor and I drove this road with one of his friends from Semester at Sea, Kathleen. She currently lives on Maui and works for one of the hotels there. Kathleen has a special place in my heart for several reasons. First, she picked us from airport and gave us Hawaiian nut necklaces (there is a far more appropriate name for these, I just can’t think of it). Second, she let us stay at her place and shower/do laundry and after our time on the Big Island it was definitely needed. Third, she thought I was 24 years old!!! Ah, hahahahahha. Bless her heart. Thank you, Kathleen. Truly, thank you. Anyway, she took her weekend off to drive around to Hana with us.

We drove counter clockwise leaving from where she lives in Kihei. Our first stop on the route was the Maui Winery, mainly because I had to use the bathroom. When we heard that they had free tastings we stayed to sample pineapple wine. If you know as much about wine as I do (not much), you know enough to assume that something that sweet will probably make only dessert-like wines. We stayed on the red side of things to avoid the pineapple wine, until the pourer finally got us to taste their Maui Splash. It was a pineapple wine with a splash of passion fruit, and it was delicious.

Crazy flowers outside the bathroom at Maui Winery

Crazy flowers outside the bathroom at Maui Winery

We were back on the road and made some stops at roadside fruit stands for snacks. In Hawai’i they have roadside stands that have starfruit, avocados, coconuts, passionfruit and any array of tropic fruits you can imagine. After stocking up on some tropical snacks we continued to where we would be camping at Kipahulu. It was MLK Jr. Weekend, which is a free day with the National Park Service!

We briefly set up our stuff and then headed down the road to stop at the Red Sand Beach. It was exactly as advertised. The hike there seems precarious, but sneaks you back into a secluded little beach with a beautiful cove. The surf was a little rough so it wasn’t easy to see any fish life, but the beach itself was unique. It also seemed to be filled with couples who were content with making out in public.

That night we camped at Kipahulu, in the National Park and hiked in the park the following morning. We left after that and stopped at several beaches along the way. We also stopped at Venus Pools where you can jump from 10-20 feet cliffs into some of the most pristine blue water I have ever seen. It was instantly refreshing. 


After coming back to our car I saw a local across the street. I knew he was a local because he wasn’t wearing a shirt, and he walked out of one of the driveways. I stopped to chat with him and made a connection with him over rafting the Grand Canyon. After we passed his ‘not your regular tourist’ test he was much more open with knowledge. He began telling us about a ‘secret’ beach less than 400 yards away and just listed place after place to visit on our drive back. He was like an encyclopedia. We could swim in caves where you could go underwater and pop out on the other side. He provided so much information that we couldn’t even keep it straight. He listed everything so nonchalantly. His recommendations also included the best places to stop for food. He had lived there for 30-years and it sound like he only left to pick up his boat out of Seattle to go up into British Columbia and Alaska.

We scoped out his secret beach, which was completely empty. Blue waves lapped at the untarnished black sand and it was buried in a little cove surrounded by high cliffs. We attempted to take advantage of some of his other recommendations but simply didn’t have the time. 

The secret beach

The secret beach

If I can provide one recommendation about the Road to Hana, it is this. Take more than 2-days, camp or stay out near Hana. Have a list of 4-5 things that you want to go see or do, and then talk to some locals. Find out the cool spots that aren’t listed on maps. After that, sit on a beach, kick back and enjoy!