The Road to Hana: Part 2 – Takin’ The Long Way Round

We left Joe’s early ready for another day of exploring the coast of Maui. This part of the island was often bypassed because the road is a bit unstable for a few kilometres and can void a rental car agreement if an accident occurs. Also, the ‘tourist’ way to go is to drive to Hana and back in one day, but that is the silliest idea since canned cheese. You hardly see anything! A local told us that the road was okay to drive, especially with a Jeep. I for one, am so glad we decided to drive it – it ended up being one of the most incredible drives I’ve been on.

Our first stop was at the Barefoot café in Hana Bay for breakfast – which was more like a little canteen by the water. The thing about Hana is that not many tourists stay the night to experience the sleepy seaside town. While mostly the reason is because most people only make it a day trip, it could have something to do with the locals. They tend to give off a vibe of not wanting tourists there which is understandable, but it was such a change from the rest of Hawaii where the locals are so warm and welcoming. Apart from the chilly reception at the café, the pancakes were the absolute bomb. Three massive pancakes drowned in syrup were exactly what my waistline didn’t need but I had to indulge anyway!

Our mission for the morning was to find the elusive red sand beach. We’d consulted the ever so trusty Google to help us find Kaihalulu Beach, which seemed to be this mystery bay that was impossible to get to. However after the very over the top advice about the Stairway to Heaven, we were a little hesitant to believe what Mr Google had to say. According to Google, the hike to Kaihaluu Beach was quite slipper, steep and could be…wait for it…fatal! DAH DAH DAHHHH!

Alright, I’ll honest here. The track to Kaihalulu Beach is not fatal, not that steep and only a tiny bit slippery. Mr. Cautious must have written the warnings because  honestly it was a five minute walk around the edge of the not-very-high cliff to the bay. We parked on Uakea Road right near the Hana Community Centre and walked across the green lawn to the well worn path down to the water. Taking a left we walked along the track (okay its a bit slippery here due to the red  cinder cones) which led us right around to the beautiful bay. I’ve read a dozen websites stating that this hike is so scary, so dangerous and potentially fatal. I can’t tell whether some people are just overcautious or downright unadventurous. Obviously use some common sense – if its raining don’t go – but the hike isn’t difficult, you wouldn’t even call it a hike!

The bay itself was glorious. The dark red sand – caused by lava cinder cliffs – make the water appear a PhotoShop-like turquoise. Kaihalulu Beach ain’t got no time for filters, it woke up like this. We raced down to the sand and stripped down to our swimmers. The bay was supposed to be a nudist beach but the few other people that were there were clothed so we followed suit. Walking across the red sand was a strange sensation in itself, this beach is one of few red sand beaches in the world and it felt like no other sand I’ve felt before. The water was cool and refreshing and we spent the next hour snorkelling around the bay.

The beautiful Kaihalulu Beach
On part of the really dangerous track.

Remembering we had a whole day of driving to do, we reluctantly walked back around the trail to the Jeep and drove off to our next stop. Like yesterday we were pretty much just jumping in without a plan so when we came across our next stop, it was the best surprise! Still in our swimmers from the beach we found another massive waterfall. No idea what it was called, but it wasn’t far from Hana. Jumping out of the Jeep for a look, I noticed a track beside the bridge that was just calling my name. Walking town the track to the base of the waterfall, it took a moment of hesitation before I was in the frigid fresh water. Not long after K and L followed and we splashed about in the freezing water and washed the salt from our bodies. There was a ledge at the bottom of the waterfall you could sit on and let the water rush over your head. It was awesome!


Numb from the cold, we jumped back in the Jeep to continue our journey – we were barely 10km out of Hana! We didn’t get much further  before we reached the Pools of ‘Ohe’o (aka The Seven Sacred Pools) which apparently was a stop not to be missed.

Pulling into the car park we paid our 15$ and went for an explore. Deciding to hike uphill first we trekked through the rainforest on the Pipiwai Trail, following the lush greenery for half an hour or so. There is a Waimoku waterfall at the end of this trail but we were cutting it fine with the time so we headed back down towards the beach and the pools.

Hiking the trails at Seven Sacred Pools
So lush, so green
Walking down to the pools

I’m going to be honest here again. The Seven Sacred Pools weren’t THAT fantastic. It could have been the combination of the lack of rain and the masses of people (even at 10am in the morning!) but the sacredness of the pools weren’t apparent. I think the waterfalls we had seen this morning and yesterday easily triumphed the pools, but each to their own. It is one of the highlight stops of the Road to Hana trip but I guess its all about the timing.

Crowded as.. Not quite as sacred as we expected..

We left the pools a little downcast, but finally on track to get some driving done. Within kilometres we reached the infamous dirt road and suddenly understood why rental car companies don’t like it. The road is so windy, full of potholes and very narrow. In saying this, in a Jeep it was fantastic! The views were unbelievable and the closeness to the edge of the cliff was crazy. It was a slow journey on the road but an awesome on – and if you’re feeling bad for driving your rental car on there, don’t. Behind us was a Mercedes convertible that obviously missed the memo about not driving the road.

As we drove the scenery changed dramatically from the lush rainforest to a desolate volcanic landscape. The sky greyed and dark clouds threatened to bomb us with rain, but it made our surroundings look even more eerie. This side of Maui was so, so different to the rest of the island. The volcanic rocks stood hauntingly along the coastline and the dry grass swayed in the wind. It was such a shock to see how different this part of the island was, Maui was the place that just keeps giving!

Such a contrast to the coastal views we had this morning!

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We made a pit stop at Kaupo Store, which was this old fashioned general store full of knick knacks and historic paraphernalia. We grabbed some snacks and headed off again. The sky had darkened some more and within minutes the rain started to spit down. Of course, we had the top off the Jeep, because views, so after finding a safe place to park, we executed the quickest roof change known to man! Safe and dry we drove on, eyes glued to the cowboy-town like scenery.

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Reaching Makawao just after lunch time we were absolutely ravenous. It was still drizzling with rain and the infamous cowboy town didn’t have the same appeal as we’d hoped. In our state of hunger all we wanted was mass food and pronto. Luckily, we didn’t have to go to far until we found Polli Polli’s Mexican. Stuffing ourselves with a feast of Mexican, the hangryness disappeared and we felt like our normal selves again. Now ready to have a better look around, we wandered the streets of Makawao. It was a very touristy town, full of boutiques and art galleries.

By late afternoon we were in the Jeep again and en route to Wailuku where we were staying at the Banana Bungalow again. After swimming at beaches, in waterfalls and getting caught in the rain I was so keen for a shower and rest.

Its our last day in Maui tomorrow so we have big plans to tick off a few more things! Stay tuned! 🙂

J. x



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