Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Our Lifestyle Adventures: We Survived the Hana Highway!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Our Lifestyle Adventures: We Survived the Hana Highway!

Fabulous Falls
There were many T-shirts that proclaimed “I Survived the Hana Highway!” We wondered. "What can be so wrong about a highway?" We tried to set out early to give ourselves all the buffer time we needed when we finally decided to take on the challenge. Lo and behold, another quick dip at the back beach made it 9:30 am before we could go. And then traffic on the way to and through the isthmus made it worse. We also took some pictures of the 32 wind turbines, each 180 feet high that dotted the ridges of West Maui Mountains. We first saw these from the plane. By the time we reached the east side of the isthmus, it was already almost eleven.

Mama's Fish House
The first town after we turned right onto Hana Highway was Paia. It is a little town famous for the Mama’s Fish House. The grounds of the restaurant were so lovely with palm trees and all kinds of native flowers. There was a beach in front, secluded by a stone barrier, perfect for a silly old and fearful non-swimmer like me. We could not pass up the opportunity to dine at this world-famous place. We were not disappointed. The whole place was bedecked with flowers from their garden, and since we were early, we got the best seat in the house, and they gave me a fresh hibiscus for my hair. The Ahi with mac nuts and Pacific prawns were heavily ginger-infused, like the citrus drink that came as refreshment.

fascinating tree colonies
After this great send-off, we braced ourselves for the trip in 57 miles of a narrow mountain road with 652 curves and 53 one-lane bridges!  It would take us all of three hours to reach Hana, without stops. But the views were spectacular, and the flora was diverse. Not only were the trees huge but they also came in colonies that seemed like giant trees or had barks in unusual shades of colors. The views of the bays and coasts from this tropical rainforest were just spectacular. At every turn, there was something picture-worthy, especially when yellow wild flowers adorned the bushes and even the trees.

medium-sized waterfall
small waterfall
Every time there were a few cars parked at any available space by the road, it meant a waterfall could not be far. Since it had been raining off and on, they came in all sizes, from short little spurts to tall, thin veils. Our best reward came almost near Hana: the tall, gushing and thunderous Wailua Falls. What a sight to see, just by the road! And right before reaching Hana, there was a garden whose name I now forget since we did not have time to explore. Right at the entrance there was this multi-colored tree again, like the one I saw in Kauai. This time, however. I made sure I was in the photo!
rainbow eucalyptus tree
the Black Sand Beach
The coup-de-gras came just a few minutes away at the Waianapanapa State Park, site of the Black Sand Beach. I thought white sand beaches were the cream of the crop, but this one was glistening. And all around were dark black rocks in all sizes and shapes: one had an arch, one with two ears, etc. People were fishing from the rocks, many were frolicking at the beach, and others were simply watching and taking pictures. But most were hiking to climb the rocks to get souvenir photos from this exceptional lagoon. So we followed the crowd. But we had a ways to go, and it was already past 4 pm.

Two of the Seven Sacred Pools
We surely had run out of time to explore the town of Hana except for a short visit to the Hasegawa Store. Bill drove his family through Hana Highway 30 years ago, and the store is where they got provisions for the rest of the trip. We only had time left to go to the Seven Sacred Pools at the lower southern portion of the Haleakala National Park, about 7 miles away. The Park has 33 pools or places where water from the falls collects before falling to yet another pool.

When we got there, there were two trails to take. We took the first to the upper pools but got only to the first, the third of seven pools.  We had run out of time; we needed another hour or so. After the photo op, we went down to do the two Lower Pools. But when we got there since it had been raining, the waters were dangerously high, and the fences had already been locked. We had to be contented with pictures from the sides and a peek at the mighty waters rushing to the gulch leading to the ocean. 

Fishing around the  Black Sand Beach
And that is also the reason we could not take on the rest of the road that goes to the lower section of the Haleakala National Park. We even missed the Charles Lindbergh grave! About 5 miles of that section of the road were unpaved and dirt-gravel. And so at 6 pm, we turned back and trekked the same route we came. Unfortunately, it was already dark, and I had no hope of taking pictures of the scenes I missed on the first pass. Visibly tired, we arrived at Valley Isle way after 9 pm, our hearts full of photos and memories of the day’s adventure. We not only survived the Hana Highway, but we also loved it!

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