Leading up to my trip, it was funny how divided people were on the Road to Hana. It ranged from "It was my favorite thing ever!" to "I liked it...I just wish I had a helicopter to take me back after I got to Hana" to "Ummm....yeah I'd skip that." No matter what, it was something I was really looking forward to so we chatted with the concierge at the Four Seasons, got a map, and hit the road with a full tank of gas at 8 a.m.
I absolutely loved it. There are over 600 hairpin turns on the Road to Hana, and it's about 50 miles from Paia to Hana, though we went beyond Hana. We decided to stop at a few sights on our way there and a few on the way back, so it took us 2 1/2 hours to get to Hana. If you're a hiker, bring your gear and bug spray. I wish we had brought bug spray even for getting in and out of the car. We weren't going to be doing any of the hiking due to time constraints but still loved stopping for heart-stopping views at the Keanae Peninsula and Wailua Overlook. It was fun to browse the Nahiki roadside boutiques (get the coconut candy!).
The unforgettable moment for me was stopping at the black sand beach at Wainapanapa State Park. I will dream of this beach. It was absolutely perfect. It is actually mostly smooth, small lava pebbles so bring a good pair of beach sandals. I felt so at peace and in the moment on this small beach.
I didn't see the danger factor that is often written about. If you are a relatively safe driver, you will be fine. As in, you aren't into going 75 mph around hard turns. I drove leisurely, made great time and was aware of my surroundings. Easy! Bring good music for the road and someone you like traveling with. I can't count how many times we played Beyonce's "Best Thing I Never Had." We cranked it up and gave it our best American Idol shot.
We stopped in Hana at Oprah fave Travaasa Hana (formerly Hotel Hana Maui) to take a look. I'll be doing a separate post on it at some point but I loved it. Lunch was at Hana Ranch Restaurant which was a huge mistake. One of the worst lunches ever! Maggie got a pulled pork sandwich and more than half of it was pure fat. So we shouldered on and ended up biking for smoothies at Laulima Farms, about 12 miles past Hana.
I'm a history nut & loved stopping at Charles Lindbergh's grave, which is before Laulima Farms, about 11 miles from Hana. Turn at the Maui Stables sign--there is no other sign for it. He is buried in the graveyard of the Palapala Ho'omau church. Lindbergh spent a lot of time at his home in Maui with his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. At the end of his life, he knew he only had days to live and so he left New York and returned to his home on the island.
When I go back, I'll spend a night in Hana after driving the road. Hana just feels different. It's quiet and isolated in a wonderful way. I will also pick up a picnic lunch and eat it on the black sand beach.
After a long day of sightseeing, we had a comforting and delicious dinner at DUO restaurant back at the Four Seasons. DUO is where we had been eating the divine breakfast buffet each morning, but it transforms into a fabulous steak and seafood house at night. There is a raw bar, with the freshest seafood you can imagine. The crab cake appetizer was almost all fresh crab, the ahi tuna melted in my mouth and the skillet-roasted vegetables were crisp with a touch of salt and pepper. We both loved the strawberry crumble and the pink cotton candy that comes with your check. It was one of my favorite nights. Thank you to Cecil for a wonderful chat about New York, Maui, food and for being so kind to us.
One more photo from The Road to Hana-kisses with a new friend! Near the start of the road is a guy with a bunch of parrots on the side-you won't be able to miss him. $20 buys you as many photo opps as you want for you and your traveling buddies.