It's known as one of the most resplendent places on earth – a lush hamlet teeming with Hawaiian flora and fauna, soaring waterfalls, plunging valleys, striking coastal views and white-sand beaches.
It also is home to a vast rainforest, owing to the northeast winds that rush over the ocean, gaining strength from humidity and drenching the area with rain. It can be one of the wettest places on earth.
It is Hana, the most isolated town on the Hawaiian Islands, located on the east side of Maui. Whereas travel to other destinations often is a headache to be endured for the sake of the main event at the end of the road, the journey to Hana is an interwoven element in the Hana experience.
The Road to Hana is one of the most scenic drives in the world, consisting of 52 miles from the beach town of Paia and winding over 59 bridges and around 620 curves. The drive may not be for the faint of heart, but it promises to be the trip of a lifetime, especially when you consider the thrills awaiting in the tiny town – Hana Town – that fewer than 1,000 people call home.
The Road to Hana Leads to Excitement
From central Maui, the Road to Hana usually takes just over two hours, but that's if you don't stop to take photos along the way. And few people can resist that urge.
You probably won't be able to see all 10 of these alluring attractions at the end of the Road to Hana in one day. Most visitors make choices based on the weather, their recreational interests and how much they wish to learn about Hawaii's beguiling culture:
- Art galleries, art stands and craft fairs showcase carvings, feather work, Koa wood furniture, paintings, prints, stonework, sculptures and other Hawaiian gems. Two standouts: the Hana Coast Gallery – an internationally known gallery – and Laura Mango's Art Gallery, set in a rainforest.
- Fagan's Cross frames one of the most spectacular views of Maui – and that's saying a great deal in this locale. Created as a memorial to Paul Fagan, who introduced cattle ranching to east Maui, the hilly area offers a 4-mile trek through Hana Ranch.
- Farmers’ markets feature a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, traditional Hawaiian foods and medicinal crops. Look for the Hana Fresh Farm Stand and Ono Organic Farms for the very best in organically grown goods.
- Hamoa Beach, just past mile marker 51 on the Road to Hana, is consistently rated as one of the most beautiful in east Maui. Crescent-shaped and family-friendly, it beckons water lovers with swimming, snorkeling and surfing.
- The Hana Cultural Center & Museum celebrates “Hawaii's cultural renaissance” with ancient Hawaiian artifacts, fish hooks and nets, poi boards, stone tools, fabrics, quilts and vintage photography.
- Nutcharee’s Thai Food restaurant treats visitors to a rotating menu of locally grown produce and meat, fresh coconut milk, seafood, fried rice dishes and Pad Thai. Follow your nose; the smell of fresh mint and peanut sauce should lead you straight to this welcoming thatched-roof venue.
- Palapala Ho’omau Church is a treasure trove history buffs will love for its painted windows of a Polynesian chief and the twin fact that it is the burial ground of Charles Lindbergh, who was so entranced by Maui's beauty, he made it his home.
- The Pools of Oheo Gulch, located within Haleakala National Park, are home to seven freshwater pools that run from the mountains to the ocean. They are called the Seven Sacred Pools for a reason; their calming splendor heightens enjoyment of the constant rumble of the ocean.
- Snorkeling at Hana Bay is ideal for novice snorkelers and those who prefer to stay in shallow water to observe angelfish, butterflyfish, yellow tang, green Hawaiian sea turtles and even, in late fall to early spring, the north Pacific humpback whale.
- Wai’anapanapa State Park, spread across 122 acres, is located near marker 32 on the Road to Hana. It features more than 30 Hawaiian historical sites, five caves and sea-sculpted lava shelves. Picnic and grilling areas, camping grounds and a dozen cabins hover near the dramatic Black Sand Beach.
Gain a Sky-high View of Hana
Nothing can top off the Road to Hana and all its wonders better than a tour of the area in a Maverick helicopter. Bask in the spacious comfort of one of Maverick's ECO-Stars and see Old Hana Town, the Manawainui Valley and the breathtaking Maui coastline in one outing. Maverick will leave you catching your breath – just as the Road to Hana intended.