ROAD TO HANA
Make the most of your tour of Maui's North Shore with a visit to the store the night before. Load a cooler with snacks and a hearty lunch. Include a spare camera battery and plenty of film. Pack a swim suit, beach towel and blanket, and be certain to fill your car with gas. From Paia to Hana there are no service stations. Whether you are a visitor or long-time resident, the road to Hana always has an idyllic appeal, abundant with nature's effect on nature. You know you have started the "road" to Hana, when well-past Paia, and just after Huelo, you turn a bend, and enter an arcade of overhead trees. This is the tropics!
An early morning start is highly recommended. The drive to Hana is a narrow road of twists and turns that is best accomplished without the distraction of other drivers. Most important however, is to take the time to stop, rest and walk a bit. Along the road to Hana are turn-outs and rest-stops with what appear to be innocuous foot paths. Let your curiosity lead you through these paths to astounding surprises of nature's beauty.
Kaenae Peninsula is home to long-established Hawaiian lineage. In the late 1870's, construction of the East Maui Irrigation system brought immigrant workers from China. The Ching family store in Ko`olau opened two stores in Kaenae, at a time when "Steamer Days" welcomed the arrival of goods and supplies at Opau Bay. Molasses, majong, rum and opium flourished prior to Maui's sugar industry. Today, traditional taro farming continues on the Kaenae Peninsula.
A half-mile past Kaenae Peninsula is a road-side store marking a "half-way" point to Hana. For the absolute finest "shaved ice" in the Hawaiian Islands, a brief stop here is a must (for this author, this title was before held by a small stand on Waikiki, followed by one on Moloka`i). History abounds on side trips to historic markers on the road to Hana, including St. Gabriel's Church, the coastal town of Nahiku, Wananalua Church, petroglyphs and heiaus.
Just before entering Hana is the Wainapanapa State Park. Few places compete for as picturesque a setting for an afternoon picnic overlooking the black sand beach. A slow (and careful) meander through the lava rock surrounding the bay provides a coastal perspective before descending to the mesmerizing and playful charcoal-black sand beach.
Once into Hana Town, shoreline hikes in and around the Hotel Hana provide panoramic coastal vistas and thought-provoking exploration of tidepools. Don't leave Hana without a swim or snorkel at what James Michener described as the most beautiful beach he had ever seen: Hamoa Beach Park, located 2 1/2 miles south of Hana. Further south is Oheo Gulch ("Seven Sacred Pools") and the Haleakala National Park at Kipahulu. With ample parking, an ocean view, picnic tables and an informative staff, the Haleakala National Park Visitor's Center is a good stop before exploring the pools, and scenic hikes through the upper pools, bamboo forests and dramatic waterfalls. See the Haleakala National Park "Programs & Activities" page for a schedule of free daily cultural talks and ranger-guided hikes at Kipahulu. Aviator Charles Lindberg's gravesite lies before an oceanside historic church just past Oheo Gulch.