Around halfway along the Road to Hana is the Ke’anae Peninsula. A small spit of land that sticks out into the Pacific Ocean. This is a very popular stop in the Road t Hana and what we call a destination stop. It Marks the breakpoint in the journey and a place to take a break relax and take in the journey so far.
There is the perfect place to grab a snack and the peninsula is blessed with some wonderful views and landscapes. There isn’t much to the area but it is uniquely wonderful and a welcome break from the stress of driving. We take a look at the peninsula, point out the areas of interest, explore the geology and creation of the outcrop, and sample the world-famous Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread!
- About – Small community built on a Lava Delta jutting out into the ocean
- Mile Marker – Mile Marker 16 (+0.7)
- Location – Almost Halfway to Hana
- Facilities – Restrooms, Food Stand.
- Hana Highway Rating – Must Stop
- Cost – Free
- Highlights – Stunning views, Rugged Coastline, and Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread
The Ke’anae Peninsula is a small lava delta that extends out into the pacific ocean. Once on the peninsular, you get the feel of being on a small island with deep blue water on most sides the only hint it is connected being the mountain rising up to the rear.
The Small size, only around 1 square mile in total means this is a short break, but it’s the perfect place to pull up and appreciate the beauty of Hawaii and the raw power of nature to both create and destroy!
How to Find Ke’anae Peninsula
This is one of the Highway’s easiest to find stops. After Honomanu Bay the road clubs steeply over a headland (with stunning views) As you head down the other side just past Mile Marker 16 the Keanar road peels off and is well signposted you can’t miss it.
How to Pronounce Ke’anae
This is a tough one as the exact pronunciation is a little looser than you might imagine. This is more a case of giving it your best shot. The trouble comes from the ‘ or glottal stop (known as an ‘Okina in Hawaii).
We go with Kay – ah – nye with a slight pause between or emphasis on the Kay. This is one where locals and residents all have a slight difference so just make an effort and it will be appreciated.
Ke’anae Geology and Formation
The Peninsula was formed by a lava flow from Haleakala, quite probably from the events that filled the valley to form the Crater. The land around Ke’anae is quite old but the Peninsula still very new. In the later eruption inside the Haleakala Crater this one made it all the way to the ocean and continued to pour in for a sustained period of time to form the Lava Delta, Make the island that bit larger, and create this wonderful piece of land.
The Delta is far too new to have naturally transformed into such a green and wonderful landscapes. The Raw and savage coastline, show the youthfulness of the land and it should be far more barren than it is, like other Lava Deltas on the island such as Ahihi-Kinau where plant life has only a tenuous grasp. Instead the solid is rich and fertile. With no rivers to feed the land with this amount of sediment and nowhere near enough time for plants to have gradually broken up the rocks, there really is only one explanation. We did it.
Or more exactly the ancient Hawaiians did it. The area is used as a Taro Plantation and always has been as far as our western records go so the sold must have been transported here from inland, presumably by hand, and the whole peninsular transformed for agriculture. There is a lot of soil here so this must have been quite a job. Presumable easier than just clearing the jungle however as they chose this course of action over the latter!
While there are no rivers or streams to water the land the area stays moist through the regular and continuous rains that fall in the shadow of Haleakala.
What to see on the Ke’anae Peninsula
The main reason to stop here is the stunning and raw coastline. The New rock is jagged and still conforming to the Oceans whims. As such it very much gets in its way making for huge crashing waves that break and smash against the jet black shoreline in a very striking manner.
There are several great lookout points where you get fantastic views up and down the coast. The Keanae Road is a one-way drive that loops around the peninsula with parking at the far end of the road with great lookouts up the coast and a small bay with fantastic crashing waves
Jurrasic Park Rock Lookout
The first lookout you come to is on the left as you first get onto the peninsula. This looks out down the coastline that you have just driven. If you stopped (and you should have) at the lookouts around mile marker 13 you will have seen the peninsula in the distance. You are now looking back at these cliffs and headlands and it is a spectacular sight, the jungle plunges off the sea cliffs into the ocean, waterfalls plunge into the depths and the waves crash against the rocks. And in the far distance, the Keopuka Rock, made famous from the Jurrasic Park arrival seen is clearly visible.
Most guides suggest the only place to view the rock is from the Garden of Eden Auditorium. While the view from there is ok, there is a cost to get in and it’s still a pretty distant view. Sure, from Keanae the view is even more distant but at least it’s free!
The second main lookout is around the backside of the Penisula and looks out up the coast where you are heading next, there is a small bay here where large breakers roll in and smash against the young lava shoreline. Or you can look out into the endless ocean blue watching the waves roll in unimpeded for thousands of miles.
There is a large amount of parking at this lookout and this is the best location to pull up grab somewhere near the water to sit down and enjoy some Banana bread and take a break from the road.
Lanakila Ihiihi O Iehowa Ona Kava Church
Err, that’s one to get your tongue around. Obviously, we know exactly how to say it in perfect Hawaiian but we are choosing to leave it up to you for entertainment value…honest! If you don’t want to try it, Ke’anae Church will do.
This is a rustic little church that sits in front of a stunning backdrop lined with Palms. We just love the setting and the blend of familiar and ultra exotic. To be honest, it reminds us of more of a Vietnam scene than Hawaii, you can just imagine the Huey’s flying over the tree line, but it’s still a wonderful sight.
If we could think of one single place along the highway to discourage people from entering the ocean, it would be Ke’anae. The shoreline is made from razor-sharp Lava rock and the surf pounds against it with real fury. Even quiet days the uninterrupted rollers sail thousands of miss across the pacific and slam right into Ke’anae. The currents are strong, and there are few entry and exit points if you are unable to return to where you got in.
There are other places to swim along the highway and really no good reason to enter here, and plenty of reasons not to!
Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread – Ke’anae Peninsula
Aunty Sandy’s is one of our favorite stops anywhere on the island. The rustic little hut sells a variety of lunch items but quite frankly we are only interested in the Banana Bread. Service is frosty for Tourists (odd as we are really their lifeblood) but the freshly baked Bana Bread served from Sandy’s is a real delight. Eaten by the coast watching the waves crash is an experience that we long for whenever we are not on the island.
There is a long-running argument about the best Banana bread on the island, and subsequently, the world and we err o the side of Sandy’s. The other front runner is Julia’s Banana Bread over the other side of the island in Kahakuloa. The actual product is probably too close to call but as an experience Aunty Sandy’s banana bread down by the ocean on Ke’anae is unbeatable!
If for no other reason the presence of restrooms is a great reason to pull up o the peninsular to take a break. The toilets are very modern and clean (by Hana Highway Standards) so this is one of your best bets for a comfort break.
Other than that there is very little on the outcrop apart from Banana Bread and Stunning Views.
The Ke’anae peninsular is a must-stop on the Road to Hana, while there are few really attractions or things to do, the unique landscape and stunning lookouts are a real highlight. The open space and extensive parking gives you a real break from the jungle and narrow winding roads of the Hana Highway. The fact you are approx halfway to Hana is another reason to take that breather. And you simply have to sample Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread!
Have Your Say
Are you planning on stopping at Ke’anae Penisula? What are you most looking forward to? Maybe you have been already and want to report back? What were the highlights for you? Did you grab some Banana Bread? If so, how good was it! If you have something to say about the Ke’anae Penisula and the Road to Hana we would love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below.