November 1st, 2022
Today would be the start of two big days, that would take us along the stunning and world-famous Hana Highway. We head to Hana pretty much every time we visit Maui as the remote jungle scenery just feels like nowhere on earth, you really are stepping into a lost world and there are so few places you can do this while still so near to civilization.
The long winding road is a bit of a nightmare for some people, but for us, growing up in the rural backwater of the peak district in the UK, these sorts of roads are our bread and butter.
The main point of the drive was to check out a few locations to see what the access situation is. The various stops along the way constantly change as access is restricted due to liability issues. Signs get put up, and torn down, and things constantly evolve and change, so it’s a constant chore to stay up to date.
We headed out of the Condo pretty late for a Hana Jurney. There was a lot to do and hitting the road early is the best shot at getting everything done. But as we had an overnight in Hana, it can sometimes be wise to leave later and bring up the tail end. The worst place to be is among the hordes. At least being late there would be places to park and fewer people at the various pullouts. But this only works if you are staying over.
The first stop was Ho’okipia Beach. This location is one of the few places in the world where large numbers of Sea Turtles regularly haul out onto the beach and just bathe in the sunshine. Unfortunately today, there were very few present. Infact there was only one, hiding amongst the rocks (actually after checking our photos there is clearly two, they really can be hard to spot amongst the rocks!).
The surf was fairly tame today as well, as this is a big surf beach. But there were still plenty of surfers out enjoying the waves. Even though there were few turtles, it’s always worth a stop as it’s a beautiful beach and well worth the stops when the turtles are here.
We then continued up to the start of the highway proper and our first stop was the Bamboo Forest and waterfall hike. This is an adventurous hike up a river bed to several waterfalls. We decided against this today as the river was running really heavily. As you actually have to hike the stream, we felt this would be unwise with this level of flow. We just had a look around the bottom of the river and explored the Bamboo forest which is really getting out of hand now!
The next stop was the Rainbow Eucalyptus trees. There are a couple of groves of these magnificent trees along the highway. The first is on private property but is viewable from the road. The second grave a little further along allows you right up to these beautiful trees. We were pretty disappointed to see a group of people right up amongst the trees on the first grove, clearly not only ignoring the signs but actually clambering over a barbed wire fence to get their selfie! With the top down on the mustang, it was easy to express our displeasure, however!
A little further up the road, we stopped off at Haipua’ena Falls. This is a great bathing spot and there were several people jumping from the rocks and the rope swing and just perched up on the rocks meditating. We had a lot to do, so simply grabbed a few snaps and headed off. No time for swimming today.
Hidden Falls – Kapu
As the road passes the Garden of Eden there is a stunning waterfall just under the roadway. Infact there are several on this section of the road all completely unviewable from the road. The biggest sits right on the bed near the abortorium and if you stop in the many pull-outs you can clearly hear it. If you peer over the guard rail you can catch a glimpse as well. There used to be a trail down from the top that allowed nice views of the falls, but unwitting tourists fell off the trail and it has not been closed.
Now the only way to see this waterfall is from the AIR.
We pulled up at the entrance to the Secret falls and considered a hike up to these. But again, the river was in full flow and hiking would have been difficult. There are also lots of warning signs telling you to keep out. We think access is ok here, but people really don’t want you to hike this, or know where it is. The reason given is the danger posed by flash floods. Today this danger was not only real but actually happening, there was no chance of hiking this trail through the narrow gorge that would lead to the secret waterfall.
Hana Highway Overlook
We stopped shortly at the top of the Road on the other side of the Honomanu Valley. This offers great views back up the Hana Coast allowing you to really appreciate the squiggly road winding down the exposed cliff face.
The Keanae Peninsular is the unofficial halfway point. There is an official halfway point just up the road but we largely ignore that and use the pull-outs and Keanae as our halfway stop. And as always we head to Aunty Sandy’s for some of the best Banana Bread on the Island. Unfortunately, they had not made enough today for our late arrival and had sold out. This was pretty upsetting as it’s a long flight out here to miss out on Aunty Sandys!
Still, we had a break and watched the waves pound the lava rocks while we ate some snacks we brought with us.
After this, we made a quick stop to see if there was any cliff-jumping action at Ching’s pond but all was quiet so we just grabbed some photos and pushed on.
Upper and Lower Waikani Falls
We took a left at the fork in the road to head down to the very sleepy Hamblet of Wailea Nui. There is not much to see down here and tbh you are not really made to feel all that welcome. W just wanted a shot of the stunning upper Waikani Falls and then headed off to leave the community in Peace. Further up the road, you get to see the Upper Waikani fall and these are far more spectacular. The famous 3 Bears Fall. They had quite a flow on and looked really pretty in the slowly fading light.
Hanawi and Wailuaiki Falls
We pressed on and headed to the next stop, Hanawi Falls. We stopped at the Wailiaiki Falls along the way which was in really impressive form, as these are usually a trickle. There is a Geometric set of falls into a deep pool and then a large falls that plunge under the road. We then found the multiple falls of Hanawi before pushing on further down the road.
We passed the Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside but felt no reason to stop today.
The next stop was the Hana Harvest Market stop. This is a small farm concession with fresh fruit and banana bread and served as a backup for Banana bread as Sandys was closed. We took a short break here for supplies and to utilize the Wifi and we had been off-grid for the journey so far.
Nahiku Marketplace was our untended destination for sustenance but once again we arrived a little late and there was not much doing on a quiet Tuesday evening. Island Chef was open and serving, but their menu was pretty limited. We ordered the Onu (Fish) and Chips as this was the ONLY item they had on the go! Fortunately, the fish was absolutely stunning. Right up there with some of the best fried-fish, we have tasted! And remember we are English so know a little about Fish and Chips!
After the impromptu dinner, we were fast approaching the remote and enchanting town of Hana. We had booked into the quiet and rustic Hana Inn (Formally Joes Place) and thought we would head there, check in and then see what we wanted to do in Hana before the light faded. It was about 4 pm and would be largely pitch black by about 6:30 pm.
We were met at the Inn by the friendly family who runs the place and were shown to our room. It was certainly small and basic, but perfectly clean and comfortable. You do not expect much more than this from a sleepy little Inn such as this and to be honest, it was pretty much perfect for our needs.
Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach
After Checking in we headed off for a walk. We wanted to see what the access to the Red Sand Beach was like as so many people have claimed recently that it is closed. This would be a terrible shame. After walking through the town to the start of the trail, the access path seemed very much open.
There are warning signs explaining what you can and can’t do, such as camping(Kapu) and such, but nothing suggesting access is forbidden. Once on the trail, there are clear warning signs from the landowner declining any liability but these are essentially a tacit acceptance of access. Other than that the trail still leads directly to the beach and there are no keep-out or no-trespassing signs whatsoever.
The trail is however pretty sketchy. A young girl was walking towards us and tripped at a very inopportune moment as was inches away from a very nasty fall to the rocks below. While the trail is definitely open. It’s probably not advisable to most. The falls to razor-sharp lava rocks below are very real and pretty exposed. The footing underfoot is loose and ranges from treacherous in the dry to lethal in the wet. It is also very remote and unforgiving if you did have an issue.
The Beach itself is pretty wonderful though, it’s like nowhere else on earth and we would be very upset if this does get closed off to visitors. So please stop falling off the trial and it may stay open. Every time someone slips and needs rescuing takes us a day closer to losing this forever!
As we left we were a little troubled by what we left behind. A young couple had just arrived at the beach as we were leaving. We only stayed for a short time to take in the beach, and we left as the light was fading, we really didn’t want to be on the trail after dark. The couple were obviously in the long haul and were probably planning on staying overnight, which is not really allowed but, they were not hurting anyone. Unlike the strange man lurking at the top of the trail.
He just felt very out of place. Dressed in a smart shirt, dress shorts, and just not looking like he was out for a hike. We felt a little uneasy leaving him alone with two young girls on the beach. We didn’t know if he was a peeping tom, just a guy out for a walk, or a full-blown serial killer!
We were pretty uneasy about the whole situation and reluctantly left the area as the light really was fading now. We had to bump into a police officer with the intention of sending them off to check on them but none was present once back in the town. We kind of hoped it was just our minds playing tricks …we never heard anything more…
Back at our Guest House, the light had totally gone and darkness enveloped the town. This is the quintessential sleepy backwater and as night fell, quiet descended on the town. We spent the evening out on the terrace, simply enjoying the peace and quiet. Nothing to be heard but the odd Cicada, a chirping Gecko, and the odd local driving by.
As is common in a Rain Forest, we were beset by frequent rain storms as the evening progressed. All this green has to come from somewhere. On the whole, these are largely nothing more than a nuisance. The rain starts, you head for cover, and then it moves on again a few minutes later. Unfortunately, the perpetually cloudy skies put pay to any plans I had for Astro Photography!
After a few hours we headed to bed, we had a long day and had another on the horizon, and with very little to do in Hana after dark, we just headed to bed to get some much-needed sleep.
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