The Road to El Dorado Hana

Despite last night’s bartender’s best advice, we left the hotel around eight, and had to stop for gas, snacks, and dramamine (lots of carsick-prone folks on this trip!) so we didn’t get going in earnest until nine.

Our friends had downloaded an iPhone app that was a GPS guided audio tour of the Road to Hana. It would track our progress as we drove and point out interesting sights and history of the area. We tried pairing it with Bluetooth or plugging in via USB, and it would play over the in-car speakers sometimes, but for the most part it was cantankerous when trying to speak car, so we left it unplugged. Some of the early commentary was kind of strange (including a long tangent about George Harrison and his death in 2003 from cancer), so we decided to name the app Scott, in honor of all the strange people named Scott that we’ve collectively known.

To get all the way to Hana without stopping would take us about four hours each way, through the wet Northeastern part of Maui. We only had six hours of adventure time, so we knew it would only be three out and three back, not enough to go the entire way.

The drive doesn’t really start in earnest until well after leaving Paia. We drove for about ten miles thinking that Scott was having an identity crisis, because we were going past mileposts and he wasn’t saying anything. We didn’t realize until later that the mileposts reset once you’re actually on the Road to Hana. We pulled off at the wrong milepost 11, hoping to see where the opening scenes of Jurrassic Park were filmed, and instead found a group of surly Hawaiian separatists setting up a Saturday market. We didn’t take any pictures for fear of provoking them.

Paintbrush Eucalyptus tree we passed on the way.  The bark peels away , revealing many colors underneath.
Paintbrush Eucalyptus tree we passed on the way. The bark peels away , revealing many colors underneath.

Once we passed the true milepost 0, Scott kicked into action. The road also got a lot twistier. There are some 50 bridges on the road, and only four or five are wide enough for two cars. There are lots of yield signs set up before the bridges, so cars don’t end up stuck in the middle. For the most part the road was wide enough for two cars, but there were plenty of blind corners and lots of crappy drivers.

Compared to Sicily, it was a piece of cake.

One of the many views along the Road to Hana
One of the many views along the Road to Hana

However, we quickly realized why the bartender at Mama’s Fish House had suggested we leave early. Every time Scott pointed out a stop, all the roadside parking was filled up with rental cars. We wanted to stop and see Three Bears falls, or the actual milepost 11 where Jurassic Park was filmed, but we had nowhere to put the car. So we kept going.

Lucky for us, the scenery out the car window was beautiful and I’m a pretty assertive driver. Want a picture of the falls? Well the best view is from the bridge so we’ll stop there for a minute.

Proof that I did, in fact, stop traffic on a bridge so we could take a picture.
Proof that I did, in fact, stop traffic on a bridge so we could take a picture.

Eventually, we came to Waianapanapa State Park, about three hours into our drive. Here there were black sandy beaches and some lava tubes that had made it to the ocean to become water spouts. Most importantly, there were restrooms.

We hiked over to the lava tubes and took some pictures of the surf blowing up into the air. The combinations of colors were amazing, between the black sand beach, the green jungle, the blue sky, and the white of the water spray.

Wainapanapa Beach
Wainapanapa Beach

wainapanapa_beach_2

waves_over_lava_rock_wainapanapa2

waves_over_lava_rock_wainapanapa

lava_rock_wainapanapa

We stayed for almost an hour before we piled back into the car and headed back to Lahaina.  Because we had a luau to prepare for, we didn’t make a whole lot of stops on the way back.  Overall, I would say that the drive is worth doing once, but plan on being able to make it all the way to your destination.  I doubt I would want to drive it again; though it was pretty, it was also crowded, so there’s a bit of an “eh” factor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *