Tag Archive | Mt Haleakala

To Drive or Not To Drive

Holiday in Hawaii #9

With 620 bends and 59 narrow bridges the road to Hana is not for the fainthearted, or for two Australians who usually drive on the left. The thought of cruising in a rented Mustang with the top down and the wind in our hair was tempting for the driver (Mr ET) but it was outweighed by the potential risk of the passenger (me) dying of fright! Instead we opt for a guided bus tour – easy, relaxing and almost fright free.

The day starts with an early morning pick up and a delicious tropical breakfast, accompanied by a stunning view of the sunlit West Maui Mountains.


The road to Hana, on the east coast of Maui, is only 104 kilometres but it’s steep and narrow, climbing over the mountains and around the cliffs. It can take up to four hours to negotiate the hairpin bends and single land bridges, where giving way to oncoming vehicles is a must.



Four hours stretches into a whole day when there is so much glorious scenery to admire. At Ho’okipa Beach Park the Pacific Ocean meets coastal black lava flows. Crashing waves send sprays of foam high into the air.


Tall stands of Golden Bamboo and Rainbow Eucalyptus compete with dense tropical rainforest.

The waters of Hanawi Stream tumble over a cliff, filling a deep, dark pool before continuing down the mountainside into Honolulu Nui Bay.


At Wai’anapanapa State Park, glistening black sand defines the crescent shaped Pa’iloa Beach. A lava tube large to walk into reveals a different view of the ocean.



Finally we arrive at the little town of Hana, nestled between the green hills and the calm waters of Hana Bay.


Beyond Hana the road narrows even more; sometimes there’s barely a tyre width between it and the cliff edge. The guard rails have seen better days – thank goodness we’re not driving!



We enter Haleakala National Park and stop at the Pools of Ohe’o. After overnight rain, the waterfalls are overflowing and the seven pools, usually tranquil swimming holes, are off limits.



After the national park the Pi’ilani Highway ascends the dry southern slopes of Mt Haleakala, where black lava flows stretch down to La Perouse Bay. The tiny crescent shaped Molokini Crater lies off the coast in Alalakeiki Channel.



There’s one last dramatic view before we return to West Maui. From the elevated area of Pukalani we see the Isthmus of Maui, connecting the rugged mountains of West Maui and Mt Haleakala in the south.


We don’t often do tours but the decision to take a guided bus tour to Hana and beyond has been a great choice. The Road to Hana is not known as Divorce Highway for nothing, and I wouldn’t have seen this beautiful landscape through closed eyes!



Marsha and Manny came with us on the Road to Hana.