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Road to Hana–enjoy the journey AND the destination

Black Beach, Road to Hana
Black Beach, Road to Hana

When we booked our trip to Maui  the friends we were going with said they scheduled a one day tour of the Road To Hana. I immediately did a search to see why. It sounded really fun, but a bit scary.  The guide books and blogs all said it was filled with hair raising switchbacks and thrilling bridges.

The guide books did rave about the area almost to the point of making me gag. Once we got going, I could see why. Apparently this is what all of Maui was like before the selfie-sticks hordes descended.

Parts of the Jurassic Park movie was filmed there because it feels other-worldly and well,  pre-historic. I kept expecting a dinosaur head to poke through the trees. Instead we saw chickens and turtles taking naps.

Turtles, Maui, Hawaii
Turtles, Maui, Hawaii

Hmmmm. I loved it and enjoyed it, but frankly the road was nothing like the mountains in Bhutan or North Vietnam.  Now, they were grabbing- your- seat and saying- your- prayers scary.  No defined edges to road. Massive Potholes. Only one lane so you’d never know what kind of truck you’d meet going the opposite way at the curve of the switch back.

The Road to Hana is a 50 mile road that goes from Kahalui to Hana, with 617 curves and 56 one lane bridges. Built on the side of the mountains, it’s an engineering feat to be respected. Modern life retreats as we head into the mountainous jungle filled with photo ops.

Road to Hana, Hawaii
Road to Hana, Hawaii
Scene from Road to Hana
Scene from Road to Hana

It is considered rude to honk your horn on the Road to Hana. Drivers in the know, take their time. It is Hawaii.

Massive Waterfalls Keep Us Thrilled

One can’t help but gasp in wonder seeing the plunging waterfalls. There’s something about waterfalls that lifts the spirits. Fascinates. Hypnotic almost.

There are lots of them on Maui because so much rain in the mountains. The water has to have some place to go. Some are powerful and dramatic, while others secluded and tranquil.

Maui, Hawaii
Waterfall on Road to Hana





Waterfalls on Maui, Hawaii


Black Beaches Captivate Attention

I loved the black beaches. For a mid-westerner like me, familiar with Lake Michigan and sandy inland lakes, the black beaches are are fascinating. I found it fun to compare and contrast with the black beaches of Iceland, littered with chunks of ice.

The Hawaiian versions were perfect for swimming. Exploring a Volcanic Tube was a new experience.

Black Beaches on the Road Hana
Black Beaches on the Road Hana
Volcanic Tube on the Road to Hana
Volcanic Tube on Road to Hana

We stopped at the The old Hawaiian village of Keanae, truly a place that time forgot. It was interesting to see the 1860 stone church still in use in one of the last coastal enclaves of native Hawaiians.

Historic Church still in use on the Road to Hana
Historic Church still in use on the Road to Hana
Lava Rocks

Scenes from the Road to Hana
The bridges—one lane affairs—were often photo ops.  I was drawn to the texture of this moss covered railing.

Bridges on Road to Hana

Hana—the end of the ride is a sleepy town of 1000 inhabitants. It’s not at all like the Western side of Maui filled chock-o-block with hotels and traffic. Hana only got TV in the late 1970’s. With so much that is so beautiful  I wondered why they got it at all. It’s a lovely quiet spot with compelling views. I’d love to go back and stay awhile.


Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Aug 16, 2016 Reply

    It’s hard for me to conceive of this all day trip full of wonder and beauty as only 50 miles long, actually 100 round trip. But then I remember those slow 600+ curves and then it makes since. You have done an awesome job of showing the natural beauty we encountered. Good job, Susan!

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Aug 17, 2016 Reply

      Thanks, Kathy, It was a wonderful day and we really appreciated you and Bob organizing it.

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