Nearly 80 miles from where we were staying in Kaanapali just north of Lahaina, Hana Town lies some 52 miles south of the old plantation town of Pa'ia - the last outpost for gas or food until Hana. That 52 miles is home to some of the most beautiful scenery, lush tropical greenery, turquoise ocean, brilliant flowers - not to mention 617 curves, 56 bridges (all one lane) and hundreds of squeezils.
The road reminds me a lot of my home in Colorado with it's narrow winding roads, blind corners, distractingly beautiful scenery and crazy tourist drivers. In spite of all the warnings, it appears that many people consider the drive for its destination, not the journey itself. Each confrontation with an oncoming driver is a challenge to be won, each one lane bridge is one way - their way, the epitome of the ugly American - and we're not even out of our own country! Trust me, you're going on the Road to Hana for the road part, not the Hana part. Hana's a nice little town but it's not what you're going there to see (no offense to the Hanaians). Take your time.
But with the top down and Brudda Israel Kamakawiwo'ole in the background, it's easy to forget the rat race and just be in the moment - it's an aloha thing. We did have a destination in mind so we didn't stop much on the way down. You can stop every mile or so to see another spectacular sight but we wanted to make it to Waimoku Falls, which is another 8 - 10 miles of one lane road past Hana in the Haleakala National Park. Even leaving at 8 in the morning and making no stops, we didn't reach the park until after 11:00. From there it's a 2 mile hike to Waimoku past the Seven Sacred Pools and numerous falls.
The trail is steep in places and winds over gnarled roots, mossy rocks, past pillars of Banyan and through an amazing Bamboo Forrest that runs for nearly 1/2 mile. The bamboo is as big around as your arm and spikes 30' - 40' in the air. It is so dense that it's almost dark on the path and when the breeze blows through, the sound is like 10,000 drummers doing rim shots. There's a track running through the bamboo because the ground is so spongy from the regular rainfall and the fact that no light gets in to dry it up.
Along the way you can pick wild sweet guava to munch on and the variety of plants is incredible. Anthuriums and Orchids in every color of the rainbow, Bird-of-Paradise, Red Ginger, the deeply scented Plumeria, Pink & Rainbow Shower Trees and Hanging Lobster Claws, all serving as home to a myriad of birds that emit everything from melodic songs to bloodcurdling squarks. The sights, sounds and smells are almost too vivid to be real. It's like a Disney ride except you have to walk and sweat. It's so hyper-real you almost expect to peek through the trail-side trees and see a painted backdrop with rainforest sounds piped in and mechanical birds with brilliantly dyed plumage.
Past the Seven Sacred Pools, Waimoku Falls is a 400 foot tall tower of water ranging from trickles to mist to rivulet across nearly 300 horizontal feet of moss & fern covered wall . It is a refreshing end to an arduous hike - as Lisa enjoyed one of the quieter pools. The walk down was much easier even though we still faced an 8 mile drive on 1 lane road back to Hana. A quick burger and Pog at Hana Ranch and we set our sights on the road home, arriving just at sunset.
I've heard from numerous people that they have avoided the Road to Hana based on it's old reputation of danger outweighing the beauty. While there was undoubtedly a time that was true, today the road is paved and most of it is 2 lanes wide. As we were advised, I would also suggest making a straight run to Hana in the morning - seeing Waimoku or the Black Sand Beaches there and then taking your time coming back north. It's a more leisurely trek that way and you won't be all wasted by the time you hit Hana and then still have to fight your way back. Either way, it's a day well spent and you will see scenery the likes you will find nowhere else. A truly unforgettable trek.