Everyone comes to Maui has to drive to Hana – How can you miss the highway of the paradise?
We tried our best to get up early. We had the breakfast at MacDonald, so we managed to pass Kahului before 9AM. The guidebook marks all attractions by their position to the mile markers, but I forgot the marker starts counting at Pa’ia on highway 36. It restarts from 0 on highway 360. While driving on highway 36, I was confused because I couldn’t see anything at the mile marker of the first attraction, and there was nothing on the 2nd either. This never happened to this guidebook, so I started getting panic and drove back and forth on highway 36. It took us almost an hour to get highway 360 then I realized this was where the highway of paradise starts.
The road is not as crowded as I thought. Before reaching the first waterfall, we were already impressed by the lush tropic plants, intense color of green and the humid air that can almost condense to water. It reminded me a lot of my trip to Mount Emei (峨嵋山) in Sichuan long time ago. Before long, we saw the first waterfall, Upper Puohokamoa Falls. Back up a little bit, there is a path that allows you to access the much bigger Lower Puohokamoa Falls. I walked down about 100 feet before it got to steep and slippery, then I took some pictures and gave up.
After seeing waterfalls one after another, Waikani Falls, Wailuaiki Falls, Hanawi Falls, we indeed started developing “waterfall fatigue”. Among all these waterfalls, Waikani Falls is the most beautiful one. The water volumn was just about right, three streams are arranged orderly (Waikani means 3 Bears) against the deep green plants created a highly contrasted image. If I had a partner, I’d climb down to the bottom of the fall. With only myself, it looked dangerous.
Blue Pool looks really gougerous in our guide book, so I decided to take off the highway to see it. It’s a unpaved road. We first stopped at Kahanu Garden. The garden was nice but nothing special. What I expected to see was the Pi’ilanihale Heiau, a ruin of temple. It’s disappointing. From the ground, I couldn’t feel anything mysterious about it. Leaving the garden, after about 10 minutes bumpy drive, we were stopped by road blocks. The local who put the blocks there reminded us repeatly that it’s a private land and shook his head while staring at us. We thought we’d better leave. We wasted almost an hour on this trail. It turned out to be decisive on our plan for the rest of the day. After that, we spent another hour at Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach. The black beach sand is formed by lava, which is not renewable. Eventually, ocean waves will sweep them away.
Finally at about 3PM, we arrived in Hana. It took us almost 6 hours. We faced a dilemma if we should go all the way around the island or go back the way we came. I calculated that if we kept going, we would stop at “7 Sacred Pools” and then continued on driving for some 30 miles that there is really nothing to see. By the time we reached Haleakala, it would be already dark or at least the best time for photography would be missed, then we’d lost the purpose of driving around. We decided to go back. For the first a couple of miles, I felt really frustrated not only because we had seen all these but also those scenes were all in the shade. They were not attractive at all.
I eventually calmed down. Driving back took us only 2 hours. In retrospect, I think we made a correct decision. If we went all the way, most likely we are still at somewhere up in the mountain, driving in the dark; instead, now we can sit in the Jacuzzi by the sea and reeeeeelax.