The Road to Hana

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Photography by Edward M. Fielding

The Road to Hana is one car trip you will never forget. Twisting,turning, narrow roads that round cliffs, dive into jungles and squeeze over one way bridges. As the passenger (my brave wife drove so I could jump out with the camera when needed), I could have reached out and touched the crumbling lava rock walls and rain forest vines as a tiny rental car squeeze into the curve to let the truck full of locals fly by.

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The road from Kahului to Hāna is only about 52 miles (84 km) but it takes about 2.5 hours to drive when no stops are made and it passes over 59 bridges, 46 of which are only one lane wide. In most spots the speed limit is 10 although it does get down to 5 miles per hour. There are approximately 620 curves along Route 360 from just east of Kahului to Hāna, virtually all of it through lush, tropical rainforest. Many of the concrete and steel bridges date back to 1910 and all but one are still in use – and they look it! All covered with dirt, grime and mossy jungle greenery.

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There are so many great sights to see along the road, indeed the journey is the trip. There is never enough time to see everything. The only family argument we had was from this stress inducing drive and the inability to set a pace to see everything we set out to see.

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At the end of the Hāna Highway (actually past Hāna in a clockwise direction around eastern Maui) is the ʻOheʻo Gulch, also known as the “Seven Sacred Pools”. This series of waterfalls and pools is located inside the Haleakala National Park.

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Actually reaching Hana is not exactly the point other than for most to turn around and head back, undeterred by the rumours of rental car companies not allowing cars to be taken ALL THE WAY around the loop of the RTH or the short days of winter, we pushed on past Hana to see the back side of Haleakala.

In theory the setting sun would give us more light on this side then heading back via the dark jungle. Unfortunately the image of glaring sun across a smuggy windshield on a blind curve with nothing but a plunging cliff down to the ocean and the noise of an oncoming truck is forever burned into my brain. Fortunately the rough, dirt road ended at some point, the road straighted out and treated us to an incredible sunset on our journey back.

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