Sunday, September 5, 2010

The dirt roads past "nowhere"

Here's my two cents on Hana after spending a week in Maui. So as Danielle said, the road to Hana is also called the road to nowhere, and the attraction is the journey, not the destination. That wasnt exactly true for us because we had a reservation at a luxury hotel waiting for us, but there is more than that. Hana is most definitely a destination. Hana is the old Hawaii. There are no Aloha shirts, and chain stores selling souvenirs made in china. there are no tour stands and time share operations trying to lure you with a $15 luau. Hana is 50 miles from any other town, and people there are locals. The road to Hana used to be a worthy accomplishment with the poor quality of the road, but now ~2000 day trippers do an out-and-back, and don't give a second's thought to taking in the local flavor. don't get me wrong, I did love the drive, but after 3 hours of waterfalls, I was tired of following the road most taken.

but like I said, most people go out to Hana from paia, then head back down. However, I wanted to do the Full Loop. voiding the rental car contract - check. 25% grade single lane dirt roads? check! Sheer 400ft drops right to crashing waves below with no guard rail? CHECK!! there was pleading and there was begging and negotiation, and while I'm not proud of it, there was also pouting. in the end, I finally convinced Danielle it was something I really wanted to do -- drive the infamous back side out of Hana.

It was awesome. Vast volcanic landscape, wild goats, and a farm fruit stand with no electricity...I had to pedal a bike hooked to a blender to mix our fresh fruit smoothies!

But before all that, first was boogie boarding at the best beach in the world (Hamoa), navigating a rather perilous path to a secluded red sands lagoon, and the most breath taking 4 mile hike ever, complete with a bamboo forest and 300 ft Wimoku falls.

It's interesting, but the towns we've visited in Maui are pretty different. our main HQ has been Wailea, which is really little more than a master planned resort community (with million dollar condos and houses sprinkled in). Kehei, which was really going into "town" from Wailea, is a rather run down crowded 1 mile strip, Makawao, which is also a little run down, but in that cool Berkeley sort of way. And Lahinia, here's where all the Aloha shirts conglomerate and hit up Bubba Gump's restaurant. didn't love Lahina, but people clearly do, and if the Aloha shirts make them feel removed from the daily grind, well then so be it. they won't be on my 4 mile hiking trail anyway.

So don't miss the drive to Hana, but stay in Hana and experience all there is to see past the road. And absolutely drive the loop. the scenery changes from lush and green to arid and volcanic, with expansive views that I just cannot describe. I love taking a left when the crowd goes right, and Hana and it's surroundings did the trick.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Makena Rd,Kihei,United States

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Road to "nowhere"

okay, running a little behind on the posting. here's a little something Danielle wrote up mid-week:


Wednesday, we woke early to get in some activities before embarking on the road to Hana. Daniel went to do cycling intervals around 7am, and I packed and made sandwiches before doing some snorkeling on Polo Beach on front of the hotel. The lava flowed out to the sea in jagged fingers, leaving a great habitat for fish and coral. There are so many sea urchins tucked away in all the little nooks of the lava, with with lots of brightly colored and interestingly patterned fish too. The coral looks iridescent; pink, yellow, green. I love snorkeling in Hawaii. The water is so warm, and the fish are so abundant. It's like swimming in an aquarium.

We set out to drive the road to Hana around 9:45 after checking out and stowing our luggage and bikes at the Fairmont Hotel. Can't say enough about the great service there. The receptionist was helpful about our trip and lent us a CD driving guide to Hana. It was ok; a bit annoying due to the silly banter but the actual narrative of the Hawaiian culture and locales was good. Thank goodness I had Maui Revealed, thanks to Heather and Holt! We love this book! They even highlighted the best parts!!! <3

Our first stop was Kahalui to load up on gas and Starbucks. I spotted a great vegetarian market across the road and got loaded up with a delicious veggie sandwich for the road. So much for the PB&Js that I made... Our next stop was Paia. True to it's name (means noisy in Hawaiian) we left after a brief (hot and sweaty) walk up the road. Traffic seemed to be all backed up but when we set off, it cleared out and Daniel did a great job of keeping us free from other cars by going slowly and pulling over to let cars pass. Especially the locals, who tear through the roads.

We then stopped at the very crowded Twin Falls. Wish I had paid more attention to Maui Revealed as we did waste too much time here. It was a nice waterfall but there were many MANY more waterfalls to be seen that were easier to get to also. Daniel did pick up a few unknown fruits that had fallen and dared to eat one, not knowing what it was at first. (He loved it. Later found out it was passion fruit)

The drive to Hana is about the journey, not the destination. That was a mantra repeated in the CD and book, and it was very true. The tropical lushness of the vegetation, the stunning views of the coastline with the black lava cliffs and blue/white of the ocean and pounding waves, and the freshwater falls and pools... All so beautiful it took your breath away. We found another lovely waterfall and pool where we both swam (thank goodness for water shoes). We watched local kids cliff dive off the 30-40foot cliff. Oh to be 16.... We stopped often for photos and bought banana bread and other treats along the way. Daniel loved the fresh pineapple. Wish I weren't allergic as it looked really good! In total it took us 8 hours to go 35 miles.

By the time we got to Wai' napanapa state park just before Hana, we were tired. We had bought some food up the road and ate here... Kahlua pig for Daniel and a veggie taco for me. I also tried the baked breadfruit. Not a big fan; it was rather dry and starchy with a bland taste. I fed it to the stray cat and mongoose(s) at the state park, which sparked a noisy battle. There were lots of mongooses (or is it mongeese??) at the park, and all over Maui. According to the cd, they are not indigenous and were introduced to control the non-native rat population. That didn't work as they preferred the tasty eggs of the ground-nesting seabirds... Rendering the indigenous ground-nesting seabirds extinct. Sads. But they are cute little buggers.

Feeling rejuvenated, we strolled around this gorgeous park with its black sand beach and lava tube caves. Finally, after more incredible views of blue ocean contrasted by black lava rock formations, we set of for the hotel. The hotel is smack in the middle of Hana town, in an idyllic setting overlooking the ocean. We were greeted with handmade tea leaf leis and special white nut shell leis since it is our anniversary..made from kukui nuts. They loaded our bags and us on a golf cart and whisked us off for a tour of the lovely hotel grounds and to our room. It's a pretty big bungalow with a bar, living room, and large lanai with table and chairs. There is no a/c here, just ceiling fans and tropical breezes. Lovely! The hotel gave us a fruit basket with papaya, guavas, banana, and oranges and stocked our fridge with water, juice, and champagne. Did I mention that I love this place??

(If only our eastern European neighbor in the next bungalow didn't foul the air with his chain smoking Marlborough reds. It woke me up at 4am and I of course stomped outside to ask him to stop. It's a non smoking property and the smoke comes right in with the open air and the aforementioned tropical breeze. Rude! He complied, grudgingly. Thank you mister.)

We went out for a dip in the infinity pool overlooking the ocean (sigh) and Daniel declared that he wants to move to Hana and that he has never been so happy in his life. I'll admit, it's a pretty special place. We got taken by golf cart(!) to the Hana Ranch Restaurant where Daniel had ribs and I had the locally caught opa (white) fish. I have been eating fish while in Hawaii under the rationale that it's locally caught and I am supporting a local fisherman. It hasn't really agreed with me, so I hope the fishermen appreciate my support. Anyhoodle, the restaurant is also the local karaoke venue. Tourists and locals alike belting out bad songs in warbling voices. Fun! We finished the bight with homemade macadamia nut pie a la mode (kind of like pecan pie but different nuts) and a short stroll back to our room. So nice!!!

Locals here are friendly and this hotel obviously provides a lot of jobs. This part of the island is pretty remote, although we were told on the CD that several celebrities have houses out here. I can see why.

Thursday we will head back on our journey to O'heo gulch, although we are now in no rush to leave. I booked this hotel on heather's recommendation thinking it would just be a place to crash along the way, but it is a winded place and I wish we were staying 2 nights. It is very expensive ($375/night min) but thanks to my job, I got it for much less than that. Yay me!!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy number two!

More snorkeling -- I'm wrestling with crappy equipment, but almost nothing can take away from the amazement of floating in a giant reef tank. Then I squeezed in some very hot intervals followed by Danielle meeting me for the spin down portion, where her intention was to escort me to the end of Makena where we'd sample from the local road side vendors. first up was a giant of a Hawaiian woman selling fresh coconut juice, where upon your completion she'd cut away the meet so you could take it to go.

fresh coconut juice >> cytomax, btw.

then it was off to a grill set up side of the road that's been featured in nat geo traveler -- Makena Grill. while the personality of the non-Hawaiian owner was a bit coarse at first, the fresh caught grilled Ono was delicious, and Danielle had some of the best coconut rice I've ever eaten.

We had a chill afternoon, Danielle arranging our itinerary for the remainder of the trip. Then it was a walk along the path by the ocean to The Four Seasons for our anniversary dinner at Spago's, which I believe is a Wolfgang Puck establishment. The food was amazing (just the day before we left we got an enthusiastic tip about this place) the service excellent, and the sunset view made it post card perfect. cliche, really, but we loved it all the same. opt for the times when they're offering the price fixed menu and save a bundle.

Aloha akiaki! I don't know if that's spelled right of pronounced like i just wrote, but Danielle is going to be fluent in Hawaiian before we leave anyway, so I'll follow up.

P.s. blogging on the iPhone is tedious.