Friday, May 1, 2015

Maui's Bamboo Forest and BOTH Hana Highways

The road to Hana...
After years of tallking about taking the drive and being worried about car sickness and the amount of time to do it, we finally set aside a day to take the famed road on Maui's North Coast. 

 We set out at 7:30 am and headed for the Hana Highway. Beautiful and sunny in Kihei, the weather quickly turned rainy as we passed Mama's Fish House and became committed to making this happen for once.  A fast but torrential downpour got me a bit worried about a long day on a wet, windy road with single lane bridges... ummm, 57 of them on the "official" road to Hana.  Isn't THIS where we turned around before? Ha! This time we were doing it.

The rains quickly passed and we continued on the road, watching for turn outs to park and see the sights, and people who were obviously finding good things to see. I have to tell you.... we didn't even bring a guide book, or CD, or anything to tell us how to go. We'd read up the night before on our phones, but figured we wouldn't have any cell service on the road. We were correct, very spotty service on the road, so don't rely on just your cell phone. I might suggest a guide book too. 

I'd read about Kahanu Botanical Gardens and the Hana Lava Tubes, so we did do some "touristy" things along the road to Hana too. While paying $10 each to walk through Botanical gardens may not be everyone's cup of tea, I will say that it was beautiful with ancient ruins of Pi'ilanihale ruins (below) and the most beautiful vistas of the ocean on our trip.  We loved it. The ruins are amazingly huge and so perfectly intact.  This area was considered scared grounds.

I wasn't sure about the Lava Tubes... I really wanted to weasle out of it, and just have my hubby go.  $12.50 each... I didn't want to go, but I am glad I did. Lots of informative signs in the tubes so that you can read on many interesting facts.  A darn good flash light is also included.

We had a little plate lunch from a food truck in Hana town which was quite good.  There is quite a bit more than you may be led to believe in Hana, so get out and explore.  There is so much to do along the way, you just need to use your time wisely... you don't want to come back on either side of the Hana highway in the dark.

To get to the bamboo forest, 
continue south on the road out of Hana, you will come to the coast side of Halealaka National Park and the enterance to the Pipiwai Trail. 

The hike is easy to get to from the parking spot ($10 to get into the National Park, good for two days too).  Up two miles, moderately easy hike to the top waterfall, however, the bamboo forest is what I thought was coolest. Literally! Cool and dark, with breezes making the bamboo sway and "conk" together, it was a magical feeling place.  Most of the path through the forest is raised decking so it's easy to walk and enjoy the sights.  Elsewhere on the hike, there are many tree roots and rocks steps that can be somewhat slippery, or easy to trip on.  Be super careful and for goodness sake, wear proper shoes!  We saw so many people trying to make this hike in flip flops.

We were so intent on the hike, we completely missed the Seven Sacred Pools in O'heo Gulch, virtually next door to the state park.  We felt a little silly later on... however, but not too bad considering we had zero guidebooks with us.  It gives us something to go back to, and Lindhberg's gravesite is right there too.

We also saw a guy get air lifted out for a broken leg... that was pretty amazing.  Don't worry, we weren't gawking, only trying to hike down the trail when the park rangers had us stop over to the side while they gurneyed this guy to the spot to be lifted up. Quite  the experience- bamboo, waterfalls and an emergency airlift. Be careful out there folks.

We hit the road continuing South on the "back road" through the up country of Maui.  It took a little more than 2 hours from the National Park, and the road was mostly a one lane track, bumpy or graded gravel in many places, but also nice black top in others.  The views are fantastic, both the green hills and valleys and the black rocks and ocean vistas on the other.  Mostly stark and barren, with very few people or buildings.  A church, a general store and some lonely mailboxes.  Yes, the locals use this road and they DO drive much faster than the tourists, generally still very nice with a cheery wave as they pass. You come out of the road on the very high hills above Wailea and Kihei with a view from the top.  There is no easy direct route from the top down to the coast, so you do have to go back into Kahluli before heading south again if you are staying in Kihei.  There are very few easy places to stop along the road, and as we were so entralled with the views, or intent on the road, we didn't take any pictures.  

My advice?
Don't let people scare you into not taking this drive!  It was pretty easy, though in full disclosure, I didn't drive but was only the navigator.  He only had to ask me pointedly if I "wanted to drive?" once.  That might be a new record.

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