Along The Road To Hana
Maui, Hawaii, United States
My girlfriend and I landed at Kahului Airport on the island of Maui. We rented a car and were set to drive the famous ‘Road to Hana’. The highway on the north side of the island is one of the most scenic coastal drives anywhere in the world. It rivals the drive from Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope and buries the mountainous drives in the south of France. We had arrived early in the morning from Kaui’i and were set to tackle the drive all the way to Hana on the far east of the island and then back to where we were staying in Kaanapali on the far west just south of Kapalua in one day.
Of course, there were many stops that had to be made along the way as well. The first stop we made was at Twin Falls, which was a short hike from the highway. We hiked for about 15 minutes and eventually we came to a spot where we would have to muddle through the river to get to the falls. The water was pretty cold but we decided it was definitely going to be worth it. We arrived (after only slipping on the river rocks a few times) at a gorgeous secluded waterfall cascading into a picturesque pool of water. It was very romantic and mesmerizing at the same time. We decided to jump into the pool and head straight for the waterfall.
The waterfall came down at a pretty high velocity from the river source 30 feet above. Standing under it was very cool, but it was nearly impossible to see and the water was freezing. Rachel was more inclined to standing behind the falls or swimming in front of them. However, it was great because we were completely alone in the pool with our own private waterfall in Maui. It was perfect.
Eventually we made it back to our car and managed to dry off as much as possible in the hot Hawaiian sun. We continued on our way east toward Hana. We stopped off at a few other points of interest including some smaller waterfalls that were nothing in comparison to Twin Falls and some other fabulous viewpoints of the ocean.
As we pulled into Hana, we had heard rumors and had read about a one of a kind red sand beach. We consulted our trusty guidebook and it led us to this old bungalow style plantation hotel. It said we should walk to the west of it and past a graveyard, down a dirt track to a steep mountain path which ran parallel to the ocean. Needless to say, we had no idea if we were heading in the right direction and it was very difficult to climb those steep paths in flip-flops. We ran into some hippies coming the other way and we asked them if we heading in the right direction. They nodded and we proceeded along a tight wraparound along the side of the mountain. After curving around the corner we saw a truly amazing sight.
Red Sand Beach
The beach was red. The mountains around the beach were red. The water that flowed toward the beach was a royal sky blue but it was separated by a wall of huge rocks that seemed to separate the ocean from the inlet of the beach. It was one of the coolest color contrasts you could ever see in nature. The blue of the water made the sight of the beach even redder. Our view from 50 feet up along the mountain path gave us panoramic views of this natural wonder but it didn’t give us a hint at what we would be in store for once we finally reached the beach.
As we made our way down the path, the people on the beach became clearer for viewing. We realized that they were all hippies and better yet, they were all naked. We looked at each other in amused shock because we were not expecting the beach to be draped with naked hippies. We thought it was pretty funny though and it didn’t stop us from going down and experiencing the red sand for ourselves.
I felt like we were standing on Mars when we were on the sand because of the color and the soft rockiness of its grains. Of course my visions of Mars never really included naked 60′s rejects basking in the sunlight but hey, whatever, right? The water was beautiful and so refreshing from the hot sun. The views of the surrounding landscapes were breathtaking.
However, one fat hairy naked guy got up to join the party in the water and that gave us all the reason we needed not to venture back into the water. But even he couldn’t spoil the sight of the beach.
It was starting to approach mid-afternoon and we needed to get back into the car if we were going to make it all the way back to the other side of the island for dinner. So we trudged through the red sand for the last time and ascended the steep paths with the utmost care because of our wet feet and flip-flops (as if my worse nightmare were coming to life, Rachel almost slipped and killed herself) and we began to drive back.
As we passed the Kahului airport where we had started our drive we knew we were getting close to the toughest part of the drive. The area from just west of the airport to Kapalua is renowned for being extremely narrow along steep mountain roads. The turns are hairpin tight at times and the roads not big enough for two-way traffic. The roads also had no safety barriers at times and the only thing separating the car from hitting the ground below was the thousands of feet of air you would have to fall first, bouncing along the mountain on the way down.
I was driving and had been looking forward to the challenge of driving these roads very fast all day. Of course this thrilled Rachel. She nearly had a heart attack around every curve and even tried to grab the wheel and hit the brakes at times. I was having the time of my life watching her squirm and freak out, but I did manage to slow down every now and then – just to prevent her from jumping out of the car. Sometimes you have to do the right thing.
We managed to get by unscathed and the car was tremendous in the demanding conditions. The road was amazing and I really don’t know how two-way traffic is allowed there in the mountains, but it is. We could only imagine how many accidents occur year to year. As the road started heading back down to sea level, we began to see signs for Kapalua and then to Kaanapali. We were both psyched because it had been a very long day of driving and for Rachel a day of living on the edge. We made it to our hotel in time for a nice dinner and a few more days in paradise at the beautiful Sheraton Maui.
Hawaii is a magical place with a lot more to do than just sitting on a beach or laying at a pool, and it doesn’t get any better than life on Maui. The ‘Road to Hana’ lived up to its billing as few things do and the sights along the way made it spectacular. Our waterfall was incredibly romantic and the coastal drive was outstanding. I loved the red sand beach. I have never seen anything like it and probably never will again, but we will always remember its stunning natural beauty and contrasts, its difficult location to find and its resident naked hippies.