a road revisited … hana day tripping

The journey to Hana is like a glass of aged port: full of floral aroma, vibrant color and fruit flavor. When taken slowly, it’s intoxicating.
If it’s been a while since you have traveled this country road, let me reintroduce you. Just like Maui’s jungle, it’s always fresh and ever changing.

Why go now?
As the fall brings consistent tradewind showers to East Maui, the rainforest’s waterfalls cascade and pools fill with cool water providing a refreshing way to beat Maui’s sultry heat. This time of year, bright orange, red, pink and yellow tropical heliconias and gingers fill East Maui’s roadsides, streambeds and waterfalls. Sturdy in stature and symmetrical in shape they blaze the Hana Highway and rise up like flames of a torch illuminating the landscape.

With a little planning, the trip can be as smooth as haupia. Plan out your day but be ready for delightful diversions. Pack a picnic, or better yet, have someone else do that for you (you are on vacation remember!) Anthony’s Coffee Company in Pa‘ia is the perfect place to pick up a lunch picnic for the journey. If you preorder, a cooler full of sandwiches, chips, cookies and beverages waiting for you to grab and go. Guests are welcome to stop in and order as well.

With yummy provisions all aboard, the road-trip can begin. As Hwy 36 ends and 360 begins, remember to take it slow, let the sea air blow through your hair, slurp up tropical fruits from roadside stands, and enjoy the big blue ocean in view. The hairpin turns and cliff-hugging highway may coil your body, but the views and he experience will stretch your mind.
While there is so much to do and see along the way, here are a 9 of my favorite roadside stops.

1. A Glimpse of Old Days & Ways
Ke‘anae
Get out and stretch your legs at the village of Ke‘anae on the Ke‘anae Peninsula. Enjoy the up-close views of this spectacular shoreline, the pounding surf, taro patches, an old Hawaiian village and a church built in 1856. Located just past the Ke‘anae Arboretum and about one mile past Mile Marker #16 on the left. Clean bathroom facilities are available here.

2. Visit a Flower Farm
Nahiku Tropicals
Step into the world of exotic tropical flowers at Nahiku Tropicals. Walk through flower stem tunnels and under flower canopies and among the showcase of varieties of heliconia, ginger, bromeliad, orchid and anthurium plants. Order a gift box of flowers for all of your envious friends. Self-directed tours are offered Saturday-Wednesday from 9am-5pm. No reservations necessary, donations are accepted. Call 248-7751 or visit the website at http://www.NahikuTropicals.com Located between the 26 and 27 mile markers.

3. Lunch Time
Kahanu Garden Tours
This is one of my favorite stops in East Maui and a great place to enjoy your picnic lunch on the manicured grounds. See the world’s largest collection of breadfruit trees and a collection of ethnobotanical plants that were brought here in ancient voyaging canoes. Take some time to appreciate one of the greatest engineering and construction feats in all of Polynesia – the magnificent Pi‘ilanihale Heiau – a lava-rock structure believed to be the largest ancient place of worship in Polynesia. It is a National Historic Landmark. Self-guided tours are offered Monday-Friday from 10am-2pm.

4. Ready for a Dip
Waianapanapa State Park
Just past the Hana airport is Waianapanapa State Park. A spot worth stopping to take a dip in the marble blue cove and soak up a little sun on this gorgeous black sand beach. Stretch your legs and saunter along the path worn into the volcanic coastline above the sea. Located off Highway 360E just beyond mile maker #32, take a left and the state park is at the end of this road.

5. Time for Refreshments
Hana Fresh
A trip to the jungle is not complete without fresh chilled coconut slices and pure coconut water. Not a fan of coconut? How about an icy-cold lilikoi or Tahitian lime slush, or a bag of tropical trail mix with Mac nuts, dried papaya and pineapple, or an iced espresso? Nibble on a bag of their organic purple, orange and yellow cherry tomatoes or crisp peas. Hana Fresh sells a wide variety of organic produce grown on property, fresh fish from Hana fishermen, local poi, sandwiches baked goods and arts and crafts. All products are grown or made in Hana and all proceeds help support Hana Health’s essential programs. Located in front of Hana Health at 4590 Hana Highway. Monday-Saturday from 8:30am-5:30pm and Sunday 8:30am-2pm. Visit http://www.hanahealth.org.

6. Cultural Desert
Hana Cultural Center
As you enter Hana town, head down to Hana Bay and stop at the Hana Cultural Center & Museum overlooking the bay. This little seaside museum tells the story of this unique Hawaiian community and is home to a traditional Hawaiian village, a historic courthouse that is still in use, an old jailhouse and a museum with over 5,000 photographs taken of residents of the Hana District. The gift shop offers a selection of greeting cards created by more than 120 local artists and photographers. Take a breather under one of the 4 authentic hales, built to represent early Hawaiian life with thatched hales of living, meeting, cooking and canoe building/storage. Located at 4974 Uakea Road near the turn-off to Hana Bay, the cultural center is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm.

7. Easy Hike with Big Rewards
Kaihalulu “Red Sand” Beach
So now that you’ve seen a black sand beach, it’s time to frolic on a red sand beach. Kaihalulu is a hidden gem in the town of Hana. The secluded, clothing-optional (be prepared) beach is set in a small pocket cove enclosed by towering volcanic cliffs. The red sand originates from the eroded volcanic cinders spilling off the cliffs. The beach is protected from the strong ocean currents by a large, jagged lava rock barrier that forms a natural sea wall. You can park next to the Hana Community Center by the ball park and carefully hike along the narrow eroded cliff-hugging trail above the ocean.

8. Time for a Tall Cold One?
Hasegawa General Store
If an afternoon cold one sounds tempting, pull into Hasegawa General Store. Celebrating its 100-year anniversary, this eclectic country market carries a good selection of beer, wine and soft beverages. Grab a bag of boiled peanuts or chips to go along with your cold beverage and don’t forget an opener! This is a great place to pick up your souvenir t-shirts too. Pack your beverages in your little cooler and now it’s time to head to your final destination. Open Monday-Saturday from 7am-7pm and Sunday from 8am-6pm, call Hasegawa General Store at 248-8231.

9. Time to Kick Back and Relax
Hamoa Beach
Ready to plop yourself on the sand beach and jump in the ocean? Time to head to your final Hana destination at Hamoa. On Highway 31, over a half mile past mile marker 51 beyond Hana town, take a left on Haneo‘o Road. Driving down Haneo‘o Road, you’ll find the Koki Beach overlook. From here you can watch the local surfers and get a good view of ‘Alau Island offshore and a Hawaiian fishpond near shore. Keep driving till you find the stairs  to Hamoa. This 100-foot-wide half-moon-shaped, light gray-sand beach (a mix of coral and lava) is the quintessential tropical setting and it is a perfect place for sunbathers, snorkelers, bodysurfers and surfers. Enjoy your treats, kickback and spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying one of Maui’s prettiest beaches.

About Anthony’s Coffee Company in Pa’ia
For over 15 years, Ed and Keri Stewart have catered to Maui’s healthy and active north shore crowd. This is a one-of-a-kind hangout where you can spot famous local surfers and celebrities kickin’ back and enjoying good food and a homey atmosphere.

Anthony’s offers youthful energy, unique gifts and the fresh-baked goodies like hot-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls coated with homemade frosting, or fresh baked muffins and scones. Treat yourself to a creamy latte or French-press coffee made with extra fancy Kona coffee while you pick up your picnic lunch. For something heartier, try their Kalua Pork Benedict, sweetbread French toast, Loco Moco or the Ho‘okipa Omelet stuffed full of ham, onions, peppers and cheddar cheese. There are just so many yummy things to try at Anthony’s, you’ll have to stop back in on your way back from Hana.

Anthony’s offers picnic lunches to-go for only $9.95 per person. Lunch includes hot or cold sandwiches and wraps made to order from the freshest ingredients, complete with chips, cookies, fruit and beverages. From veggie sandwiches to a BLT, there’s something to satisfy everyone’s cravings.
To order, call ahead at 579-8340 or just have your guests stop in on the way. To see the picnic lunch menu, visit Anthony’s on the web at http://www.anthonyscoffee.com. They are open daily from 5:30am to 6pm at 90 Hana Highway, Pa‘ia (on  the right when heading to Hana). FREE cooler rental with purchase of picnic lunch. (Refundable $10 deposit).

Hana Road Trippin’ Rules
RULE 1 – If a big 4×4 truck hugs your bumper, pull to the right and make room for them to pass, remember, some folks drive this road every day!
RULE 2 – Give a smile, a wave and a little aloha to fellow travelers.
RULE 3 – Pack your favorite tunes, beach blankets, swimsuits, hats and sunscreen.
RULE 4 – Leave at sunrise, stay till sunset.
RULE 5 – Bring cash so you can shop at the many da’ kine roadside stands along the way.
RULE 6 – Take it slow: the rewards are greatest when the speedometer hovers around 20 mph.
RULE 7 – Let “Hang Loose” be your M.O. for the day.

article by cheryl ambrozic

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