It’s been called one of the world’s most scenic drives. The Hana Highway along Maui’s eastern coast is 52 miles of narrow roads that carve through lush rain forests along rocky coastlines. Stretching from Kahului to the sleepy coastal town of Hana, this curvaceous highway coils around the island, across hundreds of curves and one-lane bridges. A trip there reveals the rugged natural beauty of postcard perfect Hawaii, from sweeping ocean views, to tropical waterfalls and volcanic black sand beaches.
Eager to experience this adventure for myself, I flew to Maui, rented a compact car, cranked the radio to a jamming ukulele station and hit the road. The drive to Hana can take from a few hours to a few days (depending on weather, speed and how many stops you make). It’s a windy route with hairpin turns and dramatic drops, so drivers should be mindful, slow and observant as they yield to oncoming traffic.
The view is worth the harrowing drive. Picture a velvet cape of emerald foliage; a patch quilt of Eucalyptus trees and subtropical rain forests. Mysterious, secretive, primordial and other worldly, it’s no wonder why location scouts chose this cinematic area to feature in the opening sequence of the film Jurassic Park. With such fertile landscapes and stunning panoramas, it’s hard to keep one’s eyes on the road.
For dramatic black sand beaches, large sea caves and volcanic tubes,Wai’anapanapa State Park is a must see, plus you can hike bamboo forests along the Pipiwai Trail. If wind sports are your thing, Ho’okipa Beach is an international hot spot for world-class wind surfers. Wildlife lovers should head to the Garden of Eden Arboretum and Botanical Garden, where you’ll find twenty-six acres of nature trails with endemic plants and exotic birds. With such incredible scenery, Hana lives up to its reputation as one of the world’s most stunning drives.