If you want to unwind in Hawaii even the locals suggest a few days stay in the small and peaceful town of Hana in east Maui. This part of the island is rural and relatively undeveloped. Cell phone reception comes and goes as quickly as the rain showers do. Cattle graze along the rocky coastline and if you can’t find what you need at Hasegawa General Store or at a makeshift roadside fruit stand, then you’ll likely have to drive more than two hours back toward the airport and Kahului to get it. Simply stated, Hana “feels” Hawaiian.
The Road to Hana, a famous scenic drive along Highway 360, takes travelers through dense rainforest, past waterfalls too numerous to count and over more than 50 one-lane bridges as it hugs the rugged windward coastline. The views are breathtaking, and it’s an unforgettable journey.
My husband Ken and I spent five nights in Hana at a cottage overlooking one of my favorite places on the planet, Hamoa Beach. The beach is sunken and surrounded by tree-covered cliffs with sharp volcanic boulders bordering each side. The soft, brown sand is flecked with bits of black, and the blue-green water is incredibly clear. But best of all, Hamoa Beach is never crowded, and sometimes it’s possible to have this piece of paradise all to yourself.
Two years ago Ken and I were married along the rocky coast near the Hotel Hana Maui (now Travaasa Hana), but this time we opted to stay just outside town at Hana Oceanfront Cottages (which I highly recommend to anyone visiting Hana). With only 50 feet between us and the ocean, we happily spent countless hours on the lanai watching the waves and surfers at Hamoa Beach. Our welcoming host, California transplant Sandi Simoni, greeted us with a loaf of warm, homemade bread and later left me a fresh flower lei.
One of my favorite adventures on our trip was a 4-hour horseback ride with Maui Stables. While leading our small group up a mountainside for views of the Kipahula coast and the Haleakala volcanic summit, our Hawaiian guide Keoni talked about his ancestors and their spiritual connection to the land. He told us how ancient Hawaiians, in order to provide for everyone, divided the land into districts each including access to fresh water, farmland and the ocean. And we learned how Hawaiians pass their knowledge, such as how healers use the island’s many plants, down from elders to the younger generations. Listening to these stories on horseback while walking the very land about which Keoni spoke made the experience all the more wonderful.
This is my third and final post about this winter’s Hawaiian vacation, and perhaps I saved the best for last. Mahalo for following my journey. Enjoy the photographs, and look here for previous posts about Maui and Kauai.