Hana Highway

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The Hana Highway runs along the northeastern coast of Maui, between Kailua and Hana. It was built in 1927, using convict labor and it is the most spectacular coastal route in Hawaii. The highway runs through lush valleys with dense rainforests, bamboo thickets, fern groves and bright orange African tulip trees at some places, while at other spots, the road runs high above the rugged coastline. There are more than 600 twists and turns along the route, as well as numerous waterfalls, some of which are tiny, others huge. Some 54 one-lane bridges cross streams and gulches that bear poetic Hawaiian names, such as Heavenly Mist, Prayer Blossoms and Reawakening.

You can drive from Kahului to Hana in about two hours, but it is much better do take it slow and give yourself a day or so to experience the marvelous surroundings and to explore the numerous mountain pools, hiking trails and historic sites.

The first place of interest you come to, when heading out from Kailua is the peaceful, short loop of the Waikamoi Ridge Trail. The trail runs through an area of eucalyptus and philodendrons. Just after the 18 km (11 miles) marker, you will come to Haipuaena Falls, a gentle little waterfall with a deep enough pool to swim in. The pool is well off the road, so you can swim naked if you like. Further along the route lies the quiet village of Keanae, where goats and colts roam freely. The major sight in Keanae is the 19th-century church that was completely made of lava rocks and coral mortar. Puaa Kaa State Wayside Park includes a tranquil waterfall that empties into a pool, before flowing down a ravine. The pool is excellent for swimming. Just after the 51 km (32 miles) marker, you will come to the Waianapanapa State Park. Cabins, camping places and showers are available in the park. Not far from the car park are two impressive lava-tube caves, which are covered with ferns and flowering impatiens. A 3 km (2 miles) long coastal trail leads from the park to Kainalimu Bay, just north of Hana Bay. The trail passes blowholes and temple ruins and it offers some gorgeous coastal views.


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