Road to Hana

Ever woken up on what you knew would be a fantastic day?

That's not how this day went.

At 4am my husband and I were up and preparing for what we thought would be a tour of the Road to Hana. For $299 per person, my husband and I were going to let Wade of No Ka Oi Adventures take us on a tour of the Road to Hana, both the front (northeast) and back (southeast) roads, with the back roads being technically inaccessible to rental cars. (Rental car companies do not want to pay for any problems that may occur on lesser used, narrow, dirt roads that can be found on the southeast side of Maui.) I hadn't brought any clothing I was willing to get dirty, but I did go out of my way to buy tennis shoes and a t-shirt for the experience. We had packed all of our camera gear, our sunscreen, a change of socks and anything else we could think of for the trip. We were ready!

However, an hour before we are supposed to leave, I received a text. Wade had been sick the past few days and wouldn't be able to make it.

If that had been it, I would have been fine. But no. This was after confirming with us the night before that we would be up and ready to go when he picked us up at 6am. To say I was frustrated would be an understatement. Didn't he know he had been sick? Couldn't he have given us a heads up so that we could make alternate plans? Or, alternatively, wasn't there a friend that could have taken us on the tour?

I understand waking up the day of and realizing you are sick and can't go. I don't understand knowing you have been sick and confirming plans despite this without giving your clients the chance to back out.

I was livid.

And I didn't have a backup plan.

sunrise over Maui

Knowing what was ahead, my husband bravely suggested we take on the Road to Hana ourselves. Hairpin turns and narrow roads couldn't scare him away!

But, of course, when you are awake before sunrise, you have to take the chance to see it! Luckily, our hotel (the Grand Wailea Beach Resort) provided free breakfast boxes with our room, so we took our breakfast picnic of yogurt, pastries, meat, fruit, and more to the northeast side of Maui and found a spot on some rocks overlooking the ocean. It wasn't the best spot, but it worked! Because even when your scenery is ugly, the sunrise is still beautiful. And hey! We were up! We should get bonus points for being early risers that day! 😉

Beginning the Road to Hana tour

Hana Bay Picnic Company on Maui

Following sunrise, we headed to the Hana Bay Picnic Company. The goal was to buy lunch for our journey and get a map. (It was recommended in one of the two books I had.) We ended up skipping out on the lunch and got gelato instead. The woman behind the counter that day suggested we download the Road to Hana Shaka guide on our phone when she learned of our predicament. She couldn't have been more right! Downloading that app plus one other, the Road to Hana GyPSy Guide, helped us work our way around the island. Without the helpful apps, we would have been lost. Don't visit the Hana Picnic Lunch Company for maps, though; they have none. They were selling a CD guide, though.

Before I get any further, let me just say that I HIGHLY recommend you get a guide of some sort before going on the Road to Hana journey. Mile markers can be difficult to spot and it's easy to miss activities and sights you aren't aware of because of the lack of signage. And don't count on your phone's GPS! It was a matter of minutes before I lost internet during the trip! Neither of my books nor my phone was of any help on this trip, but the apps, specifically the Shaka guide, were the most help. DOWNLOAD THEM. While you have internet. (They are big apps.) Trust me.

Pro-tip: don't worry about downloading both apps. Just pick one. The app does best if you let it sit on your phone and talk to you as you drive. As soon as you hit specific GPS coordinates, the GPS will tell you about where you are and what's ahead. If you go back and forth between apps, like I did, you are likely to miss something.

Hana Bay Picnic Company interior

** Hana Bay Picnic Company
99 Hana Hwy, Pa'ia, HI 96779
(808) 579-8686
hours: 7am-3:30pm

** Shake Guide: Road to Hana $6.99 per tour (in-app purchase)
Options include the Classic Tour, the loop (so, the whole way around Road to Hana including the backside that is not recommended for rental cars), and reverse Road to Hana (driving from Kula to Pa'ia). We used the classic. (Here's a comparison.)

gelato from the Hana Bay Picnic Company

From what I've read, the Hana Bay Picnic Company's lunch is an awesome deal at approximately $10 for a sandwich, bag of chips and a cookie. The gelato we had was mediocre. I can't speak for the lunch.

Overall, I find the Hana Bay Picnic Company not worth the stop unless you want a picnic lunch to go, gelato for breakfast (because why not?!), or you want a place to download a Road To Hana guide.

beginning the Road to Hana

Before you hit the road, here are a few other things you should know:

* Fill up your gas tank before you leave Pa'ia! The Road to Hana is more than 64 miles long (Kahului to Kalepa) with an additional 44 miles if you decide to drive the backside. Having a full tank of gas at the beginning of the trip will keep you from worrying; there are no places to stop for gas until you reach Hana.
* Take bug spray, especially if you plan on doing much hiking.
* Food and water is a good idea depending on how many stops you plan to make and if you have kids.
* BUT remember that bathrooms are hard to find. In some places, like Coconut Glen's, you will be encouraged to use the wilderness as your bathroom. In that case, you may want toilet paper and hand sanitizer. #JustSaying
* Sunscreen is a necessity on the Hawai'ian islands and the Road to Hana is no exception! Reapply often! Especially on young kids. And make sure to use waterproof sunscreen if you intend on swimming.
* Bathing suits are a great idea if you intend on swimming. Pay attention to signs and be aware that any water you find along this route is all natural which may mean there could be bacteria in it. Especially for smaller lakes and ponds.
* Towels and a change of clothing will make the trip more comfortable for those of you that intend on continuing your trip after swimming
* A pocket knife is a great idea for cutting up foods you might buy along the way including Aunty Sandy's banana bread or apple bananas (yes! It's a thing!). You may also use your knife to cut away brush as you hike. It's all dependent on what you plan to do. In general, we've found a pocket knife is, in general, good to have on hand.
* Plastic bags will make it easy to store wet clothing/swimsuits after swimming, take your garbage with you after picnicking, and keep muddy clothes after hiking. What are your plans for Road to Hana?
* Comfortable closed-toe footwear will make it easier to hike. Water shoes will work best for rocky beaches that might hurt your feet.
* If you get car sick or motion sick, you might want to bring medication. The roads are very narrow and there are lots of twists and turns. If you aren't used to it, it could make you sick.
* MOST IMPORTANT!!! Bring a camera! If you don't you will regret it!

beautiful beach on Maui
Ho’okipa Lookout
Road to Hana landscape

Honomanu Bay Overlook

Road to Hana view

pineapple and shaved ice from Aunty Sandy's on the Road to Hana in Maui
fresh pineapple and shaved ice from Aunty Sandy's

coconut on the Road to Hana
fresh coconut picked up from the ground

rooster on the Road to Hana in Maui
Chickens and roosters romaed Hawai'i freely

flowers on the Road to Hana

Maui's palm trees

Honomanu Bay on Maui

Honomanu Bay Overlook
Wai’anapanapa State Park

sunset on the back road of Road to Hana

back road on the Road to Hana just before sunset

As you can see, the Road to Hana drive is definitely worth experiencing while on Maui Island. The beaches and waterfalls are gorgeous and the food at roadside stands is delicious! While a guide may help you to see more than we saw or make it easier for you to see the sights while someone else is driving, a guide is not essential for enjoying and making the most of the Road to Hana experience.

What are your thoughts? Would you consider driving the Road to Hana?

sunset on the back road on the Road to Hana tour

Want to learn more? Here are a few other sites with good overviews of what to expect on Road to Hana:
* Tour Maui: Halfway to Hana

It's day seven in the A-Z blog challenge! This month I'm sharing all about my five year anniversary in Hawai'i – providing insight into the places I went, reviewing the hotels I stayed at, and telling my story. Today's letter was G for the Grand Road to Hana tour we took on Maui Island.

ABCD • E (pt 1, 2, 3) • F

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...