Oh my goodness - what a long day. We drove to Hana today and what an adventure.
Most guidebooks and people in the know recommend being on the road by 7am. This allows you to beat the rush of people driving to Hana. That is true - it does make it a bit easier. We got up at 5am, ate breakfast and we were on the road by 6:15. It is about 45 minutes from Napili in West Maui to Kahului and the start of the Hana Highway. It is officially 48 miles from Kakului to Hana. Expect it to take almost 4 hours.
It was pretty quiet once we left Haiku. There are a couple of items to be aware if you do start the trip this early. 1) You will meet several locals in pickup trucks or business vans on their way to work. Prepare to pull aside. 2) You will be driving into the rising sun. Bring sunglasses - especially if it has rained because it will be bright. It is challenging going from the deep dark tropical hillside and around a narrow curve to the bright sunshine. 3) Most of the roadside stands will be closed.
We took our time pulling off to see the bridges and waterfalls. The road is extremely windy. The recommended speed limit is 15 miles per hour and you will not want to go much faster. In addition to blind curves, there are numerous one lane bridges and passages. Just slow down and get on Maui Time.
We got to Wainapanapa State Park by about 11:00am and stopped for lunch. I was hungry after all those curves. We didn't take much time to explore Hana but we did walk down to Hamoa Beach which was beautiful and almost deserted. We headed out to the 7 Sacred Pools at O'helo Gulch which is actually part of Haleakala National Park. We walked the loop trail enjoying the vistas.
Here are some photos of the Road to Hana on the north side of Maui. I'll blog later about the *return* from Hana after our return home. We're flying tomorrow - I'm not ready to leave but it is time to go.