One of the required things to do while on Maui is to drive the road to Hana. It's a beautiful, twisty, narrow road with tons of one lane bridges and many waterfalls. It's about 40 miles, but it takes about 2 1/2 hours to drive straight to Hana. However, there is really nothing to do in Hana. It's all about the drive, so take your time. My two best pieces of advice about doing this drive:
1) Use the guidebook Maui Revealed. This is a great book full of 'off the beaten track' places to see. If you use it, chances are you will be surrounded by fewer crowds and you may even get to swim in a waterfall by yourself. However, if you stop at every place they recommend, you may have the problem we had, which is this: Getting to Hana will take forever. The entire round trip took us 16 hours, which is far longer than most people take, and we never did get to see the very last sight, which is what everyone raves about. Oops.
So my second recommendation is this:
2) Stay in Hana overnight. Even if you don't dawdle like we did, it will give you freedom to enjoy the trip and not worry about darkness ending your visit prematurely.
Other advice: It rains a lot, so the drive is incredibly green. Prepare for all weather. We saw all a bit of everything. Also, bring bug spray for hiking in the woods. And if you get carsick, take medication. Crumpet had never been carsick in his life, but he was miserable on the way home...
So, onto our drive:
See the road cut into the hill below?
One of the many one lane bridges. Tourists handle these really well, and politely give way. Locals will try to crush you. Just so you know...
Every turn brings a new, gorgeous view:
At the beginning, we stopped at every waterfall. After a while, you realize they are everywhere and just stop at the ones recommended by the book!
"The Three Bears" Waterfall. This one was particularly pretty.
We swam in Ching's Pond, which is a small waterfall under one of the tiny bridges. No one was there, just like the book promised! This is as close to the water as Crumpet got:
Because it was insanely COLD!! Here's me getting in. It took me a long time to finally take the plunge. It was worth it though...
Leptospirosis is a nasty disease that is very common in fresh water in Hawaii, so I don't normally swim in the waterfalls here. (Lots of people do, and few actually get sick.) However, I could only find a record of one case in Maui in the last 10 years or so, so I went for it.
Maui is one of the younger volcanic islands so there is lots of jagged lava rock that hasn't been smoothed out by the sea and wind yet.
There are some beautiful black sand beaches. We stopped at Wainapanapa State Park, which was gorgeous. Neat beaches (not really for swimming), cool caves, and a blow hole which wasn't very active while we were there, but still fun to check out.
One of the caves:
The sand here isn't really sand yet. It's mostly smooth lava rocks which still need to be broken down.
There is also a red sand beach in Hana. While pretty, this really wasn't worth the difficult hike...
A few other Road to Hana sights:
Fluffy bamboo forests:
Whales, which aren't supposed to hang out on that side of the island... We saw many...
Really cool flowers:
We missed the main tourist spot which is Oheo Gulch, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools. It is a few miles past the town of Hana. This is a series of waterfalls and pools working from the top of a mountain down to the ocean. You can swim in many of them. We didn't do our research and so didn't realize that it's a few miles to the top. We did get to walk about halfway up and saw some beautiful falls and pools, as well as a gorgeous bamboo forest. We didn't get to swim though, and... our camera battery died so we have no pictures... Sigh, it just wasn't meant to be.
Still, this was a lovely drive. Don't miss it!