Life is a journey, not a destination. Ah, those words. Quoted over and over. I’ve always nodded at them, thinking, “Of course. Yes.” And yet, when applying it, I’m not the best… as evidenced by the first hours in our journey to Hana.
The Road to Hana on Maui is a famous 64-mile coastal road stretching from the city of Kahului to the town of Hana. It’s a popular destination for tourists to drive the stretch to Hana and back over the day, stopping at all the waterfalls and epic views along the way. Make no mistake though, although it’s popular, it’s still a remote tropical paradise and the road less traveled. There are very few people staying in that area or even living there. It’s very much wild Hawaii and absolutely breathtaking! There are over 600 curves and 50 bridges along the narrow road, so it’s quite a trip!
It was our plan for Monday, our first full day in Maui. We’d drive the Road to Hana, stop at whatever sights we wanted, and then maybe go see Haleakala (the volcano) afterwards. Piece of cake! Would take 5 hours at most. Yeah… my naivety is astounding sometimes. 😉
We left at 8:30am and argued for the first two hours. It was lovely [insert sarcastic voice here]. But really, in an effort to be frank, we were a bit snippy with each other because the road was two-lane and very narrow, we’d left later than we wanted, and we started the beginning of the road alongside half of the tourists on the island (or so it felt).
For those first couple hours, it felt like we’d driven forever and seen nothing. I kept expecting the “wow” feeling and wasn’t getting it. Our guidebook was helpful, but nothing was standing out to me as a “must stop” place. I started counting down the mile markers till Hana… waiting for the destination.
Things weren’t boding well for an enjoyable day until we FINALLY came upon our first waterfall. That’s when the smiles slowly started, and the bickering faded. The top of the car was down, the sun was beating down on us, and we were finally noticing, “oh hey, I guess this whole place is kinda pretty.”
We started stopping more often and not worrying about how long it would take to get there or back, and more importantly, not worrying about the goober drivers around us who didn’t know how to safely drive on narrow roads. We saw waterfall after waterfall. Took a detour for banana bread and lava rocks along the coast. Explored a state park with a cave you could swim in, a black sand beach, and lava tubes.
Each segment of our drive helped loosen our uptight attitudes and nerves. By the time we rolled into Hana, 8 HOURS LATER, we were happy as clams. Sunset was coming, but we didn’t care. Unlike the majority of tourists who turn around in Hana and head back, we kept going onto a road “not recommended for rental cars.” Adventure was waiting!