Driving Maui's South Shore is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach....
If I had to do it again, I'd leave at 6am. Beat the traffic out of Lahaina, get an early start on the drive. Spend the hours enjoying the stunningly beautiful views and attractions, not being stuck in a slow moving line. Allow yourself plenty of time to have a refreshing break in Hana and enjoy the many local sites before carrying on.
Turn-around spots are rare and it may be less nerve wracking to walk down a rutted beach road than to drive and have problems getting back up. Turning around in the sand is tricky and will be severely frowned upon by locals.
Before we drove the Hana Highway, I was extremely excited about all the banana bread I had read about. It's sold everywhere, with competing claims about who has the best, and occasionally includes exotic ingredients like macadamia nuts and mangoes And I do love banana bread. Enough to buy every loaf I saw!!! But after about $50, it slowly dawned on me that it was just - get this - banana bread. Yep, regular, ordinary - delicious - but ordinary banana bread. Yep, it was fresh. Fresh, moist, and banana-y. Kinda like the type I grew up with eating at every single community event in rural Nova Scotia. Just like the kind I made at home now for myself. Not that different from that which I bought in Africa many years ago. Except it costs $5-$8 a loaf and each loaf is about half the size you'd expect. Really, it's like getting the equivalent of 3 muffins in loaf form. So get some if you want some and if you like it. But don't feel compelled to try banana bread at every turn. It's tasty, but not great value. Save your money for smoothies, fruit crepes, shave ice, and more.
We didn't spend much time in Hana, but it is a charming town with many attractions of it's own. We had some of the best Thai food ever at Pranee Thai, an open air restaurant across from the ball field. Prices were reasonable, considering the captive market found in Hana visitors, and all was made fresh to order.
Less exciting is the old Hana General Store. While the guidebook reviewed it as a legendary store that was a favourite of locals what I saw instead was an old, dusty building that was jam-packed with a combination of groceries and general items. Except that they had a horrible selection of snack and virtually no chips! What self respecting community general store doesn't have good snacks?!?! Chip shortages are unforgivable And, the worst crime of all - their coffee was horrible. Horrible by any standard, a criminal act in coffee-growing Hawaii! So if you pass by and need supplies, by all means stop in and stock up Or do so at any store you pass - it doesn't have to be the fabled General Store. You'll find them satisfactory, not charming or exemplary.
While amenities are scarce, attractions are plentiful Early on is the back entrance to Haleakala National Park, where rangers can advise you on the conditions of the road ahead. Home to the "Seven Sacred Pools", the pools provide some nice swimming holes, and the ocean below often has sharks congregating. Not far after the park is the turn off for Charles Lindbergh's grave. Old churches, ancient lava flows, gorgeous scenery all await. If you are looking for an escape from crowded beaches, for an alternative to the usual attractions, for a once in a lifetime experience with nature, you will love this drive.
This day long adventure was an absolute highlight of our time in Maui. I consider it a must-see for anyone. With a little planning, you can have a memorable visit with no wasted time and maximized enjoyment. The costs of the day are reasonable and some of the best highlights are absolutely free!
As always, I welcome and encourage your comments. Have you ever taken an epic roadtrip?
If you enjoyed this article, you'll also like:
Vermont and the $200 Challenge
Kids on the Plane: Disaster or Delight?
Grand Canyon National Park: Cheap & Calm in Peak Season