600 curves, 59 bridges, 68 miles… Paradise.
I traveled this road when I was eight years old. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to see many beauties of Planet Earth, but never once forgetting this little gem in Maui. Now at 23 I’m back in Maui, Hawaii, and experiencing this same road trip with more appreciation and brighter eyes.
Highway 36 wraps around the Haleakala Volcano with winding roads, one lane bridges, hairpin turns, and rocky cliffs. Going to Hana is about the journey, not the destination. Hana, isolated from the rest of the island, is truly the last undeveloped tropical paradise in Maui. The day is long, but one full of butterflies and magic. It’s 4 a.m., I wake up and begin the mental checklist: camera bag? Check. Snacks? Check-CHECK! Layers? Check. List of must-see stops? Check. Open mind? Check.
While riding through the adorable town of Paia, which was a must-see to start off the journey, I made a list of stops that I knew I needed to visit, but also decided to allow my mind to play along with the ride.
It’s a breathtaking ride. Seriously, sometimes I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The island is raw, organic, pure, refreshing. It’s surreal, honestly, how beautiful Mother Nature really is. As you twist and turn along the side of the structural volcano, beauty surrounds you. Rainforests canopy the way, filling your lungs with fresh air and the smell of sweet fruits. Black, red, or white sand beaches, contrasted by water as turquoise as I’ve ever seen. Waterfalls that go up forever, along with bamboo forests traveling to the sky. Rainbow eucalyptus trees paint the jungle with their pastel trunks, leading the way. Pure bliss.
If you ever get the chance to go to Maui, please take this trip. It’s one you will never forget, one you will thank nature for. Here’s a list of my favorite stops, and some tips:
- Respect the locals. Hana is home to true lovers of the island. (Brigette Bloom even lives here!) The road may be our pleasure, but it’s their home.
- When you arrive in Hana, try the taco stand on the left side of the road. You’re welcome.
- Stick your head out of the window and breathe. Smell that? The euclyptus trees are giving you some love.
- See that sign “Banana Bread” on the side of the road? Stop. Best decision you’ll ever make. It’s warm and mouth watering. Buy two, eat one on the road.
- Everyone has a different opinion on where to stop. Don’t pass up the ‘Ohe’o Gulch waterfalls, also known as the “Seven Sacred Pools”. Feel the crisp water against your skin, ending the trip in a cleansing way. Float on your back for hours
This roadtrip to Hana was good for me. I was exhausted, yet felt a sense of healing when I was done. The long roads brought me to each and every corner of the island.. and I thank them for that. If you ever get the chance to experience this adventure, please take it.
+ What road trips have you gone on? How do you feel after? Let me know in the comments!