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The Road to Hana is one of Maui's most famous tourist attractions. This windy road with numerous one way bridges accesses the beautiful community of Hana on the east end of Maui. The road traverses some of the most spectacular terrain on Maui with lush rainforest, cascading water falls, gorgeous ocean vistas and panoramas of the jagged east Maui coast. For almost two years, the Road to Hana experience was incomplete. In October of 2006, an earthquake with an epicenter just off the coast of the Big Island shook the Hawaiian Islands. The quake resulted in limited damage on Maui, but the Southeast corner of the island felt the heaviest shocks. The shaking was strong enough to damage one of the bridges past Hana. Additional inspection revealed that a number of the cliffs that lined the road between Kipahulu and Kaupo had become unstable. The county worked to stabilize the cliffs removing loose rocks and covering the cliffs with protective steel mesh. In the interim, a section of road between the small communities of Kaupo and Kipahulu were closed. This was a hardship on the local communities. It also meant that you could no longer go to Hana via a loop. It was an out and back along the north east coast.
The road to Hana highlighted in grey on the map below.
While the out and back drive is still incredibly beautiful, there is something to be said about the loop that navigates around the flanks of Haleakala Volcano. The neat thing about driving the Road to Hana as a loop is the diversity of climate and flora that you encounter along the way. The road starts in beautiful and tropical Haiku. As you head east, you head deeper into the rain forest and the scenery is progressively more lush. As you arrive in Hana, you encounter a mix of rolling hillsides and pastures dotted with more lush foliage. The stretch between Hana and Kipahulu is almost as lush as the areas just north of Hana. The Oheo Gulch area of Haleakala national park also known as the "seven sacred pools" is located along this strech to the road. It is a stunninging location where beatiful freshwater pools cascade into the ocean.
A waterfall emerging from the bamboo forest in the Kipahulu of Haleakala National Park
Fresh water stream meets the Pacific Ocean in the Kipahulu Section of Haleakala National Park
Somewhere in the Kaupo/Kipahulu area of the Road to Hana
It is when you go past Kipahulu and past the stretch of formerly closed road that you really see some changes. While most of the Road to Hana is on the windward sides of the island. The back side of the Road to Hana is on the South Side of Haleakala volcano. The volcano shields this area from the bulk of the precipitation that reaches Maui via the north east trade winds. This section of Maui is arid with light vegetation. It is a stark contrast to the dense Jungle of the Nahiku area. The limited vegetation also allows you to get a better view of the raw geology of the area. Canyons run down the south flank of Haleakala. The area almost reminds me of somewhere in the Desert West of the United States. Of Course, you don't have panoramic views of the Pacific in the West Desert.
A canyon coming down the South Face of Haleakala between Kaupo and Ulupalakua. This photo was taken mid winter so the area looks greener than usual.
If you head further west on the road, you begin a steady rise in elevation as you move into Maui's Upcountry. You are entering yet another ecological zone on Maui as you approach Ulupalakua. The arid South side of Haleakala is green in the winter fading to brown in the summer dry season. Starting near Ulupalakua, the foliage is green year round. This area of Maui's Upcountry is frequently cloaked in clouds and prone to summer showers. In addition to the perpetually green grass, there are groves of towering non-native eucalyptus trees around the Ulupalakua Ranch. This is the third The vistas of Central Maui, the West Maui Mountains, Kahoolawe and Lanai in this area are breath taking. About ten minutes past Ulupalakua, the road begins to straighten and the road to Hana experience comes to an end. Though, I imagine you will carry many memories with you for some time to come.
I had a planned a camping trip out to Hana last weekend for my birthday. I was excited to hear that the back road to Hana had opened in the two weeks before the trip. I took the back way to get there going through the Upcountry and then crossing the south flank of Haleakala. It was great to be on this stretch of road again. The efforts of the engineers and road crews were evident as there was a lot of protective netting along the formerly unstable cliffs. After a couple of nights of camping by the Seven Sacred Pools, we headed back on Sunday through Nahiku and Haiku completing our loop. Like any trip to Hana, it was magical.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.