I got an extra early start, with an uncomfortably early 5am wake up call. BUT that helped me reach the east coast of the island of Maui with 10 mins to spare before the sun’s rays broke over the ocean waves on the horizon. That solitary moment will be etched in my brain forever.
Right up the road was my first stop at the arboretum and scoping out the elusive rainbow eucalyptus trees along the lush 1 mile trail into the rainforest.
Numerous waterfalls delighted drivers around every bend of this narrow, winding stretch of road en route to put my toes in the sand of one of the few black beaches in the world. After snagging the last morning reservation online for Waianapanapa State Park, I trekked down the short stairwell to this deserted coastal haven. The pitch black lava tube was a fascinating distraction requiring travelers to crawl on all fours into an eery cave being pounding by the ocean’s furry.
I thoroughly enjoyed taking both the northern and southern coastal trails to explore the plethora of natural arches and caves hidden throughout the area. Nature is breathtaking!
The road to Hana is 52 miles
59 bridges dating back to 1910
Hana was a quaint, little beach town with local food trucks ready to feed any taste. It was also home to a very rare red sand beach via a narrow cliff side trail. Besides almost losing my car keys down the slippery embankment and spotting some local nudists enjoying this remote spot, it was truly majestic.
More waterfalls lined the highway en route to the second entrance to Haleakala National Park at the remote Kipahulu District. The trails to Seven Sacred Pools of Oheo Gulch dotting the coast led right into the beautifully diverse 4 mile Pipiwai Trail (including a stunning bamboo forest) culminating at the massive Waimoku Falls.
Since I still had some daylight left, I made the decision to take my chances in continuing my big loop of the island by heading west into the baron nothingness of the backside of the volcano. Besides the obvious recent rockfalls littering the roadside and the ridiculously narrow one lane unpaved trails barely hanging on without plunging into the ocean below, the road finally levels out amongst the greenest rolling hills you could ever imagine (actually as I had envisioned Ireland to be – mental note – add it to the wish list ASAP).
As daylight starts to fade, I finally regain cell reception and unlace my boots as another amazing day unfolded much better than I ever could have imagined.