Hāna Highway on the island of Maui is 52 miles (84 kilometres long) and connects Kahului to the sleepy town of Hāna, on the East of the island. It features 600 hairpin bends and 54 one-lane bridges that have made it world famous. It leads drivers through the most beautiful scenery of tropical rainforests, flowing waterfalls and dramatic seascapes.
We set off and soon we are marvelling at the magnificent views and stopping to photograph waterfalls at the side of the road. Soon we pass a sign indicating that we are ‘halfway to Hana’. In fact, this is actually a snack shop that claims to be the ‘home of the original banana bread’.
Approximately 10 miles along the highway we reach the Garden of Eden. The 25-acre arboretum and botanical garden was purchased in 1991 with the vision of restoring the area’s natural ecosystem with Hawaii’s native and indigenous species.
Within the botanical garden is a beautiful lily pond at a viewpoint that overlooks Keopuka Rock. Keopuka Rock was featured in the opening scene of the movie Jurassic Park.
As we wander through the gardens we see all sorts of weird and wonderful plant species that we have never seen before. Soon we come upon another overlook, where we can see Upper Puohokamoa Falls. This small waterfall is around nine metres tall and used to be a popular tourist attraction but is located on private property and is therefore now closed to the public.
Continuing along the Hāna Highway we reach the town of Hana, where many visitors decide to turn and return towards Paia. We opt to do the loop and continue around the island of Maui. The road turns into a dirt track and signs advising of falling rocks and one lane bridges are riddled with bullet holes. It seems that shooting the road signs is something of a local sport.
We leave the tropical rainforest and find ourselves driving along a barren and rocky coastline. It is incredible how the scenery here changes so quickly. The sun begins to set and the golden rays pierce through the clouds that have been looming overhead all day, providing the most magnificent sunset for our return to Kihei.
TOP TIP: Some rental car companies do not allow their cars to do the loop due to the unpaved roads past the town of Hana.