I had my doubts, however. Mainly, I was concerned that the kids wouldn't want to take an entire day of their vacation sitting in a car, looking at pretty scenery. I was also concerned that Queen B would veto the trip, based on the numerous warnings about car sickness, caused by the curvy nature of the road.
The kids, it must be noted, shared none of my concerns. In fact, the second I mentioned black sand beaches and waterfalls, Queen B was all in (and, with a dose of Dramamine and a trusty Sea Band, she ended up doing just fine).
So, Thursday morning, we rose with the sun, threw a picnic cooler in the trunk, donned our swimsuits, and hit the road (fortified with coffee, of course; we were determined, not crazy).
Based on a recommendation from a guide book, I had previously downloaded the Gypsy Guide Tour app to my phone, and, I have to say; it was one of the best things I could have done. The app pointed out numerous places of interest along the route, including many that we would not have known to stop at, had we attempted the drive on our own. Also, it was nice to have the app's advice about which of the scenic overlooks were "must see" and which could be skipped, thus saving us time along the road.
The app starts playing automatically once you make the turn from the airport, toward Paia, and, it keeps real-time, via gps tracking, so, you never have to worry about missing a turn or passing an attraction, accidentally.
We certainly didn't miss anything! In fact, I could break this post into several smaller posts and I still wouldn't be able to convey just how cool the trip was. It's definitely a must-do for a reason, starting with, the first stop in Paia, where we took the opportunity to use the restrooms before embarking on the drive, officially.
Paia is a ridiculously cool little Hawaiian town, and we really wanted to explore her a lot more, but, because we were focused on the endgame (Hana or bust!), we had to agree to do that later in the week.
So, on the road!
First stop: Twin Falls, the first of many waterfalls that we would see as we made our way. It was also the first place that sold banana bread, which is a traditional treat on the road to Hana, so, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to buy a loaf.
It was still pretty cool to see, though.
And, speaking of rain, this is what a large majority of the drive looked like...
and, that's normal. Wet roads are a hallmark of the drive, and, simply add to the charm.
There are lots of opportunities to pull off the road for cool hikes, and to see more of the island, which includes a number of small, practically vacant beaches.
As the road hugs the coastline, the beaches give way to rocky shores, creating an amazing display of sea spray, as water crashes against the rock.
Another stop along the way is the town of Ke'anae, and, interesting fact: the town was almost completely destroyed by a tsunami in 1946; the only thing left standing was this church.
As we left Ke'anae, I purchased my second loaf of banana bread at a small roadside stand. By now, I had decided to purchase banana bread at each place we stopped, with a planned taste-testing the following morning; I wanted to be able to say, with total confidence, where to find the tastiest bread.
I'm odd like that.
Not long after leaving Ke'anae, we arrived at the half-way point in our journey. How did we know we were there?
The signs were pretty clear.
(I bought another loaf of banana bread here, because, of course I did!)
Six miles outside of Hana, it started to rain quite heavily, so we pulled over at a roadside food truck park to wait out the storm and to use the restrooms. We weren't hungry yet, so, despite the amazing smells coming from the food vendors, we moved on down the road, anxious to see Hana and Oheo Gultch (better known as the Seven Sacred Pools).
We finally drove by Hana a little before 2:00. And, I say "drove by" because, in reality, the Road to Hana very rarely ends in Hana. Oh, it's a nice enough town, but, as our guide app was quite clear in pointing out; the road to Hana is about the journey, not the destination. Instead, our next stop was just outside of Hana: Waianapanapa State Park, otherwise known as the home of Maui's black sand beach!
We had arrived and the kids were stoked! And, with good reason; the beach was really cool, as were the nearby caves, from which much of the black sand was carved.
We spent about an hour on the beach before heading up to the picnic area for a quick lunch. We wanted to get back on the road for our last stop at Oheo Gultch, AKA, the Seven Sacred Pools, which was still another 15 miles up the road.
Now, had we known that the pools would be closed to swimmers, we may have opted to turn around and start the long drive back to Lahaina, but, since we did not know, we pressed on, and, at least I can say that we saw some more gorgeous scenery.
Not gonna lie, though; we would have rather been swimming. On the bright side, we could always try again another time (fingers crossed!).
By this point, it was well-past midday, so we started the trip back, only making necessary stops along the way home, and, by necessary, I mean at yet another farm stand selling banana bread. Hey! At this point it was going to be a competition, remember?
May the best banana bread win!
By the time we got back to Lahaina, it was almost 9:00, so we grabbed a quick dinner at Bubba Gumps before heading back to the condo, where, we all fell immediately to sleep. It had, after all, been a very full day.
And, speaking of full, hey: sorry about the photo overload in this post! I guess I really should have broken it up into separate posts. If you made it through, bless your heart, and, I hope to see you back again tomorrow, when I post far fewer pictures and a whole lot less words. I promise.
Except about banana bread; there's going to be a lot of words about banana bread (may the best bread win!).
Tomorrow: Cliff diving at Black Rock Beach (and, the winner of that banana bread contest!)