When you talk to people out here about the Road to Hana, they always tell you several things:
- Start early and pack a lunch
- Take your time to enjoy the scenery
- If you see a long line of cars behind you, pull over.
Some people actually suggest taking two days for the trip, spending the night in Hana to make the whole experience last. And that’s what we decided to do.
We said goodbye to our huge house in Makawao and set off a little later than most, having stopped off for brunch (“second breakfast,” Ray called it) in Haiku (Colleen’s has really yummy food). By the time we hit Hana Highway, it was almost 1:00.
The first bit wasn’t bad at all; hardly any twisty turns, and no one-lane bridges. We were beginning to think that it was going to be smooth sailing.
That is, until Hwy 36 turned into Hwy 360.
I’m not precisely sure how the state of Hawaii came up with its numbering system, but it doesn’t seem to make much sense at all. All the state highways in Maui start with 3, which makes things MORE confusing, not less. Not only that, but a lot of these roads go around in circles (because they are following the island coast). But instead of switching to another number when moving from north to east, the number stays the same, but the direction changes. You can be happily driving along 30 South, when all of a sudden, you discover you are on 30 West. Same road, same mile markers, different direction.
The mile markers seem to change when the highway number changes. For example, the first part of Hana Highway is 36 East. When it switches to 360 East, the miles start back at zero. This can get confusing if you are following ANY Road to Hana guide, since they all point out stops by the mile marker.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to get lost; there really is only ONE road. Once it turned into 360, though, the twisty-turns began in earnest.
There are lots of points on the road where it is not wide enough for two cars. In this case, one side has to yield to the other, although often both directions have yield signs, just for good measure. Because we got a later start, I think we actually missed most of the crowds, and most cars we encountered along the way pulled over right away (we did the same for others).
Our first stop was the Garden of Eden. Even though the guide I was reading said it costs $10 to get in, the actual admission is $15. Curse you and your false information, Maui Driving Guide! We ponied up the money and drove onto the grounds.
The first thing we encountered was the duck pond.
You can park your car and feed the birds here, which we weren’t much interested in doing, but the birds had other ideas. One duck walked over in front of the car — while we were moving! — and sat down.
This is what I imagined them saying to each other:
Redbeak: It’s about lunchtime, don’t you think? There hasn’t been a car by here in at least an hour.
Peahen: Totally! Hey look, here comes a car. Get in formation, guys.
Peacock: I am NOT debasing myself by standing in front of the car. Look at what happened to my tail the last time!
Redbeak: Don’t be such a wuss. Look, I’m going to sit right here. I guarantee they won’t move.
Me (getting out of the car): Hi, duck! Shoo! Get out of the way!
Redbeak: Not gonna happen, lady.
Peahen: Look how pretty we are! Don’t you want to feed us?
Whitetail: See? You put your money in here. Here, lady. See?
Ray: Can I at least move the car to the side of the road?
Redbeak: You realize I’m only going to move if you put money in the food thing, right?
Me (sighing): Okay, okay. Come here, birds! I have a quarter. Or two.
Peahen: Took her long enough.
After we had satisfied the birds, we made our way through rest of the gardens on foot. The grounds are stunning, with a bamboo forest, banana orchard, and gorgeous views of waterfalls and the valley below. The map they gave us (an artist’s rendering, not to scale) was completely useless, but we were happy enough exploring on our own.
We spent so much time there that we only stopped at a few of the other stops we had planned. However, we will be here in Hana for a few days, so we have plenty of time to explore.