Have to Have Halfway to Hana
Just past Mile Marker 17
on the Road to Hana
(Quarterway around the Hana Hwy Loop)
I highly recommend driving to Hana, the wettest place on Earth, and continuing on around the loop through the to dirt road in South Maui and Kaupo, and around to Ulupalakua to the Winery and General Store. This is only about 70 miles total for the loop, and Hana is mile 32, but the road is tough in many places, so the 5 MPH speed limit is a must. It took us 11 hrs total for sight seeing, swimming, breakfast and lunch, and bathroom breaks. Be ready, bring plenty of water, snacks and food. To do the whole loop, we took a Jeep with a suspension that could take the winding, rutted, and partially unpaved road, but I saw some others with a PT Cruiser, Mustang and some Asian made sedan going on that road too. Funny, the car I rented was a Korean made small sedan, and as I was driving it on a good road, I thought the steering was a little loose, and it was pulling hard to the right. It had over 19,000 miles on it when I rented it, and I thought that previous drivers might have driven into potholes or such. Well, I am guessing that car may have made its way around the Hana a and unpaved road to Ulupalakua loop on a few occasions, and the alignment and the steering has been pulled out. I didn't realize this connection between loose steering and alignment with my rental car and the unpaved road past Hana until now.
The gig for the Hana drive is that everyone starts from the big airport and heads towards Paia. Paia is really the starting point. Everyone drive clockwise around the east side of Maui. It is futile and pointless to try to drive counterclockwise because the majority of the road is single lane, unimproved or unpaved, and it is really unsafe to have head-on traffic. All guidebooks and guide CDs start in Paia, and have you go clockwise from mile marker 0 to 32. You will want to be ready with a bathing suit on, and strapped on water shoes that have a good sole that can grip wet rocks because there a plenty of opportunities to see awesome waterfalls, water, fresh water, beaches, blowholes, etc, but it is very rocky and wet. It could be very slippery and jagged on wet rock, so a good water shoe like a Vibram 5 Finger multisport shoe is a must.
We also got a guide CD, Maui Road To Hana, for the car from Boss Frog Dive Shop. It was $15, and well worth it! It is a bit like a book on tape. The woman reading the history and directions, we named Carmen. Carmen gave great directions of bathroom breaks, food opportunities, and spectacular views and things to see. Carmen also gave many tidbits of history about various areas around the road to Hana. We all enjoyed Carmen so much that all of us are ordering our own copy to listen to it at home. There are other guide CDs, but we all recommend the Maui Road To Hana CD because it is so comprehensive. Also, seriously, when Carmen suggests you stop and buy breakfast, and lunch, it is the only opportunity you will have for breakfast and lunch. It is NOT A SALES pitch at all, these suggested stops are basically the only stops available for food and water, and it is about you having enough food and water for the long trip.
I got a snack here too. I got a pineapple shave ice. The correct term is shave ice, not shaveD ice. There are new fangled ice shaving/crushing machines I have seen in Lahaina, that take ice cubes and make shaved ice. The machine to shave ice at Halfway to Hana is the traditional shaving machine. They have a huge block of ice clamped down by a steel plate with spikes to hold onto the ice. The plate and spikes spins the block of ice on a steel ice grater, and the snow like ice falls into the wide mouth container. This machine looks like it could have been from the 1960s or 1970s, and has been whirling up shave ice for 50 years. The lady making my shave ice applied very little pressure on the snow like ice to make a nice fluffy treat. She then put the flavored syrup on my shave ice, and I was on my way to a refreshing snack. It was so good! I think it cost $5, and you may gasp at the price for some frozen water and $0.05 of syrup. However, I beg to differ, there is truly an art to making shave ice, and there are few real shave ice machines to make the correct consistency of shave ice, and there are few people left who understand the right pressure to pat down the shave ice snow as to not compact it too much. This is the best shave ice I have had during my trip to Maui, and it reminds me of the shave ice I used to get as a young'n back in the day when I lived in S. CA.
Just stop here. Assess what you need for the rest of you trip, and buy it here. It is fairly remote and there is no commerce beyond Hana. Stop here, you will be happy you did.