Caspar Institute logoitinerary   < 10 April Makawao, Maui   12 April Kipahulu, Maui >

to Kipahulu, Maui - 11 April 2013


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Road to Kipahulu

After a restful night in Hale Ho'okipa's Jasmine Room and a chatty breakfast with other guests, we headed down the mountain for a big shop at Mana Foods (one of the world's best stores.) Rochelle allowed she could see herself easily living off what can be found at Mana Foods: a strange and enticing mixture of natural foods, necessities, and luxuries. We departed with two bulging bags.

Now, clockwise around Haleakala to Hana and beyond. The Hana Highway is legendary -- in our opinion, undeservedly so. It is pressed between jungle and cliffs, volcanic rock and streaming water, and so it is tortuously curvy. 


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Many drive it for sport, for the right to brag about "surviving the road to Hana -- there are t-shirts and postcards to this effect. East Mauians drive it of necessity, because all serious shopping, doctors, and business are transacted in the saddle between Haleakala and West Maui; they tend to leave after noon (to travel with the returning tourists) and return home in the evening when they can see the lights. The road is as curvy, narrower, and less vertical than the road from Westport to Leggett. It is largely traveled by newcomers who are overwhelmed by its greeness.

Having driven it many times and both ways, we were struck by the improvements in signage and pull-outs along the way. It is a blessing to get into a parade of cars behind a school bus (as we did) because then one can enjoy the sights, twists, and leaps over gorges. For the first dozen miles -- the road is reputedly 42 miles long, but it's really only about 36 miles of twisty -- we noticed that the streambeds were empty; all the water is removed to feed the upcoutry towns and agriculture. Conservationists are cheered by a recent court decision decreeing that another Maui water scheme release enough water to support streamlife, and hope that court intervention won't be required here ... but the thirsty towns of Makawao and Pukalani continue to grow.  

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We are usually resistant to tourist traps, but I had read that the Garden of Eden, a commercial arboretum about halfway along the road, was possibly worth the tariff, and so, being in no hurry at all, we stopped to wander its paths.

Signs along the path urge visitors not to deface the plants with their initials, making the point that these plants, many grown from seed, are the gardeners' children. This is a garden in the older fashion, bringing together plants from many other tropical places -- more than a dozen kinds of bamboo, a plant that is elsewhere on Maui an invasive pest.

The phenomenon of mountain falling into ocean makes beauty, as we see along the northern Mendocino County Coast, at Big Sur, Italy's Cinque Terre, and frequently here in the Islands.


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Here, a consciously pampered decades-old garden hugs the slopes in one of the world's most fertile places, sharing space with a road, and much, much wildness stretching to the sea far below.

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One enduring meme from the South Pacific, idyll is swimming in the waterfall-fed pool. Far below the Garden of Eden there is one, just off the highway. The scale here is big. The people in the pool are barely visible to the camera; to the eye they could be seen to be a bit cold, yet doggedly enjoying themselves. 

Water is the enabler on this, the windward and weather side of the island. This stream is too far around the island to be diverted into the Ditch.

As we round the eastern point of Maui, the clouds, so often present here, close in, and the light becomes grey and somber. Hana itself is a sad little town, its life mostly sucked out by the constant flow of visitors. I have seen it in sunshine, when its mostly Hawaiian inhabitants transform it with their joy and love of their land, but on this day, few residents are to be seen, except the friendly ladies at Hasegawa's where we stop for a couple of forgotten details. 


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We find a very temporary-looking Thai restaurant and enjoy two delicious salads and Thai iced tea, and then head on around the island, into the next watershed: Kipahulu. We find the road up to Anya's House, and marvel that we found it the first time in the dark. We are greeted by a cat, and settle in to the solar-powered house just as the sun vanishes behind the island to the west.

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