Monday, February 2, 2009

The Road To Hana

By Murph

So in my last post from this past Saturday (about my day in Molokai) I mentioned that the “Road to Hana” deserved it’s own post, so here it is: The “Road to Hana” IS what it’s all cracked up to be. I know it’s a HUGE tourist “thing-to-do”, but it really wasn’t that crowded last Friday when I went, I was pretty lucky in that regard. Basically driving the “Road to Hana” is to drive 35 miles or so along a picturesque coastal road (the Hana Highway) to it’s end destination, the town of Hana. This coastal ride consists of almost 600 hairpin turns, and 54 one-lane bridges. It continually weaves in and out of seaside cliffs, and into valleys where waterfall after waterfall exposes itself against a lush dark green background. It was a complete BLAST to drive on, as was the entire Island of Maui. It's just so much fun to use the brake entering the curves, and accelerating out of them, over and over. Granted I was probably going way too fast at points, but that made it much more exhilarating. There really aren’t too many places you can “stop” and take pictures, so it’s really something you need to do in order to see how ridiculous it actually is, and those of you that have done it yourself I’m sure agree with me. All the best views simply need to be taken in from a moving car. I did manage to pull off and take a few pictures during the drive out, here are some of them from throughout the entire ride out (and a couple from the way back too):

At the 25 mile marker (that’s how they navigate down here…) there was a turn off to a TINY coastal village called Nahiku. I was ahead of schedule due to my best Dale Jr. impersonation on the road, and decided to head on down….sure glad I did. It was a 2-3mile drive down a very narrow road that made me feel like I was driving through a jungle. Everything was just so green (as they get a TON of rain here…), and vines and stuff were hanging down in the road. The endpoint was the ocean, and it was a fantastic coastal view of the area, here are a few photos from there:

I just think the coastal views with the lava formations are so cool, each one is very different, either a different color due to the age of the lava flow that caused it, or simply it’s shape- there are hidden arches and caves all throughout the formations, cool stuff….

I continued on, and at the 32 mile marker was one of the COOLEST places I have ever been, Wai’anapanapa State Park. It was right on the ocean and consisted of a Black Sand Beach, a sea arch lava formation, and spring-fed lava caves. This is what I read in a guide book, so it looked cool enough to stop…

There were only 2-3 cars in the parking lot when I got there, it was completely dead. I took a walk out to the ocean, and the sight was astonishing. You would think after over a month (by the way, I was thinking during the drive, I haven’t driven a car other than barefoot in over a month…) of constant scenic coastal views I would have my fill, but this place was different. The lava formations were a super dark shade of black, and the water was this bright blue color that created a ridiculous contrast as you took in the coastal view. Here are a few of my favorites (including one of the sea arch in the second) from that little lookout point (the sea was REAL angry that day). The first picture is one of my favorites from the entire trip. You really need to save it off and view it in much bigger size, the blues/blacks/greens look much better that way:

The last picture shows the Black Sand beach. This was just the coolest. It was my first experience with one, so I just couldn’t get over it. They say that the black sand is created in days/weeks after a lava flow, interesting stuff. It wasn’t that big of a beach per se, but it’s location made it one of my favorite beaches of the entire trip. Here are a couple close-up beach photos:

As you can see, it was a beautiful day. I was starting to get warm, so I decided to check out the lava caves that the park had to offer where you could supposedly take a dip in the spring fed pools. I was already taken aback by the place due to the black sand beach, and the ridiculous coastal views, but the lava caves put it over the top! I came around a corner, and was greeted with this view of the opening of the cave:

Doesn’t look like much from the start, but I crawled in, and it was awesome! I jumped into the pool of crystal clear springwater (I thought it was going to be a foot or two deep, but it was close to 5 feet deep!) which cooled me off in no time. The sun coming into the cave caused the water to appear a light-blue color which was pretty neat. Here’s a couple shots from in the cave, and a video too:

All of a sudden, a couple people emerged from this opening in the cave. I had NO idea how they had gotten there, after speaking with them for a moment, they brought me back into the tunnel (they had a flashlight), and you could swim for the most part (part you had to turn sideways and sort of shimmy through and opening) all the way to ANOTHER lava cave opening within the park! It was too cool to describe, without the flashlight on it was like darkness I cant explain either, you seriously couldn’t see your hand right in front of your face. I was all fired up, and we headed back through to the original opening where I continued to swim around a little before getting out. In all I was at this park close to 2 hours, and this place was my FAVORITE stop of the trip (thus far). I cant wait to get back here sometime, it would be unreal to bring my future family down there and camp out at the park, that would be an awesome few days, it’s a great spot for sure. From there I continued on down to Hana Bay where I sat down and grabbed some lunch, some rays, and did some reading. Here are a few pics of the Hana Bay area, and a few from a RED sand beach a little bit down the road:

It was a real relaxing, super chill day. I took my time, went on my own schedule, and did things as they came, I guess it pretty much was a single day example of my entire trip!

I left Hana around 3pm, and got back to Ka’anapali Beach for a quick sunset (my last in Maui):

I had a great week in Maui, and got to see a lot despite two days of rain (It’s raining right now in Hilo by the way, it may rain all week…). My last night, Friday night, I dressed up and did it right. I hit a high end sushi joint for dinner, and hit a few of the nicer spots the rest of the night, I deserved a little treat, you know?

As for my time in Hilo thus far. I’m at a Hotel right in the downtown area, right next to a cool little town park which is kind of like the Public Gardens in Boston. Here are a few pictures from Hilo Bay, Mokuola (Coconut Island - the little Island in Hilo Bay), and the Lili'uokalani Gardens (and another scary thought, I can actually correctly pronounce all these places right now, the key is to break them up into little pieces because that's how all the words were built):

It’s a smaller place, dominated by people visiting Volcanoes National Park (which I’m planning on doing a couple days of..), and students from the UH-Hilo campus. Saturday night was interesting to say the least as all the bars were showing the BJ Penn UFC battle, he’s from this town, and it was bigger here than the Superbowl was on Sunday. I was at a bar watching the fight, and after his corner threw in the towel after round 4 a few fights broke out. I felt like I was in a shady Worcester bar or something like that, people were swinging and just getting obnoxious, I obviously chose to leave the scene, and headed home to catch the Nadal/Federer Australian Open final (it was on at 10:30pm here), what a match, those two are ridiculously good, Nadal is now scary good. On Sunday I hit up a pretty cool spot for the Superbowl (sports bar called: “Cronies”, what an unreal game too…), and got pretty lucky because it happened to be right down the road from a pretty popular hostel in town. I ended up meeting a bunch of people from all over the place looking to head over to “Volcanoes” this week, and that should make this week pretty fun. I hooked up with a few of them for a trip out to see the live lava flow tomorrow (Tuesday), we’re going to plan it out at dinner tonight- I’m looking forward to it, and I’m curious as to how close they allow you to get to the actual lava flow….

Also a congrats out to Kenny G for winning our yearly Superbowl coin toss bet, he took heads and came up a winner. You bite it...and Laps, as far as the "Danielle Stelle" comment goes, I guess you're a regular reader of her works, it was super cheesy yes, and it admittedly took me at least 5 minutes to come up with the "livening the air around you" part, it must be the Island air, but at least I'm learning something down here! I was completely expecting, and hoping to get some heat on that, I thought the comments board needed some livening up! Congrats/thanks though for being the first to deliver, I respect/appreciate the sh!t out of that...I'm shocked it took that long....

That’s it, hope all is well back home…

With Aloha,

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