Thursday, June 18, 2009

White knuckles to Kahakuloa Village

The Hana Highway in south Maui gets all the raves as a driving adventure, but if you really want to grip the wheel for dear life try heading north of Lahaina on Highway 30 to Kahauloa Village. You won't need a four-wheel-drive, but a car about 2-feet wide would be nice on the two-mile section that dips into this authentic Hawaiian village—especially when the school bus is motoring along. Fortunately, most of the traffic is heading clockwise and most everyone cooperates to let single file lines head by.

Kahakuloa's wood-frame buildings and electrical lines belie the lifestyle here that is very much like the old times. The village is an "ahupua'a," a section of land along a stream with a beach frontage and agricultural terraces that extend up the mountain. Not many tourists stay here long (no parking, plus everyone's anxious about driving out) but one memorable stop will be Ululani's Shave Ice (a trailer right on the road), plus a couple of scenic churches—the Kahakuloa Protestant Church and the Francis Xavier Mission. You can't miss 'em—really.

You can spot the village location from far away Paia and Kahului, since rising above at the shore is the shark-fin shaped Kahakuloa Head, aka, the "Tall Lord." An easy-to-miss turnout on the way out of the village is the place to park for at up-close look at the head and take a short hike to one or Maui's secret whale-watching spots. In the winter they cruise by close enough to hear the exhales. One of the island's seabird islands is also in view. See page 78 of Maui Trailblazer.