Monday, July 13, 2009

The Road to Hana

Hundreds of turns and more than 50 one-lane bridges keep drivers alert on the Hana Highway, a narrow blacktop a that hugs the cliffs and valleys of a rain forest on the southeast coast of Maui. Each vintage bridge has a name, such as, "open laughter," "heavenly mist," "land of deep love," and "lightening flash." Along the way, waterfalls are strung like confetti, trails lead into bamboo and tangles of greenery, and waves do battle with sculpted lava formations.

All this is romantic stuff, but tourists also need to heed more pragmatic concerns to keep the day rolling smoothly: Make sure to pull over to let commuting locals who need get someplace, follow the rules at the one-way bridges, and make sure you're off the roadway before stopping the car. You might also want to start early (say oh-dawn-thirty) or late to avoid the conga line of rental cars that tends to clog the pavement beginning mid-mornings. Going later is also an options, but that also means you will be driving into the homeward-bound visitors. If you have the time on Maui, break the Hana Highway up into two or three day trips, since there's really too much see in one day. See Maui Trailblazer, pages 111 to 141 to get a detailed picture of what's in store.