Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Keanae: Heaven halfway to Hana

The Hana Highway is one of Maui's tourist rituals.  Play it wrong, and you can spend the day stuck in a conga line of rental cars fighting for parking spots. One easy way to play it right is to do the drive in two days. On the first day, only go as far as Keanae Village and Nahiku. A turnout at mile marker 17 gives up a portrait quality view of the lava peninsula on which the village sits.

Swimming beaches are not the thing at Keanae, but this little cove is popular among kayakers in search of supreme scenery.

Lava stacks, a product one of Haleakala's more recent eruptions, constantly do battle with ocean waves. Spoiler alert: the ocean wins.

In the middle of Keanae's greenspace is its signture landmark, dating from 1860. It's called (get ready) Ihi'ihioiehovaona.

Aunty Sandy's is as close as you will get to haute cuisine. Better buy two of the petite loaves before driving away and wishing you had another. Nearby are two freshwater swimming spots: Sapphire Pools, which are near the highway turnoff, and Keanae Pools, which are formed at the river mouth not far from the church. 

The Keanae Arboretum is one of the best family hikes on the island, and trekers can keep going up the valley. Next to Keanae is Wailua Village, where practically no tourists stop, thereby missing two quaint churches (St. Gabriel's Church and St. Augustine's Shring) as well as a smashmouth view of taro fields surrounded cliffs and Upper Waikani Falls.

Maui Trailblazer has details on to find places to call your own on the Hana Highway—all hiding in plain sight.