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Hana, Maui

Hana Photo

With the first rays of light, Hana gets you into a different world. A small coastal village is probably what you came to Maui in search of. Nowhere else you will find such a magnificent rainforest with cascading waterfalls and sparkling blue pools, rimmed by red- and black-sand beaches. Green, tropical Hana is a paradise of lush landscape with green banyans, bamboo, breadfruit trees and beautiful flowers, ginger and plumeria in particular.

Located on the far edge of Maui, Hana faces East, as thought anticipating the morning to start. If you got used to the sundown sea of the West Coast, you’ll be fascinated by quite a different dawn with streaks of pinkish shade. Twinkling in this rising sun, Hana looks enchanting. One lacks words to describe this divine beauty. Light mists shroud the mountains as if a woolen shawl and frigate birds fly high in the sky. There’s still gecko’s chirping and mynah bird’s first calls to be heard and the palms in the horse pasture rustle with the ocean breeze.

Hana Beaches, hiking, tropical gardens temp to get off the bed and start sightseeing. But linger, don’t hurry, this place is worth tasting as if it were an exquisite wine.

The typical mistake of the most Hana visitors is that they come for a day. Driving Hana Highway which has 54 one-lane bridges and slithering 52-mile course you need to slow down and it takes about three hours to get to real Hawaii. So you need a few days to start exploring Hana.

Staying in Hana, the rhythm of life slows down. There’s the time difference with the mainland, so you are up early for a dawn walk along the Bay or just stop and enjoy the scenic view or you may be on the way to Ohe'o Gulch in Haleakala National Park (it’s a perfect time to drive the road quietly which may be jammed in the midday). Then there’s time for siesta when the hot sun has given way to cooling shadows and the crowds have dispersed.

Hana is a private land with longtime families ties and generations of celebrities coming here longing for a real getaway. For example, Charles Lindberg, who is buried beside Palapala Ho'omau Church, George Harrison, and Oprah Winfrey.

Hana Nature

When you enter Hana, the road splits and then they both lead to the village, but the lower one, Uakea Road, is more scenic. Just before you get to Hana Bay, you will see the Hana Cultural Center and Museum on Uakea Road, which is usually open daily from 10am to 4pm. This small building houses an excellent collection of Hawaiian quilts, artifacts, books, and photos. Also on the grounds are Kauhala О Hana, composed of four hale (houses) for living, meeting, cooking, and canoe building or canoe storage.

The entrance to Hana Bay is cater-cornered from the cultural center. The bay is an excellent place to have fun and relax with restrooms, showers, picnic tables, barbecue areas, and even a snack bar. The 386-foot, red-faced cinder cone near the bay is Kauiki Hill, the scene of many a bloodshed battles in ancient Hawaii and the birthplace of Queen Kaahumanu in 1768. The trail along the hill through the ironwood on the wharf side will take you to the spot where the lighthouse will come into view, and you will be able to see pocket beaches of red cinder below. This trail is rather old and is eroded in some places so you had better hold on to the ironwood for support. This is a perfect place for a tranquil secluded picnic, or you can continue on the path out to the lighthouse.

If you would like to get to the town center, leave Hana Bay and get to Hana Highway, and on the corner will be the Hotel Наnа-Maui, the lush hotel established by Paul Fagan in 1946. A 30-foot-high white cross made of lava rock tops the green hills above the hotel. The locals erected the cross in memory of Paul Fagan, who founded the Hana Ranch and the hotel and helped revitalize the town. The hike up to Fagan's Cross opens a gorgeous view of the Hana coast, especially beautiful at sunset.

Back on the Наnа Highway, is the majestic Wananalua Congregation Church, one of the oldest churches in the town. It was built from coral stones and is located just atop an old Hawaiian heiau.

The commercial center for Hana, the Наnа Ranch Center, is just past the church, on the right side of the Hana Highway, with a post office, bank, general store, the Hana Ranch Stables, a restaurant and a snack bar. But if shopping is high in your list, go to the Hasegawa General Store, which provides a great assortment of up-scale food products, clothes and anything you may need on vacation This is also the place to find out the latest news and events in Hana: The bulletin board at the entrance has fliers, posters and even handwritten notes advertising everything from fundraising activities to community special events.

Hana is one of the best places on Maui for ocean activities and also boasts a wealth of nature hikes, remote places to explore on horseback, and waterfalls to discover. Haoma Beach is one of the best oceanfront areas that are great for swimming, boogie boarding and just sunbathing. It has an easy access from the road down to the white crescent of sand and provides restrooms and outdoor showers.

It’s impossible to perceive the daily life, myths and legends of Hana without hiring a guide, the local, who knows everyone and everything here. He could show you, for instance, Ka-iwi-o-Pele, which is actually one of Hawaii's most sacred sites, and is considered to hold the bones of the volcano goddess Pele. And now this hill is owned by Oprah Winfrey.

Despite being a home for many celebrities, Hana has plots of untamed jungles growing chaotically. Having reached Wailua Falls, the last outpost of civilization, you enter the wilder Hana. Here you can come across vendors who sell baskets made of palm leaves for tourists driving by. Getting further you can see non-native boars, they are also a Hana delicacy.

Hana is a separate realm, with its uniqueness and traditions different from the rest of Maui. It is like an island onto itself.

When in Hana, visit the National Tropical Botanical Garden that emphasizes what’s truly of Hana. Hana is so isolated that here you can find species that grow only in this place.

Hana has a changing mood, sometimes mild and gentle, sometimes wild and severe. The squall is a reminder that Hana's Eden-like veneer conceals a place of great power. Pi'ilanihale Heiau, a massive structure assembled from lava rock, had been overtaken by the jungle, but was later restored. Now one of Hawaii’s largest heiaus is perched on the edge of the forest of hala, a native tree with a distinctive crown and spiderlike roots.

The garden's main attraction is on "canoe plants", species brought into the islands and used for food and medicinal purposes by early Polynesians.

At night Hana falls silent. The only entertainment is at Hotel Hana-Maui's Paniolo Lounge, where guests and locals gather to hear Hana musicians and hotel staff get up for impromptu hula dancing. And this place will be a center of Hana life for the next few hours.

It’s curious, but the residents usually make the drive out of Hana just every two weeks and they call it driving to "the other side", a funny term. Anyway, Hana is so different from the modern world, that looking at night at the starry sky and hearing the trees whisper you may seem to be hearing the call of the Wild.