Our cruise ship, the Pride of America, docked in Kahului on Maui at 8 am and remained in port until 6 pm (1800) the following day. We knew that we wanted to see the Road to Hana and Haleakala National Park but we wouldn’t have time for much beyond that.
We weighed several options for an all-day tour of the Hana Highway, a 52-mile, spectacularly scenic road featuring some 600 hairpin turns and 54 one lane bridges along the northern coast of Maui. We could take an NCL excursion for $189 per person which seemed exceedingly expensive compared to renting a car. Car rental for the day would be only about $50 for the 4 of us but we’d have to drive the car ourselves. The price was right but I wasn’t keen on having Jim or Rick drive the route and miss much of the scenery to focus on the road (sometimes one-lane) and the traffic (heavy). My brother and his wife had been to Maui recently and recommended Maui Easy Riders for a Road to Hana tour. A personal tour for the 4 of us while they did the driving would cost $600. We decided that was our best option. By the way, they also offer a Haleakala Downhill Bike Tour but I would have been a Maui uneasy rider on 4-5% grades riding a bike down the volcano. My sister-in-law, however, had a blast on the bike tour so if that’s your thing, go for it.
Kyle picked us up outside the cruise port in his SUV just after 8. Rather than driving up the Road to Hana and returning the same way, we went the back way on Highway 37 so that we could drive back on the Road to Hana. We got to see more of the island and missed some of the traffic, too. Car rentals don’t allow taking their cars on a portion of this road so we got a bonus by riding with Kyle. Our route is highlighted below in yellow. The stretch between the red arrows on the south side of the island is the area where you can’t take a rental car.
Kyle was engaging and entertaining, telling us story after story about his customers and experiences. Every funny story about tourists behaving badly ended with, “That’ll be in the book.” I hope nothing we said or did was book worthy.
We stopped at St Joseph’s Church, a mission church established in 1862 to convert the natives. The area is verdant and peaceful.
Laulima Farm, featuring environmental agriculture, has a stand along the highway that was a great stop for a snack and a look around. We walked their trail through the lush tropical jungle where we enjoyed the sights and scents of flowers, fruits, and coffee growing along with other tropical plants.
Our next stop was the gravesite of Charles Lindbergh, the famous American aviator, who died and was buried here in 1974. The grave is located very near the Pacific ocean and I’m certain the views are incredible when not viewed through a tropical rain storm which came in just as we got there.
We stood under the trees to wait out the rain but finally made a run for it to the vehicle through the drenching rain. I’d read to plan on rain at some point during the day when visiting the windward side of the island so we weren’t surprised by the cloudburst.
Fortunately, the rain didn’t obscure of view of Wailua Waterfall, one of the most beautiful stops along our route.
By lunch time we reached Hana and Kyle sought out food trucks with local, affordable fare. We didn’t find any so instead, he took us to Hana Ranch Store where we followed his lead and ordered sausages and chili over rice which I’m told is a Maui original.
Leaving Hana, we began our drive along the Hana Highway through the hairpin turns and one-lane bridges. The views were every bit as spectacular as promised.
The Black Beach at Waianapanapa State Park was not an exaggeration or misrepresentation.
The legend of Waianapanapa Cave added a human component to the natural beauty. Hawaiian Princess Popoalaea fled and hid from her cruel husband, but the chief found and killed her. When tiny red shrimp appear in the pool, it’s a reminder of the blood of the princess.
The Painted Forest at mile marker 7 is composed of rainbow eucalyptus trees that originated from the Philippines. It’s a small area and difficult to spot unless you know where to find them and fortunately for us, Kyle knew.
This day was an amazing experience filled with all the beauty Maui has to offer. Kyle Barfield was an excellent tour guide and we would wholeheartedly recommend him. He has since opened his own tour company called Sandy Cheeks Tours.
If you’re interested in Haleakala National Park on Maui, check back next week for my new post.
Based on events from November 2015.