E komo mai - welcome to our home !
We know that you will come to love Hana as much as we do. Here are a few suggestions which we hope will enhance your visit to Hana and the Guest Houses at Malanai.
You will have a full kitchen (and BBQ) at your Guest House. There are only two small grocery stores in Hana, which are expensive and have a very limited selection. It's best to buy your groceries in Kahului before you come to Hana.
Near the airport in Kahului you can find Whole Foods, Safeway, Foodland and a Costco. Mana Foods is an excellent health food store on Baldwin Avenue in Paia (the last town you will pass on your way to Hana). It has a great assortment of fresh and mostly organic vegetables and fruits, plus many things in bulk. Plenty of hippies shop there.
The Road To Hana
Hana is about 50 miles from the airport in Kahului. Take your time and investigate the sights! Drive with aloha - if a local gets right behind you, pull over at a turnout and let them pass.
There are only two restaurants and one café in Hana. The Hana Ranch Restaurant is in Hana town, on the "mauka" side of the highway (the mountain side). It has a nice patio and a decent menu. Try the "fish of the day" or the burger.
The Travaasa Hotel is on the "makai" side of the highway (the ocean side). It has a dining room, which passes for upscale dining in Hana. It's pricy, but the ambiance is nice.
The Barefoot Cafe is on Hana bay. Open 8am to 8pm. Nice local specialties. There are tables at the cafe, or you can eat on the picnic tables that front Hana Bay.
Hana has a handful of food trucks, some of which are very good. They all close when they run out of food (usually around 3pm), so plan accordingly. Our favorite is Huli Huli Chicken, which is on Haneo'o Road between Koki Beach and Hamoa Village (about a mile from the Guest Houses). It's a co-op, with different families manning the cash register on different days. Chicken and ribs are prepared over a large wood fire perched on a spectacular shore. There are funky tables scattered across the shoreline, which have Alau Island and the Hana coast as a backdrop.
Equally good is Thai Food By Pranee, which is behind the baseball park (close to Hana Bay). On the way south out of Hana – on your way to the Guest Houses at Malanai- there are a few trucks gathered in small lots on both sides of the road. We like Da Fish Shack and Brudda Hutts (Hawaiian style BBQ). There's also an Ethiopian Food Truck that just opened recently.
Beaches, Hiking and Other Fun Stuff
Wai'anapanapa State Park
Located at the end of Waiʻanapanapa Road off Hana Highway, about four miles north of Hana (you pass by on your way in from Kahalui). It's built around the shoreline where the ancient "King's Road” used to circumnavigate Maui. There's a back sand beach, several lava tubes, and a shoreline trail that is spectacular. Go there early in the morning, as it can get crowded with day-trippers by late morning.
Waioka Pond (the "Venus Pools")
Across the street from the Guest Houses, perhaps a fifteen-minute walk. Head out the driveway and turn right. Follow the highway to the first bridge, where the trail starts on the makai side. The trail leads to a cattle gate. Step through the gate and follow the trail towards the ocean until you get to an old Portuguese bread oven (you'll recognize it when you see it), where you turn right and head down to the pools. Great swimming and cliff jumping. Beautiful. Highly recommended.
Kaihalulu (“Red Sand Beach”)
This dramatic cove was once a volcanic cinder cone. Bring your mask and snorkel - it's a natural aquarium! It is best in the mornings when the sun shines and there aren't many people. The trail begins next to the community center across from the baseball park, and leads down from the edge of the lawn. It takes perhaps 20 minutes. The cinder is loose and slippery, so wear decent shoes.
Our favorite, on Haneo'o Road (less than a mile from the Guest Houses).
Further down Haneo'o Road, past Hamoa Village. Alau Island - a bird sanctuary- is directly off shore. Stunning.
Haleakala National Park
About six miles south of the Guest Houses on the Hana Highway. It will cost $20 to park your car, but it's well worth it.
You can follow the makai trails down to the "Seven Sacred Pools" -- really beautiful, but swimming is no longer allowed. The best hike in all Maui is the Pipiwai Trail, which heads up (mauka side) from the parking lot. The hike is four miles each way, and ends at the foot of Waimoku, a 400 foot long waterfall.
Again, it's best to get there early in the morning when you can have the place to yourself.
Palapala Ho'omau Church
Past Haleakala National Park and just past mile marker 41, there is a road on the makai side that leads to the Maui Stables and this little church. Built in 1857, it is on an enchanting spot right on the coast. Charles Lindbergh is buried there, alongside the ancestors of many local families who still live in east Maui today.
Adjacent to the church is Kipahulu Point County Park, which has picnic tables and is a fantastic spot for a picnic (bring a couple of food truck plates). It’s a beautiful drive south through Kipahulu to get there (perhaps seven miles from the Guest Houses). Highly recommended.
Fishooks found on Hawaii Island have been carbon dated to 450 A.D. It is thought that 1000 A.D. to 1200 A.D. was the period of greatest human migration from Polynesia to Maui. The Hawaiian Islands remained isolated from the rest of the earth from around 1200 A.D. until Cook arrived in Kauai in 1778.
Perhaps 200 to 250 thousand Hawaiians were living on Maui when Laperouse first arrived here in 1784. Remnants of their civilization are all around you. Ancient hale (houses), heiau (places of worship), rock walls, petroglyphs and fishponds are plentiful along the Hana coast. Recently, renovations to the beach pavilion at Hamoa Bay came to a halt when the remains of ancient Hawaiians were discovered buried there.
Much of this archeological heritage is on private land, and can only be appreciated from afar. However, Pi'llanihale Heiau, the largest and best preserved Heiau in Polynesia, sits in Kahanu Garden just north of Hana. More than sixty acres, Kahanu Garden is a National Tropical Botanical Garden which focuses on plant collections from Hawaii and the other Pacific Islands. There is a walking tour through the garden to the heiau. Here's Jon at Pi'llanihale Heiau:
Local musicians hold forth on Thursday nights (6:30 to 8:30 pm) in the bar at the Travaasa Hotel. No cover charge. The audience will be a great mix of visitors and locals. Highly recommended!
Hana Maui SUP Adventures
Our friend and neighbor Monet Pierce can provide you with stand-up paddle boards, or better yet lessons and guided adventures. Here's Jon taking lessons from Monet:
Hang Gliding Maui
Armin Engert offers ultra-light air tours from the Hana airport. Expensive, but a fascinating adventure. Here's Mary Carol learning to fly:
When it's time to head back to Kahului and "the other side", consider taking the Piilani Highway along the southern coast.
Much drier than the Hana Highway, this route crosses the leeward flank of Haleakala, meanders through the small ranching community of Kaupo, passes the picturesque St Joseph's Church (1862), and is in general one of the most starkly beautiful drives on earth. Take your time and drive with aloha - at places the road is not paved and very narrow.
E komo mai,
Jon, Mary Carol and Steve
The Guest Houses at Malanai
All photos on this page by Steve Gayle