Ben: Our morning in Hana was spent in search of awesome beaches. The first on the list was a red sand beach. Hana has one of Maui’s most well-known beach of this variety, and given that it was supposed to be less than a half mile from our yurt, we decided to start there. It was quite difficult to find, but after cutting through the lawn of the local community center we found a trail that followed the mountain. The trail ended suddenly at a disappointingly not-so-red beach. The sand had sort of a red hue to it, but I thought it was a totally lame excuse for the title “red sand beach”.
It was pretty, however, and I think its lack of appeal to me may have been due to the high tide, but I was not impressed. That meant that we needed to execute plan B – a little known strip of red sand accessed off of the pier in Hana. It was only about a 50 yard walk, but the beach was awesome. It was completely secluded, and had a deep red color to it. This was my beach.
After hanging out at the slightly tumultuous red-sand beach (high tide was coming in, making less and less of it accessible), we went in pursuit of a nearby black sand beach. I had never seen one before, and it was absolutely awesome. We were the first ones down to the beach due to slightly inclement weather and surf (it was too rough to do any swimming).
We did, however, get some great pictures on the empty beach. There is also a short laval tube on the beach that we crawled into and explored. I will say this – the black sand beach is in my top 3 favorite beaches anywhere. It had surprisingly fine grained sand, as well as smooth black pebbles around the edges. We hung out at this beach for a long time.
Also near the black sand beach is a series of freshwater caves, theoretically formed from collapsed lava tubes. The first two caves we encountered were not horribly interesting or visibly deep, but interesting nonetheless. The last cave, however, is known to have good swimming.
It was amazing how clear the water was – it was like swimming in a really, really cold swimming pool. Luckily we had brought our headlamps so that I could swim into a couple of the small caverns. They weren’t big and didn’t extend very far back, but they certainly were colorful.
They say that the road to Hana is one of the most scenic drives in America. I agree to some extent, but have to say I was absolutely floored by the road FROM Hana. We spent the afternoon driving around the south end of the island. There is a lot to do and see on this drive.
There are a number of waterfalls that are actually visible from the road. We had seen so many at this point, though, that we decided to skip a good number of them. We did stop at the 7 Sacred Pools. It wasnm’t all that it is cracked up to be. It seemed to have all of the beginnings of being awesome, but lack of pool access, lack of clarity in the pools, and the distance at which we were required to observe.
The road south is somewhat nerve-wracking to drive on. It is one and half lanes wide, and curves in and out of the cliffs with impossibly blind corners. This is what makes the drive so beautiful. Everything is so… untamed. As oncoming traffic approaches, the only option is to squeeze onto the side the cliff as closely as possible. Then the other vehicle inches as close as possible to get by. We suspect that all of the scrapes on the sides of our rental car were achieved from driving on these roads. As the cliffs opened up into the grasslands, we were both completely amazed.
It is one of the prettiest places in the world – yet somehow very untropical. Very short grass hugs the lowlands from the runoff of Haleakala clear to the ocean. This made the drive around the south worthwhile. Following the grasslands came the driest part of the island.
This part receives only about 10″ of annual rainfall (in comparison, the windward side of the island has places that receive 400″ of rainfall annually), and it shows. The grass here looks like it has been snowed on, as it is almost completely white with dryness. It is amazing how such a small place can have such a wide variety of landscapes and ecosystems. It is, without a doubt, one of the prettiest places I have ever seen. The drive eventually wound northward into the up country of Maui, which is in itself one of our favorite places.