Maui: The Volcano Disguised as Paradise (photos)

The best thing about Maui’s Hana Highway isn’t the scenery. Although, that is spectacular. The best thing is the way it reminds you of what’s important in life.

On most rural highways, the scene changes gradually if at all. On the winding Hana Highway, you have new surprises waiting for you around every curve. Every 100 yards or so. For 50 miles.

So you might want to, ya know… pay attention.

Maui shoreline
The Maui coast
Ocean view
Also the Maui coast

Should you choose to do so, you will be rewarded with expansive ocean views, triple waterfalls spilling into a natural swimming pool, impossibly tall trees encased in bright green moss, sea caves, black sand beaches, roadside stands offering fresh mango or coconut or pineapple, and a rainforest so dense it’s in perpetual twilight.

Waianapanapa State Park
Wai’anapanapa State Park

It’s like Hawaii loves you so much it just can’t stop giving you gifts.

Sea Lion
Oh hey human. Welcome to my beach. Belly rub maybe?

(Pro tip: do not actually pet the sea lions. There is a reason they are called sea lions and not sea golden retrievers.)

When waves meet lava

It is astounding how much diversity is packed into this 50 miles. With such a varied topography, it’s easy to forget that you are driving on a volcano.

Lava tube entrance

Inside a lava tube
Except here, inside a lava tube.

Although it is not actively erupting, this volcano isn’t extinct either. Haleakala has erupted within the past 250 years, and is expected to again. When it does, everything that is here will be gone. Including the Hana Highway and all the delights waiting around every curve.

Bridge Along the Hana Highway
Another curve, another delightful discovery.
This is your life along the Hana Highway.

Good reason to slow down and fully experience what’s here while we can, yes?

I have to admit, at the start of the drive pulling off the road and getting out of the car was a challenge for the discovery junkie known as me. Why admire this view when what’s around the corner might be better… FOMO much? (Sound familiar?)

I continually reminded myself that it is not either/or. I don’t have to choose. It’s yes. To all of it.
Also maybe  b r e a t h e.

Cliff side
This road is nothing *but* curves. Enjoy it.

It’s called the Hana Highway; perhaps a better name is The Road to Nowhere. A day on this road will fix any hurry-up-and-get-there tendencies whether you want it to or not. It is tiny, narrow, and doesn’t let its travelers go faster than 25 mph in the really mountainous parts. All of which is fine because…

The driving isn’t the point.

The point is to get out of the car so you (and I) can explore the beauty all around us.

Root closeup
Hiking the trails
Swimming under the waterfalls
Maui Beach
Playing on the beach
Beach cairns
Contemplating the meaning of life

After all, on this day you have no place to be other than where you are at this moment.

I suppose there are people who miss this point. Who think that getting to Hana is the goal. Surprise! There is no there there. It is a wide spot in the road so unnoteworthy, I didn’t even snap a photo.
I suspect the residents like it that way.

(If I had taken a photo of Hana, this is where it would be. Perhaps next time?)

Instead, here is the most curious thing I found along the way:

Car seats in the rainforest
Front row seats

Throughout our time on this planet, life reminds us to pay attention. Sometimes gently, sometimes not so much. And sometimes with a day so breathtaking, you slow down and breathe it in just because you forget not to.

Maui Coast
Rainforest with a view

I can’t wait to do it again. Perhaps I’ll see you there?


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