Kipahulu Area (ʻOheʻo Gulch)
There’s more to Haleakalā National Park than the cindery summit. The park extends down the southeast face of the volcano all the way to the sea. The crowning glory of the Kipahulu section of the park is ʻOheʻo Gulch, with its magnificent waterfalls and wide pools, each one tumbling into the next one below.
While the rural village of Nahiku is down on the coast, its tiny ‘commercial’ center – such as it is – is right on the Hana Hwy, just before the 29-mile marker. Here you’ll find the Nahiku Marketplace, home to a little coffee shop, fruit stand and several small eateries clustered together. If you’re hungry, you will want to stop.
Wailuku to ʻIao Valley State Park
ʻIao Valley’s unspoiled natural beauty belies its brutal past. Filled as it is today with sightseers and picnickers, it’s hard to imagine this was once the site of Maui’s bloodiest battle. In 1790 Kamehameha the Great invaded Kahului by sea and routed the defending Maui warriors up into precipitous ʻIao Valley.
Waiʻanapanapa State Park
Swim in a cave, sun on a black-sand beach, explore ancient Hawaiian sites – this is one cool park. A sunny coastal trail and a seaside campground make it a tempting place to dig in for awhile. Honokalani Rd, which leads into Waiʻanapanapa State Park, is just after the 32-mile marker. The road ends overlooking the park’s centerpiece, the jet-black sands at Paʻiloa Bay.
Kahakuloa to Waiheʻe
On the outskirts of Kahakuloa, near the 14-mile marker, the hilltop Kaukini Gallery & Gift Shop sells works by more than 120 island artists, with watercolors, jewelry, native-fiber baskets, pottery and more. A locator map on the front lanai tells you how many more narrow miles you need to drive in either direction to reach relative safety.
Hana to Kipahulu
South from Hana, the road winds down to Kipahulu, passing ʻOheʻo Gulch, the southern end of Haleakalā National Park. This lush stretch brims with raw natural beauty. Between its twists and turns, one-lane bridges and drivers trying to take in all the sights, it’s a slow-moving 10 miles, so allow yourself an hour just to reach Kipahulu.
Continuing on, the terrain is hilly, with rocky cattle pastures punctuated by tall sisal plants. At a number of pull-offs, you can stop and explore. Lush pastures are quite enticing, willing you to traipse down the cliffs and out along the rugged coastline. At the 38-mile marker, a mile-long trail leads out to a light station at the end of windswept Nakalele Point.
La Peʻrouse Bay
Earth and ocean merge at La Pérouse Bay with a raw desolate beauty that’s almost eerie. The ancient Hawaiian village of Keoneʻoʻio flourished here before the 1790 volcanic eruption. Its remains – mainly house and heiau platforms – can be seen scattered among the lava patches.
With its abundant rain and fertile soil Huelo once supported more than 50,000 Hawaiians, but today it’s a sleepy, scattered community of farms and enviable cliffside homes. The double row of mailboxes and green bus shelter that come up after a blind curve 0.5 miles past the 3-mile marker marks the start of the narrow road that leads into the village.
ʻIao Valley State Park
Every Hawaiian island has a landmark scene of singular beauty that’s duplicated nowhere else. On Oʻahu it’s Diamond Head and on Maui it’s unquestionably ʻIao Needle. Rising above a mountain stream in Maui’s lush interior, this sensuous rock pinnacle is the focal point of ʻIao Valley State Park.