Get on the Road to Hana with a Stay at the Hana-Maui Resort
It is the heart of old Hawaii.
Written byStaness Jonekos
Photographed byMichael Becker
The road to Hana, which cradles the rugged east coast of Maui, is one of the world’s most scenic drives—a breathtaking two-hour journey to unspoiled old Hawaii. Navigating its 620 hairpin curves and 59 mostly single-lane bridges forces you to slow down and savor the beauty of the drive.
My husband and I booked the historic Hana-Maui Resort, a luxury destination on the island for 75 years with laid-back Hawaiian charm. Tucked along an isolated, windward beach, it is the only resort within hours of Hana. With muted tones and breezy coastal decor, it features 72 suites, bungalows and family residences that, in classic Hawaiian style, seamlessly blend indoors with outdoors. We decided to spend five nights there to enjoy the slow pace of this side of Maui.
The rooms have no clocks, radios, or TVs. It’s a place to unplug and escape. We relished time on our private lanai, marveling at the sunsets along the ever-changing coastline. There’s plenty to do to fill your day, from booking treatments at the ocean-view spa, taking yoga classes, or just flopping out by the infinity pool.
DAY 1: FOOD ADVENTURE
Hawaii is a culinary melting pot. With influences from Thailand, Japan, Portugal and the Philippines, Hawaiian cooking blends these influences into its own fusion cuisine. The resort’s Hana Ranch Restaurant has a unique, farm-to-table menu embracing all these influences.
Chef Josh Goodfox shared that he is committed to “taking comfort food to the next level.” He aims to please not only guests but locals—so there are a number of traditional entrees on the menu, such as seared fish with sweet Thai cream sauce. More contemporary touches include dishes that are gluten-free and vegan.
We also enjoyed some off-campus casual dining. Nearby food trucks, including some just a stone’s throw from the resort, serve everything from Thai to tacos. One of our favorites was 20 minutes north, where the cheerful Coconut Glen’s scoops up light but decadent homemade coconut ice cream.
DAY 2: WAI’ANAPANAPA STATE PARK
Wai’anapanapa State Park is home to Maui’s famous black sand beach. Wai’anapanapa means “glistening water,” and with the turquoise-hued ocean crashing against the basalt lava coastline, it was breathtaking. Bring a blanket for a picnic or enjoy a spectacular hike with dramatic scenery. Don’t miss the small lava cave at the end of the beach. Note: Reservations must made at least 24 hours in advance.
DAY 3: HANA RANCH HORSEBACK RIDE
The Hana-Maui Resort arranged a two-hour horseback ride for us at Hana Ranch, a working, sustainable ranch with grass-fed cattle on 3,600 acres. It is quite scenic; seven of the acres are devoted to mature breadfruit, banana, citrus and papaya orchards. Our guide, Fiona, personally cares for the easy-to-ride horses. My husband and I are both decent equestrians, so we chose to canter at several points along the lush trail. We even got to help herd two bulls from one pasture to another.
DAY 4: HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK
Just 35 minutes down the road from Hana is the southernmost section of expansive Haleakala National Park. We hiked the moderate, 4-mile Pipiwai Trail through a flourishing rainforest to wondrous 400-foot Waimoku Falls. Make a pit stop at the enchanting bamboo forest near the falls and listen to the sounds of nature. Another postcard-perfect gem here is Oheo Gulch, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools, where numerous little pools are tucked into a lush coastal ravine.
DAY 5: CULTURE IMMERSION
The Hana-Maui Resort offers a variety of cultural experiences hosted by its concierge, a lifelong local named Zane. We started the day with the ancient Hawaiian art of spear throwing and later a Ukulele class. Then we turned to the aromatic art of lei making. I enjoyed learning how to weave ti leaves and braid in the colorful orchids and fragrant plumeria that I picked before the class.
Later that day the resort’s general manager, Jon Benson, shared something that helped explain the pleasure of our totally holistic Hana immersion: “Aloha,” he said, “is our superpower here!”
“Aloha” is, of course, much more than a greeting and farewell in Hawaii. It literally translates as “the presence of divine breath.” It’s a spirit of peace and kindness and respect—a harmony with people and the land. We felt that throughout our stay in Hana.
For us, it felt like heaven on earth.
Accommodations at Hana-Maui Resort start at $650; for more, go to hanamauiresort.com
Lions and tigers and bears—oh my!