Sunday, September 12, 2021

Happy Hawaiian Holiday - day 7 - Maui's Road to Hana


The Road to Hana is a generic term for exploring the eastern half of Maui along the north coast. The route is about 64 miles. Considering the distance, there is not a large number of separate things to do. Anyone can drive along the route, but we hired a driver due to the winding, narrow nature of the route. This is a magnificently scenic winding road through bamboo forests with ocean views. There is a lava tube (like a cave formed by cooled lava) with lava stalagmites and stalactites and ancient, rock eating bacteria that are one of the first life forms on earth. There is a black sand beach (lava cinders) and great banana bread.

Along this route can also be found a high concentration of locals who are tired of the ways in which heavy tourism can impact the human and natural environments. Of course, somewhere along the line, someone has to cut down a few trees to become a local, but without question, Maui struggles to deal with the constant swarms of tourists, even as tourism drops due to COVID-19. We saw a couple instances of locals indicating displeasure with tourists, including some gesturing toward our marked tour van.

The high point of this drive is to find a waterfall pool in which to take a dip. The waterfalls are not necessarily huge, but the attraction is to be one with the natural environment. However, the road is barely two lanes wide with no shoulders, so parking is limited to small pull-offs near the accessible waterfalls. By accessible, I mean, the ones visible from the road to which one can walk without too much trouble.

Recently, Maui has posted "no parking" signs near the known waterfalls because otherwise, careless would-be swimmers cause gridlock. There just isn't enough room for all the vehicles wishing to stop. The police write costly citations. We drove past people taking photos of their vehicles parked in front of the signs.

So, how did we get that photo? That's Gary in the middle of the pool next to Susan, with Lauren on the low ledge in the back about to jump, and our tour guide on the right (Dan took the photo). According to our guide, he and his boss explored streams along the route and found a hidden waterfall, unknown to most people. Apparently, there is no definitive guide to waterfall pools along the route. This spot had no parking restrictions. The guide said that occasionally, other tourists will follow his groups to the water, but the spot remains uncharted. We were at the spot for about a half hour with no other visitors. I tasted the water coming down one of the trickle falls on the left side of the photo. It was magical.

In all seriousness, tourism can be damaging. A local guide can help to minimize the footprint, but not everyone can afford a guide. My group is not rich, but we are privileged enough to have been able to hire the guy who could legally and safely show us the way. We left no trace aside from a few shifted rocks and a footprint or two through the bamboo forest, but only a few people will ever get to do this. Eventually, this swimming hole, too, will become popular and then restricted. Gary can provide details privately.

No comments:

Post a Comment