If yesterday was about being off the beaten trail, today was the beaten trail. Fortunately, post-Labor Day and timed pretty well, we avoided the massive crowds relatively successfully on the famous Highway to Hana. We found our map only moderately accurate and learned from some fellow Bostonians at their picnic table that their CD was also similarly unreliable… so…. our advice, just pull over if it looks cool and march around a little.
At the recommendation of our previously un-named, now named (Brittany) unofficial tour guide, we skipped the Twin Falls turnout near the beginning of where Highway 36 turns to Highway 360 towards Hana. This jumpstarted us ahead of the crowds and rewarded us with relatively solo roads for much of our drive. Our first stop, at our map’s direction, was just past milemarker seven in the bamboo forest.
Next stop: between milemarker 12 and 14 we stopped at Wailua Valley State Wayside, which has restrooms and “picnic tables” (2 exactly) but great views of Keanae Point and some cool rain forest about it.
We continued to Keanae Point, which was worth the stop. Amazing coastline. We resisted the urge to buy the delicious smelling banana bread and after strolling around for a bit turned back around to head for home. For those not going all the way to Hana, this seemed like a good turning point (of course, we didn’t go further so we won’t know if we missed anything great as a result – at least we won’t today).
On our way back, during which we had the westerly route almost to ourselves, except for some locals who would barrel up behind us, we made several stops to check out the flora and the waterfalls. It actually seemed easier to park and enjoy the waterfalls headed this direction as we had somewhat of an idea where to stop this time and since we turned before the masses headed west, we had more parking availability on that side of the road.
On our way back home, we stopped in Paia. This cool little town would be a good spot to stay (the Paia Inn Hotel looked cool, though we cannot personally vouch for it, it does appear well reviewed on Yelp) with its many restaurant options nearby. We checked out the Paia Fish Market and their fish tacos. The ala carte portion was plenty large for us, but I bet the platter would be good if you were hungrier (tacos + fries and slaw = platter). We would definitely go back and maybe even stay overnight in Paia next time.