It's about the journey, not the destination: The Road to Hana

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. There is no better saying than this to describe the road to Hana. The journey starts in Paia about 20 minutes from OGG airport. Paia is a historic beach town with streets lined with wooden buildings left over from the plantation days and fences made of surf boards. Here you will find gourmet restaurants next to beach bars that offer everything from local seafood to sandwiches. You can stock up in this town to begin the 10-12 hour journey to Hana.

Hana is only 64 miles away but the twists and turns in the road on the way will slow down traffic, especially for those who are not use to it. There are over 600 curves and 59 bridges. The numbers are impressive but so are the MANY stops along the way. We used the GyPSy Road to Hana app to help us navigate where we wanted to stop. If we stopped at all the spots the drive would have taken two days instead of hours.

There are paid attractions such as The Garden of Eden, it is a lovely stop but around $15 per person. This is private property, you are literally just walking through the families well manicured gardens. The views are amazing and so is the plant life and foliage.

Further up the road you will find landscapes like no other. The volcanic rocks in the sea look alien and watching the waves crash over is stunning. The rocks are jagged and slippery. If you decided to traverse them be careful of rouge waves or falling. The church in the distance is worth a look. You can just walk across the field to view this 150 year old church which has a tragic history. While in this are stop to get some banana bread…it was AMAZING.

After this area we continued on and found ourselves at the road side restaurants. Robert and I both love food so it was perfect. The slow cooked ribs and fresh fruit were to die for. Make sure you bring cash and your appetite. After we are well feed it’s time to keep moving. We go to the black sand beach which was filled with people. Robert and I like a good adventure so we just kept going around the blow hole to the other side of the trail. Below a small cove with crashing waves greeted us, we just had to find a SAFE way down. Once we found the way we sat and enjoyed the view for a while. The sand is black as night and rocky but what a tranquil spot!

Along the way there are more places to stop such as the Lava Tube, more beaches, and the rainbow forest. We had spent so much time at overlooks, and the other stops we decided to keep moving. Once we made it to Hana we found the red sand beach which took a little skill to get to. You will have to hike a bit and climb a few large rocks. I am short so reaching some of the rocks alone would have been difficult without a helping hand. After our little hike we sat by the water and had a snack. By this time it was getting late; we needed to get back to town before sunset, just to be safe.

On the way back we stopped and played in a road side waterfall that we passed on the way it; the water was ice cold but totally worth it. We made it back to Paia in time for the sunset. We went to the lookout, watched the surfers, hung with the locals, and cracked a cold beer. The Road to Hana was simply beautiful, a perfect way to see the island and spend the day.

Hiking Diamond Head.

Diamond Head State Monument…we decided to walk from the hotel up the extinct volcano. I didn’t realize how far we would have to go; google didn’t give me miles only the time it would take to walk. We began our journey passing posh designer stores like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany. Street vendors asked us to sign up for tours. The streets are quiet because it is early; besides Robert and I what tourist in their right mind would be up so early?!

As we walk the seaside path past the zoo, up hills, past locals getting in their morning runs and dog walks,
we stop for a break and water. Just over the hill begins the climb up. We see trolleys coming down with people, cars, and walkers. But we are still not at the main entrance. At this point I am wondering what I was thinking and why didn’t we take an Uber.

Another 30 minutes passes, we get to the first parking lot and continue up through a tunnel where you have to hug the side of the wall so the on coming cars will not hit you. A few meters ahead is the main parking area. By this time is it around 9am and the lot is full. There are lines at the juice stand and plenty of people ready to hike this iconic volcano that is the back drop for Oahu. At this point we have we had walked 5.5 miles.

There are water filling stations and restrooms; I suggest you use both before the climb. This is a strenuous climb, signs say it “only” takes 30 minutes. In my opinion if you are in peak physical health you can do the climb in 30 minutes but the average American can NOT do this in 30 minutes.

As you walk the slow turns quickly become switchbacks that ascend the mountain quickly. The once wide paved path turns narrow with uneven stones and pavement. There are areas along the way; a place for you to rest, regroup, and assess your life decisions. In no time you will an amazing panorama view of Waikiki, the blue-green ocean below, and multimillion dollar homes.

After these views the real work begins. Stairs, upon stairs, upon stairs. I don’t know how many stairs there are, but it feels like thousands. As we passed a set of stairs that we opted not to take I took a quick photo. I captured the moment a couple was in disagreement and looking a little red in the face. Not sure what they were arguing about but I think it was if they should continue on or not.

Around the bend is another look out, a climb, and more stairs. At this point you are almost at the top! Depending on the time of day, season, or month will depend on the amount of tourist doing this climb. Expect delays, people taking photos on the small staircase, and once you reach the top you will have to wait your turn to get a selfie or a photo of the magnificent views. Once you are at the top the entire experience is worth every single step.

Oahu is a beautiful island and from the top you can see for miles. The hike up Diamond Head on the very first day set the tone for our trip. We worked hard and played hard! If you are on Oahu, challenge yourself by hiking Diamond Head.

Hiking Diamond Head