This is what most people remember about Hana, Maui—the long and winding road to get there and back, usually in a day. Instead, photographer David Croxford and I lingered along the Hana Coast, seeing some stunning sights and meeting some of the friendliest people in Hawaii.
The curves seem to never end.
Of the 59 bridges on the road to Hana, 46 are one-lane.
You're actually on the Hana Coast when you spot Nita Chong’s “Halfway to Hana” roadside stand, just above the scenic Ke‘anae peninsula. Only 18 miles from Hana town, Chong’s stand isn’t really halfway. The flipside of her sign reminds Hana residents that this is the last stop before the long haul to Kahului.
Nita and her coworkers sell everything from coconut and apple bananas to shave ice and egg salad sandwiches.
In a taste of the hospitality we’d experience all along the coast, after we snapped this photo, Chong prevailed upon us to take with us a couple loaves of her homemade banana bread.
A small church dots the Ke‘anae peninsula.
The green Ke‘anae peninsula is one of the few taro growing areas left in the state.
At Ke‘anae Beach Park, the shore is rocky and the water stunningly blue.
Near Ke‘anae Beach Park a cow grazes contentedly under a church steeple.
Apple bananas are a Hawaii favorite—slightly smaller and more tart than the Central American bananas you find in most supermarkets.
One the problems with getting to Hana is that you want to stop and explore every waterfall.
Just North of Hana town is a thoroughly Hawaiian place. Kahanu Gardens was originally given to the Kahanu family by King Kamehameha III in 1848. It now belongs to the National Tropical Botanical Garden, which has restored the ancient Pi‘ilanihale heaiu on the property.
Kahanu Gardens' director, Kamaui Aiona, stands in front of the three-acre, 40-foot-high heiau, the largest ancient Hawaiian lava-stone temple still standing.
Kahanu Garden employee Lyana Bednorz was born in Hana, as she puts it, “when you could still be born here.” She’s had her four children at Maui Memorial in Wailuku. “I didn’t think I was going to make it with this one,” she says, holding up her youngest son, Koali‘i. “Thought I would have him on the road.”
At 18 months old, Koali‘i is not sure what to make of visitors.
Kahanu Gardens is stretched along a rocky fishing bay. It’s a quiet, contemplative spot to really feel the nature and history of the coast.
As the ocean batters the lava coast, it creates sea arches. We can't give you directions to this one. The private landowner kindly gave us permission to photograph it. But you'll see plenty like it along the coast.
Everything grows in Hana. Here are the offerings of tropical plants at R.E. Sanders' Hana Nursery, on Waianapanapa Road.
Like many roadside business in Hana, Hana Nursery operates on the honor system. Pick you want and pay at this yellow box.
There's more than one sign like this along the Hana Coast. This one is on Waianapanapa Road.
The ferns grow large along the Hana Coast.
On the outskirts of Hana town, near the sea caves in Wainapanapa State Park, Stella Perry comes every morning to load her fruit stand with produce she and her husband grow themselves. She had us bite into the yellow lilikoi. Delicious.
The wire baskets keep pests away from Stella Perry's produce.
The best known landmark in Hana is the Hasegawa General Store. Harry Hasegawa (right) is the third generation to head the store, but he’s passed it on to the fourth generation, his son Neil.
Harry Hasegawa has often been called "the unofficial mayor of Hana."
Hasegawa's bulletin board serves as a community center.
A 1961 popular song praised the Hasegawa Store's “wonderful variety of merchandise.” Here garlic and ginger share shelf space with plumbing supplies.
In the parking lot of Hasegawa Store, a mother and son share lunch.
Even in Hana town, the country isn't far away. This pasture is near Hasegawa Store.
The Hana Coast has only one full-scale resort, the Hotel Hana-Maui. This is its tranquil center fountain.
At the Hotel Hana-Maui, Pearl Young works the bar. She left the next day to audition for the TV show "Lost" in Honolulu.
At the Hana Coast Gallery, Cynthia Day stands next to her favorite work, Dale Zarella’s wood sculpture, “Flame Goddess." Day came to Häna 20 years ago on vacation—and never left.
An early morning confab among neighbors at Hana Bay.
Hana Town from the pier on Hana Bay.
The Hana Cultural Center has restored the old police station and courthouse, which was in use from 1871 to 1978.
This historic small room still functions as a courthouse, one day a week.
In addition to displays, the Hana Cultural Center has an ethnobotanical garden and authentic pili grass structures.
In the 1950s, amateur photographer Leslie Eade took portraits of almost everyone on the Hana Coast, now displayed at the Hana Cultural Center.
Beginning in 1842, Wananalua Church was built of lava rock and pulverized coral by missionaries. It still offers services in Hawaiian.
At Koki Beach outside Hana Town, both the cliffs and the sand are tinged red.
That's Alau Island off Koki Beach.
Ben Villiarimo and Ikaika Shamblin build a konohiki, a fishing shrine in memory of their mentor Jackie Kahula.
Of Hana Beaches, Hamoa is the most popular, even on a gray day.
This house near Hamoa Bay is next to the Hana Auto Body Shop.
The 68-year-old Sam Kupau and his brother Francis get up at 5:30 every morning and carefully manicure these remote 11-acres of land in Pikuilua. “This is Hawai‘i,” says Sam, “not America.”
The land Sam Kupau cares for was once a temple complex, and still has remnants of Hawaiian stonework. He’s also decorated the landscape with Hawaiian flags—and statues of the Virgin Mary. He's a stalwart at St. Paul’s Catholic Church nearby.
There are more than 2,200 cows along the Häna coast from Ke‘anae to Kïpahulu—and half as many people.
St. Paul's Catholic Church, Kipahulu, about 10 miles south of Hana town.
The Hana coast boasts abundant waterfalls. Here, on a sharp switchback in the road, Wailua Falls tumbles 80 feet into rocky pools.
Wailua Falls are a short slippery walk from the highway. With reasonable caution, you can swim here.
Visitors unwilling to hike down to the falls can take in the view from the narrow concrete bridge.
Erwin “Bolly” Helekahi sits near Wailua Falls, weaving coconut hats for sale.
“Bolly” Helekahi is a master at coconut weaving. He's an electrician by trade, but makes hats and bowls, he says, for stress relief.
You have to wonder what this is gate to—nowhere?
As I stood here, I started seriously thinking about moving to the Hana Coast. This ranch is for sale, for $5 million. Contributions accepted.
Oheo Gulch, once known as Seven Sacred Pools, is now part of Haleakala National Park. It's a short hike down to where streams cascade into a series of lava pools.
The signs at Oheo Gulch say, "No jumping." Here and in the next picture, you'll see how well the signs are observed.
This abandoned car is well on its way to being reclaimed by the rain forest.
Community leaders John and Tweetie Lind have created Kapahu Living Farm, in remote Kipahulu valley. Both have longstanding ties to the area,
The Linds' granddaughter, Kuahiwi, offered to let us pet her puppy.
The Linds raise organic taro, keeping alive the ancient traditions of this fertile area.
Taro was the staff of life for the ancient Hawaiians.
The first man to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic, Charles Lindbergh, lived his last days on the Hana coast and lies buried here.
Lindbergh lies at rest in the cemetary of Palapala Ho'omau Church in Kipahulu, built in 1857.
Interior, Palapala Ho'omau Church, no longer used for services.
Visitors are sometimes disappointed at how plain Lindbergh's grave is.
But it still gets its share of tributes.
Lindbergh wanted a simple grave—and this view of the stunning Kipahulu coast.
Most people don't get past Oheo Gulch before turning around, but then you miss Lindbergh's grave, some stunning scenery and Laulima Organic Farms fruit stand.
One of the benefits of going back to the land is the produce.
If you want Beth Rings to make you a smoothie at Laulima, you have to hop on this bicycle to power the blender.
About four miles past Kipahulu, the road to Kaupo was closed. A sign warned of rockslides from the cliffs.
At this point, I told photographer David Croxford to get off the cliff edge and get back in the car. As you can see, he didn't listen.
We drove just far enough past the "Road Closed" sign to snap these photos of Lelekea Bay. The road has now been reopened and you can drive to Kaupo. Few visitors drive the rough road, but it's a relief for residents.