Black Sand Beach, Maui
Random Flora, Maui
Our first time to Hawaii we visited Maui. Four days of adventure lay ahead of us and we excitedly poured over books and maps trying to decide what we could see, what we wanted to see, in the time allotted. We also chatted with a lovely lady at the Resort about some of the things we had read about that we wanted to see.
We discovered that she was from the Pacific Northwest and, perhaps (mistakenly) sensing kindred spirits she told us about the back way to see the Seven Sacred Pools that are on the Road to Hana. This road, she assured us, was less frequented and more direct. The scenery was just as spectacular as going the more traditional route.
Waterfall and pool in Haleakala National Park, Maui
She gave us a resort map of the island for free and even highlighted our particular route. As an aside: If the resort map has a section of road which bears a note that states rental agencies will not insure the car if it is driven over that particular section of road, you might want to think twice about taking that road. Just sayin’. Susan was so helpful, friendly and made it sound like it would be such a pleasant drive that we ignored the, in hindsight, blazingly obvious red flag and decided to take the road less travelled. Two roads diverged in a woods…and all that.
It might be prudent, at this point in the narrative, to mention a tiny habit we seem to have fallen into when it comes to vacations. Whenever we go on vacation for more than 3 days, we seem to encounter mild peril. Given the previous red flag I thought I’d just bring that up.
Now this trip, we are told, is 2 hours 1 way and 4 hours for the round trip. Also there are all kinds of sights to see and places to stop on the main road to Hana which is how we intend to return, just do a loop. So we did not pack for a week of trekking through the wildlands of Patagonia.
Note: If a friendly local who is trying to help you see the sights less seen tells you the drive is 4 hours round trip; pack enough food and water for a week of trekking through the wilds of Patagonia.
Another waterfall and pool on Maui
All unaware of what lay in store for us, we loaded up and set merrily off on our way. The first part of the trip wasn’t so bad, and by first part I mean the short stretch of freeway before we turned off onto the “road.”
This road winds up around crater Haleakala. There is a turn off to go visit the actual volcanic crater. We did not take that since we were on our way to see the Seven Sacred Pools. The road, and I’m using the term very loosely, clings to the side of the volcano, twisting and turning back on itself like a snake with a bad stomachache.
My soul mate has mad in city driving skills. Normally he does the driving when we are in new places and I navigate. We compliment each other perfectly in almost every way.
I learned to drive in the Ozark Mountains. There used to be a group of stuntmen who did shows and their only claim to fame was that they learned to drive in the Ozark Mountains. You may have heard of them: The Ozark Mountain Daredevils. About 45 minutes in, I took over driving.
Black Sand Beach, Maui
On one side of the car was volcanic rock, on the other was air and far below the ocean. Sometimes there were rocks below and then the ocean. Oftentimes the road narrowed down to one lane and there were countless one lane bridges where whoever gets there second has to wait for the first person to clear the bridge before crossing themselves. Turnouts were moderately plentiful and that’s good because if there is oncoming traffic it’s best to pull over and let them by, since there is only room for one car anyway.
Now I was working the gas and the brake constantly and doing the speed limit (or better) whenever possible. There were places where it just wasn’t safe to even do the speed limit, and to be honest the speed limit was 15 mph for large stretches of the drive. I’m sure the scenery was beautiful but it took absolute focus to keep the car on the road. There were places where the road wasn’t paved.
Then it started to rain. I had a real fear that if I didn’t keep the car moving (uphill at a pretty steep incline too) we would get stuck in the mud. Just to keep things interesting there were places where the pavement was worse than the unpaved parts.
My beloved had to take over navigation, which is normally my duty but then we don’t normally drive on roads that would make the Ice Road Truckers South America, question their sanity.
Wind Turbines on the road to Haleakala National Park
There is no sign that indicates the turn off for the Seven Sacred Pools. Just thought I’d throw that out there. My love was expecting some kind of sign since it’s really the major destination for the area. We sailed right past them. We did see some of them as we drove by but I had hoped to get out and take a dip in one of the pools.
We realized our mistake straight away, less than a mile (which is longer than you think when you are creeping along at 10 to 15mph) and I refused to turn around. Let that sink in for a moment–I learned to drive in the Ozark Mountains and I refused to turn around on that road and go back.
Just to make the trip that much more difficult, the rental car we got was a Chrysler 200. This is a fine car if you are short, like really short because I hit my head getting into the thing every time and I’m short. It’s also a fine car if you intend to only drive in the city, preferably in straight lines. Seriously, the car is a pig when it comes to steering and the windshield supports on the sides are just about wide enough to block your vision for 1 lane of traffic if you are, oh I don’t know, trying to look ahead at an angle to see what kind of oncoming traffic there might be on a narrow road. Basically if you are trying to make a tight turn (say around a hairpin curve) you cannot see the other lane. That’s assuming you can get the car to turn that tight, because it doesn’t want to. Also when you hit the gas, the engine revvs up but the car does not accelerate, so you keep pressing the gas hoping the car will go, but not shoot forward (in the event you are trying to climb the side of a mountain while facing the 180 degree turn of a hairpin curve, of which you cannot see the oncoming lane because of the windshield supports, but that’s ok because it’s a 1 lane road anyway which is why you are honking as you go). If this car is any example to go by, I would never buy a Chrysler unless I intended to do no more than drive it to the corner grocery.
The same Wind Turbines on the way back from Haleakala National Park
Our 2 hour one way, 4 hour round trip, took 7 hours to complete and we did not stop for more than 20 minutes. That was at the black sand beach, which was lovely but not worth a 7 hour drive over some of the roughest terrain I’ve ever driven over. There are tour busses that go up there (and let me tell you, passing one of those on that road was a hair raising experience), take one of those if you really want to see the pools. K.