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HEAVENLY HANA

By Jane Cassie

As Vancouverites, my husband and I can attest to living through grey, wet winters but feel it's the price we pay, for living on the beautiful West Coast. So, we simply grin and bear it. But after the record rainfall this past year, it's been hard to come up with a smile. While some say it's global warming; others think these are just pineapple express systems that have blown across the Pacific. Well, if the wet and wild can travel all the way from Hawaii, then we can do the return trip.

For this holiday, we're in search of reprieve from holiday hoopla and throngs of tourists. Even though Maui has become a popular hot spot, the town of Hana still retains an Old World feel. The reason, you ask? The highway that spans from the airport's locale of Kahului to this east-coast hamlet is not much wider than a glorified footpath. Within a two-hour time frame, we veer around 600 curves, creep over 51 lane bridges, and yield to countless on-comers. My heart beats double-time and my stomach flip-flops as we navigate hairpins, blind corners and sheer cliffs. Yet, despite the adrenaline rush and need for Gravol, the journey is worth every minute. Our slender road loops through a feathery rainforest where we're canopied by vine-dripping banyan trees, kissed by trickling waterfalls, and welcomed by a pot of gold at the end of numerous rainbows.

The secluded treasure trove of Hana is steeped with as much history as beauty. It was once home to a thriving sugar plantation and, after business dried up in 1943, Paul Fagan, a highfalutin Californian, purchased the land.

After reaching our destination we are informed that Fagan not only established the present-day working ranch, but also opened the Hotel Hana-Maui. "Welcome!" says the friendly receptionist who wears a purple orchid behind one ear and greets us with a fragrant lei and winning smile.

As well as a rundown on the past, she provides a map of the present, and by the look at the surrounding acreage, it'll come in handy.

Asphalt walkways weave over the terrain like silver threads, and lace through the community of 1,800 residents. They link posh accommodations that overlook either a rugged shoreline or garden blooms-not to mention chichi activities such as spas and culinary choices. A number of these will be a part of our stay, while tennis and a 3-hole pitch and putt will keep us grounded. Hula and ukulele lessons will attune us to local culture; the nearby surf and pools will cool us off. And ahhh...the spa!

We're soon whisked away to our Sea Ranch cottage, plantation style, where every consideration has been taken into account. Our fruit basket would appease Adam and Eve, as would the deep soaker tub and tandem-size shower. What's not to love? And while the Casablanca-like fan oscillates above, we're soon lulled to sleep by the pounding surf.

It's easy to hibernate in our retreat, but there are just as many temptations outside the door. Souvenir shops flank the nearby main street of Hana, and hugging up to its perimeters are beautiful stretches of sand. We explore the golden crescent of Hamoa Beach, stroll the red cinder surface of Kaihalulu and check out the black sandy boulevard of Waianapanapa State Park. Some attract surfers by the score. Others are perfect spots for picnicking. All possess a beauty of their own.

On our final day, we discover one last tropical splash just a few kilometres from town. Deep within the jungle-draped hills of Haleakala National Park are a series of waterfalls that plummet into a narrow gorge. The rushing torrents continuously carve away the lush chasm known as Ohe'o Gulch, and then cascade into seven inviting pools. At times, these temporary reservoirs are popular swimming holes, but during our visit the water is turbulent and we admire the scene at a distance. It's a memorable farewell to this windward side of Maui, where precipitation can reach record highs. And though we haven't been able to escape the rain as originally planned, we've been captivated during this two day stay.

SIDEBAR:

Maui Visitors Bureau http://www.visitmaui.com/

How to get there:
Harmony Airways http://harmonyairways.com/

Where to stay:
Hotel Hana Maui http://www.hotelhanamaui.com/

Photos by Brent Cassie
1. Hana Highway carves through the lush rainforest
2. Deck side viewing from our Sea Ranch cottage
3. Mesmerized by the seven pools at Oleo Gulch
4. vine dripping Banyon trees along Hana Highway
5. Playing a little par 3 at the resort

Travel Writers' Tales is an independent travel article syndicate that offers professionally written travel articles to newspaper editors and publishers. To check out more, visit www.travelwriterstales.com

 


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