ONE BIT OF ADVICE that didn’t make it into this week’s decidedly smart-aleck primer for Northwesterners who throw up their hands and flee our lovely gray for a Hawaii vacation: If several friends who qualify as repeat island visitors say: “Did that. Never again!” … well, maybe listen to them.
Such was the case on a recent escape to Maui, when, faced with the inevitable ticking time clock for that return flight back into the damp darkness, we had to decide whether to check off the last thing on our visit list: driving the famed “Road to Hana.”
We did. Never again.
To be fair, Maui’s Hana Highway really does traverse some spectacular jungle terrain. But it does so via a mind-numbing, often-perilous route, tidily summed up by one tour business: “Aptly dubbed ‘The Divorce Highway,’ the Road to Hana has an exhausting, and many times harrowing, 617 hairpin curves and 59 unforgiving one-lane bridges, not to mention an incredible number of blind spots along the way.”
Huh. We had stopped counting at the 23rd “GET ME OUT OF HERE!” The phrase “rat in a maze” kept coming to mind, and not in a ha-ha way.
And the worst part was yet to come. Once you finally get to Hana — a rustic enclave deep in the woods on the east side of Maui — you are faced with a true Hobson’s choice: Drive the same route back again — right up there on your list of want-tos with boring holes through your skull with a Makita drill, I can assure you — or continue around the island to the other side on roads promised to be even worse.
After consulting with tour guides on the roadside, we chickened out and retraced our puke-inducing steps back through the bamboo chutes. Next time … who am I kidding? I’ve already joined the never-again chorus.
The point: We tend to romanticize the place, but not everything about Hawaii is magical, especially when large crowds of tourists get involved. You take the good with the bad, and in the spirit of Aloha, it bears repeating that even the worst turns of events in the islands are usually better than some of the best turns here at home.
So go right ahead: Say Aloha to Hawaii. And maybe even make that drive to Hana. Remember, you were warned. But so was everyone else.