Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hidden Gems of Hana



 The road to Hana here on the rain forest side of Maui is already an off the beaten track kind of adventure. But if you have that drive to explore you can find yourself under a 400ft waterfall with no one else around. The beauty of this place is that except a few of the bigger, well known sites most of waterfalls, swimming holes, cliff jumps, and other incredible sites don't see too much foot traffic. But unless you are a local or have done your research there won't be any signs that point your way.

 One of my favorite hikes here that is a pretty easy skill level is the Waimoku Falls hike above Seven Sacred Pools. This is a little beyond Hana and is also a great place to camp. If you do camp here don't just set up in the parking lot, set off and follow the trails. They lead to beautiful, secluded camp sites on the cliffs overlooking the raging seas. We had an owl, the first I've seen here on Maui, fly right into the tall grass near our camp site here. The pools are beautiful but can get a little crowded and hectic when the daily tour charters come through. However 90% of the visitors miss out on one of the best hikes on the island which starts right above the pools. Another 90% of those stop about half a mile into the hike at the first big waterfall thinking they have seen it all.
But those in the know can get so much more out of it. A sharp right at the gate, and a jump over a fence will take you to the 'infinity pool' overlooking the 200ft waterfall. Then past a huge banyan tree you enter an incredibly dense bamboo forest that shades out the sun. Rays of light filter down to shine on the forest floor. Luckily a boardwalk lifts your shoes out of the really damp areas. Side trails lead to swimming holes and water falls and if you make it all the way you are rewarded with a huge 400ft waterfall. After catching a glimpse of it through the jungle it gets bigger and bigger until you are standing right underneath it. Go early enough and it could be all yours to take in.


 Another can't miss, especially for couples looking for the perfect place to cliff jump and spend a few hours is Venus Pools. One of the most beautiful places in Hawaii and one of the least visited. Safe cliff jumping, hot rocks to warm up on, crystal clear water, caves to explore and the waves hitting the shoreline in front of you are some of the reasons to check this hidden gem out. And like the sign says on the way in, "Respect the 'Aina".

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