I can’t stress the point enough that Hana is a not built for tourists. There are only a few food options including the hotel’s restaurant, Hana Ranch Restaurant and various pop ups. There is no ‘shave ice’ or Yogurtland standing by to feed throngs of sugar addicted tourists (like my kids). The attractions are not always open. They are run by nice people who may take a break in the middle of the day…just because. There is no consequence from ‘upper management’ and they just come back to their post when they’re done doing whatever it was they were doing. Hence I’ve named this post “Hana, Prepare to Stop.” Ironically, I couldn’t find a ‘prepare to stop’ sign in Hana because it doesn’t exist. There are only a handful of stop signs in the whole town and no one drives that fast anyway. Here are my five favorite things to do in Hana in no particular order.
Beaches: There are four beaches of note in Hana. While I’m sure there are many more, these four are the most accessible. The relatively calm Hana Harbor has a beautiful black sand beach, is great for swimming, offers picnic facilities and a snack bar and is popular with local families. Black Sand Beach is beautiful and worth seeing, but skip this one if you are looking for a beach to sunbath and surf, the waters can be wild and dangerous depending on time of year. Konoki Beach, a five minute drive from Travaasa Hana, is an inviting whitish sand beach, good for body surfing surfing, or just taking in the view. Lastly, just down the road is Hamoa Beach, this is the largest of the three and has fun surfing waves. There is a shuttle that runs from the hotel every 30 minutes to Hamoa Beach and the hotel offers minimal provisions here. A note of caution, there are no lifeguards at any of these beaches so unless you are very comfortable in the ocean, I recommend not going in deeper than your knees.
Botanical Garden: Unless you have a degree or studied botany or Hawaiʻian history, I strongly recommend getting a guided tour of this park. For me, the tour provided over an hour of fascinating and historical flora-based tid-bits such as the Hawaiʻians used the pods of the hala tree as paint brushes and how to properly open a coconut and drink the water. Without the tour, I probably would have been driving away after ten minutes. Instead, we were engaged and wanted more. The center piece of the garden is the Pi’ilanihale Heiau, a massive structure dating to the 1500s and Hana’s important place in Hawaiʻian history.
Lava Tube: I’ve been through quite a few lava tubes and this one is worth the trek. It’s dark and the footing is unstable so don’t take your 95 year old grandfather unless he is very agile. There is a nominal fee, the entire walk takes less than hour and fortunately it is right up the road from the Botanical Garden.
Hike to the Cross: Perched above the center of town is a 30-foot lava cross erected in memory of Paul Fagan, who among other things was founder of Hana Ranch and opened up the original the Hotel Hana in 1946. The hike to the cross is a bit steep but well worth the climb. Sitting at the base of the cross your rewarded with a beautiful perspective of the Hana coastline in a peaceful setting.
Sit: I’m not being facetious. There is something otherworldly about Hana. For me, it feels like the pulse of the earth is a bit closer here. If you’re rolling your eyes while you read this then drive to the humble final resting place of Charles Lindberg, and then sit.