Enjoying the Journey to Hana, Hawaii

Guest Post: Ruth Elayne Kongaika

Amidst controversy and against my better judgment, I boarded a red minivan headed on the Road to Hana, Hawaii. Just a month earlier, I had heard on the news that a tourist had taken an unexpected fall off a cliff in Hawaii. An acquaintance had also tried to dissuade me by sharing how car sick his wife was on the road to Hana. All this negativity just made me want to go more to see if it could possibly be that bad.

Armed with a dozen Krispy Kreme glazed donuts, suntan lotion, a map, and my camera, my son, my daughter-in-law, my husband and I bravely began our journey. The road suddenly turned from a straightway to a very windy paved path. It hugged the undulations and furrows nature had carved into the lava mountains of the Ko’olaus. We wondered how the road construction workers had managed to keep their equipment from plunging into the sea that eerily waited below. Luckily for us they had installed guardrails to keep us from plummeting to our demise along the way.

On the road to Hana (you can see where we had driven)

The road narrowed as we approached one of over twenty bridges over the chasms between the cliffs. We captured a few glimpses of waterfalls and I had to remind my son, the driver, to keep his eyes on the road rather than on the scenery. He mentioned that he loved driving on roads like this, thankfully.

One of the many waterfalls along the road to Hana. This one you could see from the main highway

I tried to keep track of where we were on the road to Hana by scanning the map. With the twisting road, it didn’t take long before my stomach started to feel queasy. My daughter-in-law had taken Dramamine and she seemed to be doing fine, while she dined on potato chips, Snickers and other delights.


I had read that it “is the journey and not the destination” that is important on the road to Hana. The mountains are covered with trees, ferns, and plants of all kinds. It was a photographer’s heaven for sure. My artistic mind went into overload and I had to make my son stop, especially when we reached the bamboo forest. It was simply magical.

Bamboo forest on the road to Hana       Copyright REK

Quite a few tourists had made the journey, and where the road narrowed, either they or we had to pull over to let the other one go. People are so kind. Locals dwelled in the small valleys between the waterfalls. I’m sure they do not appreciate all the traffic, but some of them have seen the great opportunity to open up little shops and sell local fruits, ice cream and banana bread at highly inflated prices. My favorite was a little place called Harry’s that left the goods out by a sign that said, “Honor System.” My husband picked up a small loaf of banana bread, dropped his money in a box, and we left. No one was around! Local style!


Just when we thought we could not go on, we took a left turn down a road towards the ocean. At the end we were greeted by the most amazing panorama, we felt like we had stepped into a dream. It was nonstop beauty for 360 degrees. Breathtaking! It made the whole trip worthwhile.

A small part of the panoramic view we enjoyed near the end of our trip

Ruth Elayne Kongaika was raised in the mainland, USA, but has been living in the South Pacific for the past forty years. She enjoys trying to capture the beauty of the islands through her photography, painting and writing. She has a blog which shares some of her art and favorite subjects at:


email: kongaikr@byuh.edu

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