Kipahulu is considered the true end to the Road to
Hana. After Kipahulu, the highlight show is over.
pass Kipahulu and Lindbergh's Grave, you enter the Maui version of "No Man's
Land". Thanks to a combination of poorly paved
roads up ahead plus nothing of interest to see, the guide books say that after
Kipahulu, 99% of all visitors turn around and head back.
1% remain curious and keep on driving. What will they
Not much. After "Lindbergh's Grave", the scenery
quickly begins to give
out. On the
back side of the mountain, no
water to speak of ever visits the area. The rain
refuses to visit since the ridge at
Kipahulu seems to capture all the clouds.
landscape turns barren and treeless for the next 30 miles on
the back of the volcano. Over time, the water-starved back side of
Mount Haleakala has
become a desolate wasteland. There are thick fields of
lava rock everywhere, little soil for cultivation and only the
sparsest of vegetation.
centuries, even the native Hawaiians seem to have ignored the
backside of the mountain. The area is said to be mostly deserted with practically no
human habitation other than hermits and a few fishermen. Except for a
little fishing village in Kaupo, there seem to be no
other real towns.
Nor is there much a road.
Since there is little economic benefit to the area - no farm
country, nothing for tourists to look at - the Hawaiian government
has not bothered to invest in a decent road. This mean a
driver cannot make the round trip unless he is willing to
take his chances driving on a rocky, rutted unpaved road.
Due to the terrible condition of the road, the rental companies
absolutely forbid driving back here.
Consequently the only people who visit
Kaupo village are hikers
who drive all-terrain jeeps. Therefore the Kaupo Gap
has been give the title as the absolute Dead End
or Drop Dead point on the maps. "Turn back here or
suffer the consequences!"
2007: The Big Gamble
Marla and I first visited the
Road to Hana during our
Hawaii 2007 cruise. However, we had no idea how slow
the going was.
it took 2 1/2 hours to reach Hana. Marla and I noted we had six hours
to drive. Our agreement was to drive for three hours
and turn around. All the tour guide books said three
hours should be sufficient, but not for us. We had
wasted too much time stopping to look at some of the many pretty
views along the way. Now thanks to an early ship departure
time, by the afternoon we were seriously pressed for time.
our curiosity and the constant delays created by an intense amount of
traffic that day, our pace had been glacial at best.
Now after three hours of driving, we had
just passed Hana. We were nowhere near the
famous Seven Sacred Pools that had been our true goal. Now what should
2007, like every
visitor to this area, I wanted to see it all. I was intoxicated by the
legendary beauty of the Seven Sacred Pools that just a few
more miles up ahead.
to visit with so little cushion of time would be a terrible risk.
Staring at the map, I looked for a short cut back home. I
had heard a rumor that the back side wasn't nearly as bad as
the maps said it was. Consequently I could barely
contain my curiosity about the back side of the mountain.
There was a part of me that was sorely tempted to simply
keep going because surely the back side could not possibly
be as slow-moving as the over-crowded Road to Hana.
also well aware that driving the back road would be a tremendous
gamble. Obviously there was a road that completely encircled the
volcano, but the guide books warned that this back
road was in very poor condition.
The map I was using clearly
indicated the road on the rugged southern side of Maui was
did I have a map that warned me not to take this road, I had a guide book
that warned me not to take it as well. The guide book
suggested no one in their right mind would be
foolish enough to continue past Kipahulu and Lindbergh's
What kind of idiot would keep going? Hmm, well, I was
seriously considering it! What does that say about me?
didn't trust the guide book. I thought it was lying to
Before the trip I had read one web site that indicated this
"Forbidden Route" was Maui's best kept secret. The
web site had hinted that the road was in much better
condition than the car rental map or the guide book said it
was. The web site referred to the back as the Dark
Side of the Moon.
site made it clear that the people of Maui are so sick of tourists
that they warn people away so they have this "secret passage" all to
site insisted this
Forbidden Route across the
Dark Side of the Moon offered a much-swifter return
to the center of the Island for three reasons - no traffic,
no one-way bridges, and a shorter distance.
Shorter distance? Well, not actually. A more accurate
description would be "equi-distant". The Kipahulu
area was exactly 180° from Kahulu where our ship was
However, given an equal distance, there could be no doubt
substituting a deserted road for the heavily-traveled Road
to Hana absolutely guaranteed a swifter path home. And
since we were at the half-way point as it was, the
temptation to roll the dice was overwhelming. Not only
would we see it all, we would get home at least half an hour
thought back to what the web site had said. It claimed
the locals preferred to reserve the route for themselves.
Why tell the crazy day-trippers like us and force the locals to face
traffic everywhere? Therefore all literature handed
out to the tourists was meant to scare people just like me away.
I simply could not get that "Secret Passage" rumor out of my
mind. The temptation to try it was overwhelming. The thought that the Forbidden Road
offered a much-swifter return to the center of the Island
drove me up a wall with desire.
Did I have the
guts to take the biggest gamble of my life and drive us into
the Dark Side of the Moon?
If it was just me, I
probably would have done it. However, at the time, a cooler head prevailed... my wife.
Marla calmly reminded me of the consequences of failure.
We knew for a certainty if we turned around now and nothing
went wrong, we had enough time to get back to the ship.
We didn't have cell
phone service on the island.
We did not know the
condition of the road.
There would be no
traffic on the road to rescue us.
There would be no homes
we could go to for help.
If we went too far and the road
proved impassable, it would be too late to turn around and get back
If we risked continuing
and got stuck, our situation would be catastrophic. It
would mean we would miss the ship.
If we missed the ship
for a stupid ass reason like me believing some dumb web
site, this would likely result in the complete dissolution
of our marriage.
Or murder. Depending on
how badly I screwed up, she might just kill me. She would push me
down a ravine when I wasn't looking. Marla
pointed out it would be years before some lonely hiker found
my body down in one of those rarely-visited ravines.
Hmm. Those arguments got my attention, particularly
the last two arguments. So I turned around.
But the memory of the temptation still smoldered in my