Friday, November 03, 2006

The road to Halawa valley (a.k.a. whaddya mean the road gets NARROWER?)

On Moloka`i, Emily and I decided to follow my guide book's advice and go see Halawa valley. Maui Revealed is in general a very useful and truthful guidebook. But all it bloody said about this road was that it got a bit narrow.
Excuse me?
It was a thirty mile trip that took about 90 minutes, said the woman who rented us the car. But did that clue us in? Nope. Off we went in search of adventure.

We started out on a road that went about 45 mph, two lanes, a nice generous shoulder, no worries.
Then... well, I'll steal Emily's words:
Posted signs along the way:
Road narrows, speed limit 15 MPH.
Curvy road ahead.
Limited sight distance.
(no kidding, I never would have noticed that with all the curves in the road and the limited visibility and all!)

Road narrows, speed limit 10 MPH.
Curvy road ahead.
Limited sight distance.

Road narrows, speed limit 5 MPH.
Curvy road ahead.
Limited sight distance.
(by this point it's one lane--not one lane in each direction, just one lane--and some pull outs)

In this picture, this section of the road is one of the few spots where you could pull over. Please note that where the road curves, the edge of the road is the edge of the bloody island. Yeah. Narrow. That's the word.

Luckily, this is not a road much traveled, at least not in the non-peak tourist season. (Tourist season in Hawaii seems to last year-round, but September is somewhat less crowded.) And one blessed thing about Hawaii that no one ever seems to mention: you never get stuck behind an RV.

The rest of the time the road was too narrow to even consider pulling over, but I did snap some quick shots as we went along. By the time we'd gotten down to where the speed limit was 5 mph, I was actually able to take a few non-blurry shots. Please note that in this shot below, I was not using the zoom. The water was right next to me. (Do not try this road on a stormy day when the surf is heavy.)
Once we wound down the road into the valley I'd stopped clenching my teeth and snapping photographs and started going "oooh" a lot. Once you reach the valley floor, the highway ends abruptly and you're left looking at a heavily rutted dirt road, with some sign warning about how going any further would mean going on to private property, or at least off of the state highway. I don't remember the actual warning, just that is sounded ominous and unfriendly, which was startling considering this was Hawaii and everyone had gone out of their way to be extremely polite and friendly to us.
Once we navigated the short stretch of dirt road, we found ourselves at the beach area, and it was absolutely beautiful. Inland we could see some tall waterfalls, and if we'd had time we could have hiked up and explored them. But even the beach area was well worth viewing, especially the ahem eye candy.
(Emily has some much better photos, but I've left her CD on my computer at work, so for the moment I'll just put one of my blurry ones in as a place holder.)