Possibly the best representation of Hana is the multitude of bumper stickers reading "Thank God For Hana" that cruise the highways of Maui. It suggests that, to its residents, there is no place else on earth quite as wonderful as this quaint island town. To some, however, Hana is just a stop along the highway circumnavigating the east end of Maui. A true visit to Hana is an understanding of its past, its people, and the knowledge of what lies beneath the façade.
The journey into Hana's history begins with early Tahitian warriors invading the shoreline in pursuit of its abundant natural resources. Brutal fighters, the Tahitians quickly gained control over the coast forcing the native tribe into the hills. The area offered limitless food and supplies that fueled the new regime and shaped a powerful community. Years later, King Piilani, creator of the Hana Highway, used these same advantages to assist his take-over of the entire island of Maui.
Even after the fall of the monarchy, Hana's glory continued. By 1883 six sugar plantations thrived within Hana's moist landscape. However, in 1946 a catastrophic tidal wave destroyed the entire coastline. With larger plantations to compete against and the mill destroyed, the sugar industry soon closed. Luckily for Hana, in 1944 Paul Fagan had bought 14,000 acres of sugar fields and converted them to a cattle ranch, supplying the town with new jobs. After the tsunami, Fagan opened the first Hotel in Hana, establishing the present day tourist industry.
Today, Hana is dotted with modest, street-side stands selling banana bread and fresh fruit to passers-by. Visitors have the option of sandwiches, local plate lunches, Thai food, and freshly grilled fish from one of the many snack shops (allowed to legally operate since they are housed in "temporary" structures). Driving through town, one might notice the lava-rock walls bordering many of the properties or the sweet smell of bougainvillea that wafts from one inviting nostril to the next.
A stop in Hana Bay offers the chance to swim in calm waters or enjoy lunch on a picnic table facing the ocean. Down the street is the Cultural Center that, although small, has fascinating displays of warrior times. Next-door is the charming, historical Courthouse that is still in use today.
The Wai'anapanapa State Park is 120 acres with a black sand beach, fresh water caves and trails leading to archeological sites. The deep, contrasting colors of the green vines, black lava, and blue ocean create an enchanting landscape.
Although Hana has much to offer the day-traveler, guests who stay longer will discover the secrets of Hana. A curious enigma of crooked trees residing next to Hamoa Bay, that if you listen carefully, sound like the old Hawaiian warriors whispering tales of past conquests.