I have always wanted to drive on the Road to Hana since I saw it on some travel channel years ago.
In one of our earlier versions of the trip plan, we planned to stay overnight in Hana and explore the Seven Sacred Pools and hike in the vicinity.
Of course, this time we didn’t really want to change hotels etc. So we just decided to do a day trip. Drive as far as we could go and then turn back. the trip was more about the journey than the destination.
We didn’t want to wake up early just to complete the drive. The drive one way is about 45 miles and there are several guides/maps that list what to do mile by mile. The roads hugs the coast and crosses many single lane bridges as it winds its way to Hana. On a busy day there is a pile of cars and that tends to slow folks down. Most folks tend to drive all the way to Hana, have lunch there and then stop at different attractions on the way back.
We took it easy and left Wailea after breakfast and decided that we will probably go up to mile marker 17 or such and then head back.
First stop – Paia Town
This is the last big town before you embark onto the road to Hana drive. We stopped here to pick up picnic lunch, water and use restrooms before continuing further. Didn’t really spend much time here though it has some excellent shopping opportunities – jewelry, clothes, restaurants etc
With our lunch packed we headed to our first real stop on the drive.
Mile Marker 2 – Twin Falls
Varun hates long drives. To get him excited about the trip we told him about waterfalls and how he could splash in them and get wet. In fact the only reason he agreed to sit in the car for this long was to see waterfalls. So, we were very happy to find a decent waterfall right off the bat. Parking was a bit tricky here as this is the first stop on the trip and almost everyone stops here but we managed to find one along the road. Varun hiked the almost one mile gravel trail to the falls.
Flowers, fruits, singing and dragging a stick behind him helped him walk on the uneven trail.
The falls were strictly ok but Varun loved getting wet in the big pool.
And holding a big green gecko on a stick.
As a reward for walking, we treated him to coconut water and bananas at the fresh fruit stand right outside the trail head to the falls.
Exhausted he slept in the car. So now, we had a dilemma – should we stop along the way and carry him or drive a bit further and then stop on the way back. We decided to do the latter.
We stopped and ooh-ed-aah-ed at the views from the car but our real next stop was in Ke’anae Peninsula.
Mile Marker 16.5 – Ke’anae Peninsula
Tall waves spraying over rocky lava coastline, taro fields, a beautiful old Hawaiian church and not to mention the most amazing banana bread. Need I say more why we stopped here. Shaved ice was heaven. It was dramatic and hypnotizing. Inviting us to stay, lay a blanket and have a picnic lunch right there.
The open green fields next to the church would be perfect for Varun to run around but he was still asleep.
We sat there taking in the dramatic scenery and munching on the warm banana bread and then drove down further south to see more waterfalls and coast.
Mile Marker 25 – Nahiku Landing
Nahiku landing promised a drive through forest and a hidden waterfall on the beach. We though this would be perfect for Varun. Wake up from his nap, have lunch on the beach and then spend time in the waterfall before heading back. The drive was beautiful. But unfortunately the waterfall had dried up. We met another couple who hiked around the beach to find the waterfall with no luck.
This was the least touristy spot on the drive thus far and the solace was very comforting.
Varun was a bit disappointed about the waterfall but was happy to see the giant waves splash on the rocky shore below.
We decided to head back as it was past 3 by now and see if we could wrangle in one more waterfall stop on the way back.
Mile Marker 17 – Pua’a Ka’a Park & Falls
We stopped at the Pua’a Ka’a park for late lunch and rest room break. Across the road there was a small waterfall and Varun was very impatient to cross a little stream to reach it. He wanted Vipul to help him jump from one rock to another while crossing the stream. The water was a bit cool to actually bathe in but it was fun splashing around in it.
We spent some time here and then decided to drive back home. Clouds started gathering and it was bit dark. We drove back playing car games like I Spy games and asking him to recognize animal sounds.
It was a lovely day out – away from the resort to see the real Maui.
I am sure areas around Hana are even more prettier but we got a glimpse of it on this lush green tropical drive. Wonderful seascapes, quaint one lane bridges, thick bamboo forests and taro patches. A must do while on Maui.
After a long day of travel and visiting the Tea factory in Coonoor, we slept early and woke up refreshed ,ready to take on the mountains.
The plan was to go to Dodabetta peak and other sites along the way. The basic sights outside of Ooty. After breakfast we headed out towards Ooty, ooh-ing and aah-ing at views along every turn. More tea estates, cute bungalows and roadside fresh vegetable sellers with just pulled carrots, radishes on sale. Seriously, Ooty has to be the root vegetable capital of India! The colorful carrots, radishes, beets have never looked so inviting and fresh in India!
The dark clouds parted making way for sunshine and every now and then a light drizzle added to the misty weather around us. The kids were bundled up and cosy. After about an hour from Coonoor we reached Dodabetta, the highest peak in the Nilgiris. It was windy and super cold. We just had lame wind cheaters and hurriedly bought fleece caps from a hawker who made most of the opportunity by selling cold weather clothes from the trunk of his car.
We almost ran from the car to a tea stall on the peak who was making brisk business on this cold windy day. We wandered around, chased the kids who kept warm by running around and even went up the tower that had the telescope to take in views below. Clouds drifted in and out revealing and hiding the Ooty city below. It was a bit like being in Switzerland minus the Alps, snow and crowds.
Oh, and the plump dahlias and marigolds and a host of other flowers at the top were envy inducing.
After an hour or so we headed back to the car and drove back towards the city stopping en-route at Niligiris tea shop for another round of tea. Kids had chocolate. It’s an experience to sit amidst tea gardens and sip hot tea. And variety of tea like masala tea, green tea, cardamom tea, even chocolate tea! We definitely OD’ed on tea and chocolate while we were here. Luckily all the walks and chasing Varun helped with keeping the weight piling on.
Next stop on agenda was Pykara lake. It was cloudy but not raining hence we decided to make most of it and went boating. The kids were cold, but were thrilled about going out on the boat. there are no views here to talk about but if you want to have a boating experience while in Ooty, this is probably a better bet than Ooty lake ( which is very crowded). I didn’t like this spot as much.
Our driver recommended going to Pykara falls from here and I didn’t really have any hopes. But we went along nevertheless. This was a surprise for me. Although the monkeys here are aggressive, the falls were very beautiful. These are the kind of falls you can sit on rocks on and enjoy levels of falls all around. The water was brown due to rain run off but I really liked them. They had an earthy, down to earth quality about them without boasting about being the widest, tallest, most visited or one with most water. Arum leaves nodded in the light breeze, couples walked hand in hand to the falls and odd visitor sat by a burning log to keep warm. It was a bit slippery due to rain and moss and we had to keep an eye out on Varun to ensure he didn’t slip. We returned to tell the tale without any accidents.
By now, we were all hungry and headed to a “dhabha” or a road side eatery for lunch. It looked clean so we ordered food which to our surprise was very fresh – dal, curry, rotis and rice. We were set. We got some bhaajis or fritters from a neighboring stall as appetizer while waiting for our food to arrive. It starting pouring heavily and we contemplated sitting there over lunch and prolong it to tea to wait it out. But as if on cue, rain stopped after we had lunch and we could step out to take in more photos of the scenery in rain.
We left Varun in the car and wandered around to get some couple photos 😉
Our driver prodded us to go to another “tourist” attraction on the same road -the nine mile stop. It is so-called as it is 9 miles from Ooty and is a popular spot for movie shoots. It’s an overview point. You have to climb a small hill to get to the top to the view-point but the rains made it very slick. We managed to make it to the top with Varun who as he was cold pulled his cap over his face and proclaimed he is a Spiderman. Things kids do!
Vipul ran around taking photographs while Varun and I huddled closely to keep warm. The wind was wild on this exposed location and we were pushed by the wind. Varun and I headed down and soon Vipul and other’s joined us. Back in the car we were warm and happy.
Getting tired of the cold we headed back to our resort in Coonoor, even though there are additional attractions ( Pine Forest, Six mile stop) in this area. Back in the resort we sat by the fireplace enjoying some more hot tea while the kids played around.
Latter that night there was a bon-fire where we sat, joked and had drinks.
It was another awesome day of sightseeing, great scenery and amazing company. The evening and night were spent at the resort- resting and charging for another day ahead!
As we headed to bed that night we couldn’t help but wonder how beautiful Ooty must be when the weather is better in early summer months of March and April. Sun soaked hills and valleys would be the perfect getaway – no wonder it is called the Queen of the Hills. We dozed off dreaming of the scenic vistas and great company counting our blessings for being able to enjoy this!
Family and close friends came over yesterday to celebrate Varun turning two!
The actual celebration in pictures.
The evening started with Vipul’s mom doing a ‘aarti’ for Varun to bless him on his birthday.
Varun touched all Aaji’s feet to seek their blessings.
Then we went to the community hall in our complex where we held the party.
The place was decorated in monster theme by Varun’s Mama and Mami with plenty of help from grandparents.
Phani and Illisa played with Varun while we waited for rest of the folks to arrive.
A few photo’s while we waited…
Then once everyone arrived, we cut the cake.
It was an orange-chocolate cake, covered in monster themed decorations! A big shout out to Sheetal – this wasn’t possible without you 🙂
Varun insisted on cutting the cake and managed to blow the candle after a few attempts.
But he didn’t want to eat any cake, and only had the decoration…
He enjoyed basking in everyone’s attention…
..and the shiny gifts!
While we missed everyone who attended his first birthday party, we were happy that a few friends could join us on his special day.
It was special day, made even more special with Varun’s friends who showed up to celebrate it with him!