Story by Marti Rosenquist
You’ve likely heard that the road to Hāna has dozens of single-lane bridges and hundreds of stomach-churning curves that give way to vistas so verdant, so majestic, they take your breath away. It’s true that on the mauka (mountain) side of the road, I’ve joined other travelers to gawk at waterfalls tumbling down steep, moss-covered hillsides, while on the makai (ocean) side, I’ve watched a pebble bounce down a thousand feet of sheer cliff face before it dropped silently into the ocean, the anticipated ker-plunk drowned out by the crashing surf.
As beautiful as it is, the ride can take up to three hours, and can cause queasiness if you’re prone to motion sickness. So when we learn that flights between Kahului Airport and Hāna, aboard Mokulele Airlines, are included in Hotel Travaasa’s room rate, we jump at the chance to glean a new perspective of the fabled route.
Even before the twin-prop plane whisks us from Maui’s central valley to the landing strip in Hāna, the pampering begins: the indulgence of bypassing TSA, and the chance to chat with the pilot before takeoff. Besides, being one of eight riders vs. one of hundreds appeals to my inner rock star.
During the fifteen-minute flight, we soar over all shades of green and blue, from the patchwork fields encircling the broad lower slopes of Haleakalā; to the taro patches at Keʻanae and Wailua, quaint villages perched on peninsulas that are ancient lava flows jutting into the sea. The lightweight plane sometimes bobs through the air like a cork on water, but the flight is no less memorable for the perspective it offers from the sky.
Back on terra firma, we enjoy another luxury: no baggage-claim hassles. Instead, staff transfer our luggage from plane to hotel shuttle and in minutes we arrive fresh and eager to meet with our concierge at Travaasa Resort, located right in the center of what was formerly one of Maui’s most populated communities.
Looking over the activities offered during our stay—from horseback riding to standup paddling, archery to ʻukulele lessons, to a fruit-tasting tour—reminds me of those long, luxurious summers in my youth when the day stretched from one delightful experience to the next. As program manager Hoku Tolentino explains, an experiential philosophy guides Travaasa’s five pillars of well-being: fitness, spa, culinary, cultural and adventure.
“We like to encourage guests to participate in classes and authentic cultural activities in each of these areas, and come away with a sense of renewal and vitality,” says events coordinator Hubert Aaron, Jr. during an orientation. “So let’s get you started.”