Before indulging in Hana’s wonders, you’ll need to brave fifty-plus miles of snaking roads, single-lane bridges, and enough blind turns to give you chicken skin. The reward is arriving at one of the last unspoiled Hawaiian frontiers, whose isolation has preserved its rustic beauty and endless charm.
Our resident advisors:
- Kau‘i Kanaka‘ole, kumu hula (hula teacher) of Halau o Nakaulakuhikuhi and executive director at Ala Kukui retreat center
- Michelle Prest, manager at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar at Travaasa Hana
What’s the best way to experience Hana?
KK: You cannot just come to Hana for the day. I tell people they have to stay at least two nights, so they can spend time relaxing at the beach or going up to the mountains and just immersing in the slower pace. The simple fact that you cannot get phone signal everywhere in Hana can be a good thing — it forces you to decompress.
What sets Hana apart?
MP: I’ve had guests tell me, “The rooms and views are beautiful, but we come back for the people and how you folks make us feel as part of your ‘ohana.” That’s how it is among the people who live here, too. We really are like a big family.
KK: The land is just as much alive as the people are, and recognizing that fact is important for the longevity of this place. People who live here understand that, and so we have a respect for the land. It’s just one way we try to keep Hana, Hana.
MP: Hana Bay is like our town square, and our parties or any other special occasions are all held there. It’s a very sacred area for us and we treat it as such. I love going to Fagan’s Cross and viewing the coastline. Whenever I’m stressed, I’ll hike up there and it reminds me how small we are compared to what’s out there, and that brings me peace.
Are there any iconic shops?
KK: There’s Hasegawa [General Store], which is an old mom-and-pop store that sells everything from buttons to screwdrivers to T-shirts to ice cream. And if they don’t have something, they’ll order it for you. When I need a gift for a special occasion, I’ll go to the I Love Hana Art Boutique, which sells items from local artisans.
KK: Chow’s lunch wagon is just down the road from Hana’s only gas station, and they’re pretty famous for their Korean chicken. Troy’s at Koki Beach is another great spot. His fish is fresh and he catches it himself. He’s only there on Thursdays and some Saturdays.
What’s there to do at night?
MP: [Preserve Kitchen + Bar] has a kanikapila (jam session) night from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, and some of our musicians and hula dancers come into the restaurant and entertain. Staff members or whoever is in the audience will just get up and dance.
They also recommended:
Watching the surf roll in at Koki Beach or playing in the shore break at nearby Hamoa Beach . . . going for a hike along the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls . . . savoring the flavors at Pranee’s Thai food hut across the road from Hana Ballpark . . . or devouring a gigantic plate lunch at Braddah Hutt’s BBQ Grill. — LA