Hana, by itself, could be described as somewhat unimpressive... but it's never claimed to be anything otherwise. It's a small town, very removed from the rest of comparatively crowded and busy Maui; quiet and peaceful, in its quaint way... the experience of the Road to Hana is called "the Road to Hana" for a reason, instead of just "Hana". We have a picnic lunch under a pavilion by a black sand beach, with me and Lucie on one side of a picnic table and Michael and Valerie on the other, eating fresh pineapple, and dark chocolate brownies, and chicken breast sandwiches, and pasta salad, and mahimahi sandwiches, and bottled water and POG. It's a simple meal, with the rain continuing to come down outside the pavilion, and laughter and anecdotes as we share stories as we eat.
From there, we stop briefly at Hana Tropicals, an orchid farm run by members of WWOOF, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, a coalition of eco-friendly organic farmers who -- I'm assuming -- grow trees primarily for hugging purposes. The orchids and proteas they grow are really beautiful, and vibrant; and just like with Temptation Tours' Haleakala Sunrise tour when we stopped at the protea farm, the women in our group receive a small bouquet of cut flowers as a welcome gift.
We snooze a bit on the rest of the trip back -- it seems a little jaded to say, but at some point we almost get waterfalled out... the scenery is absolutely stunning, make no mistake; the tree canopy is a bright and vibrant green, the flowers range from blazing crimson to a pastel, almost gossamer, lavender to what is almost a screamingly bright hunter orange, and the ocean is a frothy combination of white crashing waves and a variety of blues and aquas. Even the fact that the skies are a near-constant gray can't dull the artist's dream palette of colors that surround us, or the amazing natural beauty of foliage, waterfalls, wildlife, and earthy green scents; it's almost a sensory overload, but a wonderful one.
One last stop before Kahului, where we stop and watch the waves at Pe'ahi. Also known by the name Jaws, Pe'ahi is the Hawaiian word for wave, although it's actually kind of a play on words -- the word for oceanic waves is nalu, while pe'ahi is the waving or fanning of one's hands, and chosen as the name for the surfing mecca even though Pe'ahi is actually the ancient name of a different, inland location not far away. The surfers are packed into this area, the waves are impressive -- not as huge as the 60-foot waves that can appear during the winter months, but still taller than the surfers riding them -- and the outhouses by the parking lot are horrible. I count myself lucky that I didn't have to avail myself of them, but Lucie did and she says she will be forever grateful to our personal trainer for the strong quad muscles she had to employ to avoid having to actually come in contact with any of the interior other than the floor. Enough of that, though -- icky icky.
We cruise back across the island, along the Honoapi'ilani Highway that runs along the western coast of Maui up to Ka'anapali where Eric drops us back at the hotel. We rest for an hour or so, then wander down to the hotel's Tiki Terrace outdoor restaurant for dinner. It's still drizzling on and off, so we sit under the covered area and enjoy dinner while the live band plays Hawaiian music. We share an appetizer of coconut shrimp, a Hawaiian pupu mainstay; Lucie has a tenderloin steak and rice pilaf, and I opt for one of the daily specials, the braised lamb shank. It's falling-apart tender, flavorful and moist, with a garlic, ginger, anise, and shiitake mushroom sauce, a dollop of white truffle oil on top, and a vegetable medley bed of bok choy, carrots, and sweet Maui onions. It's delicious, robust and could only be topped by an even better dessert, this is managed with their "banana caramel lava eruption", with caramelized banana sliced, mixed with toasted macadamia nuts, surrounding a chocolate lava cake, topped with coconut ice cream, and drizzled with an intense caramel sauce. It's fantastic. Not at all diet friendly, but definitely fantastic.