Honey Orange Mango Bread and the Road to Hana in Maui

by Irvin on September 12, 2011 · 9 comments

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If you’ve never been to Maui, you may not know about the Road to Hana, but if you have, you know it’s a must for anyone visiting the island. With over 600 turns and 80 one way bridges, the road to the isolated village of Hana is both breathtakingly beautiful and stress inducing, especially when driving in a beat up Toyota Corolla, with over 150,000 miles that often times refuses to accelerate. But if you do take a chance to wind your way through the curvy roads, you’ll find numerous sights, and hidden gems throughout the trip, including road side stands selling food, like banana bread or mango bread. I was so taken with the mango bread (having never had it before) that I ended up buying it twice and when I finally got back to the mainland, I decided I need to make a version for myself, a Honey Orange Mango Bread.

Mango Bread jpg My Honey Orange Mango Bread

The Road to Hana starts at the town of Paia. A former sugar plantation town, it’s now a charming little place, full of shops selling slightly overpriced t-shirts and other touristy items as well as a few decent restaurants and coffee shops. Just past it is where all the world class windsurfers hit the waves, so it’s worth making a trek out there for that alone (even if you don’t want to do the Road to Hana). Anthony’s Coffee Company particularly stands out as a great place to have breakfast if you aren’t in a rush. We drove up there to check out there coffee, which people seemed rather fond of, but clearly we have been spoiled by the coffee culture here in San Francisco. Not to say it was bad, just not what we were used to. It also doesn’t help Hawaiian coffee tends to be dark roasted and AJ and I like a strongly brewed light to medium roast. The town has some “secret” gems like the beautiful stupa in from of the Buddha Temple and a local organic grocery store, Mana Foods, which locals and tourists from all over the island travel to.

Eggs Benedict at Anthony's Coffee Shop in Paia jpg Eggs Benedict at Anthony’s Coffee Shop in Paia Anthony Coffee Company mug Anthony Coffee Company mug Great Paia Lha Bab Peace Stupa The Great Paia Lha Bab Peace Stupa in Paia.

AJ and I have done the Road to Hana before. One thing to keep in mind is that the journey itself really is the reason to do the drive. There isn’t much to do in Hana itself, but experiencing the lushness of the surroundings while you drive around the island, with its one-way bridges and roadside waterfalls, is the whole reason to do the Road to Hana. It’s a gorgeous journey and if you have a chance to do it in a convertible or jeep, all the better. AJ and I did manage to make it in our beat up Toyota however, so as long as your car is functional, it’s totally doable.

One of the numerous one lane bridges on the Road to Hana jpg One of the numerous one lane bridges on the Road to Hana The scenery starts to get lush as you drive off from Paia on the Road to Hana. jpg The scenery starts to get lush as you drive off from Paia on the Road to Hana. Sadly, photos just don't do the Road to Hana justice. jpg Sadly, photos just don’t do the Road to Hana justice.

Driving on from Paia, we knew to skip the first stop, Twin Falls, as it was a completely tourist trap and drive directly onto the Kaulanapueo Congregational Church which was built in 1853. Built of corral block, the church is still in use. Kaulanapueo apparently translates to “The Resting Perch of an Owl” and the owl is a protective guardian for Hawaiians. Peering into the church we felt like we were looking into the past, with the bench pews and pulpit perfectly preserved from the 1950s. The small local cemetery right behind it was hauntingly beautiful in its tranquil tropical setting.

Kaulanapueo Congregational Church jpg Kaulanapueo Congregational Church The interior of the church doesn't look like it has changed since the 50s. jpg The interior of the church doesn’t look like it has changed since the 50s. The cemetery behind the Kaulanapueo Church was hauntingly beautiful. jpg The cemetery behind the Kaulanapueo Church was hauntingly beautiful.

Our next stop was the Wakiamoi Ridge Forest Trail where we hiked for a bit, experience the gorgeous views and amazing plant life. The views were stunning, with little surprises around every corner (Wild pineapple! Bamboo! Fallen moss covered trees!). It made me realize that I need to do more nature hiking in general as I rarely get out of the house. Well, actually all of Maui made me realize I need to get out of the house more.

a random pineapple plant that I found on our hike. jpg A random pineapple plant that I found on our hike. Bamboo growing near our trail. Bamboo growing near our trail. A sign imploring us to keep the tranquility on the hike. jpg A sign imploring us to keep the tranquility on the hike.

We later stopped at the Ke’anae Arboretum for a brief walk to look up close at some of the crazy greenery. We saw Monstera Deliciosa (which sounds like a plant name out of a Harry Potter novel) as well as Rainbow Eucalyptus, Heliconia (false Bird-of-Paradise) and these huge Torch Ginger flowers. I felt a bit like I was visiting a different planet, with all these insanely brightly colored giant plant life.

Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree. They looked like they were out of a Dr. Seuss book. Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree. Utterly surreal trees that look like they were out of a Dr. Seuss book. Torch Ginger Flower jpg Torch Ginger Flower False Bird-of-Paradise plants jpg Heliconia, False Bird-of-Paradise plants. They come in a number of colors.

Of course no trip on the Road to Hana is complete without stopping at the numerous waterfalls on the side of the road. Some are more easy to get to and see than others (a few are viewable from the road itself). Of course, many are pools that people go swimming in as well. AJ and I opted not to go into the pools, as we were driving around the island, and didn’t want to have to sit in the car with wet swim trunks afterwards.

one waterfall and pool that AJ and I did not jump into. jpg One waterfall and pool that AJ and I did not jump into. jpg Another roadside waterfall. I can't remember the name of this one. Probably started with a "W". jpg Another roadside waterfall. I can’t remember the name of this one. Probably started with a “W”. The view of the coastline on the Road to Hana is also quite stunning. jpg The view of the coastline on the Road to Hana is also quite stunning.

Halfway on the trip is a small town on a penisula called Ke’anae. The coastline is rocky from lava flow and the crashing waves are both dangerous and beautiful to look at. AJ and I stopped here to pick up some Mango bread and to watch the waves crash into the rocks, reminding us that ocean can deadly as well. Many tourists and even locals have been lost on the lava rocks. Traditionally on the penisula is where taro root (the plant that makes poi) is farmed. I’m not a huge fan of poi, finding it rather bland, but it’s quite possible I just have an unaccustomed palate to it.

Crashing waves at Ke'anae. jpg Crashing waves at Ke’anae. The lava rocks on the Ke'anae Peninsula. jpg The lava rocks on the Ke’anae Peninsula. The mango bread that I bought in Ke'anea. jpg The sign for mango bread bought in Ke’anea. It was the “honor system” where I just left cash.

Arriving at Hana, we stayed an eco-resort overnight, which allowed us to arrive late and not have to worry about hurrying back. The bed and breakfast was charming though it’s remote area meant we were forced to not use our computers (no wifi, and the power was run from solar generators which meant at night, we couldn’t recharge our laptops or even our cell phones). This meant I was forced to read a book, something I haven’t done in ages. I’m not sure why it takes flying to a remote island, and driving all day to a remote place on the island, to get me to pick up a book, but apparently that is what is needed. Reading has become something of a luxury for me, which is just sad. I need to work on that one. That or I just need to visit more tropical islands.

Our eco-tourism friendly BnB was extremely brightly colored. jpg Our eco-tourism friendly BnB was extremely brightly colored. The bathroom sink had built in otters. jpg The bathroom sink had built in otters. I think this was my favorite detail. The entire BnB was pretty amusingly decorated. jpg The entire BnB was pretty amusingly decorated.

AJ and I had visited Hana before, the last time we visited Maui, so we didn’t bother to trek down to the Red Sand beach, which is one of the main attractions in Hana. Instead, in the morning, we did a quick stop at the Hasagawa General Store for supplies and continued on around the island, onto the “dangerous backroads” that everyone warns you about. On the way there, we stopped to take the requisite tourist photo of ourselves in front of the Wailua Falls, a gorgeous 95 foot waterfall that you get a great view of from the road. No hiking necessary (though I have to admit I nearly got run over like a dumb tourist, by one of the tour buses as I wandered over the bridge to take a picture).

Hasagawa General Store. Apparently Paul Weston wrote a song about it. jpg Hasagawa General Store. Apparently Paul Weston wrote a song about it. A gorgeous beach, nearly deserted just past Hana. jpg A gorgeous beach, nearly deserted just past Hana. The requisite waterfall picture of AJ and I. jpg The requisite waterfall picture of AJ and I.

One of the main reasons we wanted to drive all the way around the island, as opposed to just backtracking, is to go to the Mt. Haleakala National Park. We have visited the summit of Mt. Haleakala for the sunrise (the sunrise is utterly spectacular but that’s a post for another time) but had not been to the southern tip of the national park, to see the “seven sacred pools (a misnomer as there are more than seven pools) as well as hike up to see the waterfalls and wander through the bamboo forest. There is no way to properly describe the magic of hiking through the dense bamboo forest, the incredibly towering stalks (some varietals reach up to 98 feet) reaching up to the heavens, with only the sun peering in here and there. The silence, other than the clicking and clacking of the hollow grass (yep, bamboo is a grass) hitting each other because of the wind is so intensely peaceful.

A crazy tree in the national park that reminded AJ Star Wars. jpg A crazy tree in the national park that reminded AJ of Star Wars. AJ in the bamboo forest. jpg AJ in the bamboo forest. the "Seven Sacred Pools" which had heavy rain flow, which meant we couldn't go in to them. jpg the “Seven Sacred Pools” which had heavy rain flow, which meant we couldn’t go in to them.

Past the bamboo forest, at the end of the hike, is the Waumoku Fall which is utterly majestic. Dropping 400 feet on lava rock, you can literally go and stand under the waterfall if you want to. I choose not, as falling water, often means falling branches, rocks or debris, but not everyone was as careful as I was. In fact there was some guy there with his girlfriend shooting her in a bikini who stood there under the falls posing “seductively” under the falls. I really hoped she didn’t get hurt by anything, because that would have made the photos really unsexy. ;)

The 400 ft tall Waimoku Falls. That's me standing at the bottom right. jpg The 400 ft tall Waimoku Falls. That’s me standing at the bottom right.

We left the park and continued our journey around the island, ending up in upcountry and then driving back home for dinner. They warn people about driving the unpaved backroads, and a lot of car rental places will tell you that it voids their rental agreement if you do it, but since we had rented a beater car, we weren’t concerned about breaking any agreement (though there was the real possibility we could get stranded by breaking down on the road, but there were plenty of other cars on the road with us, so we weren’t super concerned). We were SO glad we did it, as the back of Maui was fascinating, a completely different environment from the lushness of the road to Hana, dry and dessert like. The roads were a bit dicey, but nothing like the horror stories that they warned you about. We just took it easy, went slow and enjoyed the scenery.

We saw a double rainbow on our drive on the backroads past Hana. What does it mean? jpg We saw a double rainbow on our drive on the backroads past Hana. What does it mean? A lot of the backroad was pasture land for the cattle. Totally bucolic. jpg A lot of the backroad was pasture land for the cattle. Totally bucolic. Some of the road was unpaved, but most of it looked like this, a patchwork of asphalt. jpg Some of the road was unpaved, but most of it looked like this, a patchwork of asphalt. Complete and utterly contrasting landscape to the road to Hana, both beautiful in a different ways entirely. Complete and utterly contrasting landscapes, both beautiful in a different ways entirely.

All along the trip, we enjoyed the mango bread that we bought at the Kanaea penisula, along with the banana bread that our bed and breakfast host had left for us in the fridge. I couldn’t wait to get back to the condo to make the mango bread but I had really hard time finding locally grown mangos, as this year’s crop didn’t come in that well and I couldn’t bring it in me to buy imported Mexican mangoes in Hawaii. In the end, I decided to make the mango bread back in San Francisco, knowing a bite of it would instantly transport me back to our journey around the island of Maui, to Hana and beyond.

My Mango Bread, made in San Francisco. jpg My Mango Bread, made in San Francisco.
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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie @Pinke Post September 12, 2011 at 11:23 am

Absolutely love the story telling along with photos that accompany this recipe, Irvin. I will absolutely give it a try. My kids love mangoes and I bake often with whole wheat flour. Plus I have almonds from 4G Farms (Brent) who you met via Facetime this weekend. Thanks again for joining the #FarmFreshTour and look forward to staying connected.
Katie

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Kelly Senyei September 12, 2011 at 11:33 am

I did the drive to Hana a few years ago and was so thankful to arrive at the breathtaking sights (holy nauseous)! Your recipe looks fantastic and I can’t wait to try it out this weekend!

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Aly September 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Living through you is totally fine with me! As I scrolled down, the photographs only became more and more beautiful…. I can’t even imagine what it was like in person. The picture of the gravel road was my favorite!What a fun adventure… and I see you throwing in that vanilla bean in the recipe like you said you have been doing with everything! Can’t wait to make this when I get my hands on some decent mangoes -

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Sarah September 12, 2011 at 7:19 pm

I love that you pop into random churches while you’re traveling. I do the same; I especially love missions. There is something, too, about St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC…I try to spend a few minutes there whenever I’m in the city. It’s such a wonderful place and I’m not even Catholic.

The photos are fantastic…thanks for sharing your Hawaiian journey. It was great to meet you this weekend, I really enjoyed visiting.

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Megan September 13, 2011 at 7:14 pm

I am thrilled to find your blog – adding it to my follow list – love it!

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Brian @ A Thought For Food September 14, 2011 at 3:53 am

What terrible views! ;-) The shot of the pineapple is my favorite. Reminds me of my trip to Israel, where we just picked pomegranates from the tree. It was a marvelous thing.

Thanks for sharing your trip with all of us! See you in a few hours!

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art and lemons September 17, 2011 at 6:43 am

Oh, my. Thank you for bringing me back to Maui with this INCREDIBLE honey orange mango bread. I lived there for a bit between my college and graduate years and while these photos are lovely, they leave me all heartache-y and nostalgic for the road to Hana and camping and the so-called Seven Sacred Pools and the nubby lychees picked from the side of the road and the little winery stuck at the end of the island. You’ve left me with no other choice. I’m going to search for one way I mean round trip tickets now, then I’m going to check my baking supplies because if I can’t get to Maui, I will arrive through your bread!

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The Suzzzz September 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm

That big “star wars” tree is a banyan. Thanks for the posts, it allows me to re-visit the islands vicariously. I’ve enjoyed them all at one point or another but I’m a big island girl at heart.

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Rayna Kahookele July 10, 2012 at 4:42 am

Aloha from Keanae, MAUI! Mahalo for visiting Maui and for your wonderful comments on my Mango Bread! I am so glad that you enjoyed it so much that
it inspired you to create your own Mango Bread. Your bread looks even yummier! Thank you again for taking the time and letting everyone know how
much you enjoyed my Mango Bread! It’s people like you that make me enjoy what I do and puts a smile on my face everyday! A Hui Ho- Until we meet again
Aloha and Mahalo Rayna’s Mango Bread- Keanae, MAUI

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