On the eastern end of the island of Maui, in Hawaii, there is a spectacular sight to behold. Nestled within the Hana National Park, visitors can hike through a magical bamboo forest. In order to ensure that the trip goes smoothly, there are a few things to know first.
What Is It And How To Get There
The forest can be accessed from a parking lot on the side of the Hana highway. It's a scenic drive and not too far from the town of Hana. On the highway, after passing Twin Falls, several cars should be visible in a parking lot. Once parked, enter past the fence to begin the Pipiwai trail. The initial environment along the trail is dense and tropical. There are a few rock pools along the way, which are good spots to have a picnic.
Stay along the hiking path for about one mile and the bamboo forest will appear. The tall, green bamboo blocks out most of the sun, and hikers report feeling an immediate sense of tranquility.
There is a wooden pathway that snakes through the trail in order to keep hikers on track and prevent them from stepping on delicate roots and saplings. This is a great opportunity to walk barefoot and engage in some grounding. It's worth doing this part of the hike slowly as there is much to relish and observe. The wind as it blows through the dense network of bamboo creates a natural orchestra of meditative sounds. Listen to the woody clinking of the bamboo and rustling of the leaves, as the trees sway as one with the breeze. The sunlight that breaks through the canopy dances on the ground in symphony with the rhythmic swaying. Inhale the fragrance of the cleansing and watery flora.
There are more than a few waterfalls and rock pools on the way, and a few bridges to cross as well. These make for excellent stopping points. Have a quick splash or take a chilly waterfall shower. For those who need it, there are plenty of fine, flat rocks to sit and rest on.
One plant to look out for on the way is the Waimoku. It is also called bitter ginger. This alienesque plant is red, spiny, and bulbous. For millennia, it has been used as a natural shampoo and hand sanitizer. Simply get it wet and a viscous, soapy substance is secreted. Coming across some Waimoku can be an opportune occasion for sanitation before tucking into picnic grub, or use it as soap to accompany a waterfall shower. Ideally, harvest the sap without plucking the flower. These parts of Maui are over-visited and it's respectful to leave the flora as untouched as possible to compensate.
The end of the hike is marked by an opening in the bamboo thicket. A massive, 400 ft, waterfall awaits hikers who complete the trail. This fall is called Waimoku, which translates to "water that severs". This is in reference to the weight and intensity of the water, which could very well cut through solid materials during the rainy season.
In the summer, the waterfall could be dry, as there the rainfall is increasingly sparse and erratic. This could be an advantage, as hikers can get closer and swim in the rock pool without risk. To see Waimoku in its full glory, visit the bamboo forest in the fall or winter, but be prepared for torrential rains, muddy and slippery conditions, extreme winds, and raging rivers. The monsoons can be a dangerous time. Hiking the bamboo forest in the winter is a potentially cumbersome process. While this may sound objectionable, consider the fact that the summertime is incredibly hot and humid. Also, expect to be swarmed by mosquitos in the balmy, moist heat.
The Tourism Problem In Maui's Bamboo Forest
Many a dream has been fulfilled in the bamboo forest, and many nightmares have come true as well. At the time of writing, the bamboo forest is closed. In standard fashion, the allure of the forest and ease of access led to overcrowding. As is bound to happen, tourists often showed up unprepared, inebriated, and undignified.
Several tourists faced injuries at one of the many waterfalls and pools along this trail. The presence of alcohol and peer pressure to climb, dive, and walk on slippery rocks led to incidents that ultimately forced authorities to seal access to the trail.
The magical bamboo forest of Maui should be respected for what it is. The trail can be accessed by visitors of all ages and skill levels. Most tourists would probably find it best to visit in the summer. Maui's bamboo forest hike should be relished and not rushed, as there is much to see, smell, hear, and feel amid this thicket of zen beauty.