Adventure

Chasing Waterfalls on the Road to Hana

Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in Maui

Follow along with Teva Explorer Abi LaFleur-Schaffer as she hikes, swims, and scrambles to as many waterfalls as possible and deepens a friendship in-between. Words and Photos by Abi LaFleur-Schaffer and photos by Brooke Weeber.

Don’t go chasing waterfalls; Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to…

Sorry, not sorry, TLC. We went chasing waterfalls.

The distance between Kahului to Hana along the coast of Maui is only 52 miles and takes 2.5 hours to drive through without stopping, but is an adventure in and of itself. Imagine you’re on a roller coaster with twists and turns and ups and downs around and over mountains. Add narrow single lane bridges and cars full of thrill-seeking vacationers going the opposite direction, and you have yourself an adrenaline rush without ever having to leave the car!

Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in Maui

Passing through narrow bridges is one of the thrills of traveling on the famous “Road to Hana” highway. Brooke in the Hurricane Drift in Deep Lake.

My girlfriend Brooke and I, being bold, driven, “get it” kind of women took our no A/C, radio-only (when was the last time you listened to radio?!), jenky-sounding, smelly (could have been the smell of us two unshowered camping women, but let’s blame it on our whip) rental car all the way to Hana. We “got at it” and drove the entire east ring of Maui.

THRILLING, right? Within that 52 miles rest lush forests with winding rivers and creek beds making their way into waterfalls gushing out the sides of cliffs and mountains. Some waterfalls are tucked away, beckoning those that are open to an adventurous hike. Between waterfalls, we stopped at fruit stands and food huts that lined the side of the road—our favorite was Coconut Glen’s vegan ice cream. Now add black sand and red sand beaches and you have yourself a multi-day trip spanning over 117 miles. It’s almost impossible to convince oneself to continue on the journey and not pull over.

Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in Maui

Muddy trails—we got this. Abi wears the Hurricane Drift in White.

Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in Maui

The windy road to Hana in Maui. 

Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in Maui

Pictured: Hurricane Drift in Deep Lake.

Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in Maui

Pictured: Hurricane Drift in Deep Lake.

“Whoa,” was our most-used word on this adventure. With almost every turn, we were met with either an ocean, a thick forest, a waterfall (or multiple), a close encounter with an oncoming car around a sharp corner, or ALL of the above. But our mission was clear: find as many waterfalls we can in a few days, sit in awe, swim, and enjoy.

And whatever it took to get to a waterfall, we did it. Excitingly, we made our way through two bamboo forests, stomped through mud and rain, used fixed ropes to climb cliffs, and pulled over on the side of the road to face a raging waterfall. We hiked over boulders and swam through the water to meet the next waterfall above, then scaled rocks at the base of it to get a closer view of another waterfall. Let’s maybe not remember the part where I eat shit and cut up my shin!

Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in Maui

Pictured: Hurricane Drift in White.

Over our few days of poking in and out of cell phone service, getting rained on, and swimming in (believe it or not) chilly waterfall waters, chasing waterfalls, snorkeling, and SUPing with my pal ultimately turned into chasing a deeper friendship with her (as cheesy as it may sound).

Brooke and I had never traveled just the two of us together, and that created a new dynamic for us. However, I knew we’d make great travel companions as we both had a desire to soak up all of life and the world around us. We both love to dance and laugh. We both could handle any speed bumps along the way, but as usual, traveling with a companion requires a give and take and we were no exception.

Surprise, surprise (no surprise really), plans don’t always go perfectly. Locals shared spots that were nowhere on the internet, we got sidetracked by signs or roads leading to sights that were impossible to pass up, or a spot captured all of our attention and suddenly it was sunset. Being flexible and communicating with one’s friend is key.

When compromise came up, we took the opportunity to communicate, to understand, and to find ways that we could both have a fulfilling and a HELLA fun trip. I believe those moments are what truly created a deep friendship for us.

Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in Maui

Ride or die waterfall buddies: Abi and Brooke on film.

Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in Maui

Pictured: Hurricane Drift in White.

We spent some quality R&R time swimming alongside sea turtles (remember, they are a protected creature, and their space is worth respecting), colorful fish, and the sound of whales singing loudly under the ocean; now if that’s not a top ten life moment, I don’t know what is.

Seeing so much wild nature up close made me think about my own cultural connection to the land (my Native American heritage and where my family comes from) and our relationship of giving and receiving with the earth and the creatures that inhabit it.

I’ve come to recognize that nature doesn’t need me, but I need it. That concept alone drives my connection to the land and my passion to protect those spaces. It has changed my life for the better, and I want that for others.

Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in Maui

From black sand beaches… Pictured: Hurricane Drift in Deep Lake.  

Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in Maui

…To cream sand beaches. Pictured: Hurricane Drift in Deep Lake.

 Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in Maui

Pictured: Hurricane Drift in White.

Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in MauiTop ten life moment: swimming alongside sea turtles.

Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in Maui

Pictured: Hurricane Drift in Deep Lake and White.

It’s funny how facing nature and the outdoors in all of its beauty and wonder—and challenges of varying weather patterns—can bond and deepen the human relationship. It’s as if those moments of both six-pack worthy-ab laughter and the moments of frustrating each other take us to the root of ourselves, to the root of being human, and the need for each other, in everything we face.

And that is always something worth chasing, just like Maui waterfalls.

Abi LaFleur-Schaffer in Maui

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