Here’s a question I get a lot from Maui visitors:
“Can you recommend a good CD tour for driving the Road to Hana?”
Until very recently, the answer was “unfortunately, not really.” That changed about four months ago when we used this new CD guide.
Driving the Road to Hana practically defines the adage that life is about the journey, not the destination. Hana, Maui, is a small fishing village 58 miles away from Kahului – but the two-and-a-half hour drive to get there is filled with wonder, beauty, and sometimes, white-knuckle challenges. With over 600 hairpin turns, gushing waterfalls (in season), and views that go on for centuries, the Road teaches everyone who travels it to slow down, make plenty of stops, and enjoy all that life has to offer.
James and I have driven the Road many times over the years — sometimes toting friends or family members in our own car, other times as real “tourists” on a bus tour, and, usually, just the two of us. We own every Road to Hana CD tour guide ever made – and the cassette tapes from the 70’s and 80’s, too.
We’ve never been impressed. Either the production values were tinny, or the narration was painfully bad (or obnoxious), or they were little more than a collection of songs from local bands. We don’t litter — but if we did, we’d have thrown them out the window. In fact, until recently, we were considering creating our own CD tour at some point in the future … just to provide an alternative to the silliness.
For all of these reasons, when we heard about a new Road to Hana CD (which also has an MP3 version) from www.theR2H.com, we were pre-disposed to dislike it. First of all, the packaging is just so darn pretty. Something so slick couldn’t really be that great, right?
Wrong. As one of my book publishing mentors in New York once said, “By this point in time, graphic design has progressed far enough that you should be able to judge a book by its cover.” It turned out the CD inside the pretty package was more than a match for the outside.
The narrator has a friendly, approachable delivery, and the narrative (there are 26 tracks) reveals information and tips that seems perfectly timed to the drive. We particularly love the music, which was scored by a Hollywood studio and blends Hawaiian tunes with emotional, blatantly orchestral-fantasy-sweeping-scenery-music that perfectly represents the breathtaking scenes out the window. The accompanying itineraries and maps are second to none. This is a great little tour packet, and it’s available on CD and as an MP3 download.
This video is a perfect representation of the quality of production you’ll find on this CD guide.
The CD is available for ordering ahead of time, but also just about everywhere on the island. We can’t recommend it more highly. That’s why we were so thrilled that the folks at www.theR2H.com asked to sponsor the 2012 edition of Top Maui Restaurants*: because we couldn’t be happier to let you know about it. If you are driving the Road for the first time, it’s a must-have. And if you’re like us, and have driven it dozens of times, it’s also a must-have. Watching that scenery with this music? Terribly moving – even for those of us who live here.
You can listen to free samples and get the tour (and lots of other goodies) here: www.theR2H.com
*FYI: To defray the massive cost of researching the book, we take a few sponsorships from select businesses we sincerely recommend – and never from restaurants.