Sinister Settings: THE HANA HIGHWAY

Palm Tree Clip Art

Even palm trees can be creepy.

It’s often been said that anything that is stunningly beautiful is also incredibly dangerous, and that’s probably no more true anywhere in the world than it is on Maui’s Hana Highway.

Built in the 1920s, the nearly 65-mile road takes almost a full day to travel from end to end. Along the way are sights unparalleled: twin waterfalls, sweeping ocean views, lush tropical jungles. The price to pay: blind curves, washed-out sections, bridges and lanes only wide enough for one car, and not much leeway in avoiding a plunge from a one-hundred foot-high cliff. This isn’t a journey for the faint of heart (just go read Trip Advisor, where several tourists who didn’t do their homework blame locals who recommended it).

The Hana Highway first came to my attention, sadly, through a terrible car accident that happened which made national news. Some of the facts surrounding the tragedy made me curious about its allure: what was it about this place that inspired people to take their lives in their hands? Furthermore, what was it about this place that inspired people to buy homes on it?

I got my answer when I was “house hunting” for a home for the characters in my short story “Mujina,” which appears in my collection, The Shadows Behind. Not only are most of the lush properties isolated, imagine drinking your coffee while you look at this every morning.

Hana house ocean view

Many homes along or near the Hana Highway feature spectacular views. This is from the house in which I chose to mentally set some of the short story “Mujina.”

Or hosting a cocktail party in this amazing room.

Interior of Hana House

This is an interior shot of the home I chose in which to set some of my short story “Mujina.”

Living here would be a year-round vacation … but in my short story “Mujina,” even sweeping views, lush tropical gardens and warm ocean breezes can turn threatening.

Below are some resources so you can explore the Hana Highway, and you can get your copy of The Shadows Behind here: “Road to Hana”

This site has plenty of advice for driving the road, seeing the waterfalls, suggested itineraries and recommended stops. Even if you’re not planning a trip, the content makes for an interesting read.

Valley Isle Excursions: “Maui’s History Along The Road To Hana”

This accessible (and actually entertaining) article chronicles the Hana Highway’s origins and early history.

Road to Hana: “Hana Town”

National Geographic: “Road Trip: Maui’s Hana Coast”

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of the New England Horror Writers. Follow her adventures at

Posted on August 4, 2019, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff, horror short stories, The Shadows Behind and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. We usually think of dangerous or scary as NOT beautiful places. I like this twist, beautiful and isolated.

    • I think some of the scariest stories are the ones that I’ve read that are set in normal or gorgeous places, places that are innocent. One of the scariest stories I ever read was called “The Pool People” and it was set in a house in Key West in broad daylight. Totally terrifying.

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