Mount Haleakala – a Crown Jewel on Maui

Mount Haleakala – a Crown Jewel on Maui

I visited Haleakala summit for sunset this week, and as you can see from the photo, it was nothing short of spectacular. Having driven up for sunrise years ago, this timing seemed like an interesting juxtaposition. The drive up was very different with almost no cars, so I had the windy road virtually to myself. When coming for sunrise, I remember it was traffic all the way.

An easy drive up – slow down and take your time

Don’t be intimidated by the drive. Just slow down and enjoy. Once I turned up Crater Drive it took about 45 minutes to reach the summit. The views and scenery along the way are fantastic. You’ll find the road in pristine condition from when it leaves Olinda, all the way to the 10,000 foot peak.

Once near the top, there’s a visitor center (closes at 3pm) and a short hike. That’s not the end of the road, however, there’s more to see at the top where you’ll find an enclosed observation deck (always open) and surreal views over the crater to the ocean beyond. I also saw the two summits of the Big Island in the distance.

The well maintained national park is vast, encompassing far more than the famous volcanic summit. It starts at the ocean at the Kipahulu area, which is accessed just beyond Hana. That’s home to O’Heo gulch, also knows as Seven Sacred Pools. Your $10 at either point buys you a three day entrance, as it is just too much park (and too much driving) to be done in one day.

Activities

There are an unlimited number of things to do, including sightseeing, walks, organized downhill bike rides and even horseback. You can also do a walk or hike conducted by the National Park Service. Naturalists will enjoy unique Hawaii flora and fauna. Star watching is unequaled, being above one third of the earth’s atmosphere. This is also the home to Hawaii’s first astronomical research observatory.  If you’d like to stay on, and plan ahead, there are cabins for rent in the park.

Weather

You can expect the weather to be extreme within the park. At 5pm the temperature at the summit was a very brisk 45 degrees and sunny. Last week, flash floods and hail pelleted the park all the way down to sea level. I wore all the clothes that I had with me, and was still cold.

More information

The National Park Service has more on their Haleakala website.

Where you’ll find us

Beat of Hawaii is on Maui this week. You’ll also find us reporting from Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island in the weeks ahead. That in addition to our normal beats of Kauai and Oahu. So expect to hear a lot more from each island.


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4 Comments

  1. Ed (2 years ago)

    A few years ago, my family and I took one of the Volcano bike tours down Haleakula. They took up all the way to the parking lot at the top early in the morning. Spend about an hour milling about and wandering around the grounds watching the sun rise…wonderful….Then we all jumped onto the supplied bikes and spent the next 6 hours riding down the mountain and we didn’t stop until we reached the beach in Paia. It was downhill all the way and barely any peddling at all! It was fantastic. I only wish that these tours were still available for our next visit in September!

  2. Sandi & Chuck Swanson (2 years ago)

    We did the drive up to Haleakala 3 years ago when we were there. Left our suite at 3:00am and saw the most spectacular sight ever! Unfortunately we left immediately after…about 7:00am and drove straight back. Next year when we come back to lovely Maui, we will do the Haleakala again and this time stay and do some hiking around, visit more little places, it is so very beautiful!

  3. dave w (2 years ago)

    Hopefully, I can use your picture and description to get my and kids to make this trip.

    The kids are doing a zipline at Haleakala and I want to drive up there after they are finished.

    Maybe it will be a bit warmer in May

  4. Susan Hironaka (2 years ago)

    I haven’t been to Haleakala since I was 19 years old! I still remember the beauty of the sunrise and also that it was very cold up there!