We could see the observatory buildings at the summit flying in – just little bity white balls on the very top of Maui. We knew that the next day we’d be standing up there looking down into the crater of Haleakalā, and we were excited to witness that view once again.
This would be our second time to the top. We’d taken this trip years ago, when we first visited Maui and rented a convertible to tool around in. We had the top down as we started our ascent and ended up freezing our tushes off by the time we reached the top. It can be a large temperature drop – even on very nice days.
The ride up is gorgeous. On a clear day, you can see the verdant colors of the Maui central valley – all the way to the beautiful dark blue ocean. Many days though, as you approach the summit, you ascend above the clouds into an otherworldly landscape, feeling that you may have just been transported to another planet. The first time we visited, the clouds below us were thick, blocking our views of the valley and ocean, but above the clouds the weather was bright and beautiful and we took some incredible photos of the rough lava rock with a pillow of clouds below.
Our first stop was the Visitor Center, which in addition to providing information on the park, offers a fantastic view of the crater below.
After visiting the Visitors Center, we grabbed our cameras, jackets, gloves and some water and made our way to a hiking path that winds it’s way down into the center of the crater. There are 35+ miles of hiking trails on Haleakalā, but we hiked only about an hour as we wanted to visit Sammy Haggar’s Rum Distillery on the way back down the mountain (FYI – it’s closed on Sunday…).
The sunrise from the top of Haleakalā is said to be absolutely stunning and has become so popular that you need to make a reservation – which can be done here, up to 60 days before your visit. Also popular is an invigorating bike tour down the mountain; search for tour operators that provide a lift to the top, a tour guide, and all of the equipment (hopefully with good brakes!). Want to really experience the crater? There are a couple of remote cabins that you can rent in the crater that require a bit of a hike in and then back out. Other activities offered within the park? Hang gliding and horseback riding!
While visiting, be sure to look for Hawaii’s state bird, the Nene (Hawaiian goose), and the Haleakalā Silversword, found only on the upper slopes of the mountain and can take up to 50 years to flower.
After our hike, we proceeded up to the summit, just a little farther than the Visitor Center. Here, the view of the crater is not quite as spectacular, but the view of the valley below and the bit island of Hawaii in the distance, is spectacular.
Have you visited Haleakalā National Park to see the view from the top of Maui?
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