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The drive to the Haleakala Crater, a dormant volcano on Maui, offers an incredible road trip available in very few places on earth, where you can drive from sea level to 10,000 feet in just a couple of hours. Many visitors drive to the summit to watch a sunrise, or sunset, but it is a spectacular place to go at any time of day.
As you drive from beaches into the upcountry with its fertile farming land, you’ll hear stories about the unique Hawaiian cowboys “paniolos” and the “hole in the sky”.
Then as we climb higher, trees and pastures give way to hardy shrubs and then eventually to a sandy and rocky moonscape. Along the climb we will discuss how volcanoes built the Hawaiian Islands and also share Hawaiian mythology about creation.
The National Park Entrance is at 7000 feet. You will be excited to get to the summit, so it is recommended to drive to the top directly, and then stop at the view points as you return downhill.
At the summit, you can stare into the giant erosion crater or even take take a hike inside to get closer to dormant cinder cones. You will be amazed at the starkness and beauty of Haleakala on your driving tour.
Hana Hwy 36 and Airport Road
A half day to visit Haleakala National Park is about right. If you plan to take one of the hikes that are longer than 1 hour – then add more time
50 miles from Kihei and Wailea – allow 2 hours. Or 60 miles from Kaanapali – allow 2.5 hours
If capturing the first sun rays rising over the horizon at 10,000 feet sounds like a once in a lifetime experience you don’t want to miss out on, then you need to plan ahead.
Reservations are mandatory for sunrise, as parking is limited.
No reservations required at any time other than sunrise so it’s also awesome to going during the day with the sun directly overhead or to view sunset or even stay later into the evening to view the stars.
Yes. Prebook your Haleakala Sunrise pass with NPS. Last minute tickets are available online 2 days advance.
Make sure you know what time sunrise is predicted and expect that there may be a line up at the entry.
Remember, it takes between 2-3 hours to drive to the top of volcano, depending on where you are staying on Maui, so allow a generous amount of time to drive across from your hotel/resort
If you booked for sunrise on Haleakala, then you could drive the Road to Hana after that. But since you will mostly likely have to get up a 3am to make it for sunrise – you will most likely enjoy a full day trip on the Road to Hana on another day when you won’t be as tired!
If you want to combine Haleakala with something else, the Iao Valley is a good pairing. Or even use the rest of the day to explore West Maui or south to Kihei and Wailea and Makena Beaches.