Rising above the island of Maui is the gentle giant, Haleakala Volcano. Standing at 10,023 feet (3,055 m) above sea level, it covers almost 75% of the island. While it’s no longer active, it remains a sacred spot for the native Hawaiians, and one of the most visited sights on Maui.
According to Hawaiian folklore, the demigod Maui went to the top of the volcano and captured the sun, agreeing to release it only if it promised to move more slowly across the sky so that the island could have more daylight. The sun agreed, thereby giving the volcano summit approximately 15 minutes more sun than the coastal communities below. Since then, the mountain has been given the name Haleakala, or “House of the Sun.”
Naturally, the Haleakala is the star of the show on Maui and loads of tourists flock to its summit to catch sunrise each day — but we’ve been told that it’s just as nice at sunset and some say, even nicer. The crater is often in the shadow at sunrise; whereas in the afternoon, the sun is behind us, revealing the colors of Haleakala crater.
We drove up to its summit in the evening, emerging from the thick layer of clouds to clear, bright skies and a sweeping view of the dramatic Haleakala landscape. From the summit, we gazed down upon the massive crater that plunged 2,600 ft (800m) deep and stretched almost 7 miles (11.25km) wide — splashes of orange-red iron rocks and clusters of green pasture sprawled across the crater floor. Indeed, Haleakala lived up to its name, as the rooftop of Maui.
How to Get There:
There is no public transportation available either to or in the park. The best way to get there is by renting a car. Park headquarters and the summit can be reached by car, via a series of corkscrew bends. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to get there from the Kahului airport and two hours from Wailea resort area.
The Haleakala National Park is open 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. Restrooms and drinking water are available. There is an entry fee of US$10 per vehicle. Opening hours for the headquarters Visitor Center near park entrance: 8:00am – 3:45pm; Haleakala Visitor Center near the summit: 6:00am.
Disclaimer: Our trip was made possible by Visit Maui, but all opinions expressed above are our own.