Haleakala National Park, located in Maui, Hawaii, is a magical place to visit. It is home to rare plants and animals and is important in Hawaiian culture. According to legend, the demigod Maui stood at the summit of the Haleakala volcano and captured the sun to lengthen the day. Haleakala National Park includes two different sections: the summit of the Haleakala volcano and the coastal Kipahulu area.
Activities in Haleakala
The best place to view the sunrise on Maui is from Haleakala’s summit. Many visitors have been inspired by the sunrise. From the summit, it looks like you are above the sky. Watching the sun peak over the horizon and shoot its rays across the ocean and into the sky is an unforgettable moment. The colors are breathtaking, and you will not regret waking up early to view it. Be sure to dress warmly.
Horseback Riding and Hiking
Some of the best ways to explore the crater of Haleakala is by hiking or horseback riding. Hikers and riders will see a unique landscape that can only be created by a volcano. There are day hikes or overnight hikes (permits are required for overnight hikes). Visitors who choose to do overnight hikes are rewarded with a unique and breathtaking view of the night sky flooded with stars. Since water is scarce, pack plenty of water. Also wear powerful sunscreen.
Bike Ride Down a Volcano
One of visitors’ favorite experiences is taking a bike ride down Haleakala. Companies will drive you up to the summit, unload your rented bike and let you take your own downhill trip. You can stop as many times as you would like to snap a picture or drink in the view. It can be as slow and relaxing or as fast and exhilarating as you want.
Visitors who journey to the summit are rewarded with a spectacular view of the island below, the ocean and surrounding islands.
Activities in Kipahulu
Kipahulu is located ten minutes past the town of Hana. Hana is located along the famous Road to Hana along the northeast coast of Maui. Just the drive to Kipahulu is an activity by itself. The drive offers beautiful views of the blue ocean below. There are waterfalls and beaches, including a black sand beach, along the drive. It is an extremely curvy road and the bridges only fit one vehicle at a time, so visitors must execute caution while driving.
Kipahulu’s main attraction is hiking. The most popular trail is the Pipiwai Trail. It is four miles roundtrip and gains 650 feet in elevation. There are many beautiful waterfalls along the hike, a Banyan tree and an exotic bamboo forest. The end destination of the hike is Waimoku Falls. Waimoku Falls is a waterfall that is 400 feet tall; water tumbles down a steep lava rock wall. It is a mystical and memorable hike. Heavy rain storms are frequent so take rain jackets and refrain from swimming because of the danger of flash floods.
What to Expect
The weather at the summit can be unpredictable and changes rapidly. The summit is usually 30 degrees cooler than the coast. Average temperatures range from a low of 32 degrees to highs of 65. Winds can be extremely strong at the summit. When visiting, always take a jacket and sunscreen. An observation room is available so you can be protected from the weather while viewing the crater and the surrounding ocean. It is best to visit the summit when there are few clouds.
In the other part of the park, Kipahulu, temperatures are much milder and more comfortable. The daytime temperatures stay around 70-80 degrees, and the temperature only drops to 65 degrees during the night. Kipahulu receives around 187 inches of rain during the year so go prepared for rainstorms. Also be aware of flash floods.