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Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii. Author Alex Ulanov (MrKabasha). Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution
Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii. Author Alex Ulanov (MrKabasha)

Haleakala volcano: the dormant volcano that dominates the island of Maui

Haleakala is the crown of Maui’s large eastern landmass that pinnacles to a 10,023 foot mountain. Haleakala means “House of the Sun” and the view at sunrise and sunset attracts numerous visitors. The dormant volcano boasts a circumference of 21 miles and a 3,000 foot chasm.

Start your scenic upcountry trip from Kahului and take Hwy. 36, the Hana Highway, to Hwy. 37, the Haleakala Hwy. Plan a two-hour drive to the summit, plus sightseeing stops. Bring warm clothing as temperature are usually 30 degrees cooler at the summit.

Picturesque drive change with elevation. Cattle ranches span rolling countryside. In the spring, jacaranda trees fill the sky with purple, lilac-shaped blossoms. The view of Maui’s coast, isthmus and western mountains is panoramic. Continue on Kula Hwy. 37 ten miles Tedeschi Winery or head up Haleakala Hwy. 377 for a visit to a protea farm. Known for their long-lasting beauty and blossom, proteas are a popular export.

Head up Hwy. 378 to the entrance of Haleakala National Park at 7,000 feet. The informative park headquarters is worth a stop, as are the lookout points. Haleakala is Maui’s only location of the protected and rare silversword, which lives up to 20 years before blooming a multi-flowered stalk before it dies.

Haleakala crater, Maui, Hawaii. Author Navin 75. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike

Haleakala crater, Maui, Hawaii. Author Navin 75

Continue up the crater to the summit visitor centre for a view of the crater’s mix of caverns and cindercones. On a clear day, summit seekers enjoy views of Maui’s neighboring islands from atop the clouds. The observatories of Science City are closed to the public.

Kaupo Gap: Kaupo Gap is a cutout in the south rim of Haleakala. In ancient times a trail through Kaupo was the primary route for traversing the crater on foot. There is still a hiking trail through Kaupo, but it’s recommended only for seasoned hikers. When you see it from the air, you’ll understand why!

BIKE: The Haleakala descent is a 38-mile downhill cruise filled with twists and turns, and amazing scenery from top to bottom. Riders descend 10,000 feet in less than 38 miles. Now that’s memorable bike ride!

Folks who have coasted down Maui’s famous crater have ranked it among their all-time favorite adventures. And this is a safe adventure that thousands have enjoyed, riding special bicycles equipped with “mega-brakes”, led by experienced cruise leaders.

The sunrise downhill ride is the most popular tour, which starts off with hot coffee and pastries before the vans transport riders to the top of Haleakala. Once the sun burst over the crater’s rim, bikers are ready to roll. Along the way, the scenery seems to change at every twist and turn. The stark crater gives way to rolling hills, then pastures covered with grazing cattle, as well as groves of eucalyptus and jacaranda, which erupt in purple profusion in the spring.

If you know how to ride a bicycle, that’s all the skill required for downhill cruising. Instruction, wind breakers and safety gear are included on all trips, and most cruises include “apres-cruise” refreshments or a light snack along the way.

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