On the Island of Maui is Haleakalā National Park. There are many ways to see this amazing park; home to stark volcanic landscapes and a sub-tropical rain forest.
Sunrise from Haleakala
Most visitors will visit the volcano… driving up to the end of the road, far above the clouds where on a clear day you can see the entire island. This is the best place on the island to see the sunrise but be sure to buy a permit from the National Park Service. You must have a reservation to visit the summit between 3 and 7 am. Permits aren’t expensive – just $1.50 per car – available up to 60 days prior.
Bicycle Down Hill
We didn’t do the sunrise. Instead, we chose to do a Maui Downhill tour. They took us to the top of the mountain and we rode our bicycles down to the bottom. You start at 6500 feet and bicycle down the world’s largest resting volcano, along 21 switchbacks ending at a beach.
You barely have to pedal, but it is hard work on your hands holding the brakes!!! The views are amazing as you go down. We started out above the clouds and bicycled down through the cloud. It was cool – both in temperature and in terms of the experience!
If you are able, this is an amazing way to take in the scenery and take in the volcano.
Another way to experience Haleakala is to hike at Kipahulu – 3 miles of trails through the lush green tropical coastal environment. You hike through a bamboo forest to a waterfall. Gorgeous!!!
It is a bit wet, but the trail is well maintained and not heavily used. The hike was not hard, but of course you should always take water and wear the proper footwear.
Getting to Kipahulu
It’s not as easy to get to the Kiaphulu area as it is to get to the summit of Haleakala. The trailhead is at the end of the Road to Hana. That’s an experience all of its own.
The Hana Highway is 64.4 miles long with approximately 600 curves and 54 bridges. The scenery is amazing, but don’t expect to go quickly on this road. It is a well-known tourist destination and usually very busy.
Relax, slow down and enjoy the trip. The drive is unforgettable. A great hike just tops off the experience!
Other National Park Units in Hawaii
When making the trek to Hawaii make sure you make time in your schedule to visit some of the other National Park Units on the other islands. We particularly enjoyed Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Molokai (see previous blog).
There are four National Park Units on the big Island of Hawaii
- Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
- Pu ‘uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
- Pu’ukohoala Heiau National Historic Site
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
And of course, on Oahu there is Pearl Harbor – World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and a new one, not yet open, Honouliuli National Monument.
We are sure you will find that they are all worth the trip.