Awe inspiring Haleakala Crater is the world’s largest dormant volcano with a hole big enough to fit Manhattan. The “House of the Sun” reaches skyward for more than 10,000 feet above our central Maui vacation rentals and provides a never-ending panorama of all the main Hawaiian islands except Kauai. This starkly contrasting world of mountains and coast spreads out over 34,000 acres and was established as a National Park in 1916.
From any of our Wailea or Kihei rentals, allow almost 2 hours to reach the top of Haleakala Crater. You’ll experience one of the steepest roads for autos in the world that takes you through several climate and vegetation zones from the humid subtropical lowlands to subalpine desert.
Haleakala Crater is one of our top Maui activities and a great deal for only $10 entry per car. The visitor pass lasts for 3 days and also includes the Kipahulu Areas near Hana and Seven Sacred Pools.
Tip: Pack warm clothes and bring food. Temperatures will be 30 degrees cooler at the top. It’s always a good reminder to slow down and take it easy on the windy road. Sometimes ginger candy will help reduce any sick feeling.
If you are an early riser, come for sunrise. It will be freezing at 6am so wear the warmest clothes you have. Arrive 45 minutes before sunrise which means leaving around 3:30am.
One of the best times to avoid the crowds is later in the day. You’ll miss the Haleakala Visitor Center which closes at 3:00pm, but the glass enclosed observation area at Maui’s highest point is open 24 hours a day.
On the way up there are two lookouts to visit. Leleiwi Overlook is beyond mile marker 17. Around sunset you can experience “Spectre of the Brocken” here – which means your shadow can be seen within a rainbow in the cloud formation across the crater.
The next is Kalahaku Overlook which is two miles further and the best place to see the endangered Silversword. Each plant lives from five to twenty years and ends its life bursting forth into vivid purple and yellow blossoms.
At the summit you’ll come to the Haleakala Visitor Center. Arrive early and you can join a ranger led hike. See each day’s schedule online. The actual summit is further up the road at Puu Ulaula Overlook (known as Red Hill). Here you can see snowcapped Mauna Kea on the Big Island and find a mysterious cluster of buildings known as Haleakala Observatories, but unofficially called Science City.
The natural energy at Haleakala has inspired everyone since the ancient Hawaiians performed their final rites of initiation here. For some this is fertile ground for higher consciousness and to all a memorable Maui vacation highlight.
What To Pack for Haleakala:
- Sun protection.
- Raingear, pants, jacket.
- Food (no food for sale at park).
- Water bottle – drinking water at visitor center.
- Sturdy shoes.
- Last chance to buy food and gas is at Pukalani or Makawao.
- Small bills for entrance fee.
Haleakala National Park Headquarters: Open 6:30am to 3:45pm daily. Stop for park program information and you may spot nene, the Hawaiian goose.
Summit Visitor Station: Open 6am to 3pm. The glass enclosed observatory at the highest point is open 24 hours a day.