The huge crater that is Haleakala makes up Haleakala National Park on the eastern side of the island of Maui. Over 10,000 feet, and still an active volcano, Haleakala is Hawaiian for “house of sun”. Having been up there to bike down at sunrise, Haleakala is part wilderness, and part desert, but always colorful. Sunrise is a cold affair, much like the cold in Patagonia. Off in the distance, the sun first rises over the Big Island, casting a moon like shadow over the crater itself.
Sunrise on Haleakala is worth the 3am pick up service.As the sun continues to rise, the field of vision opens and widens. Hey Dorothy, we are definitely not in Kansas. Nor are we on the moon. But we are in a uniquely American national park, and an experience worth the 3am wake up call to get here at or before sunrise. The sunsets and starry skies are also worth an evening visit. The options are on foot, by bicycle, or even by car.It is one of Maui’s most popular attractions. The visitor center is located at 7,000 feet above sea level. The summit is at 10,000 feet. The rare silversword plant can be seen in numerous locations. And the views are majestic, enabling an almost 360 degree view of the island’s seashore. If you have not done this cruiser ride down the twisting road, I strongly suggest it. It is possible to ride from the top of the crater, all the way to the beach, with very little pedaling. It is one of the highlights of our many trips to Maui. I would rate it above the whale watch and the ferry over to Lanai.
This is a uniquely Hawaiian experience. You should do this once in your life. And anyone can ride the bike down the crater. It is downhill all the way. The bikes have the best brakes I have ever experienced. And the guides are excellent riders and traffic controllers. It is an adrenaline thrill at every hairpin turn.
Haleakala is Hawaiian for “house of the sun”. It was designated an Internatonal Biosphere Reserve in 1980. According to Hawaiian legend, the demigod Maui imprisoned the sun here to lengthen the day. It last erupted in 1490, and plays host to 1.45 million visitors a year. And it is still considered an active volcano!
On our drive over, we will also stop in the cowboy town of Makawao, the hippie town of Paia, and the Costco/Walmart complex in Kahului. Lunch ended up at the Paia Fish Market, and the hole in the wall shave ice and ice cream shop down the street that has the best Portuguese soup I have ever had. But I ordered a strawberry shave ice since the soup is a winter item only. I may even find the baseball cap that flew off of my head on my last bike ride down the crater.
The clouds were rolling in, restricting the view above 6000 feet. It is just so hard to believe that we can be at 10,000 feet elevation on an island as small as Maui. But very little traffic or cyclists. We even stopped in at the Walmart in Kahului. We can now say we have hit all of the islands main attractions.