Haleakala National Park#5 in Best Things To Do in Maui
Every year, more than a million tourists visit Haleakala National Park, home to the world's largest dormant volcano. The entire park occupies 30,000 acres of land in Upcountry Maui, though most visitors focus on a few specific areas of the park. Of course, there's the mountain: Haleakala's summit stands more than 10,000 feet above sea level (in fact, you can see it from any point on the island). Travelers recommend planning your visit to the summit in the morning to see the sunrise (keep in mind you'll have to make reservations online in advance and you'll be required to pay a small fee). A fairly winding road (Route 378) will lead you to the top. No matter when you visit, be sure to wear warm layers. The air up top is thin and chilly, according to past visitors.
Once you reach the top of Haleakala, you can keep going down into the mouth of the volcano. The Haleakala Crater measures 19 square miles and offers a stark glimpse into Hawaii's early beginnings. Trails into the crater will lead you past a desert-like landscape, making for unique photo opportunities. But don't limit yourself to just the volcano. The park's most popular trail, Pipiwai, is actually at sea level, meandering 4 miles (round-trip) along Maui's southeast coast to the Waimoku Falls and the Pools of 'Ohe'o. The hike takes three to five hours to complete, but you'll walk away with some stunning photos. Note: The Pools of 'Ohe'o in the park's Kipahulu District are closed due to rock slide concerns. Check the National Park Service website for updated details.
Haleakala National Park is located in southern Maui and welcomes visitors 24 hours a day. If you're driving to the park, set aside several hours for the journey (it's about three hours from Wailea). There is no public transportation to or in the park, but several operators offer tours to and from the park; if you're not driving, consult your hotel concierge for tour recommendations. Several of Maui's best helicopter tours fly over the Haleakala, making for a memorable (if pricey) experience.
You'll find three visitor centers: The Park Headquarter Visitors Center sits near the northern corner of the park along the road to the summit, the Haleakala Visitor Center can be found near the top of the mountain and the Kipahulu Visitor Center sits along the southeast portion of the park (at the head of the Pipiwai trail). Each visitor center features its own hours of operation. You can enter the park on foot or by bike for $12 per person, on a motorcycle for $20 or in a car for $25; admission is valid for three consecutive days.
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#1 Road to Hana
To find excellent views of Maui's beautiful coastline, all you need to do is drive. The Road to Hana is a scenic highway (Highway 360) that twists through the lush rainforest and past the cascading waterfalls that line the island's eastern shore. Most people start their trip in Kahului (home to Maui's main airport) with the intention of motoring 55 miles to Hana. The trip isn't always easy: The route often surprises unfamiliar drivers with hairpin turns. But those who decide to step on the gas aren't sorry they did. Despite all the hype and mental preparation, travelers are regularly surprised by the drive's beauty.
The Road to Hana might seem short, but traveling it will most likely take all day given the number of scenic lookouts and other places to stop. Those who have driven the Road to Hana highly recommend taking your time and stopping as often as possible. Reviewers also recommend starting your drive early in the morning, as the road grows congested as the day progresses. If you'd rather let someone else do the driving, there are several tour companies that offer tours in luxury vans, including Valley Isle Excursions and Temptation Tours. Though pricier than driving yourself, taking a tour allows you to focus on the incredible scenery while someone else focuses on navigating the winding curves.
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