Beaches · National Parks in US · Travel · Vacations

Maui, Hawai’i: The volcanic crater and upcountry

As promised, here I am with my second Maui post. In continuation with my previous post on Maui, this post talks about Maui’s volcanic crater and lush green upcountry of Maui. From dramatic and extravagant beaches to colorful volcanic lava

Haleakala National Park: Apart from the beaches, people go to Hawai’i for its volcanoes. Maui does not have any active volcanoes, but Haleakala is CLAIMED to be the world’s largest DORMANT volcano and the top of Haleakala is one of the most visited places in Maui.

Haleakala is known as the “House of the Sun” and I’d like to narrate a small tale associated with it. It is believed that in ancient times, Maui, the Demigod’s goddess mother Hina complained that the sun moved across the sky too fast every day. To please his mother, demigod Maui climbed Haleakala’s summit before dawn, and lassoed the sun, stopping it from moving. Maui only agreed to let go the sun if the sun allowed more time for light during the day. The sun agreed. And so this legendary tale is the secret to why the island receives more sun and sunlight!!!

Haleakala crater - Maui's dormant volcano

Now that you know the reason behind Maui’s mystical sunrises and sunsets, do try to make it for either at Haleakala’s summit. We had decided on giving one whole day to Haleakala because of the time it takes to drive there from West Maui. At the base of Haleakala is a gem of a flower farm called “Sunrise” farm. This farm grows the famous Hawaiian Protea flowers. It only takes 20-30 minutes to visit the farm and is on your way to the summit, so if you get a chance, do visit it for the exotic and pretty pink proteas. Some great photograph opportunities here.

From the exotic flower farm, we headed for some adrenaline rush. What better than a 5 course zip line at the base of Haleakala. We had joined the Skyline Eco Adventure Zipline tour for an amazing adventure. Great instructors and 2.5 hours of guaranteed fun. It was my first time zip-lining and I throughly enjoyed it. The ziplines gradually increase in length and depth as you go from the first to the last one. We headed to the top of the summit after ziplining.

Top of Mount Halaeakala: The road to the top of Haleakala is one of the world’s fastest ascending roads to go from 0 ft (sea level) to 10,000 ft. in a mere 37 miles. Lots of elevation gain so take a break at the visitor center and at the overlooks to get yourself acclimatized with the thin air as you go higher. You are literally above the clouds in no time. It is a surreal feeling. To get ourselves acclimatized before reaching the summit, we took the short hike at Lelewei overlook at 8000 ft. Gusty winds of 50 mph made our hike extremely difficult, but it provided us with exhilarating views of the Maui coastline.

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Haleakala is also home to the rare Silversword plant, which is ONLY FOUND in Maui over 6000 ft and to the endangered Nene or Hawaiian goose. We were lucky enough to spot both of these. The visitor center at 10,000 ft has a nice glass view that offers a panoramic landscape of the vast crater. Extraordinarily colorful sand! If weather and time permit, do the Sliding Sands trail which takes you to the bottom of the crater. We could not do it due to adverse weather, but I am sure walking down the crater would be one helluva experience.

Iao State Valley Park: From shades of orange/red/brown of the volcanic crater sand we headed to land surrounded by varied shades of green. In central Maui is Iao valley park – a lush green mountain landscape that SCREAMS the word SERENITY. Paradox right? But the drive makes you fresh. We took a hike in the park that is also home to the Iao Needle and numerous water streams. This state park is a good spot for a relaxing picnic.

Road to Hana: Considered to the be most celebrated road in whole of Hawai’i, we decided to dedicate a day to our journey to Hana. The road to Hana is all about the journey and not the destination. Clichéd but IT IS WHAT IT IS. 637 curves (yes, someone counted them) and uncountable one-lane bridges (actually we tried to count but lost count after 12) make this tropical rainforest a nature lover’s dream. We blindly followed the book Maui Revealed on this road so that we did not miss the great waterfalls. We definitely saw more than 10~12, but the ones that really impressed me were the Three Bears Falls, Paihi Falls, Hanawi Falls and Wailua Falls.

Three Bears Falls on Road to Hana

There are a lot of wonderful beaches in East Maui on the road to Hana. We stopped at a lot, but my best picks are 1) Black Sand Beach for its magnificent sea rock arches and the blowhole, 2) Hamoa beach for watching wind surfing and 3) Hana beach for relaxing and swimming. Most people drive past Hana to go the Seven Sacred Pools or O’heo O Gulch, which is part of the Haleakala National Park. O’heo O Gulch is a series of waterfalls that eventually merge with the ocean and is definitely worth the stop and the hike.

And oh, did you know that there were fruits called “strawberry guava” and “pineapple guava”?? Well, I did not before we ventured upon the road to Hana, but now I have tasted both and were the highlights of my trip. Stop by at the fruit and food stalls on your road for some amazing fruits and banana bread. Your road to Hana is incomplete without these food stops. More on food to follow in my next post dedicated to Maui’s dining, shopping and night life!


5 thoughts on “Maui, Hawai’i: The volcanic crater and upcountry

  1. Its just beautiful prutha!! Uniqueness in flower, sunrise, sunlight, fruits, crater, volcano, ziplinings…….. definitely makes it a must visit place after reading ur blog. Thanks for sharing in such vivid detail!


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