Arriving in Maui, one of the first things I noticed was a giant mountain which added such a unique feature to the island. I didn’t know much about Hawaii before I went, so I soon found out that this was Haleakala, a dormant volcano on the island. People are able to drive the route up to the top and look in the volcano. Not only that, but also the beautiful views of the island of Maui and even other islands around it.
We researched the park and it is open at sunrise for a beautiful view over the water. However, be aware if you are going to do this you have to book in advance because it is so popular. We went before sunset, and it was busy, but it wasn't packed. Another important piece of information is it cost us $20 per car to come into the national park. A must do on this drive to the top of Haleakala is downloading the app called "Haleakala Maui Gypsy Guide". The cost is $4.99, but it is so worth it because it will help guide you to the top and have fun bits of information along the way. It would know exactly when to start each blurb of information for you, and it was educational as well. It is such an innovative app and we are excited to use it in other places!
We got the app ready and began our trek to the top of Haleakala. Along the way we noticed clouds would build up near the top, and then leave a few minutes later it would be completely clear. We were a little nervous that it would be too cloudy to see when we got to the top, but we hoped for the best. The drive up started through a very green, farm-like area that reminded me of the plains of a European country. After that, the roads got more curvy and me not being the best with heights, got more and more nervous as we made our way up.
The guy talking on the app kept saying to take it slow through a few spots because of how cloudy it might be, and he also mentioned a couple times how lucky you are if you got to this point and there were hardly any clouds. We were in amazement, because that was what we were experiencing. Not a single cloud was around us when we were getting close to the top and we felt very fortunate.
We made a little cut off near the top and parked to investigate the volcano. We got out of the car, and wow was it cold!! Something interesting to do would be to check the outside temperature in your vehicle at the bottom compared to the top. It was 30 degrees colder for us!! Being up this high was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. We were above the clouds and looking into a once erupting volcano. It didn't seem like a real experience.
I want to warn you about the altitude of this drive to the top of Haleakala. The summit sits at just over 10,000 feet, and you are at sea level to begin so the ascend is very quick. There were a few of us struggling to pop our ears, and a couple others got bad headaches from gaining that height so quickly. Things resolved on the way back down, but it may be uncomfortable for some. Lastly, some may worry about the descent back down for the breaks in your vehicle. However, everyone coming to the island is probably in a rental car so you won’t have to worry about ruining your own breaks!
Overall, if you go to Maui, making this drive to the top of Haleakala is so worth it! I will never forget that view from the top. It’s a once in a life time experience.