The slopes of Mt. Haleakala, or upcountry Maui as the locals call it, is considered the most laid-back area of the island. But honestly, the entire island seemed pretty laid-back to me.
We rented a car ($50) for Day 2 of our stay in Maui and drove upcountry to Haleakala National Park first thing in the morning. Although it’s one of the top recommended sights, we decided against getting there for sunrise for two reasons. First of all, the clouds often obscure the sun and secondly, driving hairpin turns in the dark on unfamiliar roads to 10,000 feet didn’t appeal to any of us.
The soaring views on the drive to the summit were every bit as impressive as we saw on the Road to Hana. Fortunately for us, we were driving up as the bikers were headed down so we missed most of the traffic, too.
It was especially poignant to spy sugar cane growing in the fields because, after 140 years, the Hawaiian sugar industry which began in Maui, is shutting down. By the end of 2016, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar will close operations.
Tourists are advised to wear warm clothes because it’s really cold at the top of the volcano but I was unprepared for just how cold and windy it was. A down coat would have been welcome.
The terrain on the summit is other-worldly. I’d love to have hiked one of the over 30 miles of trails, especially the one to see Waimoku Falls, but the conditions there are dangerous and I was still fighting a virus with chills and fever. I was content with these views then got back in the car to warm up while the others did a short trail on the summit.
We spent the entire morning on the drive up to Haleakala National Park and back. Afterward, we explored Iao Valley State Park but that’s the subject of my next post so check back next week. If you have to choose between Haleakala and the Road to Hana, I would choose Haleakala but if you have the time, by all means, do both.
Based on events from November 2015.