Maui: Haleakala National Park

Yesterday we thought it was going to rain in the afternoon so we decided to try and summit Haleakala driving. The picture above is the volcano. As you can see there are some clouds sitting on the summit. Haleakala formed about 75% of Maui. Its peak is at 10.023 feet. In Hawaiian, Haleakala means “house of the sun”, which is what they named the general mountain. According to Hawaiian folklore, the crater at the summit is the home of the demigod Maui. This grandmother helped Maui capture the sun to slow its journey and lengthen the day. Hence the name “house of the sun”.

I decided to drive because it is mostly a switchback road. We stopped quite a few times along the way to take a picture of the views because they were spectacular. We climbed above the clouds!

You can see the road in the above picture. After driving for about an hour, we arrived at the Haleakala National Park. It costs $30 a car to get into the park. You could buy a national park pass and there is a military discount. The park ranger warned us that there may be Nenes (Hawaiian geese) in the roads and to drive slowly. They are endangered animals and protected on Maui as well as Kauai. She told us that they were nesting and some already had babies. We were really excited to see them, but we did not see even one.

The scenery definitely changed as we got closer to the top. It was clear up until about a mile and a half/two miles from the summit. The wind speed picked up a little bit each time we stopped the car to take pictures. At the summit it was a total whiteout. The wind was so strong that it took your breath away. When we were sitting in the car at the top, it shook the car. It shook harder than when you are sitting on a highway trying to turn and a tractor trailer truck flies by you. It was a little scary. We stopped at the visitor center on the top as well, but it is being renovated and closed to the public, but there are bathrooms. We were supposed to see a giant crater with some volcanic cones and steep wall, but we saw white. On the way down it cleared up almost immediately and we stopped at the Kalahaku Overlook (you are not allowed to stop on the way uphill). This was more like what I was hoping to see on the top.

On the way back down, we stopped at the Maui Tea Farm. We had stopped on the way up near the tea farm and my husband said it smelled incredible outside. I unrolled the window and could smell it too. We found out from the woman at the tea shop that it was eucalyptus trees that we were smelling. We tried a sampler of the tea and coffee. I wish they had more than two to try. I liked the regular tea, but they only sell it as loose leaf.

After the tea farm we stopped at a farm stand and picked up some fresh strawberries and bananas. We stopped in the town of Makawao and visited some cool artist shops. Then we drove over to Ho’okipa Beach. I love watching the surfers. My husband walked down to the rocks and texted me to come see the sea turtles. There were at least six swimming in the pool down there. It was incredible to watch.

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped in Paia. It was pretty busy, but we were able to find a parking spot on the street. We wandered around and looked into shops. We stopped to shop at Walmart in Kahului and it was a madhouse! It is also a great place to buy cheap touristy gifts. After we got home we realized it was going to be a pretty good sunset so we drove down to Wailea Beach. There were only two other people there because it had just rained and it was threatening to rain more. We still got some amazing sunset pictures. It was a nice end to our day.

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