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Haleakala

Tour of Maui

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Haleakala Crater

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Maui's sleeping giant ... Haleakala is the younger of the two volcanos that has formed the island of Maui. A journey to the 10,000 foot summit of Haleakala takes you to a Hawaii you have never imaged. The climate is extreme, with temperatures occasionally dropping below freezing at night. The wind often howls. Tropical vegetation gives way to lunar-like crater views.  The drop from the summit to the crater floor is around 3,000 vertical feet, and the crater covers an area of 25 square miles ... roughly the size of Manhattan Island. Admission to the National Park is $10 per vehicle.

click on map to enlarge

Haleakala means "House of the Sun" and viewing a sunrise from the summit is an awe-inspiring experience. Plan on 2 hours to reach the summit from the Kihei/Wailea area and 2 1/2 hours from West Maui. One of the most popular activities is a bike trip from the summit of Haleakala ... after watching the sunrise you can ride a bicycle 38 miles downhill! If you want to see the sunrise, but don't feel like driving in the middle of the night, sunrise van tours are available too.
Technically, the "crater" of Haleakala is actually an erosional valley which has had secondary eruptions inside this valley. The interior looks much like the surface of the moon. There are cinder cones and craters, lava tube caves, and a network of hiking trails visible from the overlooks. If you decide to do some hiking, make sure you have proper footwear ... sandals are NOT a good idea. The weather is extreme, and bring drinking water with you ... there is no water available in the park. The sun is intense at high altitude, so make sure to use sunscreen.
Among the fascinating sights of Haleakala National Park are the rare and beautiful Silversword plants. Once plentiful, the numbers have dwindled, but they are still commonly found in the park. They are found nowhere else in the world except for Maui and the Big Island. The plant blooms once in its entire life, so if you see one in full bloom, you are LUCKY!
To really appreciate the size and scope of this crater that is large enough to hold the island of Manhattan, take a scenic helicopter tour. The 45 minute Hana/Haleakala flight and the 65 minute Complete Island tour offer views of Haleakala Crater. Book your flight on-line now ... you will save 15% off the list price and get the best flight time. That's mid-morning, when the sun is starting to get a little higher in the sky but before the afternoon clouds start rolling in over the upper reaches of the volcano.

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