I cannot believe that Haleakala National Park is not talked about more often. My sister and I had barely heard of it until a few days before we arrived. It might be because of its remote location or just because we had never planned a trip to or been to Hawaii.
I have to give a big, "Thank you!" to the family my sister and I nannied for on their Hawaii cruise for booking this excursion. Not only did my sister and I get to check a national park off our lists, the views from over 10,000 feet were unlike anything we had ever experienced. (You can read all about our week long trip in this post, here!)
The park is split into two sections: the Kipahulu District and the Summit District. We visited the latter of the two. The two districts are distinctly different from one another. The Summit District is a barren volcanic crater, while the Kipahulu District is a lush rain forest vibrant with native vegetation. After hearing about the Kipahulu District, I was upset our tour didn't take us there too!
We were constantly warned to respect and take care of the nature around us, because the area is sacred in Hawaiian culture, and we were made well aware of it. We were also heavily warned about altitude sickness, and we made several stops along our route to the summit to help us acclimate.
Our first stop was at the Park Headquarters Visitor Center. At this point, we were already over 7,000 feet above sea level and above the clouds.
Our next stop was the Kalahaku Overlook. We were getting higher above the cloudline, and at this 9,300 foot-high viewpoint, we could see the entire expanse of the island. We were also able to see into the volcanic depression for the first time.
The park's info-graphics do a wonderful job of explaining how this summit was created by layers upon layers of soil deposits that were then eroded. It also details how important the volcano was to the formation of the rest of Maui island.
Since we were chasing the sunset, we hurried and made our last stop at the summit. We had about 20 minutes until the sun set. With the remaining time, my sister and I decided to scurry up the Pa Ka’oao/White Hill Trail.
This is the highest peak of Maui, and it provided the most incredible view of the volcanic sediments below. The ripples in the loose rocks looked liked they were painted in perfect layers. It was amazing to see, but we only had a minute to view it, because the sun was setting on the other side.
We quickly made our way back down the trail and snagged an open rock to sit on for the ball drop. It didn’t take long for the orange and red hues to disappear under the white, pillowy clouds.
Once the sphere of light was down, we had to leave. The temperature drops quickly at those high altitudes, and the roads get really dangerous. They were windy and scary on the way up, and they were much worse on the way down.
We made it down the road happily and safely and were taken back to our cruise ship for the night.
We met up with the rest of our group, boasted about how great the trip was, and shared all of our incredible pictures and videos. This was just the first of many excursions on our incredible Seven Day Hawaiian Cruise!
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read!