Writing the post on Maui last month made me disappointed I had so much left to explore, so I booked a trip to see more Maui! My goals for this trip were hefty. With just one day on Maui, I wanted to see the sunrise at Haleakala Crater and drive the entire road to Hana. We did a lot of driving and skipped a few hours of sleep, but I now feel like we’ve seen all that Maui has to offer.
More Maui – Visiting Haleakala
As of February 1, 2018, a reservation is required to enter the National Park between the hours of 4:00 AM to 7:00 AM. Reservations are very cheap (<$2) and can be made online.
While the resorts and National Park website will tell you it takes 2.5-3 hours to reach the summit from Wailea and Lahaina, it seems as though these estimates were made before the reservation system was put in place. Now that there are fewer people clamoring to enter the park, there is not much traffic. It only took us 1.5 hours to reach the summit from Wailea.
When we arrived at 5:45 AM, the sky was crystal clear and there were thousands of stars twinkling in the sky. Unfortunately, by 6:45 AM, when the sun was rising, clouds had rolled in and we couldn’t see anything. If this happens to you, try and be patient or flexible. The clouds can clear very quickly if the weather is right. Alternatively, you can drive down the mountain a bit, and find some amazing views below the clouds. While we experienced zero visibility at the summit, we had amazing crater and island views from the visitor center just 500 meters down the mountain.
More Maui – The Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is a slow-moving road. We stopped for a nice breakfast near the bottom of Haleakala (@Kuna Lodge) and started our journey to Hana at about 10:00 AM.
After a quick walk to the lower of the Twin Falls, we decided it would be best to push forward to our ultimate goal for the road trip and drove straight to hike the Pipiwai trail to Waimoku Falls. 2.5 hours of twists, turns, single lane bridge crossings, and slow drivers later we reached our destination.
The 4-mile hike from the National Park visitor center was a moderately easy trail. En route you’ll pass waterfalls, a beautiful old banyan tree, and a thick bamboo forest. The trail ends shortly before the 200-foot Waimoku waterfall. You’ll see people push right past the danger sign and walk right up to the base of the waterfall. After sitting in the car all morning, the hike was a refreshing way to stretch our legs and get close to the beauty of Maui.
While we had intended to return the road to Hana the way we had come, and visit all of the stops along the way, we decided at the last second to take the South road around the Southwest corner of the island. On a rainy day, this may not be a good idea without 4-wheel drive. Luckily we had a sunny day and were able to easily traverse the road conditions. The south road was the highlight of our day. The traffic was much lighter and the views were incredible. We saw wildlife from cows in the road to goats climbing rocks. The ocean views stretched for miles with beautiful rock formations. The rugged interior landscape of the island was lit up by the afternoon sun. You’ve got to take the South road from Hana!
The drive home was no faster in the end, due to crazy traffic on the main roads to Wailea. We were exhausted after such a long day. After catching an amazing sunset on the Grand Wailea beach and enjoying an incredible dinner at HUMUHUMUNUKUNUKUAPUA’A we called it an early night.
More Maui – Tips
- Rent a convertible. I cannot imagine doing this drive in a normal car. The views from our convertible were amazing, and the fresh air prevented my typical car sickness on curving windy roads!
- Watch for school zones and follow the reduced speed limit. After getting up at 4:00 AM for sunrise on our first day in Hawaii, jet-lag confusion set in, and we confused 11:00 AM for 4:00 PM and ended up earning a ticket 🙁
- Stop for food when you see it. Otherwise, by the time you’re ready to stop for food, there won’t be anywhere to stop!
- For full Maui Tips and Hotel Recommendations check out the original Maui post.