Maui Monday: Haleakala

Not only is Hawaii famous for it’s beautiful beaches, it’s also well known for it’s volcanoes. Oahu is home to Diamond Head, a volcanic cone, the Big Island is famous for Volcanoes National Park which contains Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes and Mauna Loa, the world’s most massive volcano, while Maui is home to Haleakala, an enormous shield volcano that forms more than 75% of the island.

Rising more than 10,000 feet from the sea, Haleakala is the world’s largest dormant volcano. Haleakala meaning “House of the Sun” is Maui’s most popular attraction and for good reason; it offers magnificent views of Maui, the West Maui Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The crater is so large that it could hold all of Manhattan! Needless to say we were not going to pass up a chance to peer into it’s enormous crater! Most visitors are drawn to the crater’s summit to watch the sunrise over Haleakala, which is truly a breathtaking sight. The sky turns a combination of firery reds and oranges mixed with beautiful pinks, purples and blues. It’s said that sunrises are like fingerprints, no two are alike. We didn’t really feel like waking up at 2am and driving for 3 hours to the summit in the dark, instead we decided to do the trip during the day so that we could get a great view of the crater. The drive to the summit was an experience in itself; Haleakala Crater Road is one of the fastest-ascending roads in the world! The road has more than 30 swtichbacks, passes through numerous climate zones and goes in and out of the clouds. It takes you past rare silversword plants, endangered Hawaiian geese sailing through the thin air and offers views that extend for more than 100 miles! You can even see across the Alenuihaha Channel to the often-snowcapped summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island!

I tried really hard to pick only my favorite pictures, but there are still so many!

So excited!

Driving up the longest hill…ever

Already 1500 feet higher than our helicopter tour

Rainbow eucalyptus trees

Lookout on the slopes of Haleakala – Kihei and Wailea are to the bottom left, the city of Kahului is to the right and directly ahead are the West Maui Mountains.


Driving into the clouds

Inside the clouds

Coming out of them

Pines at Hosmer Grove – elevation 7,000 feet

Just above the cloud belt

Feeling as though we’re never going to get to the top

On the edge of the world!

Ever changing vegetation

Road to nowhere

Finally near the summit! Our first glimpse of the Haleakala Observatories

You can see the Puu Ulaula Overlook on top of Red Hill on the left – this is the volcano’s highest point

On top of the world! Amazing view from Red Hill

Lava rock

First glimpse of the crater and the hubs taking some video

A rare silversword – they grow only in Hawaii and take 4-50 years to bloom!

Looking across the Alenuihaha Channel to the Big Island – you can see the peaks of Mauna Kea (on the left) and Mauna Loa (in the center of the picture) if you look closely!

The windchill made it so cold, but we toughed it out in our shorts :)

The crater!

What I consider to be Mars on Earth!

Please note: If you’d like to share any of my photos please let me know!

If you’ve missed any of my previous posts about Maui, you can see them here.


    • Pearls and Lace says

      Thanks Alyssa! This one was less treturous than the road to the Seven Sacred Pools, this one just went on for forever! It was definitely worth it though! As you can tell from the pictures, the view was amazing and the crater was massive! I’d totally recommend visiting it if you’re ever on Maui! xo

    • Pearls and Lace says

      Thanks Ashley! It was truly amazing! Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a lovely comment! Love your blog!

      xo jen

  1. says

    Your photos are fabulous! Since I’m planning for a trip to Maui later this month, I was wondering what your top 3 sights/activities are? I’ve already booked a luau and a spa day- I’m having trouble narrowing down other activities but we’re only there for a short week!

    • Pearls and Lace says

      Thanks Rachel! I can’t believe your trip is so soon, that’s so exciting! Let me know where on the island you’re staying and I can give you a better idea. Are you down in Kihei or Wailea in South Maui or up in Lahaina in West Maui? :)

      • how bout some cake says

        We’re renting a condo in Wailea but we’re renting a car and hoping to see as much of the island as possible!

        • says

          Wonderful! We spent almost the entire trip there, you’ll absolutely love it! It’s probably the most pristine and manicured area I’ve ever seen!

          As for activities, if you like (or love) the water like me I’d recommend doing a snorkel trip to Molokini. There are lots of companies that offer day trips to the sunken volcanic crater, we went with Trilogy after I did a ton of research and found that they had the best ratings, not to mention they came highly recommended by friends of ours who sailed with them on a previous trip to Maui. Just be careful not to pick a company that packs the boat to the brim with people! We saw a number of other boats on our trip that had a least double, if not more people on board compared to ours. We were also served a delicious BBQ lunch on the water and were given coffee and snacks in the morning. The crew was so nice, that I would highly recommend them! Here’s the link to their website:

          Since you’re in Wailea, you have to take the short 10 minute drive to Makena. It’s just south of where you’ll be and there are a number of great beaches. You MUST spend an afternoon at Big Beach, it’s my favorite! You won’t find a bigger, more amazing beach on the entire island! When you go, make sure to climb up the rock wall at the North end of the beach, it gives you an amazing view of the entire 3300 foot long beach. Another beach just down the road past Big Beach is called Secret Beach and it’s a must to watch the sunset. We had our wedding pictures taken here at sunset and it’s absolutely stunning so you should definitely check it out! Another great place to check out is the Shops at Wailea! It’s the prettiest place to shop and there are some amazing stores there: Tiffany & Co, LV, Fendi etc.

          I’d recommend spending a day in Lahaina. There are tons of shops and art galleries to check out along the ocean front street. It’s a great place to buy gifts to bring back for family and friends. It’s also home to the largest banyan tree in all of Hawaii! It shades more than 2/3 of an acre in the square by the courthouse. Lahaina’s about an hours drive from Wailea.

          I’d also check out the North Shore of Maui, the quaint surfing town on Paia is fun to explore one afternoon. There are a bunch of clothing shops, including the only Lululemon on the island (my favorite)! About a 5 minute drive past Paia is Hookipa Beach, which I’d highly recommend checking out if you’d like to watch some amazing surfers. The waves are the biggest on the island and the view from the parking lot, high above the ocean is great for seeing them catch waves!

          And then of course there are the two most talked about activities on Maui; the Road to Hana and Haleakala. Both are full day trips with the Road to Hana being quite tiring but worth while in the end. Halekala is much closer to where you are although there is not direct road from the South part of the island to the volcano so you have to drive 2/3 of the way back across the island toward Kahului to take the road up the mountain. You can’t go wrong with either of them! I’ve heard some people say that they were disappointed with the Road to Hana, but the weather can be really hit or miss and checking out the black sand beach in the pouring rain doesn’t sound fun to me either. As for the volcano, check the website for the current weather conditions before you start out, my parents drove up on their last day there and it was completely socked in and they couldn’t see more than 30 feet in front of them so they were really disappointed. But as you can see from my pictures we got fantastic weather. I’ve posted about both trips, so you can check out the pictures and see which one is better suited to you guys. All in all, since you’re only there for a week, I’d recommend doing the volcano if you’re trying to choose between the two. Everything about it is just amazing!

          Just out of curiousity which luau are you going to? We went to the Old Lahaina Luau and it was great! You’ll really enjoy the show!

          Let me know if you have any more questions Rachel! xoxo

    • Pearls and Lace says

      The view and the drive were amazing! Yes, you need to go!!! But I’m warning you, you won’t want to come home! xo

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