We’ve been to Maui multiple times, but this was my first time ever going to Haleakalā National Park. It was amazing! We partially used Shaka Guide’s sunset tour (the tour is easy to follow anytime of the day- we made an entire day of it) and also utilized the Visitor’s Center. The guide was fun to listen to and had a few fun stops on the way to the National Park as well.
We started our trip by driving straight up to the Park Headquarter’s Visitor’s Center and grabbed some Jr. Ranger activity books for our kids to get started on while we had a picnic lunch. They also had researchers from the Haleakala Observatory there offering various crafts and science activities. We got to look through a special telescope to see the sun and the kids made some neat bracelets that change color in the light. They also had a blast making “sunspot” art with very bubbly paint. It was super interesting to talk to the researchers and learn more about the observatory.
The ancient Hawaiians have a legend about the sun and Haleakala. According to the story, Maui hooked the sun on top of Haleakala and convinced it to give Hawaii longer days (you can read the full legend, and a few others, here). Haleakala itself means “House of the Sun”. According to one of the researchers we talked to, it’s actually one of the best places to study the sun as well! So interesting how that all comes together!
Our first actual hike was to Leleiwi Overlook. It’s a short hike, only .3 miles roundtrip, and offers beautiful views of the crater. When we first showed up, it was covered in clouds, but after only a few minutes the clouds cleared and we had wonderful views. The parking lot is across the street from the hike, but there is a sign letting you know that you’re in the right place.
Just pass Leleiwa, is another great overlook. This one has a parking lot right at the overlook and offers beautiful views into the crater as well.
Haleakala Visitor’s Center
The visitor’s center was closed during our visit, but there is still plenty to see in this area. We loved walking along a few nature trails and spotting all the beautiful silversword plants (in the photos below). You can also experience Halakeala’s highest summit here and stand 10,000 feet above sea level and hike one of the more popular hikes, Sliding Sands. We started the hike, but didn’t go very far. We stopped where we could look out over the crater and then turned around as it was starting to get a bit late.
Haleakala National Park was definitely amazing! I’m so glad that we were able to go and I loved all that we were able to learn while we were there. The kids had a blast and loved exploring a new place and getting their Jr. Ranger badges. Next time I’d like to check out the other half of the National Park at Kipahulu District. It’s the coastal part of the park and looks gorgeous!
Have you been to Haleakala National Park before? What did you enjoy about the park?