“Ancient chants and songs have conserved much of the history and culture of Haleakala. Such is the case of Pele, the Volcano Goddess, battling with one of her siblings on the crater floor." - Guide of US
For the first time ever, Momma Mak came and visited me in Hawai’i – and it was for the holidays! As part of our island hopping adventures, we traveled to Maui for a few days of much-needed relaxation and fun, touristy adventures. Because we didn’t have anything planned for Christmas Day, we decided to travel up to the summit of Haleakalā, a massive dormant volcano.
Haleakalā, or “House of the Sun,” is said to be one of the most sacred places on Maui:
“Historically, it was visited only on special occasions and by certain members of society. However, Hawaiian archeological sites located towards the bottom of the Kīpahulu Valley show that everyday activities were realized here, including fishing, taro farming, animal husbandry, home and canoe construction, and travelling to neighboring islands to visit and trade. Scientists have used radiocarbon dating to place Native Hawaiians at the Crater Area between 660-1030, and between 1164-1384 in the Kīpahulu Region.”
"There is also the story of Haleakala’s famous sun. It is said that Maui, the legendary demigod for which the island is named, lassoed La, the Sun God, to keep him from rushing across the sky." - Guide of US
The volcano takes up a great deal of Southeastern Maui (30,000 acres), and peaks at 10,023 feet. There are two sides of Haleakalā that visitors tend to flock – the Summit District, which is the volcanic side where my mother and I went, and the Kīpahulu District, which features the Pools of 'Ohe'o (Seven Sacred Pools) with waterfalls, beautiful trails and more.
Unfortunately, because of time and location, we were unable to visit the Kīpahulu District, but we plan to take the Road to Hana to see this area on our next trip.
We were staying at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa in Lahaina, so the drive did take quite a while. Because we had the whole day ahead of us, though, we decided it would be the perfect time to make the trek and explore. From South Maui, the drive to the summit is said to take around two hours, but from West Maui it’s closer to three.
At a certain point (it felt like halfway up, but I honestly have no idea), you will pass a gate where you have to pay the entry fee, which is only $25 and allows you three full days of access. We thought this was pretty cheap for a National Park, and were grateful that we didn’t have to pay per person (which is what I initially expected).
Although the summit does take quite a long time to reach, once you are up there it truly is such a spectacular sight to see - so I would highly recommend traveling all the way up! There are lots of scenic overlooks to stop at along the way, but I prefer to make it all the way up and see the view from the highest point and then stop for anything that seems worth it on the way down.
At the summit, you are able to see a chunk of the island, including the Pacific Ocean that surrounds it. We were fortunate enough to see the recent, pretty rare snowfall atop a peak, but it was quite far in the distance. There are a great deal of things to do at the park, including day and night hiking, camping, sunrise and sunset viewings, and more. If we had more time, we definitely would have planned this out better and viewed the sunset from the summit and engaged in some hiking. I would definitely recommend visiting National Park Service to discover all of the exciting things you can do at the House of the Sun, and plan to spend a least a day engorged in these breathtaking views that make you feel like you’re on top of the world!