Day Excursions
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1. Haleakala/Makawao/Paia/Hookipa/Iao Valley

This ½ day excursion will take you to the top of Maui's 10,023 foot high dormant volcano in time for the sunrise, down to the Kula Lodge for breakfast, on to the Paniolo (cowboy) town of Makawao and the windsurfing/antique town of Paia for some shopping, out to Ho'okipa State Park (site of the windsurfing championships), and then over to Iao Valley.

Your day will start at 3:00am. I know that this is quite early but if you are coming from the mainland USA it is the perfect excursion to embark on the day after you arrive on Maui. After all, your body clock is already 2 to 6 hours ahead due to the time change. Of course, if watching the arrival of a new day from atop a dormant volcano is not to your liking then sleep in and start later in the day (maybe after breakfast). In either case, it takes approximately 2½ to 3 hours to reach the top of Haleakala from either West Maui (Lahaina / Ka'anapali / Honokowaii / Kahana / Napili / Kapalua area) or South Maui (Kihei / Wailea / Makena area).

Sunrise Sunset Date
Sunrise Sunset Date
6:58 6:12 Jan 15th
5:46 7:17 Jul 15th
6:49 6:30 Feb 15th
5:58 7:03 Aug 15th
6:27 6:42 Mar 15th
6:06 6:36 Sep 15th
6:00 6:52 Apr 15th
6:14 6:09 Oct 15th
5:41 7:03 May 15th
6:43 5:53 Nov 15th
5:38 7:15 Jun 15th
6:48 5:55 Dec 15th

If you decide to go for the sunrise then it is important that you understand that even though Maui is located in the tropics (same latitude as Mexico City) and our mean temperature is in the 80's, the top of Haleakala is quite different. In fact the temperature drops approximately 3 degrees for every thousand (1,000) feet of elevation. Therefore, when it is 70 degrees at ocean level, it is 40 degrees (approx.) at the top of the mountain. That does not include the wind chill factor. I always highly recommend to all who take the early morning journey to wear the warmest clothes they have brought with them, take the blankets off their beds and pack them in the car, and bring extra socks that they can wear as mittens. Be sure to wear the type of clothes that you can take off in layers as you descend from the mountain to the warm climate at sea level.

You have successfully navigated the winding switchbacks, passed through five distinct climate zones and have reached the summit of Haleakala (House of the Sun). You are now standing at the lookout . You look around at all the foolish people who are there with you, their flesh covered in "goose bumps" and their teeth chattering while you are 'Oh So Toasty' wrapped in all your warm belongings you were smart enough to bring with you.

Your eyes are glued to the east so as notto miss the dawning of a new day. That is okay but don't forget to take the time to scan the entire horizon around you. You should see an aura, a band of lavender rising from the horizon. Also as the sun rises in the East, if you turn around and look down at the ocean between the islet of Molokini and the South end of Maui, you will see the shadow of Haleakala.

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If the clouds have not invaded the crater, you should be able to see the towering cinder cones within the crater.
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The crater is large enough, 21 miles in circumference, to fit the entire island of Manhattan, NY inside of it. It is within this crater that the Apollo astronauts trained for their lunar mission in 1969. There are 3 cabins on the floor of the crater that you can camp in (if you win the lottery for the use of the cabins) and several hiking trails.

Haleakala is the home of the Hawaiian state bird, the Nene. It is of the goose family. As you drive on the mountain, keep your eyes open for them. You can also see them in a controlled environment at the ranger's station. Take note of their web feet. The web parts are slowly disappearing through evolution because the need for them is no longer required. Also keep your eyes open for the Silversword plant. It is only native to Haleakala. It lives for 20 years or so and only blooms once. After that, it dies. On the north and east slopes resides the Hawaiian rain forest which receives over 400 inches of rain per year. Second only to the Island of Kauai as being the wettest spot on Earth.

Please remain only on marked trails or paved areas of the park. Even though you might feel that the ground is covered with rock, lava rock to be precise, and therefore you cannot hurt anything, that is not quite true. So please refrain from wandering about. Also you might find it appropriate to mark your visit to the mountain by taking a lava rock as a souvenir. Nice idea but it is not only illegal it is NOT recommended. I don't mean that as a threat. It is a proven fact that people who have removed lava rock and taken it home with them have very quickly mailed it back to the ranger station at the park. The reasons are always the same. The lava rock has only brought them and their loved ones bad luck until it was returned to the "aumakua" (ancestral spirit) Maui. If you find this highly unlikely and that I might be pulling your leg, I offer you to stop by the ranger station on the mountain and read the many they have on display from people like yourself.

Okay, you are ready to continue your excursion. You are back in the car and driving down the mountain. Please put your car's transmission in 2nd gear. Let the low gear keep your car at a decent descent speed not your brakes. DO NOT RIDE YOUR BRAKES. They will have a tendency to overheat and then become useless. It is not fun careening down the switchbacks of the mountain road with no brakes. You might find yourself either over a cliff or out in the middle of a cattle field. In either case, it ruins the whole rest of the day and possibly your vacation. Please drive safely.

You must hungry by now. Why not enjoy a breakfast with a view. Stop in at the Kula Lodge and savor the taste of a wonderful fare while taking in the breathtaking view of the Kihei coast, the West Maui mountains, Molokini and the Island called Kaho'olawe. I would recommend an item off the menu but it is all so good it would be unfair to the chef.

Now continue down the mountain. You will come to a sharp curve to the left with a road that leads off to the right leading into some trees. This is the road you want to turn on to. It is a relatively straight road through the trees. Along on the right-hand side you will pass the Haleakala dairy. At the end of this road, turn left. This will take you into the small cowboy town known as Makawao.

Makawao has some very unique shops that can't be found anywhere else. The one store I truly enjoy is located on the right side after you go through the 4 way stop intersection. It is a children's toy store. The items found within the shop are those toys of yesteryear. Worth a look!

Continuing on the road you drove in on will take you down to the ocean and the small town of Paia. As you travel down this road, the views are fantastic. Keep a sharp eye out for the driveways on the right side. Not necessarily for exiting cars but the driveways are long and lead to some of the large mansions owned by the plantation owners.

Paia is another town filled with many interesting shops; antiques, clothes and other items handmade locally. Of course, there are the T-shirt shops also.

At the end of this road, turn right. You are now heading in the direction of Hana but you won't be going that far. In fact, you will only be driving about 2 ½ miles to Ho'okipa park. This is where the windsurfing championships are held annually. If the conditions are right for the windsurfers, you should see a lot of them doing their thing. They are amazing to watch. They fly over the waves sometimes performing flips or spins. Quite a thrill. You will need a telephoto lens for your camera to get a decent shot of the them.

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Be careful where you park. Our Maui Police are very diligent in their duties when it comes to ticketing illegally parked vehicles in this area. Spend as much time as you want here.

Now drive back to Paia. Make note of the location of the restaurant called 'Mama's Fish House', it will be on your right as you drive. If you want a spectacular fish dinner, this is the place.

Continue on this road, Hana Highway, through Paia, past Baldwin Beach Park, into Kahului, past the newly renovated Kaahumanu Mall, past Maui Community Collage, up the slow incline toward the underpass, stay in the right hand lane, into the town of Wailuku. The major intersection in Makawao is Market Street. If you are in the mood to do some more shopping, it would be done on this street. Go through the intersection, past Mcdonald's Restaurant, straight through the next stop light onto a narrow 2 lane road. Follow this road. Veer off to the right at the 'V' in the road. You are now entering Iao Valley.

On the left you will come upon a Japanese garden. In the same area on the right is a 'pullover'. In this 'pullover' you will see a round metal tube sitting atop a pole. The tube is angled in an upward fashion If you were to look through this tube, you would see a natural lava rock formation jutting out from the side of a hill. The formation resembles the profile of the late President John. F. Kennedy.

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At the end of this road is a parking lot. You are now at the Iao Valley State Park. Walk up the path, over the bridge, toward the little shack. Look all about while you are doing this. You will see some beautiful waterfalls. Some very tall. You will see the Iao Needle. There are several trails that you can hike. Be aware that the sun rarely shines in the valley so be prepared to get a little wet. We like to think of it as "Maui Sunshine".

Head back towards Wailuku. You are now on your way back to your hotel or condo for a well deserved siesta. If you turn right at the first stop light you come to after leaving Iao Valley, you will now be on highway 30. This will take you back to Lahaina or Kihei. There is one last interesting stop, if you are not exhausted by now, and that is the "Maui Tropical Plantation". You will see it on your right-hand side as you drive on highway 30. Here you can learn about the crops and plants of Maui. I think it is worthwhile!

I hope you enjoy your adventure and took a lot of pictures. It is now time to sit back, relax, have a tropical drink and inhale our warm tropical breezes.


Chances are that visitors to Maui have heard about this small town at 'The End of the Road'. They are told or have read that it is a must see. Although there is some truth to this, they are under the misconception that they are taking this all day trip to only experience this little town. The town of Hana is unique in the fact that the next closest town is a 2½ hour non-stop drive along a 50 mile stretch of a winding coastal road that crosses over some 60+ bridges (many one-lane wide).

If all you were to do was to get in the car and drive straight through to Hana, when you finally arrived you probably would feel mislead and cheated. It is important to understand that it is not the town of Hana that makes this trip worthwhile but the journey to get there. I tell all who wish to make the 'Heavenly' trip to be sure and stop along the way TO Hana and enjoy the coastal vistas, the numerous waterfalls at every turn and the wayside parks. If you come upon some place you wish to investigate, DO SO THEN. If you say to yourself and those traveling with you that you will stop there on the return trip, you won't, take my word for it. All you will want to do on your return is to get back to your condo or hotel as fast as possible.

I could try to relate to you here all that you can expect to see on your way to Hana and beyond but it would take up too much of your time. I highly suggest that you rent the 'Hana Audio Cassette Tour'. This tape is played while you are on the road and points out things to see and do. It is geared to mile markers, sign posts and landmarks. It is like having a private tour guide that you can turn off when he/she becomes too annoying. It also allows you to control your time and not have someone tell you when it is time to move on. After all, isn't that one of the reasons you go on vacation, to get away from the clock. You are now in Maui and should live on Maui time (Maui time="whenever").

Suggestions: Leave no later than 8:30 am from your condo or hotel (earlier is better for the trip there should be about 3½ to 4 hours), take a small snack and juices, bring a swimsuit, towels, suntan lotion, and a change of clothes. If anyone is prone to car sickness may I suggest a box of ginger snap cookies. Ginger is a root that nature has supplied that inhibits motion sickness. Most people prefer to use modern medicine, dramamine. This is fine except it has a tendency to create drowsiness. The trip would not be worth it if you are too sleepy to enjoy. Try the ginger. You will be amazed and awake.

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