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larad Aug 24th, 2008 08:42 AM

Maui Questions
I know that Haleakala at sunrise is a must. We are staying in Kanapali. Is it worth doing a tour to pick us up at the hotel and drive us to the top? If so, recommendations for companies would be great. Or should we just do it on our own. I'm a little concerned about driving up in the dark.

Second question - I have heard of a couple of companies that do one day tours to the Big Island. I would love to see lava flow. We don't have time to stay overnight on the Big Island. Is a one-day tour a good idea or not worth it? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.


suze Aug 24th, 2008 09:08 AM

Completely personal opinion but I would not be willing to drive the road to Haleakala in the dark, myself.

I would take a tour or wait and go later in the morning (which is what my family chose to do as no one was willing to get up in the middle of the night to be there at sunrise). It is an amazing place any time of the day.

trippinkpj Aug 24th, 2008 09:50 AM

We went in the morning, arriving at 8am. I thought it was great. Although we were staying in Haiku/ Upcountry so it only took an hour. Since it's more like a two hour drive from Kaanapali, I'd take the bus tour at sunrise. I'm not familiar with the bus tour companies.

sylvia3 Aug 24th, 2008 11:37 AM

Way overrated, and not a "must" in my opinion. Strange twisty mountain road in the dark, frigid, often cloud covered "event". You'd be better off going up (in the daylight)to view the caldera and stay for the awesome sunset and stars.

Marginal Aug 24th, 2008 12:01 PM

I agree with sylvia3.

It's a "must" so that tour agencies can make money off of you.

suze Aug 24th, 2008 12:20 PM

I didn't want to be so blunt right from the get go :-) but I also definitely do NOT consider Haleakala at sunrise "a must".

suze Aug 24th, 2008 12:21 PM

Some of my favorite parts of this drive were stopping at the various areas (some were available for camping) and walking the trails on the way up to the top. At the top, while spectacular, is also freezing!

sylvia3 Aug 24th, 2008 01:08 PM

Our favorites are the different microclimates on the way up, esp. the eucalyptus forest, then the open range on the volcano slopes, and the changing colors of the crater as the sun goes down. Take a picnic, park in one of the west-facing overlooks that backs into a crater view, and enjoy. (enjoy not being apart of a caravan of cranky cold people, and feeling as though you have the mountain almost to yourself!)

Suzie Aug 24th, 2008 01:08 PM

After 5 or 6 visits to Maui I agree with those who say that it's not a must at sunrise.

Linleedo1 Aug 24th, 2008 02:04 PM

We drove up around 7:30am & I would say no matter what time you go up, it is a beautiful place! Being on vacation, it was not a desire to get up super early with the jet lag,etc. It's a beautiful ride up. Be sure to pull over for the vistas & take some pictures. The ones on the side of the road, with the clouds below are unbelievable.

dusty56438 Aug 24th, 2008 04:45 PM

I think it is a must. It was one of the best sunrises I've ever seen.

The drive up is easy in the dark. Because you are going up, you really don't need to worry about the road.

Going down, be careful day or night.

offlady Aug 24th, 2008 07:01 PM

GrayLine's local affiliate (Polynesian Adventures) has a sunrise tour to Haleakala. They will pick you up at your hotel in Kaanapali and get you up the crater in time for sunrise. They usually use the mini buses with fewer people (not the large limosine bus) so often times the bus driver is willing to stop for picture taking, refreshments, etc. at your request.

KarinNp Aug 25th, 2008 05:30 AM


We drove to Haleakala leaving the beach at 3am, dressed in layers, stopped to view and hike the way down.

I usually get car sick but didn't in the dark plus DH is excellent driver and never felt unsafe.

If they can bike down the mountain I am certain most of us can drive it.

Lava flow does not come with the promise of seeing lava flowing. But we always go, lol.


karussell Aug 25th, 2008 09:48 AM

We've done the Haleakala sunrise bike tour twice and, quite frankly, one time was too many. We were not impressed with the 'pre-dawn colors' that the guids kept touting. For us, the afternoon/late morning is equally beautiful - actually, prehaps more so because we were there in a happy, well rested state of mind with full bellies and positive attitudes eager to hike, bike and enjoy the sites.

By the way, the bike ride down is a lot of fun. I'll look up our tour company we used last time and post it if I can find the name.

Leburta Aug 25th, 2008 10:49 PM

Bike tours to Haleakala were banned last year (see: I have not heard that they have resumed.

I have been to Haleakala at sunrise and thought it was breathtaking. I was a passenger, but the driver did not complain about any difficulty making the drive. It was a bit chilly for me, so unless you're from a cold climate, you might layer up. Many people were unprepared for the chill and were uncomfortable.

In my opinion, a one-day tour to the Big Island to see the volcano is not worth the special trip. As mentioned earlier, actually seeing the lava flowing is iffy. If you have the time to see the other parts of Volcano National Park, then the trip will be worth it even if the lava's not flowing, but a one-day trip probably will not allow for that.

dusty56438 Aug 26th, 2008 03:44 PM

"Bike tours to Haleakala were banned last year"

Only the part inside Haleakala National Park is banned for tour companies.

Companies are still operating, although they start the downhill biking from outside of the park.

At least one of the companies will take you to the summit to see the sunrise, then drive back down until they are outside of park boundaries & begin the downhill bike trip.

For lava flow on the Big Island:

Many tour companies have Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as part of their tour. Right now the lava flow is outside of the park area & they don't go to the lava flow viewing area.

There may be a couple tours that go to the lava flow viewing area & not the park. But I don't know of any.

Before you book any Big Island tour, make sure you are getting what you want.

You can always book flights & rent a car & go to the places you want to. Best time to view the lava flow is after sunset. If you cannot stay overnight, it probably is not a good idea to go to the viewing area.

andrews98682 Aug 26th, 2008 04:08 PM

I drove up Haleakala for sunset a few years ago and it was great. But I could not imagine driving up there in the dark. It's one hairpin turn after another alongside a cliff thousands of feet up with no barriers. In other words, a white-knuckle experience. For some reason, the drive down seemed easier.

dw732 Aug 26th, 2008 04:51 PM

Regarding the Big Island, the absolute best way to view lava flowing is to take a helicopter tour. When we did it, we hovered right over the vent and saw lava sloshing around down there. He then went down the side toward the ocean and we could see the lava flowing under the ground thru some of the holes in the surface. Pretty amazing. I suppose this would be do-able in a day; fly over to Hilo or Kailua-Kona and then helo from there. If money not an object, it's definitely worth seeing, but then you won't be able to spend anytime in Volcano NP which would be a shame. Perhaps next visit should plan on staying on Big I and doing it all.

Kerry392 Aug 26th, 2008 05:29 PM

Sunrise is so worth the drive! The colors are beautiful, especially if there are clouds. The ride up is twisty, but you can take your time. We were not scared. It is a once in a lifetime experience! Make sure you bring plenty of warm clothes and stuff to eat. There is nothing available!

Dewd Aug 27th, 2008 12:22 AM

I am a Maui resident so let me put in my two cents:

1. Seeing Haleakala at sunrise is NOT a "tradition" as the tour companies will tell you - it is simply a marketing pitch.

2. The colors are NOT the best at sunrise. As a matter of fact, because of the angle of the sun, you can barely see the colors. Noon (or mid-day)is best for the colors.

3. It is REALLY COLD at sunrise.

4. The "sunrise event" is PACKED with tourists.

My Advice: Wait until mid-morning and then go on up. (The drive is awesome!)

You can judge how the visibility will be by checking out the cloud cover before you trek up there. There is usually a cloud BELOW the summit (called "Pele's Lei"). If the summit is COVERED with clouds, then you may want to hold off until the clouds clear.

Have fun. Aloha!

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