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Maui Rain Forest Hike vs Haleakala Crater Hike vs Downhill Bike Ride

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May 4th, 2013, 05:06 AM
  #1
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Maui Rain Forest Hike vs Haleakala Crater Hike vs Downhill Bike Ride

Hello. My family of four will be going to Maui for 5 nights/4 days in August. We will be staying in Lahaina and are not planning to rent a car. I've been looking into activities to keep us busy while we are there. At first, I was all for the sunrise tour of Haleakala and downhill bike ride. Then I thought that there is no way I can get my two teenage children up at 1:30 am for a 2:30 am pickup at the hotel, and considered the early morning tour of the volcano and bike ride instead. Then I started to read about how dangerous the downhill bike rides can be, especially later in the morning as traffic in both directions picks up. But it does seem like a fun activity and a must-do while on Maui.

Then I looked into hikes of the rain forest. There's one with Hike Maui that seems to be perfect for us. It includes a drive along the Road to Hana.

And then I thought, if we don't do the downhill bike ride, how about a crater hike? Hike Maui also offers an all-day hike.

If we had unlimited resources and unlimited time, we'd probably do the rain forest and volcano crater hikes. Unfortunately, neither is the case, and my husband is making me choose. I personally am leaning towards the rain forest hike. What are your thoughts about this?

Thanks.
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May 4th, 2013, 09:58 AM
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No to the bicycle ride. It is more dangerous than reportd. The ER at Maui Medical Center knows how many injuries come in from those trips.

I would want to center activities around the ocean. Surfing lessons? A snorkeling trip?

The Haleakala Crater hike is not for everyone.

You really need to rent a car. It makes it so much easier to sightsee, visit restaurants, and generally get around.
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May 4th, 2013, 10:00 AM
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You can do the Rain Forest Hike (aka: Bamboo Forest hike) on your own without paying for 6 people on a tour.

Rent a car and drive the road to Hana and do the hike if you like. Far cheaper and you can go at your own pace.

Bring LOTS of mosquito repellant.
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May 4th, 2013, 10:16 AM
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Ditto, don't bother paying for a tour guide for a hike. Just rent a car for a day or so.
And do some research on the bike ride; it's not a "must do" but rather a "don't do it!" activity. I personally know two people who were severely injured, and that's a scary statistic! It was even banned for a while. (Just google "haleakala/maui bike deaths")
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May 4th, 2013, 10:22 AM
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Same for the crater hike. I can't imagine what a "tour" would add other than transportation.
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May 4th, 2013, 10:28 AM
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The bike ride is definitely off the itinerary. The only problem with water activities is that I don't swim, but that doesn't mean the rest of my family can't enjoy themselves. We'll probably now have one day of hiking and three of beach-type activities. We are planning to do a catamaran/snorkeling excursion when we're on Kauai, but we can do it on both islands.

I would do the rain forest hike ourselves but my husband has little patience and gets frustrated easily. If we make a wrong turn or lose the trail, he'll turn around and go home. That's why a guided tour sounds great.

Thanks for your advice!
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May 6th, 2013, 11:38 AM
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We did a rainforest hike and a Haleakala trip with Hike Maui. If we had had more time, we would have taken the Hana tour also, which explores many different parts of the east side of the island. Here's what we got for our money:
1. A nice ride. Rather than doing all the driving to and from trails I knew nothing about, we all got to enjoy resort pickup and drop off in a nice vehicle. Instead of paying attention to the road, I got to take in the sights and enjoy my family's company during the ride. And, because our guide was so knowledgeable, we learned a lot about Maui while on the road.
2. Lunch and other supplies. Our backpacks were stocked with a nice lunch, snacks and water. Our guide carried insect repellent, After Bite and sunscreen. We brought towels, extra sunscreen and swimsuits. Wearing water sandals was a must.
3. Trail knowledge. Yes, you can hike for free, with the exception of a few private trails on public land. No, we wouldn't have found the places we went with a guide. We also did things we wouldn't have done on our own, like jump safely from the waterfall cliffs or eaten delicious fruits and flowers picked from the foliage along the way. We wouldn't have known what we were looking at most of the time, or found the stunning views our guide directed us to. It's that simple.
4. Safety and efficiency. Since it can be a long, remote trip (with no cell phone service) I was uneasy about trying a long Haleakala hike alone with my family. Our guide made sure we had a safe trip and saw all the great sights without overextending our abilities and saving us time. He also watched us for signs of dehydration, exposure, high altitude sickness--and boredom. I would not have been so comfortable with some of our rainforest stream crossings without the help and guidance of our guide. Our kids were totally entertained the whole time, AND learned a lot about geology, history and Hawaiian culture, I guess we're nerdy like that.
5. Time. Our vacations to Maui are short, and so we're uncomfortable with the trial and error approach that often comes with buying a map or guidebook and heading off into the trees. It was hard for us to take time off from our mainland lives, and so the last thing we wanted was to waste our time driving more than we had to, or finding our way to places that may not have interested us. It was worth it to us to spend a little more and make the most of our time by taking what turned out to be a surprisingly intimate, customized tour with a friendly professional who was trained and familiar with the trails, wilderness and island activities.

Of course, a tour is not for everyone and YMMV, but it was great for us. Have fun!
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May 6th, 2013, 12:03 PM
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Curious that candy has just signed on for the first time with this rather long and brochure-like commentary.
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May 6th, 2013, 12:49 PM
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I and my children really liked the bike ride down Haleakala but it is dangerous so best skipped if you are timid. I am not an experienced bike rider and had no problems. You would be surprised what you can learn on you tube and gmaps.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBSXuHwseDs
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May 6th, 2013, 12:50 PM
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Great post Candy on why sometimes a guide is a good idea.

I have been to the areas. No way would I ever participate in the bike ride. Of the two hikes, I would likely choose the tropical rainforest tour.
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May 6th, 2013, 07:11 PM
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There is a safe bike ride down Haleakala run by Marc Friezner, Aloha Bike Tours. www.mauibike.com It is different from all the other rides. You ride down the mountain with just your family and the van follows and meets you at various points, checking up to make sure you are ok.

We did the ride down with our teens many years ago and we still talk about it. Marc makes sure everyone rides at their own pace, enjoys the beautiful views and then rides to the winery. The other rides are speed rides down the mountain, which is a shame because you miss the fantastic views.

They used to meet at Rice Park for breakfast and then end the ride with a picnic lunch at the winery. When I looked at their website, it doesn't look like they do that anymore. They do now have the option of driving up for sunrise, which we did on our own.
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May 6th, 2013, 07:28 PM
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Sorry, I was trying to be helpful and used to make my living as a writer. I'll stick to posting to TripAdvisor from now on.
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May 7th, 2013, 09:49 AM
  #13
 
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Hi Candy. Please don't leave. I for one enjoyed your very well-written comments. I'm looking for things to do with teenagers for next summer and I wasn't even aware of these hikes. Fodors always needs fresh insights and so I thank you for taking the time to post, especially since no one else has chimed in on these guided hikes.

Sorry to hijack freberta.
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May 7th, 2013, 10:09 AM
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candy, I agree, please don't leave (I too thought your post read like an advertisement, but that must be your excellent writing skills).
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May 7th, 2013, 12:00 PM
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I do think Haleakala is a "must do", but I don't personally feel you need to go for sunrise and definitely don't need to do the dangerous bike ride down.

My family all went up mid-morning and loved it (we had a rental car). You'll have to see what kind of tour options you have available besides only the sunrise/bike ride one.
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May 7th, 2013, 12:01 PM
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candy, Please don't leave because of one comment. That's just how it is here sometimes unfortunately. (I also post on TA.)
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May 7th, 2013, 01:41 PM
  #17
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Candy, I appreciate your thoughts and comments. If you hadn't signed it with your name, it easily could have been a post coming from me! The reasons you gave for going on the guided hike are all the same reasons why I want to do it. Since my original post, I have decided to eliminate the bike ride from our itinerary. But we definitely are going to do the rain forest hike. I am trying to convince my husband to rent a car for a day and drive to the volcano and explore the crater on our own. I am not so concerned about doing that without a guide. I don't think we'll get lost or run into any raging streams or monster mosquitoes (thanks suze -- we will probably do what you did). Thanks!
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May 7th, 2013, 02:30 PM
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I don't think we'll get lost

I assure you you can see the trail ahead of you, and never lose sight of the top behind you! After all, it's a volcano crater, not a dense forest. (There is nothing I like less when hiking than not knowing exactly where I am at all times ).
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May 8th, 2013, 07:48 PM
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Freberta et. al, thanks. One thought on Haleakala: Sunset, IMHO, is better than sunrise. For one, it's not as much of a scene with the crowds. I also liked being able to take my time getting there at a normal time of day, and taking in the views on the way up during daylight; the drive down in twilight is kind of dreamy and romantic.

We liked making some upcountry stops on the way to the summit, like the lavender farm and the Kula Inn, and really liked that it wasn't as cold as it is at sunup. It's really a win-win, as the view is just as stunning, but without a lot of the fuss that we went through getting there in time to watch the sun rise--which wasn't even all that great due to the cloudy conditions.
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May 8th, 2013, 08:39 PM
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Candy, if you leave the summit right after sunset, how much time do you have before it gets pitch black? And how long did it take you to get down? That seem like a good way to spend the day. I'll run it by the rest of the family. Thanks!
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