If you’ve always wanted to explore mighty Haleakalā–East Maui’s gigantic dormant volcano–but have never experienced its top-of-the-world views and profoundly still atmosphere, there are a few things to know about this beloved hiking and sightseeing location. Today the pros at Hike Maui will share with you a few tidbits intended to make your Haleakalā Crater Four-Mile hiking trip more enjoyable.
Pro Tip #1: The tropics are three dimensional.
Even though Haleakalā is nestled snug in the tropical arms of the Sandwich Isles, it rises to an elevation of just over 10,000 feet. That makes the views of the island all that and a bag of Maui Chips (I like the sweet onion kind), it also makes the air surprisingly chilly. Depending on your tolerance, it’s wise to pack some layers for the trip. It might be shorts and tank top weather down in Wailea, but by the time you get to Kula, it might actually be time for socks and shoes. If it’s early or late in the day, then that change is especially noticeable. If you’ve ever seen us link to wool base layers or fleece pants and soft shell jackets as recommendations for personal gear, it’s because hiking temperatures are often at lows of about 40 degrees to highs of 50 at the summit. When booking your hike, ask your Hike Maui reservations agent about the best way to send your items to Maui in advance, or where you can pick up the right stuff on-island for keeping yourself comfortably toasty.
Pro Tip #2: It’s the journey AND the destination.
Whether you’re going with a tour or on your own, you’ll find that anything worth doing takes longer than expected. While the mountain seems like it’s “right there” from any point of view from East Maui, the road from the Kula Highway, for example, up to the Haleakala National Park visitors station is a switchback-rich incline. It’s quite a bit farther still to the summit trails. The good news is that this is an excellent time to learn everything that you wanted to know about the island, its volcanoes and its culture. Armed with years of knowledge and insights, your guide is there and ready to add a tidbit or twenty to your sightseeing experience. Why is Haleakalā called “house of the sun?” Ask your guide! The ride up is also a chance to take a stop or two along the way at lesser known points of interest, where your guide can add context to what otherwise may have been a tense or boring drive in a rental car that was surprisingly ill-suited for the task.
Pro Tip #3: Communicate and hydrate early and often.
With changes in altitude come changes in aptitude. Maybe your super power is taking the steeps faster than others, or maybe it’s a sense of sure-footed confidence as you negotiate the narrows. But maybe your cryptonite is the thinner air or the cold/hot temperature mix. Whatever the case, know yourself and communicate your strengths and weaknesses to your guide. (It’s not Vegas, but we’ll keep them to ourselves.) Set yourself up for success by boarding the van well rested, hydrated and nourished. Drink plenty of water before you feel thirsty. You’ll eat lunch during the trip, but a rumbly tumbly on the way to the summit usually doesn’t make for the best experience. If you do need a little snack to hold you until break time, speak up. The guides are there to make sure that you get around safely, comfortably and with aloha. Your guide will check in with you. You are also encouraged to check in with your guide, either publicly or on the down low.
Here’s wishing you the best of times at one of Maui’s most celebrated landmarks and mythological stomping grounds. Get going, have fun and wave to the Big Island from the summit.