Experiencing the “House of the Sun”

Sep 25, 2019 | General Information

Just about everyone that knows anything about Maui has heard the name Haleakala. The “House of the Sun” has the highest peak on Maui (10,000+ ft.), five different climate zones, and some of the most amazing flora and fauna on the planet.

No wonder legend tells us that the demigod Maui lassoed the sun on Haleakala and released it only after it agreed to move more slowly across the sky. That legend captures the notion that, much more than just a trip not to be missed, Haleakala is an enchanting adventure experience, for some of us perhaps even life-changing.

Maui has beautiful waterfall hikes, hikes deep into rain and bamboo forests, and other short and long hiking experiences. The Pipiwai Trail, for example, has several marvelous waterfalls along the way to beautiful Makahihi Falls and Waimoku Falls, passing through several bamboo forests. But Haleakala hiking surpasses them all.

The Haleakala Ridge Trail winds its way through a variety of forested terrains to stunning views of a rift valley. More spectacular views of the volcano’s wilderness are found on the Kaoao Trail. A full day on the Halemauu Trail from the summit to the valley floor and back or a strenuous trek on the Keoneheehee (Sliding Sands) Trail to the Ka Luu o ka Oo cinder cone and back will never be forgotten.

Experiencing any of Maui’s waterfalls deep in a gorgeous rainforest or trekking diverse moonscapes of Haleakala open up the special magic of bonding with nature on Maui. But as people who live on the island know only too well, visitors need to be aware of potential problems and pitfalls on their hiking adventures. Sunny days don’t always stay that way. Sudden rains can turn waterfalls into raging currents. Even surefooted hikers can slip and slide off muddy trails. Maui lures us into believing that everything always will be fine. Unfortunately, not often, but sometimes, that’s not quite true.

Sunrise or sunset, skywatching or stargazing, marveling at the cloud formations, perhaps rainbows or moonbows, Haleakala experienced while hiking is unforgettable. But another way to enjoy Haleakala and its often hidden treasures, deep valleys and moonscapes is in a comfortable helicopter.

Obviously a far different experience than hiking, a bird’s-eye view of the “House of the Sun” from the air, its spectacular crater and towering cinder cones offers very memorable marvels.Although nothing compares with experiences of hiking on the “House of the Sun,” parts of Haleakala National Park and its diverse ecosystem only can be seen from the air. Morning or evening, sights of Haleakala from the air are amazing, perhaps as a preview of coming attractions on the ground.