Haleakala (Haleakalā), also referred to as the East Maui Volcano, is an immense shield volcano that actually makes up 75% of the Maui island. The tallest peak of the volcano is 3,055 metres high – you will literally be standing above the clouds!
It’s easy to visit the volcano’s summit as it’s part of the Haleakala National Park: Simply rent a car in town and drive up the gorgeous mountain until you reach the top. The roads are entirely paved and it’s super safe to drive (not like the Road to Hana..). It’s quite cold up there though (between 5 and 15°C). So make sure to bring some warmer clothes with you. And, as for any road trip through a national park, come with a full tank, bring lots of water and food. As you can see in the photos, I obviously had forgotten the extra clothes haha
And not only the peak of the volcano is absolutely breathtaking, also the road up has its fair share of stunning spots for taking little breaks or having picnics.
Haleakala was home to demigod Maui’s granny..
There is a beautiful legend to the Haleakala volcano which says that the crater at summit of Haleakala was home to the grandmother of the demigod Maui. It is said that Maui’s grandmother helped him to capture the sun, forcing it to slow down in order to lengthen the day. Have you seen the Disney movie Moana? It’s so beautiful – make sure to watch it before you head to Hawaii!
Convinced yet? It’s really such a beautiful place and makes a perfect day trip in Maui. Read more info about the volcano and how to get there here on the official Haleakala National Park website. And for more tips for Maui, check out the Road to Hana here, Lahaina here and the Maui Hyatt Regency here. For lots of beautiful photos of Maui, click over to this one and this one.
Road to Hana is a must-see in Maui and makes a perfect day tour away from the beaches into the more tropical part of the island. And as the name probably already suggests, this day trip is not to visit Hana, it’s about driving the beautiful ROAD to Hana. There are endless beautiful spots for having picnics and taking photos. So make sure you reserve a whole day for your Road to Hana trip and start in the morning.
Rise and shine early
We left the hotel in West Maui at around 10 am in the morning and started our road trip along the Road to Hana. I think the usual tours already start around 8 am and also a lot of individual travellers start much earlier than 10 am. This is because it takes a while to drive along the Road to Hana and back. You don’t want to RUSH the Road to Hana as (1) there are so many beautiful spots to discover and get out of your car and (2) driving fast on the Road to Hana will make it rather a Road to Death as the streets become really narrow and non-paved. That said, one of the reasons why you should start your trip early is to prevent ending up on such a narrow mountain road after dark.
The Real Surfers..
Once you have made your way to start the start of the official back-road of the Road to Hana, the beauty begins. Just being a few mins on the Road to Hana we passed by massive waves. The waves you associate Hawaii with after seeing some surfer movies. And yes, there were surfers actually surfing these huge waves. OMG. Obviously we had to stay there a for a little while to watch them. That’s when I realised for real that I will NEVER become one of them. That train has left the station and it probably had done so many years before haha. Life is all about focusing on the realistic dreams haha..
Anyway, after seeing how these surfers were being washed away by the waves I decided to happily stick to the longer end of the mini malibu surf boards and much smaller waves :)
Nature at its best!
Continuing driving along the Road to Hana you will come across literally countless spots to have a little break and take in the gorgeous views and beauty of nature. It’s really so beautiful that you wish you had left much earlier in the morning to have longer and more frequent breaks along the road.
Don’t get stuck under a tree…
Some parts of the Road to Hana are quite deserted and others have places where you can grab coffee, barbecue or coconuts. You do have to watch out at the deserted parts though: We stopped at a lovely, peaceful rocky beach and suddenly a huge wave came towards us and smashed over the stones where we were standing.
I fell down and had to run on bare feet through the rocks to grab back my flip flops.. Then I heard screams and looked over to the three girls who were sitting on a fallen tree enjoying the view when we arrived. Apparently the wave had washed over them and one of the girls got stuck UNDER that tree. The wave must have been so powerful that it lifted up the tree and buried one girl underneath. The girls were panicking and screaming as there were more waves coming and washing over her friend. Thank goodness, Michael was already making his way to help lift up that tree and free the poor girl. She was lucky as nothing really bad happened. She just injured her knee a bit but was able to walk slowly again after a little break.
50 Shades of Green and Waterfalls
A dozens of super gorgeous waterfalls and an impressive variety of plants later we arrived at paved roads again surrounded by a countryside type landscape and direct view of the ocean – just in time for sunset. We were one of the only cars still driving there (so much for starting the Road to Hana late!) and decided to still take another break to enjoy the sunset. At least we made it back to the paved roads again, so driving there in the dark was fine for us.
We arrived back at the hotel late at night. I don’t think we went for an evening swim in the pool that night anymore. Instead we went straight to bed to rise and shine early again the next morning :)
See here for a more detailed overview of the different must-see spots on the Road to Hana. Read this post for a day trip to Maui’s volcano and this one for more things to do in Maui.
Apart from occasional trips to New York and visits to Miami and Chicago I had not seen that much of North America until recently. I guess I always opted for Latin America when I did cross the big pond from Europe to the Americas. So this time around I was super keen to finally see a bit more of the US and also to visit Canada for the first time.
One Month Road Trip Through the US
We allocated approx. one month for the US and in order to see as much as possible of the States within three weeks (one week was already full for meeting friends in New York and Cape Cod), we decided to do a road trip from Los Angeles to New Orleans. We first stayed a few days in Los Angeles and then started our US road trip which included the following stops: San Francisco, Mammoth Lakes, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Pagosa Springs, Albuquerque, Austin, and New Orleans. The road trip was loads of fun though four weeks would have been more chilled out for having so many destinations to visit. The only problem we had was that our car broke down halfway through the trip. It wasn’t too much of an issue though. I just called a reliable towing company and they sorted us out pretty quickly.
Two Weeks in Canada
After New York and Cape Cod we finally met a friend who had been wanting to go to Canada all her life, but due to some unfortunate event in her past she was left with a criminal record meaning she couldn’t cross the border. We finally decided to remove Canada from her bucket list and she got in touch with somewhere like this Pardons Canada site to have that criminal offence pardoned. It was shortly afterwards that we flew to Toronto, where we stayed a few days before starting road trip number 2 which took a bit more than a week from Toronto to Montreal and then Quebec. As you can see, our Canadian road trip was a bit shorter as we already has had booked our tickets to Hawaii (photo below ?).
So I can’t wait to come back to Canada and explore a bit more. Same holds actually also for Hawaii and for lots of the national parks in the US. Well, and a trip do New York can never be a bad idea either haha
To read more about location specific travel hacks and travel ideas, just click on the photos below and start reading ? I will add a few more travel itineraries and travel hacks soon.