The literal high point of our Hawaii trip was a drive up to the top of the Haleakala volcano that makes up the south end of Maui. Most people make the drive up in the middle of the night to catch the sunrise while others believe that sunset is almost as good and comes without the sleep deprivation. If Maui was our first stop in Hawaii we might have considered a sunrise trip to take advantage of the time zone change but as we had already been on island time for a week there was no way we’d be waking up the kids at 2am to make the 3 hour drive from Kaanapali.
We opted for a mid-day visit to the House of the Sun because we had a nice 6pm dinner planned at Mama’s Fish House for our last day in Hawaii. After a morning kayaking tour we had lunch in our room and made sure to pack some long pants and sweatshirts because we knew it would be chilly at the top even at midday. As much as the kids are interested in volcanos and geology they were not excited about leaving the beach and pool for a long car ride.
The drive to the Haleakala Highway wasn’t too long and once we started gaining altitude there were plenty of animals for the kids to look at. We also kept looking at the giant cloud that we were climbing towards and talked up the idea of driving through the clouds.
The mid-day traffic was very light and we made great time up the twisty Haleakala Highway. After breaking through the clouds we were greeted by the alien Mars-like landscape at the top of the volcano.
When driving to the top of the mountain don’t be fooled by the first big parking lot that you see. That’s the visitor center and main viewing area for the volcano but if you keep driving to the right you’ll get to the peak where they’ve built a nice shelter to protect those who arrive or leave in the cold of night as well as those who are unprepared for the cool high altitude air.
Once at the top it’s a unique view to be above the clouds without an airplane. The air is cool, crisp, and clean which is why they’ve built Science City [ifa.hawaii.edu] way up there to house telescopes and other astrophysics tools that peer out into space.
Despite their initial concerns, the kids were happy to have been to the top of a volcano and I highly recommend this trip for anyone. You’ll have to pay a $10 per car entry fee to go into the national park [nps.gov], but it’s good for 3 days and well worth it day or night!
This post was submitted to:
- Travel Photo Thursday hosted by Budget Traveler’s Sandbox.
- Friday Daydreamin’ hosted by RWeThereYetMom.