Top 10 Things to Do on Haleakala

One of the biggest attractions on Maui is Haleakala, the world’s largest dormant volcano, rising 10,023 feet above sea level and offering some of the best and most memorable views in all of Hawaii. Since Haleakala covers such a huge portion of the island, many companies and individuals have discovered unique ways to experience its vast beauty, from downhill bike rides through the cloud line to stargazing on its slopes after the sun goes down.

Best Maui Haleakala Activities

On a two hour drive to the summit of Haleakala, you’ll pass through as many ecological zones as you would on a drive from Mexico to Canada! Haleakala National Park also has more endangered species than any other site in the National Park System. No matter how you choose to experience the Haleakala Volcano, one thing’s for sure: it’s a must.


Watch the Sunrise/Sunset

Without a doubt, the most popular thing to do on Haleakala is to watch the sunrise or sunset. More than half a million visitors per year make the winding drive through Upcountry to reach the summit of Haleakala National Park and witness the dramatic landscape and the changing colors of the sky.

To ensure a smooth journey, make sure to fill up your gas tank and map out your route the day before. Check the Haleakala Sunrise and Sunset times to know how far in advance you need to leave, and keep in mind that cattle often graze on Crater Road from September through March, so drive slowly and be on the lookout around blind curves. The cost for entering Haleakala National Park is $10 per vehicle, which is good for up to 3 days, making it a small price to pay to experience the Kipahulu Area of Haleakala National Park. Pack warm clothes (Haleakala Outfitters rents jackets for $20), as the summit is usually between 35 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit (~2-13°C), and don’t forget to bring water, snacks and your camera! Reservations must be made in advance!

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Hawaii is known worldwide for its amazing stargazing and observation sites, from the volcanoes of the Big Island to Haleakala Observatory on Maui, where astronomers from across the globe come to experience the superb viewing conditions.

Maui Stargazing is a small company that offers private and group stargazing experiences, perfect for every member of your family. Guests meet at Upcountry’s Kula Lodge before sunset to make the drive up the slopes of Haleakala to the 10,000-foot summit, where viewing conditions are spectacular on clear nights. Since gazing is best when the moon is smallest, check the moon phases around the time of your trip and reserve your tour when the moonlight is at a minimum. Jan, the owner of Maui Stargazing, is an excellent guide and points out amazing star clusters, nebulae and galaxies, and even allows guests a close-up view of the moon. Pack warm clothing (Jan provides free jackets, pants, and hats on tours) and get ready for a truly fantastic experience!

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Take a Hike

Maui is home to a fantastic variety of hiking trails. Take a look at our list of the Top 10 Hikes in Maui to see which ones are a must on your Maui checklist. On Haleakala, many different trails are available depending on your preference and experience level of hiking. For experienced hikers, Sliding Sands Trail is the perfect challenge on Maui.

Beginning at the summit of Haleakala, the Sliding Sands Trail descends a staggering 2,800 feet to the valley floor, continuing to Kapalaoa cabin for a total of 5.6 miles or Paliku cabin at 10.4 miles. On the way back out, we recommend that you take Halemau’u Trail due to the steepness of Keoneheehee Trail. While this trail is not for the inexperienced, it does provide amazing views you won’t find anywhere else. Make sure to pack lots of water, snacks, and all necessary supplies.

For amateur hiking, head to the Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area & Forest Reserve, where you’ll find trails ranging from .6 miles to 1.7 miles in length at an average of 7,000 feet above sea level. These hiking trails offer some of the most magical views on the island, often encompassing hikers in cloudy mist through redwood trees, plum trees, and native flora and fauna and offering sweeping views of West, Central, and South Maui as well as neighbor islands.

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Bike Down

One of the most popular and thrilling activities on Maui is biking down Haleakala. Since 2010, chartered bike tours are no longer allowed to start within the National Park, which means they must go back down to just outside the boundaries at 6,500 feet to begin the ride. Alternatively, you can choose to rent your own bike and ride down from the 10,000-foot summit yourself.

Haleakala Bike Company offers excellent service and a vast assortment of tours, including a Sunrise Special Tour, where guests will be driven to the summit in time to watch the sunrise before biking down. They also offer the Summit Deluxe Tour that leaves later in the morning or the Haleakala Express Tour that does not visit the summit and allows guests to simply focus on the bike ride. Bike rentals are also available for those of you who would like to do it by yourselves, which is a great way to experience the elevation change, see the beautiful views, and have fun all at the same time.

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Ride a Horse

Even if you don’t fancy yourself a cowboy, the views from some of the most popular horseback riding trails and ranches around Maui make the experience well worth the trek. Our two favorite options for horseback riding are Ulupalakua Ranch and Thompson Ranch.

Along the winding trails through Ulupalakua Ranch you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the last lava flow on Maui at La Perouse Bay, the ocean, and the remote hills along the back, less-traveled side of Haleakala. They also have an incredible Ranch Grill with a variety of burgers and ono plate lunches so make sure to bring your appetite!

With Thompson Ranch, guests can choose between Morning Rides, Picnic Rides, and Sunset Rides, with all tours conducted by professional guides on an active Maui ranch. To ride horses at Thompson Ranch, riders need to be in good physical condition. Horses are only meant to carry 20% of their body weight, so riders must not exceed 200 lbs or a BMI of 27.

All rides at Thompson Ranch are private and Sunset Rides are restricted during winter months.

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Ziplining is a great way to enjoy the scenery of Maui while enjoying an adventurous day outdoors.

When booking a zip lining tour on Maui, there are two options near Haleakala: Jungle Zipline and North Shore Zipline. Both companies host their ziplines in the mountainous and jungle-covered landscape of Haiku.

Jungle Zipline offers two tours: a 5-Line and an 8-Line Eco Tour. What makes Jungle Zipline so unique is that prior to beginning activity operations, they spent years preparing the land below by re-planting various native Hawaiian plant species. Guests will soar above a conservation land that boasts many rare species like Pohole Ferns and Taro. Another great thing about booking with Jungle Zipline Tours is that they donate a portion of all sales to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

North Shore Zipline is another incredible choice for Maui ziplining tours. Dubbed “Maui’s Funnest Zipline,” this company offers more than meets the eye. North Shore Zipline operates its activities over a historic Maui property known as “Camp Maui.” From 1943 to 1945, Camp Maui was the home base for the Fourth Marine Division, a.k.a. Maui’s Marines. Besides offering an exhilarating Maui Zipline tour, they also have an on-site WWII Museum.

No matter on which Maui Zipline you choose to venture, make sure to book ahead of time. This popular activity books up quickly!

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Go Paragliding

If you enjoy the thrill of ziplining but want to take it a step farther, consider paragliding along the slopes of Haleakala Volcano! Proflyght Paragliding offers tandem paragliding with an experienced instructor, perfect for those of you looking to give it a try on your next trip to paradise.

All instructors carry a certification by the U.S. Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association, so you can ensure you’re in the best hands possible. They fly during all seasons and most days of the year and fly out of Waipoli Flight Park on the slopes of Haleakala. The views during this experience are amazing, so make sure to pack your GoPro and your sense of adventure.

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Camp Out

Not many visitors consider camping on their trip to Maui, but it can be an excellent way to see the island and experience truly unique scenery. If you plan on hiking the crater of Haleakala, there are two wilderness campsites available for use. Hōlua is located 3.7 miles down the Halemauʻu Trail or 7.4 miles from the Sliding Sands Trail, and Palikū is situated at the base of a rainforest cliff, 9.3 miles on the Sliding Sands Trail or 10.4 miles on Halemauʻu Trail. Temperatures and weather conditions vary significantly at these altitudes, so make sure to pack for every occasion.

For less strenuous camping, consider one of the two drive-in campsites on Haleakala. Kipahulu Campground, located on the backside of Haleakala National Park, overlooks ocean cliffs and is only a short walk from Ohe’o Gulch (aka Seven Sacred Pools) and Pipiwai Trail. You can hike through a bamboo forest to reach Waimoku Falls, a 400-foot cascading waterfall. If driving the Road to Hana isn’t on your agenda but you’d still like to camp, take the drive through Upcountry Maui to reach Hosmer Grove Campground in the cloud belt of Haleakala, just below 7,000 feet of elevation. Enjoy much cooler (and even freezing, on occasion) temperatures and beautiful surrounding hiking trails.

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View it from Above

Blue Hawaiian offers excellent helicopter tours of Hana and Haleakala, giving you a birds-eye view of Haleakala’s stunning crater, hidden waterfalls, lush rainforest, taro fields and some of Maui’s most scenic ocean cliffs. If you’re visiting Maui between December and April, you may even get a chance to whale watch from the sky!



One of the best ways to experience Maui is to see firsthand what it takes to maintain its beauty. Volunteering not only allows you to meet people and to learn about local culture but knowing that you helped contribute to its well-being is a great souvenir to take home with you.

With so many excellent ways to get involved on Maui, we highly recommend volunteering on Haleakala for an inside look at its unique history, needs, and maintenance to keep it functioning smoothly. Organizations like Friends of Haleakala National Park host service trips throughout the year to assist in thistle eradication, Nene Goose habitat improvement, blackberry eradication and general cleaning duties for the cabins located in the crater of Haleakala. In addition, Haleakala National Park offers drop-in volunteer opportunities for visitors interested in one to three-day projects.

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We hope you enjoyed Pride of Maui’s Top 10 Things to Do on Haleakala, and that you will soon have the chance to fully explore Haleakala in person!

What are you looking forward to trying the most?

Local Guide

We are local Maui guide experts and Hawaii enthusiasts who love to share the Aloha spirit and our favorite things to do on Maui.