So you’ve just touched down in Maui and you want to get your bearings. You see these two peaks behind you and your gaze turns to the left and you wonder what’s at the top. Chances are, you’re looking at Maui’s highest peak, the Haleakala crater.
Haleakala means, in Hawaiian, “house of the sun” which is not to be confused with the House Of The Rising sun in New Orleans (which has been the ruin of many a poor boy), and in this instance is a much more family friendly experience. In all seriousness, the Haleakala National Park is home to 30,000 acres of public land and comprises a vast chunk of the island of Maui itself. It is located in what is known as “Upcountry Maui” and some of the best views in all of Maui can be seen on a drive or bike up to the top.
The park itself is a crater formed from an asteroid impact some millennia ago, and left the landscape moonish and otherworldly. It’s a great hike, fun to overnight camp or horseback ride through, and plays host to a species of plant native only to this bizarre landscape: the ahinahina or silversword plant. The rocks can be sharp and the weather hot, but many a visitor have fallen under the spell of crater and its incredible vistas. My father himself lives by the crater and often told us his stories of lying in the back of a truck bed while his friends drove up the upcountry, and all the myriad stars at night. The experiences were enough to lead him to retire there, so that’s gotta say something for the island. Perhaps it’s why they call it paradise.