Mark Twain called it “The sublimest spectacle I have ever seen.”
Most people who go to Maui are there for the Polynesian beach-ocean experience, which is pretty great, especially if you are over near Paia. Some people prefer the cooler cowboy culture of up-country Maui near Makawao. Then there are about 100 people who drive to the top of 10,000 ft Haleakalā to see the sun rise. If you are up for it, it’s astonishing, and rare. Most Hawaiians have never been up there. The reason? It’s cold, as in ice-on-the-ground, sometimes-snowing cold. Bed sheet and a comforter from the beach hotel is what most do, but if you really want an experience, you are going to want to climb down into the crater and hike to the other side. You can get a permit from the park service; they limit how many people can go per day. When we went there were exactly 3 other people in there. It’s about a day hike to the far side at the Ko’olau Gap, but it will be something you never forget: 4,500 ft over the ocean, a clear view, dense green like the rice fields of Bali, but no snakes or bugs. Note: you may be tempted to try to descend the gap, but we advise making the round trip back up the other side. The local cowboys have been known to mess with the visitors by putting up disorienting signage, and there is some seriously steep terrain over there. Check The National Park Service for more details.