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Road to Hana v. Haleakala Sunrise

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Road to Hana v. Haleakala Sunrise

I am travelling with my friend and her mother and we will be staying at the Marriott Ocean Club from May 1 through May 8.

We would like to do both the Road to Hana and see the sunrise on Haleakala, but are concerned about the amount of driving it would take to do both. Right now we are looking at doing the Road to Hana tour with Valley Excursions, which many here have recommended, because it would limit the driving and be more comfortable.

We would also love to see the Haleakala Sunrise, but is concerned about getting up early and the time it would take to drive there. My friend's mother suggested doing a tour instead.

We are concerned that both of these activities would be lengthy and is now considering only doing one. My friend's mother would prefer to do a tour either way. I would like your advice on doing both or the cons and pros of doing one over the other. Could you also give advice on a tour company for the Haleakala Sunrise.

Also we are also looking at exploring Walilea for a day. How feasible would it be to drive to Haleakala for the sunrise and spend the rest of the day in Walilea? How early would we have to leave the hotel to get to Haleakala?


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Valley Isle Excursions
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Blue Water Maui
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Ann Arbor, Michigan
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1. Re: Road to Hana v. Haleakala Sunrise

I'd be interested in this response too. We are leaning against not doing Hana because we are really only in Maui for 4 days, but I would like to do the Haleakala sunrise and couple that with something else, so I'd like to hear suggestions. Thanks!

Destination Expert
for Ka'anapali, Haleakala National Park, Maui
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2. Re: Road to Hana v. Haleakala Sunrise


The two are each wonderful, and totally different. So, first you need to decide which is "better" for your individual tastes. The dry, colorful, rugged moonscape, colors, views and history of the crater and the mountain----or the waterfalls, rainforest, jungle like areas, dramatic cliffs of Hana?

Of course, there's never a guarantee that sunrise will cooperate and be clear. If it is, it is a chicken skin event. May through about late October give you the best chance that it will be clear.

I think Roberts or Polynesian Adventures still do sunrise tours, but I don't rec doing a tour to the mountain. You will have amuch better time if you drive-and there will be other traffic, so you won't be alone in the dark. You can then explore as much or as little as you wish, leave when you want, and go explore down to Ulupalakua or across to Makawao. There's plenty to enjoy Upcountry-and it's a beautiful area!

Hana---some will say "Drive yourself", and never understand that for many people, a tour is a better choice. Yes, driving yourself is cheaper-but a good tour is more than just a driver. It's that no one in your party has to miss lots of the "action" because they are driving. It's that the guides are pros who do it every day and know what sights, waterfalls, areas look good TODAY.

Valley Isle is a great company and they do a super job.

To reach the summit before sunrise, leave about 3 hours earlier from your hotel/condos ion the West side, about the same or a little less if you're in Wailea. In May, that means about 2:30 AM.

Toni-your instincts are good. Skip Hana. My "rule of thumb" for guests is that if they're here for a week or less, Hana is a not so great idea.

Frisco, Texas
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3. Re: Road to Hana v. Haleakala Sunrise

Great info from SW, but I'm on the opposite side of the fence. I love Hana (and the drive) and would skip Haleakala (disclaimer...I've done the hike to the cabins in Haleakala and seen the sunrise before, so that influences my decision.) As SW said, you need to determine what is "best" for you.

Plymouth, Michigan
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4. Re: Road to Hana v. Haleakala Sunrise

We visited in December and had planned to do both - Haleakala sunrise and Road to Hana. After six days on the island, we were burned out of being in the car. We skipped the sunrise, but still went to Haleakala. We left at 7:00 a.m. and got to the summit within 1.5 hours...much quicker than the drive is in the dark to catch the sunrise. It was still very beautiful and we don't feel like we missed anything. The clouds rolled in shortly before noon and after that visibility was shot.

If I had to pick one, it would be the Road to Hana. You will see waterfalls, beautiful beaches, vegetation....

Haleakala is like no place else on earth though, so if you can, make a trip at some point, even if not for sunrise.

Kapaa, Hawaii
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for Maui, Hana, Oahu
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5. Re: Road to Hana v. Haleakala Sunrise

It's really your choice!! Hard to tell you to pick one over the other. If you can do Haleakala whether it be at sunrise or at another time, try to fit it in. Hana, well, I always recommend a journey on the Hana Hwy. I've done both a tour and on my own and liked them equally well.

It would take you approx. 2 hrs. driving time from the summit of Haleakala to Wailea. Doable for a day trip if you don't want to explore the upcountry area.

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6. Re: Road to Hana v. Haleakala Sunrise

We just did both in March. We actually arrived in Maui at 9:00 pm Hawaii time and decided to get up at 1:30 a.m. since we were still on Eastern Time and leave by 2:00 am to drive to Haleakala for the sunrise. We stayed right near the Kapalua Airport and it took us approximately 2 hours to get there. There was an amazing sunrise that morning. We were one of the first cars there because we hadn't check to find out what time sunrise was, it wasn't until 6:30 am. We actually rented the GyPSy Guide which we thought was great for both Haleakala and the Road to Hana. http://www.gypsyguide.com/maui/ . We prefer to drive rather than take a tour. The Road to Hana was a long day but we felt that it was something that shouldn't be missed. The GyPSy Guide pointed out places to stop, had great narration along the way with history of the area, etc.

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7. Re: Road to Hana v. Haleakala Sunrise

Thank you so much for all the responses. I've been designated as the researcher of the group and sometimes we get into the idea that it has to be an either/or proposition. I was trying to get a better sense of both options.

Right now we are trying to decide whether to book a tour to do the Road to Hana before we get to Maui since that seems to take more time and energy. We really don't want to drive it. Because we intend this trip to be more towards the relaxing side, we likely will play Haleakala and everything else by ear. To give you an idea of our planning, we've booked the Old Lahaina Luau for Thursday night, May 5, and the Grand Wailea Spa for Friday morning, May 6. That's it right now. We really don't want to have every day planned.

Treasure Island...
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for Ronda
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8. Re: Road to Hana v. Haleakala Sunrise

My pick without a doubt would be the drive to Hana, but that is my choice, so much more to see and do. We have done The Haleakala Sunrise twice and both times l have said, and l got up at 3 in the morning for this, l must be missing something, but the sunrise dos'nt work for me. Good luck and have fun. Hubie

Saint Louis...
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9. Re: Road to Hana v. Haleakala Sunrise

I would plan on trying the sunrise on Haleakala very early in your trip. After a few days you will settle in and find yourself perhaps wanting to do Road to Hana as well.

I think the length of your trip is just long enough to do both without extra stress.

Destination Expert
for Maui
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10. Re: Road to Hana v. Haleakala Sunrise

OK I admitt it I'm getting Old(er) and that's a lot of "butt time" after a long flight with a return flight looming. I'd rather be "toes in the water A@@ in the sand", to quote Kenny Chesney. I really would go with sw's suggestion for a tour to Hana, it's gorgeous! In my mind you are spot on, make a tour reservation for Hana then decide if Haleakala "calls" to you while you are there.