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Early morning RTH and then Haleakala for sunset.. Possible?

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Atlanta, Georgia
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Early morning RTH and then Haleakala for sunset.. Possible?

I will be in Maui with my family (kids are 12 and 14) in late June. We are staying in Kaanapali.

We'd like to see both Haleakala and RTH. We really don't want to take two full days to see both destinations as we think our kids will eventually lose interest in the RTH scenery/waterfalls and the Haleakala landscape (we will see a lot of volcano scenery on the Big Island). Maybe 3/4 of a day on RTH and 1/4 of a day at Haleakala.

Ideally, we'd like to avoid having to do the long drive from Kaanapali four times (round trip to RTH and round trip to Haleakala).

So.... is it possible/feasible to get an early start from Kaanapali - say 7am - drive maybe halfway along the RTH, enjoy a bunch of the waterfalls/scenery etc. Then, turn around on RTH drive North toward county road 365 and go to Haleakala in time to see some of the overlooks, maybe get in a short hike, and then enjoy the sunset?

I know this is a lot.. and we are trying to 'check two boxes' in one day...but I think this could work for us... if its feasible. Is county road 365 the right road to take? Do I need a 4x4 to drive it? How long will the drive be from halfway on RTH to Haleakala summit?

Please help with any comments you feel are appropriate. you all have been a great help in our Hawaii trip planning thus far.

Destination Expert
for Ka'anapali, Haleakala National Park, Maui
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1. Re: Early morning RTH and then Haleakala for sunset.. Possible?


It is doable, and not a bad idea at all. As you say, your kids may well get burned out on the RTH. So, consider stopping at either Keanae or up at Waianapanapa. Waianapanapa is almost to Hana, but it's soooo pretty. Keanae is the halfway to Hana point, more or less; it's a good place to stop and take a vote on going further or not. Here's a good map:


Coming back, I wouldn't take Ulumalu Rd/Kaupakalua Rd (what you see as 365). These are local roads which are heavily traveled by tired residents, and have some nasty curves for folks who aren't used to them. Instead, go on into Paia, grab a bite at Flatbread or Milagro's, then go on up Makawao Avenue and onward to the summit.

From Paia to the summit will be about an hour and a half. Sunset in late June will be about 7 PM.

I'd pack a lunch, and plan on turning back by about 2 or a little earlier if you go to Waianapanapa. You'll need about 1 1/2 hours or a little more from there to Paia.

Edited: 07 June 2012, 00:59
ON, Canada
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2. Re: Early morning RTH and then Haleakala for sunset.. Possible?

Doing the drive half way (to Keanae), then up to Haleakala and back to Kaanapali will involve 6.5 - 7 hours of driving. Going beyond Keanae to Waianapanapa will add approx. another 1.5 hours in total. It seems like an endurance test to me (not just the amount of driving, but the winding roads that you'll be driving on for much of that time) ... I would consider dropping one of the activities and head back to the condo for some fun in the ocean, and save one of these trips for your next visit to Maui.

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for Maui
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3. Re: Early morning RTH and then Haleakala for sunset.. Possible?

Well to be honest, 12 and 14's in the back seat will quickly be bored with the "scenery" on the RTH... "Oh look another waterfall". Further more the cel phone service is more than spotty...No matter how much you point out how gorgeous it is!

I understand the pull to "do it all", but run it by the kids too. For my tribe it was always about the water

boogie boarding and snorkeling.

Sorry RTH and Haleakala are more about couples for me. Just don't want you to drive all that way and deal with a cold, more than bored teen! HA

S W Arkansas
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for Kihei, Maui, Hana, Haleakala National Park
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4. Re: Early morning RTH and then Haleakala for sunset.. Possible?

Our teen boys really enjoyed Haleakala during mid day.

The only part of RTH that they enjoyed was hiking the Pipiwai Trail and swimming at Oheo Gulch. So our 12 hour day to Oheo gulch to swim and hike was nicely endured by them but when questioned after the fact they said they would have preferred to have had another beach day boggie boarding and skimming. Boys ages 14 & 16.

We didn't even consider taking the girls 9 & 11 on RTH when they went to Maui . They did like up to Haleakala and Iao Valley..

East Coast
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5. Re: Early morning RTH and then Haleakala for sunset.. Possible?

The best part of RTH is the last half unfortunately. It is also exhausting since you need to be alert for all the blind curves. If Oheo gulch and Pipiwai were at the beginning few people would do the rest IMO.

Big Island Volcanoes are totally different than Haleakala except the summit of Mauna Kea. Haleakala has a nice drive and in places you are looking down at the clouds and the very colorful "crater"

6. Re: Early morning RTH and then Haleakala for sunset.. Possible?

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