Though a vacation to Maui first and foremost conjures up images of pristine white sand beaches, this diverse island has much to offer even beyond the shoreline. For those who are up for a day trip, exploring the Haleakala Crater Maui offers an otherworldly experience!
About the Crater
The Haleakala Crater is situated within the bounds of Haleakala National Park Summit, accessed from central Maui. Located at 10,023 feet above the Pacific Ocean, the ascent to the edge of the crater takes visitors through six different climate zones, revealing a constantly changing landscape. The Haleakala Visitor Center sits at the edge of the crater and is a great place to stop for those wanting to learn more about the area and for hikers considering heading out for an adventure.
The Haleakala Crater can be viewed from a spacious viewing platform above, where you’ll look out across a breathtaking landscape. Looking across vistas of multi-colored cinder cones from a vantage point above the clouds provides a truly unique look at this natural wonder. While for some, taking photographs from the crater’s rim is more than enough, those who want to embrace a sense of adventure may want to consider heading out on one of the Haleakala Crater hikes.
Hiking in Haleakala Crater
Sliding Sands Trail
From the parking lot next to the Haleakala Visitor Center, head down the Sliding Sands Trail to experience even more of the Haleakala Crater’s beauty. While you may not want to tackle the full descent to the crater floor, hiking to the first overlook is just a 0.50-mile round trip, with a 50-foot elevation change. Even hiking this portion will immerse you in the otherworldly landscape. To reach the crater floor, it takes a grueling 3.9 miles and 2,500-foot descent (one-way). This is a strenuous hike only experienced hikers should undertake. The elevation change and loose footing (hence the name “Sliding Sands”) make it quite strenuous. For experienced hikers, an additional option is to descend into the crater and cross the valley floor, creating an 11-mile trek that passes by sites such as Pele’s Paint Pot and the 65-foot pit known as Kawilinau.
Hiking along the Haleakala Crater’s rim is another option on the Pā Ka‘oao Trail. This 0.4-mile round trip trail offers views of ancient rock wall shelters as well as crater vistas.