Maui Volcano (Haleakala) Drive Guide
My Maui Volcano (Haleakala) Drive Guide page includes driving directions from different Maui locations such as Kaanapali and Lahaina, maps, best time to schedule your drive to the summit and crater, and tips to prevent you from wasting your day.
Best Time of Day to Visit Haleakala?
Not knowing the best time to reach the Haleakala volcano summit is the most common reason for a wasted day
The problem? Getting to the summit after the crater has become obscured by clouds.
Make this an early morning trip because the clouds usually flow through the crater late morning. If you travelled from the U.S. mainland, schedule this trip early in your vacation - you will already be waking up in the middle of the night Hawaii time as your internal clock adjusts to the time change.
Better to absorb some resistance to an early morning departure from your passengers, than to arrive late to the summit and have your passengers blame you not being able to view a crater obscured by clouds.
Maui Volcano Haleakala - Drive Map & Time
Count on over two hours to drive from the west Maui area (Lahaina and Kaanapali) to the summit of Haleakala. You want to leave early in the morning to beat the clouds to the summit.
Drive time to the Haleakala volcano summit has two parts:
1. Drive time from your Maui hotel to Kahului, which is most likely the airport where you landed when you arrived in Maui. The way the roads are laid out, most Maui vacationers will end up driving right by the Kahului airport on their way to Haleakala. So just use the drive time from your lodging to the airport as the first part of your calculation. Some examples:
• Kaanapali to Kahului - 35 minutes
• Lahaina to Kahului - 35 minutes
• Kihei to Kahului - 20 minutes
• Makena to Kahului - 35 minutes
2. Drive time from Kahului to the volcano summit is about 90 minutes.
Haleakala Crater Road Drive Map & Directions
My Haleakala Crater Road drive map and directions as you approach Haleakala National Park:
• Use the general Maui drive map in the section above to get you to the general area of Haleakala
• Use this Crater Road map to orient you when to turn from State Highway 37 onto Highway 377, also called Haleakala Highway.
• Then turn from Highway 377 onto Highway 378, also called Crater Road. Be careful as you navigate the constant switchbacks during the steep ascent along Crater Road to the volcano summit.
Drive time for this ascent along Crater Road (in clear weather, excluding stops) is about an hour of the 90 minute time listed above for the drive from Kahului to the volcano summit.
The driver must concentrate on the road and oncoming traffic during the ascent and descent. There are only a few vistas with limited parking that allow you to pull off the road and admire the view.
Remember, you want to get to the summit before the clouds flow into the crater below the summit.
So make your stop at the Haleakala National Park Visitor Center a quick one. In addition to a free park pamphlet, their store has a good selection of books that you can purchase.
After the Visitor Center, drive straight up to the summit and admire the beautiful unobstructed crater view.
Then visit the various visitor centers and stops on your way back down. If the clouds do roll in, you will have already seen the best views at the top.
Return Trip - Descent from the Summit
Now that you beat the clouds to the crater, you can take your time on your return trip down from the summit and make some stops.
First we stop at the Haleakala National Park Visitors Center for a casual visit in the gift shop and for a bathroom stop. An outside lava rock garden area includes several silversword plants.
Next stop is our favorite - the Sunrise Country Market and Protea Farm. We like the inexpensive prices for their unique flower protea arrangements - we purchase one for less than $20, then we get to enjoy a protea bouquet in our hotel room for our entire vacation.
They also have light entrees such as sandwiches, drinks, and snacks that we can eat at their outside picnic tables.
Nearby Kula Lodge has a gift shop with unique local arts and crafts. There are also many flowering plants and trees on the grounds at this lodge.
Their restaurant decor makes us feel like we are in a wooden hunting lodge. The burgers and sandwiches are about $10 for lunch, and the large wall of windows gives us a sweeping view of Maui and the surrounding ocean.
Maui Volcano Haleakala from Maui Volcano Haleakala Drive Guide