Seeing the Best of Maui: Haleakala Sunrise, Bike & Zipline Tour
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Haleakala, the “House of the Sun,” is an astounding natural wonder. This iconic landmark of Maui attracts over a thousand people a day, just to watch the sunrise! Staying in Wailea gave us the perfect opportunity to see it for ourselves what the fuss was about. We were super excited to join Skyline Eco-Adventures on a full day adventure, to not only watch the sunrise from the summit of Haleakala, but also bike down the volcano and zipline on the slopes of Haleakala!! Itching for an adventure on the world’s largest dormant volcano? Follow along!
Haleakala Adventure #1: Sunrise over Haleakala Crater
2:00 a.m. While most people were enjoying a cozy night’s sleep, Kev and I hopped out of bed, got dress and waited to be picked up outside our hotel. Never had we waken up so early for sunrise. Ever. Kev, who is not naturally an early riser, very much doubted my decision when I booked the tour, and only agreed to come along after I convinced him this was going to be awe-inspiring.
3:15 a.m. After fueling up with some light snack and grabbing gears for the bike ride, we began our ride up to the Haleakala summit. The sky was dark and the whole island still asleep while we made our way through 29 switchbacks around the volcano’s edge. In less than 90 minutes, we traveled 37 miles and arrived 10,000 feet above sea level at the Haleakala Visitor Centre.
5:50 a.m. The sky started to lighten up. Pastel hues of yellow, pink, orange, and purple coloured the sky. The ever-changing colors leading up to the sunrise were like nothing we’d ever seen before.
6:09 a.m. Finally, the fiery sun peeked out from the horizon, making a dramatic entrance with red-orange rays. It was absolutely stunning! I could see why Mark Twain called Haleakala sunrise “the sublimest spectacle” of his life. And now with the sun up high, we could finally see what was surrounding us – a Mars-like volcanic landscape!
Interesting Fact: There’s a famous Polynesian legend behind the name “Haleakala.” It goes like this:
The mischievous demigod Maui and his hardworking mother, Hina, lived in Hawaii (Big Island). Their days were governed by La, the sun god, as he decided when there was light or darkness. One day Hina was working on making a special cloth made of tree bark called kapa, which needed to be dried completely in the sun. La frequently slept in, thus shortening their days, and Hina was unable to dry her cloth. Upon hearing this, the demi-god traveled to the island of Maui and climbed to the 10,000-foot summit of Haleakala, where the sun was asleep in the giant crater. Maui hid until morning and watched the sun begin his daily journey. As the first ray of sunshine appeared, Maui snared it with his lasso of twisted coconut fiber. La, trapped and helpless, begged to be released. Maui demanded more light every day in trade for his freedom. Finally, the two reached a deal, and the Hawaiian Islands received their additional sunlight. In honor of this agreement, the Hawaiians call the mountain Haleakala, “House of the Sun.” – Source: Aloha-Hawaii
Haleakala Adventure #2: Biking Down the Volcano
There was no time to waste! We hopped back into the van, ready for our next Haleakala adventure! The van brought us back down to 6,500 feet elevation. “As we are now inside the Haleakala Ranch, don’t be surprised to see cows roaming around,” our guide warned us.
Before setting off on our biking adventure, the guide went over safety briefing, taught us basic hand signals, and helped us choose the right bike fit for our height. Helmet on, gloves on, and down we went!!
With the guide at the front, we cruised down 21 switchbacks in single file, followed by the van at the back. The van driver and the guide remained in constant radio contact to keep apprised of tour progress and any traffic that may want to pass.
Wind blowing through our hair as we soared downhill. The speed quickly picked up, rewarding us with an exhilarating and liberating feeling. The pathway opened up to expansive vistas and revealed enchanting views of rolling green hills, sugar cane and pineapple fields, and Maui’s south and north shore!
Read More: Helicopter Ride Over West Maui & Molokai
[bctt tweet=”Itching for an adventure to @HaleakalaNPS? Here are 3 fun experiences you must try! #travel #maui” username=”fortwoplz”]
Haleakala Adventure #3: Zipline
3 hours later, we arrived at Skyline Eco-Adventures in Maui’s upcountry area. With the help of our guides, Kono and Kevin, we quickly got into gears for our final Haleakala zipline adventure!
Skyline is known for being the first commercial zipline tour operator and the most experienced in Maui and the U.S.! It prides itself on setting the industry standard for zipline safety, by using sophisticated engineering to develop zipline courses and hiring thoroughly-trained guides. Moreover, it is deeply committed to preserving Hawaii’s landscape and culture.
Our Haleakala Zipline Tour started with a short hike through a fragrant eucalyptus forest. After a short demonstration of proper zipping techniques, we were ready to take flight! Five individual ziplines carried us over deep ravines and lush vegetation, each more thrilling than the last.
One of my favourite parts was walking through an Indian Jones-style swinging bridge, 80 feet above the valley. It wasn’t until then, I realized how high up we were in the forest and got the chance to admire the beautiful surrounding nature. The highlight of our tour was the last “Pendulum” zip, where we swung back and forth on a 750-feet long zip, reaching up to 45 mph in just a few seconds!!
If you’re interested in Maui but not sure these adventures are for you, you can find more options here.
Things to Keep in Mind
Are you intrigued to explore Haleakala? I hope you do! Because it really is a priceless experience! If you decide to book the Haleakala Sunrise Bike N’ Zip tour with Skyline, I recommend you:
- Dress warmly. Bring a light jacket or even a blanket to keep yourself warm while waiting for sunrise. The windbreakers that are provided aren’t enough.
- Wear closed-toe, closed-heel, snug-fitting shoes. Gotta protect your feet. Plus, you really don’t want to lose them while you bike/zip.
- If you’re wearing glasses, bring a strap.
- Bring your camera and/or Go-Pro!
- Get an early night of sleep the day prior. It is a full day tour starting at 2 a.m so make sure you have the energy to partake in all activities.
Disclaimer: This post is written in partnership with Skyline Eco-Adventures. As always, all opinions on For Two, Please are my own and I only recommend services that I 100% stand behind.
This all looks fantastic! Except for the 2:00am wake-up time. Still, if that’s what you have to do to see a sunrise like that, then okay.
Hawaii is so beautiful.
Waking up at 2am?! I would have to be really motivated to do that, but seeing shooting start from the top of a volcano would probably make it worth it. Would you recommend doing all 3 of these activities the same day or is it better to split it up over the course of a few days to allow for other sightseeing activities?
Looks like an awesome adventure, would love to try it! And thank you for the itinerary, it is really handy and helpful.
This sounds like an incredible day! Not sure I’m a biking person, but the sunrise sounds incredible and I’d love to do a zipline some day! A great and very comprehensive review of a fun day out…
This sounds like quite an adventure but what a way to see the beauty of Hawaii! I think the speed going downhill on the bikes would get to me but I do want to try zip lining. I love that this company sounds very safety conscious.
Watching the sunrise is always amazing, but doing it from the top of a huge volcano in Hawaii sound spectacular! These views and the soft light are gorgeous. And the bike ride back down sounds so fun (and much easier than biking up the volcano!). I’d love to do this tour.
Wow! You got up so early! It looks like it was totally worth it though and you are right, definitely a unique spot. I would love to visit!
by far one of my favorite places I have ever visited! The winding road to the top was crazy to drive up let alone seeing the bikers! Beautiful pictures!
Looks like a lot of fun and adrenaline rush! You must have had a great time! 🙂
It’s funny how differently Jenn and I would approach this adventure. I love waking up early and biking downhill. I am also naturally warm blooded. Jenn abhors the morning and would rather bike up a 21 switchbacks than down. She loves biking but not up or down hills. I think it would be the zip line at the end (after copious amounts of coffee) that would finally make her smile. This particular trip has been in my dream register for quite a while and I keep trying to figure out a good sales pitch for the Jenn.
Zip lining is an amazing way to take in some awesome views. Looks like you got to see a lot!
Sunrises are always special. And the story behind extra sunlight is also interesting. Nice photographs. 🙂
Wow! So it is obvious there was to waste of time!.. Excellent pics! I love zip-lining and I often do it wherever I can… Looks like you had great fun!
This looks so amazing and so much fun! This is definitely my kinda tour! I would love to do this next time I go to Maui!
Looks like it was totally worth the very early rise that day: epic views and you managed to pack in a few other cool activities so great work! Thanks for sharing some great tips along with it as well
2 a.m. — ouch!! I get up early for sunsets, but never that early. But looking at your pictures, I think it was worth the sleep sacrifice :). The whole day looks like it was great, but I think I’d be worn out with so much activity on such an early rise.
Hiking this place would be like a dream come true for me! The pictures you provided are stunning, Cat!
This is such action packed day! The view from up there is definitely worth waking up so early, and I’d love to try the zipline too! Hawaii is just so amazing!
Your sunrise pictures look surreal! And ziplining seems like a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Great way to spend a day!
I can’t imagine how getting out of bed at 2AM just to catch a sunrise can be a good idea but your photos have proven me wrong. This is so so sooooo stunning and I’m sure it must’ve been even more breathtaking in person. The zip lining looks like an adventure in itself too. Seems like you both enjoyed a fabulous trip!
What an amazing day and such a variety of activities. From your photos it is easy to see why so many people get up so early to see the sunrise there. We have been to the Big Island, and I always enjoy learning about new things I have never heard of so we we make it to Maui we will be sure to include this on our to see list. By the way, I liked to see you were traveling with someone named Kev.
This is totally our type of adventure! Can’t believe in only 90 minutes and you are 10k above sea level! Sky captures you’ve got are so worth the early trip! Biking down is an amazing thing to do too, nothing better than downhill biking!
The Haleakala sunrise bike and zipline tour is definitely the first tour I would choose in Hawaii. I don’t like early mornings either but after seeing your pictures of the sunrise is definitely worth the effort of the early morning! The bike ride and zip line look super fun too, so much excitement, perfect for couples.
Sunrise over Haleakalā Crater is definitely worth watching. I love to watch sunrise. I would like to prefer bike ride down the volcano. It was fun to read the folk story of this place and how it got the name “Haleakalā.”
Ahhh what a fun adventure!!! This looks so amazing and your photos are spectacular! I definitely want to check them out in the future!
I’m so excited to read this! I’m heading here in August and I’ve just started doing my research. Thank you so much for this excellent review. I’m sold. Not sure how I feel about a 2 am start but from your photos and enthusiasm I think it will be so worth it. I’m such a sunrise junky!
Wow you woke up so early, that’s dedication! From the pictures it seems like it was worth it though, great shots. All of these activities seem so fun, thanks for letting us know about Skyline Eco-Adventures.
Where ever I visit I try and take at least one sunrise capture. Your tips for taking one in Maui is so helpful. I think worth the effort of waking up so early. The results are tremendous!
Ziplining fascinates me and scares me at the same time. It is something I haven’t done inspite of several opportunities. The local story of the place is interesting.
The sky looks amazing! It was definitely worth waking up so early. Then, you went for a biking adventure. You should have taken a photo of the pineapple fields. I like the views when you did zip lining. What a beautiful landscape! I would like to do these adventures in Haleakalā too someday.
This is such a beautiful place. I didn’t do the biking, but visited and was amazed.
The sky looks amazing! It was definitely worth waking up so early. Then, you went for a biking adventure. You should have taken a photo of the pineapple fields. I like the views when you did zip lining. What a beautiful landscape! You must have been exhausted after doing these three outdoor activities but you look so happy. I would like to do these adventures in Haleakalā too someday.
Well have never heard of this place before. I can totally relate to waking up at 0200 am and hearing up for some adventure. I love the streets empty but needs a lot of perseverance to fuel the wanderlust. And then when it pays like the sunrise picture you clicked, divine it is. This island looks very interesting and am sure one day I will witness the sunrisethere. Loved your shots and looks like you had a ball
I could handle waking up at 2… just not sure how alert I would be by the time the zip lining came along – looks like it was an incredible adventure and what a way to see the sunrise!
We love sunrises and could travel to any length to get a view of the magical sunrises across the world. The one at Haleakala looks really mesmerizing. What stunningly beautiful phenomenon of nature, can never get enough of it.
Wow, three adventures in one – sounds like an awesome day out. Do you have to be quite fit for the biking part? I love the idea of the ziplining, I’ve done some in the UK and want to try it abroad!
Wow, I would have never guessed this was in Hawaii! I have never been to Maui but always wanted to go, we HAVE to do this! What a great and gorgeous way to start the day!
So many fun things to do! I would love to see the Sunrise over Haleakalā Crater, but I’m so bad at waking up early. I think the earliest I have woken up for a sunrise is 4:30 am, but the photos are convincing me to wake up early just this once. The biking also sounds like something I would really enjoy!
2:00AM! OMG! The photos seem to suggest you guys did exactly the right thing. This is really an wholesome adventure at Haleakala.
What an awesome day of adventure! We got married on Maui and it’s such a beautiful destination, but because there was so much going on we didn’t get to Haleakalā – so I think I have to head back! I would definitely be up for biking down the volcano!
I’ve seen that sunrise before and it is GORGEOUS! Also you’re adventures biking and zip lining look awesome! Thanks for sharing, now I want to go back!
I’d love to visit Maui. The photographs are stunning. Sounds like you had a great adventure while you were there.
Oh wow! This sunrise was worth the 2am wake up call. Love these sunrise photos.
This is all really beautiful. I did ziplining for the first time in Vietnam and I am not good with heights and I get pretty bad vertigo. I was worried that it was going to be an awful experience, but after the initial fear from climbing up to the platform, my vertigo went away and I really enjoyed it. I love adventure activities while travelling!
I have always wanted to visit the big island. Such a beautiful and varying landscape and so much fun to be had. Haleakalā sunrise is simply stunning and really something that you shouldn’t miss. Thank you for sharing its beauty.
I recently came back from my trip to Hawaii. I had an amazing time especially that this was a trip of my life (really far away from Europe, but worth it). I have spent one week in Oahu and one week in Kauai.
For the next time I plan Maui and Big Island. I gotta start to save money 🙂
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