For my first full day in Maui, my boyfriend and I started the day off with a hike on Haleakala National Park followed by a visit to Iao Valley State Monument, and ended the perfect day relaxing at Makena Beach. I have actually been to Maui with my family before when I was about 10 years old. Since I didn't fully appreciate the beauty back then, I am extremely glad with the decision I made to make a return trip to this breathtaking island.
The Haleakala National Park is a massive volcano that resides on the East side of Maui and most tourists visit the volcano during sunrise or sunset, however my boyfriend and I were uncomfortable driving up such narrow and winding roads in the dark, so we instead went in the early morning (7:30am). Going after sunrise was actually the perfect time since many of the tours have cleared out, making it less crowded and also giving more time for the temperatures to rise a little. The volcano summit is more then 10,000 feet above sea level, making it quite brisk and windy, so I advise coming here in layers (I actually wore a sweatshirt, zip-up, and two pairs of pants). There are three trails available to hike Haleakala National Park which vary by length and we chose to attempt to hike the shortest trail (it was about 6 miles). The initial few miles of the hike were quite easy since it was mainly downhill and we were distracted by beautiful views that surrounded us, however, the return trip was unfortunately quite a struggle for me since we had to trek back uphill and I am not in the best shape when it comes anything related to exercise. There was honestly a point on the return trip where it felt like I was going to die on this volcano, but after about 50 breaks and encouragement from my boyfriend, we finally made it back to our car!
Many people bypass the Iao Valley Monument during their stay in Hawaii since it is a relatively short activity (approx. 30 min). I, however, throughly enjoyed my time there and it was quite nice to see the differences of going from Haleakala National Park to the jungles of the tropical rainforest. IaoValley Monument offers two pathways, one leading up to the Iao Needle, which is a singular, needle like stone protruding from the valley (picture 2 of the Iao Needle segment) and another pathway leading down to a ravine. Since this valley is located in the dense rainforest, there were a few quick rainstorms during our visit (about 3 in the 30 minutes we've been there), however they pass extremely quickly and there is a hooded shelter on the top of the Iao Needle trail that can temporarily shield you from the rain!
Since we had quite an adventurous first day in Hawaii, my boyfriend and I decided to end the day laying out in the sun on one of the infamous beaches that Maui has to offer. Many resorts are located on this beach, however it is a public beach and you do not need to be a hotel guest to gain access to Makena Park. The beach is incredibly stunning with views of the crystal blue ocean on one side and cliffs/valleys on the other. It was also pleasantly un-crowded, which was surprising considering just how many resorts are located near this beach, but hey, whose complaining? This beach is definitely one of my favorites that I stumbled upon during my time in Maui, so I highly recommend paying a visit and if you are staying near the area, you can probably get some beautiful sunrise and sunset views as well!
Tips/Tricks and Fyi's
Haleakala National Park:
- $15 Entrance Fee
- Bring water and food if you are going to hike
- Dress in layers, since it warms up a lot when it gets closer to noon
Iao Valley State Monument:
- $5 Parking Fee (you can park outside the park and walk in if you would like to avoid this cost)
- Lather yourself in bug spray to avoid those pesky mosquitos
- Bring a towel in case you want to go swimming in the ravine
Restaurant recommendation: Kula Lodge
Outfit 2: Dress - Tommy Hilfiger (similar)