Photo by Biederbick & Rumpf/age fotostock
Haleakalā National Park
Haleakalā, a huge and dormant shield volcano, forms more than 75 percent of Maui's landmass. As such, it pretty much demands you ascend it to peer down into the crater, into the island's very soul. Legend claims the demigod Māui snared the sun here, freeing it only after it swore to inch more slowly across the sky. The 38-mile, two-and-a-half-hour drive climbs from sea level to 10,023 feet and through as many ecological zones as a spin from Mexico to Canada. One of the most popular activities remains cycling down from summit. Go self-guided if you're confident—or join an escorted tour. Once you've mastered the motion (and the 21 switchbacks along the road), effortless downhill freewheeling rewards you with unsurpassed views.
By Amanda Castleman, AFAR Local Expert
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House of the Sun - Haleakala
One of the best sunrises you'll ever experience and I've been fortunate to do it twice. The day starts with hoodies and jackets and as soon as the sun came up we hopped on our bikes and started making our way down. We removed layer after layer and made it back to sea level just in time for breakfast in our shorts and t-shirts. Hope you're a morning person though - the 2am wake up call can be brutal. Coffee for the two hour drive up and good conversation will make it all worth the wait.