An Impromptu Trip To Haleakala and the View From Pa Kaoao (White Hill)

Decisions, decisions. Decisions can be tough, but they have to be made. During a recent getaway to Maui’s Grand Wailea to celebrate my birthday, I was given the rough task of figuring out what to do for the last day of our visit. The options were tough, either a drive up to Haleakala National Park to see the sunset or a drive through the waterfall filled Hana Highway. Sometimes, the decisions that we have to make in life are rough.

Beautiful. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Beautiful. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Smiles behind the railing. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Smiles behind the railing. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The short 0.2 trail up to Pa Kaoao, or White Hill. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The short 0.2 trail up to Pa Kaoao, or White Hill. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Michelle and I have experienced both experienced Haleakala and Hana Highway. And so we knew the pros and cons of visiting each. This is the though process that was going through my head:

Haleakala

Pros:

  • At an elevation of over 10,000 feet, the vistas from the top of Haleakala are unlike any that you will see in all of Maui.
  • The drive up Haleakala is “easier” than the drive to Hana.
  • The drive up Haleakala and back is shorter than the drive to Hana and back.

Cons:

  • It’s cold up there.
  • The high elevation would make us prone to headaches and elevation sickness.
  • If we stayed for sunset, then we would be stuck driving down Haleakala in the dark.

The Road To Hana

Pros:

  • The Road to Hana is waterfall heaven. There are waterfalls in almost every conceivable nook and cranny. Some are visible from the road, and others require a short hike.
  • Fresh fruit and banana bread stands can be found throughout the highway. You’ll be able to stock up on healthy snacks during the drive, not so much on Haleakala.

Cons:

  • The road can become dizzying for some. If you’re prone to motion sickness, or easy get car sick, then the road to Hana might not be the best idea for you.
  • The drive through Hana Highway can be intimidating. Many locals become agitated by slow moving cars with gawking passengers. Pull on the side and let these speedsters pass.
  • If you were to drive without stopping it would take about 5 hours to drive to Kipahulu (one way), which is about 10 miles south of Hana town. Sight seeing would likely tack on another 2-3 hours to the trip. Remember, you’ll need to reverse track and drive back the way you came.

So what did we decide on? We went with Haleakala. We concluded that the view from 10,000 feet would be unlike any other on the island. Also, the drive up is much shorter, relative to a drive through Hana Highway. Did we make the right decision? We felt that we did. Was the view worth it? Of course it was. Check out some of the views that we had from the top of Pa Kaoao (White Hill).

The faint trail there, that is the Sliding Sands Trail, or Keoneheehee. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The faint trail there, that is the Sliding Sands Trail, or Keoneheehee. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Super happy. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Super happy. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Thinking about hiking Sliding Sands Trail. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Thinking about hiking Sliding Sands Trail. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Watching the clouds roll in. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Watching the clouds roll in. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Unbelievable views. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Unbelievable views. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Intense sun. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Intense sun. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Impossible Image. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Impossible Image. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Explorers: Coty Gonzales and Michelle Sagucio.

About Coty

Founder of Exploration: Hawaii. Adventure, Minimalism, Vinyl, Typography, and Coffee + Matcha. A single space after a period, please.

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