Haleakala, a Magical Maui Sunrise

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There is perhaps no more beautiful place to watch the sunrise in the islands than on top of Maui’s spectacular Haleakala or “house of the sun.” It is at Haleakala that the demigod Maui is said to have pulled the sun from its journey across the sky to extend the length of the day and the mountain is one that continues to hold important cultural significance for Native Hawaiians. The drive to the 10,023 foot summit is long (about 1.5 hours from the airport) and winding (lots of switchbacks and hairpin turns), but the view from the top – where you can see three other islands on a clear day – is well worth the effort. You’ll want to watch the fiery sun come up from the Haleakala Visitor Center at 9,740 ft, but be sure to bring warm clothes and blankets because temperatures before dawn can be below freezing. If you’re not up for the sunrise, Haleakala is still worth a visit. Not only are there over thirty five miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding, but the mountain is home to native birds such as the Nene, or the native Hawaiian goose, and rare and endangered species of plant life such as the 'ahinahina, or silversword. You will see nature brought to life in a manner unlike anywhere else in the world, as about ninety percent of Haleakala's native flora (over 370 species) is found only in Hawaii. The Haleakala National Park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so there's no excuse to miss it while on Maui. Great information on visiting the park and summit may be found here at the National Park Services website.

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