Catching sunrise, mountain biking & ziplining in Haleakalā National Park

We are retrieved from our condo in Lahaina dark and early this morning (at 230am, if you can believe it) for what promises to be a day filled with adventure and stunning views. Or at least it had better be, because it’s strictly against my personal policy to leave bed before it’s light out, particularly on holiday, and I had to violate everything I believe in today. Naturally, Maui never fails to deliver and it doesn’t take long for me to be thoroughly convinced that it was well-worth even the loss of my precious sleep. After all, how often do you get to witness sunrise from the top of an ancient volcano, bike down the crater, and then zipline through the Hawaiian jungle, all in a single day?

After our pick-up at 230am, we drive in a little van with a dozen snoozing strangers to the other side of the island where we are given our bike helmets and a few pastries to nibble on in the dark before continuing the drive to Haleakalā National Park. Our driver is an odd man with only 2 remaining teeth and an underwhelming sense of humour, so I go back to sleep just to avoid listening to his mutterings from the front of the van. And also because it’s still dark and I’m very tired.

The van has to wait in a small queue and present tickets to enter the National Park, and then we are on the crater, filing out of the van and scouting out the best spot to watch the reportedly epic sunrise. We are certainly not the first ones here, so Cal and I find a rock to stand on so I can get my camera above the heads of the people directly at the railing. This is to the great displeasure of the people behind me, so I alternate between the ground and the rock every few minutes, trying to get my photos in, but also trying not to be a dickhead, a concern that is decidedly not troubling everyone this morning.

I have a tendency to get carried away taking photos and end up with 500 shots of essentially the same things, so I try and keep myself under control, even though the urge is very great to take non-stop photos of the increasingly colourful sky— every five minutes, I allow myself another photo, so I can see the progress of the sunrise. I haven’t actually witnessed that many sunrises, due to my powerful love for sleep, but this morning is already worth getting out of bed for. Every minute, more of the crater below us is revealed and more impossible colours fill the sky above until the sun is fully up and we shuffle off to see more of the National Park.

We enjoy a walk around the lunar landscape of the volcano, and admire some of the blooming onion-esque Silversword plants (ʻāhinahina, in Hawaiian) that have sadly become endangered, before hopping back in our van and driving a few minutes down the mountain to meet our bikes. After a brief orientation on how to ride a bike (if you assumed that was common knowledge, apparently not), we are off down the volcano, shooting through the cool morning air and trying to take one-handed photos of the Maui coastline as we cruise on by.

About half way down, we stop for some team photos, and actually get a very cute Field family (+Brooke) photo that will definitely be resurfacing come Christmastime. Back on our bikes, we fly the rest of the way down the mountain. After about 90 minutes of biking fun, we rendezvous with the van to drive a bit back up the volcano to the day’s final activity, ziplining.

We get a surprisingly nice lunch upon arrival, and are then strapped into our harnesses and led out into the forest. There are about 10 of us doing the ziplines, so it’s not a long wait before we are soaring through the trees and walking to the next zip. There are 6 total lines, all increasing in length and thrill-factor as you go, and by the time we reach the final zip, I actually get a bit of adrenaline pumping just waiting for my turn. Callum goes before me and manages to make it all the way up to the pole that signifies the end of the wire before shooting back towards the middle and then whirring towards the finish again. Obviously, I am determined to go farther because everything in this life is a contest, so I take a running leap and ball myself up as tiny and aerodynamic as possible. Before I know it, I’m clanging against the pole and shooting back towards the middle. Victory is mine!

It’s only midday by the time we pile into another van to return to our condo in Lahaina, but we’ve had an eventful and thoroughly exhausting day that leaves me dead to the world for the entire car ride. Before I know it, we are back at our room and crawling into bed for a much-needed nap. Sleep deprivation aside, I can’t recommend today’s activities highly enough, and I’d also happily recommend the company, Zipline Eco Tours, if you ever find yourself in Maui and in need of some fun.