Maui Volcano Tour with Valley Isle Excursions

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When planning a trip to the Hawaiian island of Maui, I knew I wanted to schedule a Maui volcano tour. I always thought I wanted to do the sunrise bike tour that seems to be on every traveler’s bucket list, but when I reached out to Valley Isle Excursions, they recommended their Haleakala Maui Tour, which is the newest tour on their lineup. (They are best known for their Road to Hana tour.) After passing the sunrise bike tour on our way up the mountain, I can confidently say I made the right choice. It didn’t look fun at all, as the bikes are sharing the narrow, winding road with cars driven by tourists. No thanks!

Valley Isle Excursions - Haleakala Maui Tour

Haleakala Tour Pickup

Prior to the day of my Haleakala tour, I was given a hotel pickup time of 6:40am, and on the day of the tour, the driver was waiting outside my hotel. After picking up the other guests on the tour, we stopped at a local country club for a light breakfast buffet, which is included in the price of your Haleakala tour. The breakfast is very light, fruit and muffins, so if you need a hearty breakfast, you might eat a bit beforehand, or bring along some snacks. Valley Isle explains, in response to a TripAdvisor review, that the breakfast is intentionally light due to the winding roads that all of their tours take. If you get carsick, keep this in mind as well.

Valley Isle Excursions - Haleakala Maui Tour

After breakfast, we piled into the van, where our guide, Junior, gave us an overview of the day. We each received a map and were able to follow along with all of the stops we would make during the all-day Maui tour. As a map fanatic, I loved having my own map to follow along throughout the day, as well as take notes on places I’d like to return. Our first stop was a viewpoint just outside of Kahului, where we had a great view of the entire Haleakala volcano. Junior explained to us different Polynesian customs, one of which is to seek permission from the mountain before approaching. He then brought out a ukulele, and offered up a song before heading up to the summit of Haleakala.

Valley Isle Excursions - Haleakala Maui Tour

Throughout the day, Junior was a wealth of knowledge about the island, Hawaiian history and Polynesian culture. Guides like this are the reason I prefer tours over self-guiding. I had a rental car and could have easily driven myself to the Haleakala crater, but I would have missed out on so much knowledge and background! Plus, if I’m not driving, I can safely gawk at all of the amazing scenery!

Haleakala National Park

Our Haleakala tour included many stops in Haleakala National Park, including two visitor centers and a few scenic overlook stops. The crater and summit are over 10,000 feet elevation, so be prepared for wind and cool temps! I wore a long-sleeve shirt and brought along a rain jacket for wind protection and was fine with shorts and sandals for the short periods we were out walking around. When we visited, it was cloudy and we quickly drove through and above the clouds. The landscape at the summit is so different that it looks like you are on the moon! We were in a rush, though, to beat some of the clouds rolling in, which you can see in the photos.

One of the most interesting things I learned on this Haleakala tour is that the crater is not made from a volcanic eruption, but from erosion. Of course, the mountain is a volcano, but there are different natural forces at work here, as opposed to the Big Island’s volcanoes, which are still active!

Maui Lavender Farm

After visiting all of the crater viewpoints and the summit, we made our way back down the mountain to our lunch stop at a lavender farm. Lunch was provided by Valley Isle Excursions, and we were free to wander the property while Junior got our BBQ chicken lunch ready. As usual, I was carry-on only for this trip and my luggage was bulging, or I would have spent a ton of money in the gift shop at the lavender farm. Lavender is my favorite, and they had so many great products. I did walk away with some dryer sachets and a lavender scone, though!

Maui Lavender Farm

‘Iao Valley State Monument

The next stop on our Haleakala tour is ‘Iao Valley State Monument, after driving through several small towns and through Kahului. At the I’ao Valley, we had the chance for a short hike up to a viewpoint and it was well worth the 100 steps up! Maybe it was the clouds or rain this day, but the fog hung in the area, giving everything a mystical feel. The scenery is straight out of Jurassic Park, and reminded me of pics I’ve seen of St. Lucia.

Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge

After a bit of hiking in the rain at ‘Iao Valley, we set off for our last stop of the day, Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, when we arrived the visitor’s center had just closed, so we missed out on some of the exhibits. The ponds, though, were still open and we started off on a walk around the ponds to see some of Hawaii’s bird life. What we saw instead was a very large black boar, which was blocking our path to hike around the ponds! Despite this hiccup, we were still able to view some of the birds before boarding the bus back to our hotels.

Kealia Pond National Wildlife RefugeBlack boar blocking our path!

All told, the Haleakala Maui tour is about 11 hours, and the tour price ($141.99 online) includes breakfast and lunch, plus water and soft drinks throughout the day. It’s a great option for those who want to see the Haleakala crater, but also would like a tour of the island of Maui. If I get back to Maui again, I would definitely join Valley Isle Excursions for their popular Road to Hana tour!

Headed to Maui? See the Haleakala Crater with Valley Isle Excursions - @hanamauitour Click To Tweet

Have you been to Maui? What was your favorite part of the island?

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Maui Volcano Tour

I was a guest of Valley Isle Excursions. These are solely my personal opinions and I was not financially compensated for this post.


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14 thoughts on “Maui Volcano Tour with Valley Isle Excursions

  1. Great and informative post, I’ve been to maui but I’ve never seen this mountain because we stayed by the coast. Looking forward to doing some exploring next time we go so I’ve pinned this to go back to! Cheers and thanks!

    • For what you think of as a relaxing beach destination, Maui actually has a lot to explore! If you can tear yourself away from all the amazing resorts!

  2. I loved Maui and was very lucky to take my mom there on a company-sponsored trip. What a beautiful Island. I love all of the national parks and beautiful scenery that we got to see and looking at your pictures remind me of all of that. Although I generally prefer solo tours I think I would have to agree with you if I had a tour guide like Junior to not only show me the sites but also share with me his culture and Heritage that would be an added bonus. The next time I go I’m definitely going to check out the Haleakala tours even though they would wake me up at the butt crack of dawn!

    • Well, it’s not as early as the sunrise tours, so that’s a plus! I am usually a pretty independent traveler as well, but I do enjoy the cultural aspect of having a guide!

  3. Oh I didn’t know Maui did volcano tours too. We were on the Big Island and did a volcano tour from there which was also to the live lava in the ocean, amazing experience. I’ve never been to Maui but if I plan to go back to Hawaii at some stage, I’d love to go there and will definitely do this tour, thanks for recommending the company!

  4. This looks like so much fun. I’ve done the sunrise tour twice now, but becuase it’s so cold in the morning, I never felt like I got to see the crater. I was just so focused on getting back into the warmth again. This looks like the perfect way to do it!

  5. Maui and Hawaii is on the top of my list for next year. Saying that, this tour looks perfect, and I’d like to take some amazing shots like yours!

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