Out of the numerous activities on the island, Maui mountain bike tours have become the most popular. Enjoying a Haleakala sunrise before a leisurely Maui bike ride down 30-38 miles of winding road is an experience few forget. The dormant volcano reaches just over 10,000 feet at its summit where you'll watch sunrise. You'll then be taken to the base of Haleakala National Park to begin your bike ride. There are many bike companies that take part in this daily ritual.
The following companies are well known Haleakala bike tours for you to pick from.
- Haleakala Bike Company - Toll Free 1-888-922-2453
- Bike it Maui
- Maui Downhill
- Mountain Riders
- Haleakala Bike Tours
- Maui Mountain Cruisers
Your Bike Tour Down Haleakala
Your bike tour will begin at the Haleakala National Park for sunrise. Most of the companies running these tours also have a later option for those who'd like to save some sleep and money. We suggest spending the extra money and getting an early night of sleep so that you may take part in the Haleakala sunrise over the crater. Most Bike companies will pick you up at your hotel and shuttle you to their base yard for some refreshments and light breakfast. Once everyone is gathered, you'll be shuttled up to the top of the volcano for sunrise over Haleakala. During your shuttle, you'll be given plenty of time to snooze as well as explained the safety rules and general way things work. This ride takes anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, after which you'll be escorted to restrooms to change into your waterproof outfits. At first you may think that these outfits are silly and unnecessary, but once you hit the cold air, you'll change your tune. Temperatures at the summit of Haleakala often drop below 0 °F. You may also experience heavy moist air or rain due to the thick cloud cover.
The sun rises from the east over Hana, under the craters peaks, and breaks through the clouds with an explosion of light. There is no better sunrise than from the peak of Haleakala's summit. It's the kind of view you'll only ever see again from an airplane, if you're lucky. More often than not, you'll be given the precious view of the Big Island of Hawaii in the distance. Having a perfect view is not guaranteed because of the cloud cover. Also, your bike tour crew may rush you to find a spot to watch the sunrise. This is not for their own purpose, but for your better placement when viewing the sunrise. Haleakala's summit can get crowded for sunrise. You want the best viewing position next to the railing, otherwise you'll be watching from behind dozens of heads.
After you enjoy this incredible experience, you'll be set up with a bike, helmet, and briefed on safety hand signals. Due to Haleakala Park regulations, you'll need to start your biking from the base of the park. The first portion of the ride can be a bit uncomfortable because of the low temperatures. They give you ski gloves, but you may still find your fingers frozen at first. Most tours operate where you ride in single file with a tour leader in front and your tour van following the riders. The van driver and the tour leader remain in constant radio contact in order to keep apprised of any traffic that may want to pass.
Haleakala Bike Company runs a bit differently than the others. Instead of riding with the pack, you go at your own pace on your own. At first you may think this to be less safe, but they have the best safety record on the island because no one feels rushed to keep up with the group. We recommend you take their tour over the others. To learn more about Haleakala Bike Company, go to Bike Maui.
Once you've punctured the clouds, you'll ride on the edge of Mauis best views. You'll be high above the rolling green hills of Haleakalas Upcountry, the patchwork sugarcane fields of the Central Valley, the South and North coast of Maui, the lush West Maui Mountains, the sparkling Pacific Ocean, and the neighboring islands of Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe, and Molokini crater.
Every once in a while you'll be given breaks to take photos, stretch your legs, and access the van. Maui bike tours would seem as though they'd exhaust the average person, but with the way your bike is set up and the very little you actually peddle, it's an easy ride. The miles zip past making you want the ride to last even longer. Throughout the leisurely ride you'll cruise through forests of eucalyptus trees, lavender farms, huge pine trees and fresh green pastures. All of these areas have their own wonderfully distinct smells. Most riders normally wouldn't expect any other smell than that of clean Maui air.
After having ridden through most of Maui's upcountry area, and having watched the multiple angles of the islands, you'll have a much better understanding of Maui. At the bottom, you'll be shuttled to breakfast where discussion of all the incredible moments commences. The best part of these bike tours, if you were able to get to bed early the night before, is that you're home before noon. This allows you to enjoy the island for the rest of the day, though we recommend taking it easy and making it a beach day.
Some tours take you from the base of the park straight down through Paia. Others stop short about 8 miles up from Paia town. Local residents have urged the bike companies to do this so that the traffic in Paia isn't quite as congested as it once was. The shorter tour cuts your bike ride to less than 30 miles from 38 and keeps the locals happier. The few companies that don't observe their requests are making it harder for all the companies to run operations peacefully. With upset neighbors come stricter guidelines and enforced insurance requirements. This brings up the cost of your ticket to ride. Looking back, each of our rides has been completely satisfactory without the extra miles. This last stretch is closer to sea level and affords fewer views. Ask your company if they do 30 or 38 miles and choose the lesser in order to decease traffic, increase safety, and alleviate local frustration.
Watch this video to see what it's like to bike down the volcano.
Maui Sports Photography by Natalie Brown. All Rights Reserved.
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