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One of the most popular tourist attractions on Maui is Haleakala, a large dormant volcano whose slopes are the heartland of Maui. While tons of people ascend to the summit each morning to watch the sunrise, the lucky ones get to follow it up with a downhill bike ride from summit to sea.
In my opinion, biking down Haleakala is one of the best ways to experience the crater and Upcountry Maui while getting a little dose of excitement (van tours can be sooooo boring!). You don’t even need to be in great shape to do the bike ride…it’s all downhill! When I’ve done it, I probably pedaled less than about 10 rotations the entire time (this might vary depending if you’re ending in Paia or Haiku).
There used to be dozens of companies that offered some version of a sunrise/bike tour down Haleakala, but in efforts to minimize the impact of visitors to the National Park, starting in 2018 only four companies where awarded permits to operate road tours within the park.
So while many companies used to take you up to the summit in a van so you could see sunrise, and then put you on your bike at the entrance to the National Park (no bike rides are available WITHIN the park), the options are now much fewer. There’s only one company that offers sunrise tours at the summit with the option to bike down. There’s another company that offers the same but it also includes ziplining. And there’s also the option of going with a company that will take you up midmorning (no sunrise), and put you on bikes just outside of the National Park entrance. Depending on what you’re looking for (and what your budget is), all three can be good options. I’ll detail the three companies I recommend below, but first I would caution to look out for companies who promise sunrise at Haleakala with a bike tour but don’t have a permit. If you go with them, you’ll be watching sunrise from about 6,700 feet (outside the National Park entrance), not the summit. And if you’re going to go through the trouble of getting up that early and trekking all the way up there, you really ought to see it from the top.
RELATED: Not very familiar with Maui? Read up on the lay of the is(land) and where to stay plus my favorite beach resorts, budget hotels, Airbnbs, honeymoon resorts, family friendly resorts, luxury resorts, and boutique hotels plus my area specific guides (including where to stay, eat, and things to do) for Wailea and Ka’anapali.
Bike Maui: Bike Maui is the only company that has a permit to offer van tours to the summit for sunrise in conjunction with a bike ride down. They’re pretty much the easiest route if you want to see sunrise (as a tour) and bike down. They have options for either self-paced or group tours. For me, I knew I didn’t want to ride down the mountain with a pack of people and be confined to where the guide chose to stop and their time constraints. So I definitely prefer a self paced tour. Many people pick the group led tour because they think they’ll be on their own if something happens along the way on a self-paced ride. Don’t let that be a deciding factor. Bike Maui will provide you with DETAILED instructions for how to contact them if you need roadside assistance (this covers everything from a flat tire to being too tired to finish to having one too many margaritas at lunch). They’ll also provide you with everything you need (i.e. full-face helmets, rain suits, backpacks, locks, and maps). I would suggest bringing water, sunscreen, and a jacket (especially if you’re doing the sunrise tour, in which case you’ll want PLENTY of layers). The only thing I dislike about Bike Maui is that on the self guided tour you end your ride in Haiku instead of Paia. It’s a cute little town on the north shore (more inland), although not as walkable and appealing as Paia. Guests must be at least 12 years old for this tour. Pickup from resort areas in West and South Maui is included in guided tours and is an additional $25/person for self guided tours. Self guided sunrise tours can be booked starting at $160/person (with an online early booking discount). Guided tours (with stops at Kula Marketplace and Paia) can be booked starting at $200/person. Read more reviews and search for discounts here.