The Traveling Steve's

Visiting Mount Haleakala and a Winery!

From the title one would think the winery is located at Mount Haleakala, Maui’s tallest mountain and dormant volcano, but no, this was two attractions we saw on the same day, that were located relatively close to each other.

Steve (DOS) and I started our day trip from Wailea intending to go the Maui Winery for an 11am tasting (reservations recommended), but as it was a clear day as we headed towards Mount Haleakala, we reversed the order of our itinerary and toured Mount Haleakala first, followed by the winery. DOS said that its rare to not have clouds covering the top of Mount Haleakala, so we should go there before the clouds moved in, which they did later in the day after we finished our drive there.

We changed our winery appointment to 3pm, and started the drive up Mount Haleakala. Fortunately there was not a lot of traffic on the long and windy road to the top. Also, unlike the road closures the had on The Big Island in the Volcano area due to snow, we were able to drive all the way to the summit.

We stopped several times for photos on the drive up the mountain, eventually reaching the visitor center where we had a short line-up of cars waiting to pay the entrance fee to the Mount Haleakala National Park. The key words are “National Park”, which as DOS has a lifetime membership now includes complimentary admission for our car, in this case DOS and me.

At the payment kiosk, a nice park ranger waved us thru after showing the lifetime pass, and gave us a map of the Mount Haleakala park as well. It was still quite a drive up to the summit of Mount Haleakala, but we took our time and made several stops along the way to take photos. I was worried a bit about my asthma (it’s under control and I always carry an inhaler), but the ascent was gradual, and the altitude was marked at every 500 feet in elevation.

It was such a clear day that at least going up, we had a great view of the valley below, unobstructed by the clouds. I must say that it did scare me a bit (no offense to DOS’s driving!) as we crept up higher and higher on the winding, narrow, and curvy roads, (many without a guardrail on the side), but I tried not to say anything or act scared sh!teless! LOL!

At one stop, we met a middle-aged couple from the Daytona Beach area that were biking down the mountain. We had seen quite a few bikers riding down the mountain, and I asked them if they were part of the group. They said they were part of the excursion which starts high up (but not the summit) of Mount Haleakala where a van drops them off, and then then bike down the mountain at their pace.

I’ve got to hand it to them for their braveness! I wish I had gotten their email to send them the photo, and also ask them how long it took to make the trip down the mountain, and/or any scary or interesting adventures they had on the way down. Godspeed to you!

As we finally neared the top of Mount Haleakala, there was a visitor lookout and gift shop area which we visited for a while. It was quite cold at this nearly 10,000 foot altitude, and since DOS and I had not planned to drive up Mount Haleakala, we were quite cold in shorts and a t-shirt.

Tip: If going to Mount Haleakala dress in layers with jeans, sweatshirt and a jacket too! It’s quite cold at the top, which stands to reason, but this was an unexpected activity for us due to the beautiful weather the day we went.

At the guest gift shop and indoor overlook, a ranger limited the number of people inside to 10 people or so at a time, while we waited a short while in the outside chilly temperatures. Inside, DOS of course went shopping, and even at nearly 10,000 feet nothing was going to stop him! LOL!

After shopping and taking a few more photos and a silly video of DOS hanging onto the mountain-side cliff, we headed up via car (although you could hike) up to the summit of Mount Haleakala.

It was a short journey by car to the summit, a 1/2 mile or so, and you could see observatory equipment at the top among the nature of things. We took a few more photos at the summit of Mount Haleakala, before heading back down the mountain.

Fortunately the trip down the mountain was quicker, and not nearly as scary as the ride up the mountain. By the time we were heading down, however, the clouds were slowly moving in, which provided some interesting photo opportunities.

Once at the base of the mountain, we headed towards Maui winery. Due to our detour up Mount Haleakala, we had changed our winery tasting appointment a couple times, with the latest one scheduled at 3:30pm.

We were also quite a bit hungry, and its not like there was a McDonald’s in the middle of volcano country! Seriously, it was quite a remote area, and fortunately we found a small diner called Grandma’s Coffee Shop along the way to the winery.

We saw it listed on the GPS, and literally there was nothing else around for miles in the hilly and rural area. Even better for us, as we got there at 2:45pm, as it closed at 3pm! Wow – our lucky day as we were starving by then! DOS and I ordered a turkey sandwich and soda, and enjoyed it on the small patio overlooking the rural Hawaiian landscape.

After enjoying our sandwich on the patio with a few other tourists coming from Mount Haleakala or perhaps Hana in the opposite direction, we headed a bit further to the Maui Winery.

We were warmly greeted by the hostess, and sat an outdoor table overlooking the property. We were a bit skeptical of the quality of wines from Hawaii (as much as Florida wines where we live), but DOS and I both tried a different flight of four wines.

Most were a bit too fruity for me, such as the pineapple wine, but like at any winery, it’s all about trying new things as is always fun. They did have a couple red blends, and two premium red tastings that were not part of the flights, that were actually pretty decent. We didn’t bring any wine home due to the weight and our long flight back to Florida, but we did get some wine-themed souvenirs (of course) and took a few photos of the wine property.

We had a great and unexpected day visiting Mount Haleakala and rescheduling the winery to a later time but ultimately visiting there as well. The day trip and the things we experienced along the way such as Grandmas restaurant are what I call a bit of serendipity, something nice and unexpected that you find along the way when your’e not looking for it. My definition, and that’s what travel is all about!

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