Maui

House of the Sun

That's the translation of the name Haleakala; the giant shield volcano that dominates the island of Maui. Haleakala stands 10,025 ft (3055 m) above sea level and was last active sometime between 1400-1600 A.D. A day hike into the crater of this giant gets us "face-to-face" with pristine lava flows, volcanic bombs, and late-stage cinder cones. It's a geologic wonder that doubles as a International Biosphere Reserve site for the endangered Silversword plant and the Hawaiian Goose (Nene), among other species.

 

Kipahulu (Oheo Gulch) demonstrates the very vertical path of surface water flow in this landscape. Ethereal bamboo forests lead past several small waterfalls (below) to the giant Waimoku Falls. We conduct a short geologic mapping exercise here as well.

 

When the weather permits, the group takes to the boats of the Pacific Whale Foundation for a half -day of Humpback Whale watching during their mating season. We also visit the Maui Ocean Center (the nation's largest tropical reef aquarium) to see more of the marine life found in this isolated central Pacific realm.

Small sea cliffs along McGregor Point (West Maui) cut through lava flows that demonstrate the evolution of shield volcano magmas over time. This is also one of the best beachcombing spots in the islands.