Active Volcanoes on Maui: Uncover the Island’s Explosive Secrets!

You know, some things in life just take your breath away – like gazing at the mighty power of a volcano. If you’re reading this, you probably feel that same magnetic pull towards Maui’s volcanic wonders.

Here’s the deal:

My boyfriend and I are certified adventure enthusiasts and have embarked on countless Hawaiian escapades. Together, we’ve trekked through all of Maui’s volcanic sites and navigated every tour imaginable! Now, lucky for you – I’m sharing our hard-earned wisdom to make your visit extraordinary.

In this comprehensive guide, not only will you gain invaluable insights into Maui’s awe-inspiring volcanic landscapes and their eruptions but also learn how to maximize each moment there. From practical tips on getting around to recommendations on thrilling helicopter tours or serene hikes – trust me; I’ve got you covered!

Heads up though: After embracing my suggestions, don’t be surprised if your friends bombard you with envious queries about your unforgettable volcano experience!

Now come along – let’s unleash the fiery magic of Maui together!

Formation of Maui and Its Volcanos

Essentially the paradise island of Maui was formed by many volcanic eruptions and lava flows from two volcanoes (Mauna Kahalawai and Haleakala). Maui is the second youngest volcanic island in Hawaii. Maui broke the surface over 1 million years ago and has grown into what we know now. 

All the Hawaiian islands were formed in a similar way (from a volcanic hotspot). If you have the opportunity however to hear the local legends from the people of Hawaii, you can hear a much more interesting version. My favorite is the one bout the goddess of the volcanos. Legend says that goddess Pele moved across the region of today’s Hawaii stamping her foot. Each time she stamped her food a new island was formed in the place of her footprint.  

Still, The volcanic island of Maui is part of the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain stretching from Siberia. The volcano Haleakala is still active and considered somewhat close to the hotspot which is currently under the Big Island. However, it is not nearly as busy as some of the other Hawaiian volcanos, presenting little to no danger of eruption during your visit. 

The Last Volcanic Eruption on Maui

The volcanos of Maui are much less active than those on the Big Island, however, eruptions do occur. For us tourists, it’s always a choice – we want to see the excitement of an active steaming volcano without the danger. That’s why visiting the volcanos of Maui is a great choice. They are stunning, yet much less active and dangerous. 

Haleakala’s Last Eruption

As the only currently semi-active volcano on Maui Haleakala does not erupt frequently. The last estimated eruption was between 400 and 600 years ago. It is estimated that there have been over 10 different lava flows for the volcano in the past 1 thousand years. 

Even though it is inevitable the volcano will someday erupt again it is considered dormant right now and poses no noticeable risks in the near future. Still, it is a majestic and well-worth volcano to visit. 

Mauna Kahalawai Volcano’s Last Eruption

The last eruption at Mauna Kahalawai volcano (in translation meeting “of the waters”) was documented 320,000 years ago. Due to inactivity, and a lot of weather influence, this volcano has more resembles deep valleys and tall mountains more than a central volcano cone. This is known as the West Maui Mountains and has had many stream erosions which also gave the original name to the volcano. 

This is still a beautiful and lush area to visit with amazing panoramic views, especially at sunrise. It is definitely a well-worth visit, and a must if you are staying in Lahaina or Ka’anapali. It poses no foreseeable risk of eruption or activity, so for those fewer adventures, it’s an excellent spot for hiking, watching a sunrise, and enjoying wildlife. 

The excitement of the Maui Volcano Tours

Though the volcanos on this island are not actively steaming and bubbling like those close to the hot spot, they are still very impressive and well worth your time. In fact, no Maui vacation would be complete without a visit to Haleakala. It offers bike tours, world-famous sunrises and sunsets, and some great hiking with panoramic views. This activity can be romantic, or one off the beaten path, depending on what you are looking for. (We have done several of the tours, so we did the romance, biking, and exploring!)

How To Get To Haleakala

The Haleakala volcano is located inside the Haleakala National Park. The best way to get there is by car, or even better an organized tour. The organized tours are well-trained and arrive at the right times, so you don’t get stuck at the entrance, looking for parking, or missing the main event. 

If you choose to drive, expect the drive to last about 2.5 hours from Kahului. The road is well-maintained and there are two restroom stops on the way. From Kahului, you should be taking routes 37 to 377. If you need gas, make sure to know that the last place to fill up is in the town of Pukalani. 

There is a parking lot very near the Haleakala summit inside the park, and then from there, it’s a short walk around the summit. No hiking is necessary, but the summit is much colder than the beachside, (especially at sunrise), so bring blankets, jackets, and something warm to drink. 

The Best Sunrise and Sunset tours on the volcano

Haleakala Maui Sunrise Tour w/ Breakfast

Duration: 10 hours (approx.)

Meeting point: (most hotels, choose a pickup point when booking)


Our experience: 

This was the easiest and most relaxing tour we had to Haleakala. If you are looking for a well-organized guided trip that lasts about 9 to 10-hours, to the most beautiful spot in Maui this is it. The tour is operated by Polynesian Adventure Tours and the tour guides are experienced, knowledgeable, and well-prepared. Not to mention the breakfast at a local  Kula Lodge Restaurant is delicious. Since it’s a sunrise tour, prepare to get started well in the middle of the night (we got going at 2:30 am). 

Maui Haleakala Sunrise Downhill Bike Tour with Mountain Riders Rated #1

Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

Meeting point: 497 Baldwin Ave, Paia, HI 96779 (Office at Mountain Riders)


Our experience: 

Fans of biking downhill and sightseeing will love this combination tour. We really enjoyed that we got to see the stunning sunrise well above the clouds, filled with swirling colors of orange, red, purple, and blue. This tour has incredible organization and experience and all transport, safety, and bike gear is provided by them. On your way also explore the towns of Makawao and Kula. The activity is not too physically demanding and can be done by most. On our stop in Kula, we got to enjoy seasonal Jacaranda trees in bloom and other breathtaking and unique panoramic views. Our guide took good care of us and was on point the entire time. 

Hana and Haleakala 45-Minute Helicopter Tour

Duration: 45 minutes (approx.)

Address: 108 Lelepio Pl, Kahului, HI 96732 (Kahului Heliport and Air Maui Helicopters)


Our experience: 

This tour was filled with adrenaline and excitement. Unlike other tours, that cover just the volcano, on this tour we got to see hidden waterfalls, cinder cones of Haleakala Crater, bamboo forests, and rugged volcanic beachside. The tour covers the entire East Maui coastline with a focus and the volcano and rainforest. The guide covers a lot of the history and cultural significance of the area and is very knowledgeable. I was a little anxious about the flight, but the helicopter was almost new and they were very safety oriented. 

Hiking and Camping on Haleakala

True nature lovers can take the opportunity to hike and camp in Haleakala National Park. The Keonehe’ehe’s hiking trail, also known as the Sliding Sands trail is the way to go. 

But be warned, this is not an easy hike to do. There is a 2,800-foot descent to the summit and the trail is a little over 4 miles long. Depending on weather conditions, it can be very demanding. Only those with proper equipment, experience, and training should do this. 

Those looking for a less demanding hike have the option of choosing Hosmer’s Grove, which is a loop hike under 1 mile long. This hike is available at the park entrance, so you can get there in your car and bring all the equipment you need quite easily. 

Travelers looking to camp should contact the Headquarters Visitor Center. They provide first-come first-serve campsites in two locations. There are even several cabins available, but getting a spot can be very tricky. So plan way ahead. 

Hiking the West Maui Volcano

Many of Valley Isle’s greatest hiking trails are found within the West Maui Mountains. The Waihee Ridge Trail, the Lahaina Pali Trail, and the famous Iao Needle. Each trail provides a different and unique landscape, and panoramic views and is soaked in local legend, tradition, and culture. You might consider doing a guided tour, just to soak up all the great stories. 

In general, these hikes are less demanding and more suitable for mid-level hikers than the the 

Sliding Sands trail at Haleakala. Do however be warned that this area gets a lot of rainy days. Nothing that should discourage you, because the rain is usually short-lived, just make sure to bring a good raincoat, just in case. 

Conclusion on the Active Volcanoes in Maui

Not a lot of sights can parallel the excitement of an active volcano. Even though Maui’s volcanoes are less active than some of those on the Big Island, there is still plenty of excitement and opportunity.

In my article above, you can find all the right information about available tours to Mauis volcanos, hiking trails, biking opportunities, tips on visiting alone, and more. 

One thing is for sure, a trip to Maui is not complete without a sunrise visit to the two majestic volcanoes of the island 


Are there any active volcanoes in Maui?

The status of an inactive and active volcano can change relatively quickly, especially in areas with volcanic hot spots such as Hawaii. Currently, in Maui, the Haleakala volcano is considered semi-active. Its last eruption was between 400 and 600 hundred years ago, but it is monitored quite well. Based on available data, its believed that it has erupted over 10 times in the past 1 thousand years. Still, if you are planning a vacation to Maui and wish to visit the volcano (which is a must by my standards) the chances of any unexpected activity are almost none. This is considered a safe place to visit. It’s most popular for its world famous sunrise. 

Will the Maui volcano erupt?

There are two volcanoes on Maui Mauna Kahalawai and Haleakala. Mauna Kahalawaihas not been active for the past 320,000 years, and now resembles a deep mountain range, more so than a volcano. Haleakala however has been marked with an eruption in the past 600 years and is believed to have had more than 10 eruptions in the past 1,000 years. 

Predicting the future, let alone the power of nature is a thankless task. Still, based on historical data, it is inevitable that Haleakala will eventually erupt again. This is not expected to happen any time soon, so those planning a vacation should feel safe and confident, as these types of activities are carefully monitored. 

Is the West Maui volcano active?

This volcano has not been active for the past 320,000 years since the last eruption was confirmed. Unlike the active volcanoes of Hawaii, this volcano much more resembles a great mountain range with valleys and trails. As water has eroded the typical volcanic peek one would expect. This volcano is not active and is not expected to have any activity in the near future.

Last Updated on May 1, 2023 by Brigitte