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Haleakala National Park - Maui
For anyone who's after a bit of adventure in paradise, Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii, is truly the perfect destination. A dormant volcano which last erupted in 1790, the breathtaking Haleakala now draws 1,450,000 visitors each year.

The very name "Haleakala," which means "house of the sun," comes from a local legend which claims that the demigod Maui imprisoned the sun at this majestic site in order to lengthen the day; and any visitor who has witnessed the spectacular sunrise or sunset from the volcano's summit might very well agree that there is some truth to the legend.

There are two areas within the park: the summit region and the coastal area of Kipahulu. The main attraction in the summit region is undoubtedly Haleakala Crater, which measures seven miles across, two miles wide, and is 2,600 feet deep - the peak being Maui's highest point and the third highest in the state of Hawaii. The adventurous can choose to take a hike down into the crater via one of two trails - the Halemau'u and the Sliding Sands; or take any of the various other trails, which range greatly in their length and which wind through and around various parts of the park.

Apart from being a prime hiking spot, Haleakala is also rated one of the "top" sites in the United States for amateur astronomy. A countless number of people bring their binoculars and telescopes at all times of the day to gain stunning views of the stars and planets.

Another famous attraction on the summit is Hosmer Grove, which is a forest of "alien" trees such as sugi from Japan and deodar from the Himalayas. The park is currently home to a number of endangered species, many of which do not exist anywhere else in the world. It's also likely that visitors will come across flocks of Nene, a breed of geese which are endemic to Hawaii.

While a section of the Kipahulu region is closed to the public for reasons of preserving native plant and animal species, guests can access several regions which hold pools full of rare, native freshwater fish as well as trails to the majestic Waimoku Falls. While in the beautiful coastal region, visitors might catch a glimpse of whales, turtle, dolphins and sea birds off-shore.

If you're planning a visit to Haleakala National Park, a fantastic option would be to stay in Maui's Wailea region which boasts some of America's most beautiful beaches. And while the drive to Haleakala National Park requires a couple of hours, it would undoubtedly be one of the most scenic you've ever experienced. What's more, Wailea has a number of absolutely amazing hotels situated right along the sparkling ocean, such as the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea Resort.

So if you're looking for an experience to remember, Haleakala National Park will surely provide you with just that. The various ecosystems ranging from lush tropical cliff-sides to arid, yet stunning volcanic mountainsides, along with the fantastic hiking opportunities will leave any nature enthusiast fulfilled with memories of a lifetime.
About the Author
Author of the article is Andrew Regan. For further information check Waldorf Astoria.
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