In our Maui Revealed book, we highly recommend the Sliding Sands trail, which descends from the summit of Haleakala into the crater. This hike may be the closest thing to walking on a lunar landscape that any of us who aren’t named Buzz will ever experience.
But there is another reason the Sliding Sands trail offers an out-of-this-world experience, and it’s something that we didn’t write about in the book.
The trail descends 2,400 feet over the span of almost four miles to the crater floor. (It’s not truly a volcano crater; rather, it was carved out by erosion, and then filled in over a period of years by a series of eruptions that left the floor dotted with volcano cones hundreds of feet high.) The views from inside the crater are incredible, and the colors are amazing: everything from green, yellow, red, brown, gray and blue are represented in striated lines of lava rock.
As you descend, the high crater walls provide protection from the wind. And when the breeze died down, that’s when we noticed it: nothing. Absolutely nothing. No traffic noise or the sound of airplanes flying overhead, no electrical hum from air conditioners or power lines, no insect noise in the background. There was absolutely no sound, except the occasional sound of gravel rustling under our feet when we’d shift in place. As the exterior sounds drop away, the sounds inside your own body become thunderously loud – your heartbeat, breathing, the sound of swallowing is almost deafening.
It was such a surreal and unusual experience that we both sat there, listening to the sound of silence. Just another one of Maui’s unexpected surprises.