You can hear about it, read about it, but nothing compares to seeing the sunrise over Haleakala in Maui. This dormant volcano is a sight to see, and you won’t be alone… hundreds of people from all over the world drive up here before first light, waiting to soak in the view. The summit’s elevation is 10,023 feet above sea level.
How to get here
You’ll want to leave early, because there will be traffic. I stayed in Kihei and left at 2:45 in the morning, dressed in my warmest clothes and carrying the comforter from the hotel. You’ll have to make a reservation to enter this National Park to watch the sunrise. It’ll cost you $1.50, and you can make the reservation up to 60 days in advance. recreation.gov
The ride down felt completely different from the ride up. Before sunrise, you’re treated to the most amazing stargazing experience, and on the way down it feels like your traveling in between the clouds.
Find the best spot
Don’t flock to where the crowds are, the viewing areas fill up fast, but I walked up a path and found a spot that was empty when I got there. Haleakala means “House of the Sun,” the crater is a valley carved by erosion.
In the past 1,000 years Haleakala has erupted 10 times. nps.gov
There are no gas stations, so make sure you have a full tank if you’re driving here and remember you’ll need to pay an entrance fee at the park in addition to making the sunrise reservation. (Credit cards are accepted.)
Once the sun rises, take your time and explore Haleakala. Temperatures will start to warm up and when you walk around, you’ll be able to see the ocean and other views of Maui. If you’re not a morning person, you can come up here during the day or at sunset for another unique experience.
Share this experience with a loved one, family, children or friends, but you can also do it alone. I came up here solo since nobody wanted to wake up that early. No regrets at all, actually it was peaceful and you’re not really alone since there are hundreds of people there already. Do what I did, and befriend another solo traveler.
If your up for an adventure: try a downhill mountain biking tour, horseback riding in the park, or explore several trails in the area. Camping sites are also available.
Know before you go
- The parking lot fills up fast, get there early.
- Bring an I.D. that matches the name on your reservation.
- Take your time on the way up and get acclimatized to the altitude.
- Prepare for traffic since there is only one lane up, and one lane down.
- Wear warm clothes, or cuddle up with your loved one.
- Bring something to eat, there is no food available at the park.