Watching the sunrise at Haleakala National Park in Maui is one of the ultimate experiences in Hawaii. Known as the “house of the sun,” Haleakala’s elevation is over 10,000 feet above sea level. With 360-degree views of the Maui and the Pacific Ocean, this dormant volcano is a must-see on your visit to Maui. 

The dormant volcano’s “crater” is actually a valley carved by erosion, and the experience of watching the sunrise or sunset from Haleakala won’t disappoint. 

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Between ocean adventures and waterfalls, there are so many amazing things to do on your visit to Maui. At Haleakala National Park, you can spend the day hiking or going a bike riding tour, but watching the sunrise from the summit is worth setting your alarm for and making the drive to the top. 

Use these top tips to help you plan your trip so you have the most memorable sunrise or sunset watching experience from Haleakala National Park. 

crater view

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Sunrise in Haleakala: What to know before you go  

Plan for traffic as you make your way to the summit. I made a solo trip to the top, so that means planning the night before. I stayed in Kihei and left at 2:45 am, dressed in my warmest clothes and carrying the comforter from the hotel for an extra layer. 

Bookmark this link to search for a place to stay in Maui. 

Before you go: Make a reservation to enter this National Park to watch the sunrise. You’ll need to make a reservation for each vehicle entering the park from 3:00 am to 7:00 am. It’ll cost you $1.50 per vehicle, not per person, and you can make the reservation up to 60 days in advance.  Recreation.gov

Check the weather before you go. While it’s Hawaii, you’ll still want to dress in layers as temperatures will be much colder at the summit. While your drive to the summit will be in the dark, the trip back down will feel like you’re traveling in the clouds. 

sunrise at haleakala crater

Where to stay in Maui 

My top favorite hotels in Wailea: 

Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort 

Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui

Search where to stay in Kihei or look here for deals on Hana Hotels

Earn 40,000 bonus miles with the United Explorer Card after you spend $2,000 in the first three months the account is open. Learn more. The United Explorer Card is one of my favorite cards for travel because it has no foreign transaction fees. 

Sign up to get 40,000 bonus miles with United Explorer Card.

How to find the best spot to watch the sunrise at Haleakala 

If you want to avoid the crowds, arrive early. Once you get to the parking lot, look for any open spots because the viewing areas fill up fast. I walked up a path and found a place that was empty when I got there.  

Plan ahead: 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.)

Traveling to Oahu? Check out my Oahu Travel Guide.  

maui travel guide

Haleakala summit: what to do 

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, visit during the day or at sunset for another unique experience.

Solo travel tips

Watching the sunrise from Haleakala was on the top of my list, and I made a solo trip here. It was such a serene experience, and while I was exhausted on the way down, it was worth it. If you’re 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.

watching sunrise at haleakala

Top tips for the ultimate sunrise watching experience in Haleakala 

  • The parking lot fills up fast, get there early.
  • Bring your I.D. and make sure it 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 road down.
  • Wear warm clothes, or cuddle up with your loved one.
  • Bring something to eat; there is no food available at the park.

Conclusion 

Watching the sunrise in Haleakala National Park in Maui is one of the ultimate experiences in Hawaii. Dress in layers that you can peel off as it starts to warm up after sunrise. Make a reservation, arrive early, and soak in this unique experience.

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5 Comments

  1. Very pretty. I saw it too but I actually liked sunset even more. The sunrise is behind the crater, sunset is 180 degrees away from it. It was spectacular. I posted pictures of it in case you want to look.

    1. So neat! I will have to check it out. Might be easier to get the boyfriend to join in the evening as opposed to the morning. haha.

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