Sunrise on Haleakala in Maui

Cold. Really cold. That’s the best way I can describe our sunrise experience on Haleakala in Maui. Per recommendations from all of the guidebooks and blogs I read as well from as many friends, we made the trek up to the top of Haleakala on our second day in Maui to capture the sunrise. 

Haleakala is known as the world’s largest dormant volcano. It stretches across Maui’s southern and eastern coastlines as the main attraction in Haleakala National Park. It is Maui’s highest peak, rising 10,023 feet above sea level. There are 55 endangered species that call the area around Haleakala home, more than at any other U.S. national park. 

To experience the sunrise, we got up and drove (well, Deb drove, not me) for an hour and a half in the dark up to the top of the volcano. We arrived around 4:30am, about 2 hours before the actual sunrise. Because viewing the sunrise on Haleakala is so popular, getting there early is basically required. However, beginning in February 2017, reservations are required to enter the park before 7am. I assume this was done for crowd control and I will give them kudos because it seems to be working. It was nice to not have the peak area crowded while we were there. The reservations cost $1.50 per vehicle, a total steal!

We got up to the peak and realized instantly that is was very windy up there and also less than 40 degrees. Brrr! I knew it was going to be cold but it was even colder than I thought it would be. I’m from the Midwest so I’m used to chilly weather but that doesn’t mean I appreciate it while I am in Hawaii. Because we didn’t want to be outside anymore than necessary, we napped in the car while waiting for the sun to start making its acent over the horizon. 

Once the sun started coming up, I realized why people recommend this experience. It was pretty spectacular. We were above the clouds so we got to experience the sun coming up over the horizon as well as over the clouds. What a sight! 


And then, there it was!

Here comes the sun (doo doo doo doo). Here comes the sun, and I say. It’s all right…





Luckily, I was sort of prepared. 

There was a group singing as the sun came up, likely as a part of a Hawaiian custom, which made the experience even better, in my opinion. 

After the sun came up, we could see the shadow of Haleakala behind us. Pretty neat. On a side note, I wish my legs were really this long. 

Sort of creepy…

I thought this little tree looked cold. 

Before we went to the volcano, we discussed exploring the park and hiking around after watching the sunrise. Unfortunately, due to the early rise and the temperature, we decided that those things no longer seemed appealing so we headed back down the mountain in search of brunch and bloody Mary’s instead. Vacation priorities, right?

The views coming down the volcano were great too! 

Overall, I enjoyed this experience. I’m not sure where else I will have the chance to see the sun rise over the clouds. I wouldn’t put it at the top of my list of things that I must do during a short trip to Maui though. It was a lot of waiting around and it was over in 20 minutes or so. I did have a friend get engaged while watching the sunrise there a few years ago though so I kept thinking of her and how neat the experience must have been for them. If you have time while you are there, go check the sunrise out (don’t forget to make reservations). But if you don’t have time, I wouldn’t fret about it. 


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