A Haleakala Sunrise

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Jesse Jia
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Where is the best place to watch a sunrise?

Sunrise Haleakala crater

On top of a volcano of course! Luckily, there is a dormant volcano present on the island of Maui that you can catch this phenomenon. Maui is one of the 8 major islands of Hawaii and is the northernmost group in Polynesia. These beautiful islands of Hawaii were formed from volcanic activity millions of years ago and now makes a great tourist destination! Which leads me to this; one of the most popular attractions is watching the sunrise on top of the Haleakala Crater!

The word “Haleakala” means “house of the sun” which speaks for itself. This is the highest point in all of Maui and is the PERFECT location to catch your morning sunrise. At the top of this crater, you are literally above the clouds watching the sun slowly peak through in the distance. It is like a perfectly directed scene from the movies. Surely something you HAVE to experience first-hand!

Haleakala sunrise

How to watch it?

Now, this is not as simple as one might expect. First, you must be prepared to wake up hours before sunrise. We got up 2am and left our Kaanapali resort just before 3am to embark on the 2 hour drive up to the crater. Please note that the sunrise times will change throughout the year. Click here to check the sunrise forecasts.

Next, you must get lucky and have the most optimal weather conditions on the day. Ideally, there should be a lot of sunshine and no forecast for rain. It can get extremely windy on the summit of the Haleakala Crater and some days will be covered with extreme fog. Unfortunately, if that occurs, you will have no choice but to try again the next day.

haleakala summit

At the summit, there’s a designated viewing area as seen in the picture above.

How to get there?

Haleakala national park

There are many options to getting there. You can do anything from taking a tour, driving, hiking or even biking up the volcano. Like most people, we decided to rent a car and drive up the summit ourselves. For others, there are many pre-organized tours departing from most resorts on the island. Such as the many organized tours from Roberts Hawaii.

If you are an inexperienced driver, I’d suggest to take a tour instead. As some parts of the road will become extremely narrow and with tight turns as you drive up the volcano. In addition, what goes up must also come down. As a result, the drive down was even more fighting than up as I had my foot constantly on the breaks. Since we had a full car, it was well worth it to rent a car instead.

Haleakala Summit

There are also entrance fees when going to the Haleakala Crater, which also happens to be a national park. It is $20/vehicle, valid for 3 days and includes admission up to the summit which is where you want to be. For a complete price list, please click here.

Tips & Tricks?

I cannot stress this enough but please be prepared and bring warm attire! Even though you’re in Hawaii, it still gets cold on top of a volcano! I clearly made the mistake and was hiding in the car right before the sun came up. See picture below! I’d suggest a waterproof jacket as it can get quite moist in the morning.

Haleakala crater

If you couldn’t tell, we were freezing and the weather was extremely windy.

I’d suggest you to look at the forecast beforehand. Which can be checked daily here.

Then prepare to go on a day when the weather looks promising. Since it is definitely a trek to get up to the summit and will avoid disappointment. If things don’t go as planned, you can always spend the rest of the day relaxing on the amazing beaches of Maui. Which can’t be something to complain about!

Haleakala Crater

Other than that, I wish you all the best of luck and hope you will also be amazed at the sight of the Haleakala sunrise!

Check out my first Instagram picture of the sunrise on top of the Haleakala crater below!

PS. Pictures do not do this sight any justice, it is surely something that you have to see for yourself!

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