Know Before You Go: Visiting Haleakala at Sunrise
Towering over Maui inside Haleakala National Park, dormant Haleakala’s 10,000-foot (3,048-meter) summit may be one of the spots in the US for sunrise-watching. Here are some tips to make the most of your Haleakala sunrise experience.
Plan for an early-morning wake-up call.
In order to reach the summit in time for sunrise, hotel pickup times for sunrise tours can be extremely early, typically between 2 and 4am. This can vary by season—in winter, the Maui sunrise is around 7am, while in summer, it’s closer to 5:30am. Haleakala’s distance from Kahului (about one hour by road) and the resort areas of Wailea, Kaanapali, and Kapalua (between 90 minutes and 2.5 hours) also adds to the early start.
Plan your sunrise experience for early on in your vacation.
If visiting Hawaii from elsewhere in the US, you may find yourself naturally rising early due to the time difference. Take advantage of this and schedule your sunrise tour for one of the first few days of your trip.
Because of its high elevation, Haleakala crater is consistently 30 degrees cooler than Maui’s tropical coast. This can translate to temperatures right around freezing before sunrise, so leave the flip-flops behind. Since you’ll be standing outside for at least 30 minutes, come prepared with long pants, long sleeves, and closed-toed shoes. Some tours offer guests thick coats, hats, and gloves.
Know your tour options.
Because sunrise viewing is such a popular experience, there are a wide variety of tours that include it. Among the most popular are sunrise tours coupled with zipline and biking experiences that race down the mountain toward sea level, hikes through the lunar-like summit area to see Haleakala’s endemic silversword plants, and tours that include breakfast at the summit. All take the hassle out of scheduling your visit and independently navigating the mountain in the dark.
Bring along some snacks.
Some sunrise tours include breakfast at the summit, but because there are no food outlets within Haleakala National Park, it’s best to come prepared with power bars, snacks, and water.