Another amazing thing to do in Maui is to watch the sun rise above the clouds, ten thousand feet above sea level at the summit of Haleakala. I wasn’t sure about this one at first. Firstly it meant getting up super early (which never appeals to me) and secondly I hate the cold! We had read how cold it gets up there!
But I decided that if everyone was talking about it, it must be quite special. So at 3am on our fourth day in Maui, the alarm went off and off we went, driving to the summit of Haleakala National Park. As Simon drove the windy road up the mountain (yes he did all the driving again!) all we could see was the lights from other cars in the distance slowly winding their way up the mountain as well. Other than that it was pitch black. When we arrived to the top an hour and a half later, many cars had already arrived but thankfully we managed to get a parking spot right at the top.
By the time we got there the sun was nowhere to be seen; just a sky full of stars. So we thought we’d get out of the car for some stargazing. As we got out of the car, we were hit with the cold; yes it was really, really cold. So cold, I hopped straight back in the car while Simon went to check out the area. We were told to take many layers with us and we had. We had winter jackets, fleeces, thermals, gloves, beanies and the hotel had given us a very big blanket each to keep us warm. Believe it or not, it was nowhere near enough layers for me. Maybe I am a chicken, we do live in Australia after all, and we don’t get that kind of cold often. But suddenly we did not feel like we were in Hawaii anymore!
I had to drag myself out of the car and face the cold eventually to walk to the observation deck. I don’t think I have ever been in such a hurry for something to happen before. Finally the sky started changing colours. It became brighter and brighter and suddenly the sun came out from above the clouds. And that was the start of a brand new day! Yes it was a great spectacle, something you don’t do everyday and totally worth waking up early and braving the freezing cold! We highly recommend it.
After the sun rises, don’t leave! There is so much to do at Halealaka, a hike is a must to explore this beautiful national park. Of course the temperature doesn’t rise that quickly so you might want to have a nap in the car and warm up before you start!
Here are a few tips for watching the sunrise at Haleakala:
- Bring lots and lots of layers. We did hear about the cold before our trip and came prepared but we could have easily had even more layers. Ten thousand feet is cold and very windy!
- Check out the sunrise time the day before, so you know what time to set your alarm. You need to aim to be there at least an hour before sunrise if you want a chance to park at the summit’s observation deck. If you don’t you will have to walk from the lower carpark in the pitch black and cold; I’d rather avoid it. Ask your hotel’s concierge for the driving time.
- Bring a flashlight, there are no lights at the summit and it is pitch black up there before sunrise.
- Bring some coffee in a thermos; it will keep you awake and will warm you up!
- Bring some snacks or a picnic and plenty of water so that you can go on a hike afterwards. If you feel up for it the Sliding Sand trail is amazing.
- There is a ten dollar entry fee to the Haleakala National Park. It is valid for three days and you can use it again if you plan on going to the Oheo Gulch and Pipiwai Trail at Kipahulu on the Road to Hana.
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