When you are on Maui, you should at least see and experience what formed this island: the volcano Haleakala. After all, it occupies 75 percent of the island and its crater is 34 kilometres in circumference, one of the largest in the world.
The sunrise at Haleakala is gigantic. If you are well prepared, you can experience a few picturesque hours here - including great views over the whole of Maui. Even Big Island is in good visibility.
"House of the Sun"...
...is what "Haleakala" means. According to the legend, the sun was quite sluggish for a long time, shining only a few hours a day. Until the day when the demigod Maui climbed Haleakala and caught the first rays of the sun with a rope. He released the sun only when it promised to move more slowly across the sky and thus shine longer.
Good to know
- Haleakala, 3,055 meters high, is considered an active volcano, although its last eruption was probably between 1450 and 1650.
- Many signs already indicate that very special geese may cross the roads up here. Watch out for the nene, it is the Hawaiian state bird.
- The silver swords (Ahinahina) are also special, because they grow only here, at Maui's highest altitudes.
- The summit is marked by the so-called "Science City" because the best astronomical conditions prevail up here. Scientists from all over the world explore the sky here with gigantic telescopes.
- Fog, rain, sunshine, temperatures around 0 degrees to almost 30 degrees Celsius. All of this is possible on Haleakala - in a single day.
Directions and entrance
From Kahului, it's about 40 miles (60 km) to the summit via a well-maintained road. Spectacular is the difference in altitude of over 3,000 meters, which one covers. For the outward journey from the west coast, two and a half hours should be planned. Get up early and drive carefully in the dark on this unknown road, which is often covered in fog.
After just under 30 miles, you pass the ticket booth. Sometimes cars pile up here, and anyone who thought they were the only awake person on this still sleeping island will realize: No, one is not so completely alone on this morning. We continue up the serpentines - almost to the top of the clouds.
There are several viewpoints and platforms:
- Leleiwi Overlook (2,682 m)
- Kalahaku Overlook (2,842 m)
- Visitor Center (2.970 m) - here is the busiest place
- Puu Ulaula Overlook (summit)
Winter months: around 7 o'clock
Summer months: around 5:30
(For the exact times please contact us)
The morning on Haleakala guarantees an all-round experience. You are not alone, but the hour around sunrise is very atmospheric despite the numerous visitors. Perhaps also just because of this, because you notice how a whole crowd of people eagerly waiting for the first rays of the sun. And accompanied with Hawaiian songs (at the Visitor Center) joyfully welcomes the new day.
It is recommended to be at the viewpoint at least thirty minutes before sunrise. To park, to secure a good spot - and to be able to go back to the car to wrap another blanket around yourself in case of doubt.
Winter months: around 6 pm
Summer months: after 7 pm
(For the exact times please contact us)
The often clear starry sky offers the best conditions for photography.
In the evening, following a hike into the crater, for example, there is also much less going on here.
Hiking on Haleakala and in the National Park
If you have time to spend half a day or a whole day on the summit, you will not regret it. Take the opportunity (and the ticket) to explore the crater. This can be done on the Sliding Sands Trail (Keoneheehee Trail). The trail (not a round trip!) leads for about one hour over sand serpentines down into the crater. However, you should not underestimate the altitude you are at and the violent temperature changes. These conditions can have a major impact on one's physical condition. The Slidings Sands can be walked in sections if it becomes too strenuous. It's enough for a great view of this spectacular landscape. The trail starts right at the Visitor Center parking lot.
The ticket for Haleakala National Park costs 30 $ per vehicle. Cyclists and hikers pay 15 $ per person. The ticket is valid for three days. Reservations are necessary for the time of sunrise. We are happy to help with this.
You can use the ticket very well to swim the next day or the day after, for example, in the beautiful pools at Ohe'o in the Kipahulu part. The same national park shows itself from a completely different side: lush, green, subtropical.
The park can also be explored by cycling and horseback riding, and overnight stays are also possible. We will be happy to help you plan a tour of several days in the national park.
Preparation and equipment
Without the sun, it's cold up here. One wonders about people in flip flops and shorts shivering with cold waiting for the sunrise. Better prepared are those who bring several layers of clothing, sturdy shoes, thick socks and a hat. A sporty double-layered look is highly recommended, and as soon as it gets warmer, superfluous items can be stowed in the car.
The car must be fully fueled and also enough provisions should be taken: Hot tea or coffee for the morning, enough water and food for the whole day.
Some also complain of headaches or nausea due to the enormous difference in altitude. But if you have something in your first-aid kit, you can enjoy the volcano day better. And, even if you can hardly imagine it early in the morning: The sun will come and the UV radiation up here is high. A cream with a high sun protection factor also belongs in the luggage.