With Haleakala’s massive height of over ten thousand feet, it is generally well above any cloud line. The island chain sits in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, far from any pollution of major cities. These two factors make for an incredibly crisp and clear sunrise. These sunrises make for a world class experience and it is one that draws visitors to take in the beauty. Visitors to the island may find the trek or cold temperatures at the summit logistically challenging. These several tips below will make a trip up to the summit of Haleakala that much easier.
Don’t Forget The Permits
Viewing the sunrise at the summit of Haleakala does requires an additional permit. From the hours of 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. visiting Haleakala National Park requires a reservation. These reservations are easy to make and can be done online. It is important to know that this reservation is in addition to the park entrance fee. An America The Beautiful Pass will also work for getting inside the park.
To be on the safe side, plan to arrive ninety minutes early. This is not only to ensure a great parking spot but also to enjoy the full color change of the sky. The colors start changing about an hour beforehand and it’s nice to experience all the colors from night to first light. The sky is so clear that it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of some stargazing before the sun comes up.
Plan For The Drive
Don’t underestimate the drive. The road is a long windy drive to the summit no matter what part of the island you’re coming from. The opposite side of the island can mean a driving time of at least a couple of hours to reach the destination. Also, don’t forget to have the route planned ahead of time, there is very limited cell phone reception in the park.
Leave The Coats At Home
Residents of the island should by all means, take their heavier clothes up to the summit of Haleakala. However, residents traveling on an airplane might find it troubling to take heavier jackets to Hawaii just for one morning of cold weather.
Coming over from California meant I didn’t want to take up suitcase space with a heavier jacket. Instead, I took a pair of gloves, a hoodie, a beanie, jeans, and shoes. My recommendation is to take blankets from the hotel to keep warm. This is exactly what my wife and I did and we were able to keep warm for the couple hours we spent on the peak. Do note though, it is very cold and windy at the top.
Consider Your Vantage Point
The summit has limited parking and is the quickest to fill up. We watched the sunrise from this area but afterwards my wife and I weren’t convinced that this was the best place to get the view. The visitor center has more parking and is closer to the craters. This could make for an even better foreground for photographs. You can see the craters below in this picture.
Look To The West
Much of the focus will be looking to the east to watch the sun come up but don’t forget the west. If you don’t you’ll likely miss out on the opportunity to view the mountain spectre. This is the mountains ability to cast a triangular shadow opposite of the sun no matter the shape of the mountain. The summit of Haleakala casts a giant triangular shadow out into the vast Pacific Ocean right after sunrise.
Stay For A While
While staying on Maui, visiting the summit of Haleakala to capture the sunrise is definitely something that you don’t want to miss out on. However, don’t just leave after the sun comes up. Many people do and it’s unfortunate. There is much to explore near the summit including several different short trails. Make a half day out of it.
Hopefully these tips can be of use when heading out to view the Haleakala sunrise. If there are any others that you would like to share, leave a comment below.