One of Maui’s most memorable experiences, seeing the Haleakala sunrise from around 3,000 metres above sea level does take some planning. Here are a few tips to make the most of your Haleakala expedition.
Depending on where you get started from on Maui, it can take you up to two hours to drive the Haleakala Highway (HI 37) and then up the winding Haleakala Crater Road leading to the summit of Haleakala. It’s an early wake-up call, but the reward is well worth it.
Drive past the Park Visitors Center at 2,100 metres to get to the Haleakala Visitors Center at 2,970 metres. Try to arrive at the Haleakala Visitor Center no later than a half hour before the sun rises — earlier for a good spot. In the summer the sun rises as early as 5:38 AM, in the winter as late as 6:55 AM. The colour of the sky and clouds before daybreak is stunning.
Bring Warm Clothes
This is Hawaii but it gets very cold at the summit. The temperature drops progressively for every 300 metres of elevation, so at the Haleakala Visitor Center’s 2,970-metre elevation (where most people watch the sunrise) it’s about 1º C colder than at sea level. Be sure to bring pants, shoes, layers of clothing, and blankets. Temperatures are often in the 4-degree C range.
Pick Up Breakfast
Although there are toilet facilities there is no food or fuel sold within the park. So fill up your tank and bring some food and drink for an early morning breakfast. And most importantly don’t forget your camera.
Stay Beyond Sunrise
One of the most common mistakes visitors make (besides wearing shorts) is to leave immediately after the sun rises. If you stay just ten to twenty minutes later you’ll be treated to an incredible show as the colours of dawn continue to change.
More information: (808) 572-4400; http://www.nps.gov/hale