Breathtaking Haleakala National Park Sunrise

When in Maui you can’t miss the breathtaking Haleakala National Park sunrise from the islands highest peak. At 10023 feet (3005 m) above sea level the summit of Haleakalā will leave you speechless.

Haleakala National Park Sunrise

Be sure to book your trip in advance to the Haleakala National Park sunrise as when you’re on holiday on the Hawaiian island of Maui this is something you do not want to miss!

Also, since the 1st February 2017, due to popularity, viewing reservations are required per car.

Fortunately for Lynne and I, as I mentioned in our trip to Hawaii and San Francisco itinerary we had booked a bus trip in advance. The only real hassle for us was having to get up so early having not fully recovered from our jet lag!

Haleakala National Park Sunrise Maui Route Map from Hyatt Kaanapali Beach to Haleakala Summit Parking

Halekala National Park Sunrise Day Trip

We were up at 0215 to be picked up at our hotel at 0310 by a bus which took us to a rendez-vous point at a petrol station to get more people and a transfer to another bigger bus.

The tour company and trip that we chose was Roberts, Hawaii and their Maui – Haleakala Sunrise Tour.

At that time in the morning as you can imagine the bus driver, Kimo, needed to be fairly lively to stir everyone’s enthusiasm from their slumber. Fortunately he was giving us a full run down of all the historical and geological facts of the volcano, park and surrounding area.

The road to the summit is very curvy and steep. There is NO WAY I would have considered hiring a car and driving on the other side of the road on an unfamiliar and challenging route. Nope, not for me I was happy in the warm bus!

The bus climbs slowly up the road navigating the darkness (there are no streetlights) and zigzagging (switchbacks) for what seems like forever.

When we finally arrived at the summit parking area at 0545 our driver provided us with a welcome hot cup of coffee and a muffin. There’s just time to enjoy these and a welcome trip to the bathroom (yes there is one) before grabbing a spot in amongst the already busy viewing area for the sunrise scheduled for 0628.

Haleakala National Park Sunrise 1

It was cold.

Now, we’re from Scotland and used to a much (much) colder climate than Hawaii! But the drop in temperature from 24°C (75°F) the previous day to 5°C (41°F) at the summit was a shock to the system!

Make sure you’re prepared for this change in temperature. We had brought our hat, scarves, gloves and warm fleeces but saw people standing about shivering with just blankets draped around their shoulders.

Haleakala National Park Sunrise 2

So once you have your viewing place staked out and your camera to the ready it’s just a case of waiting.

Waiting and watching in awe.

Haleakala National Park Sunrise 3

Watching as the colours of the sky slowly begin to change.

Watching in silence.

Watching the dawning of another day.

Haleakala National Park Sunrise 4

As the sun slowly begins to climb above the horizon you can begin to feel its welcomed warmth on your skin.

Haleakala National Park Sunrise 5

It’s only when the sun has just about fully appeared that you realise you’ve been completely memorised by the whole experience.

It really is completely breathtaking.

One of those “it’s good to be alive” moments when you really appreciate everything you have.

Haleakala National Park Sunrise Neil and Lynne Full Sunrise

It was definitely the best place Lynne and I have ever witnessed a sunrise.

Haleakala National Park Sunrise Haleakala Visitor Center

It’s worthwhile checking out the visitor center after you’ve regained your composure from the moment as we did.

Books, maps and souvenirs are on sale as well as there being exhibits, information boards and a park employee on hand to answer any questions you might have.

Haleakala National Park Sunrise Haleakala Crater

The crater view is seen fully from the visitors center.

Haleakala National Park Sunrise Haleakala Crater Second View

Its like a scene out of Star Wars isn’t it?

Haleakala National Park Sunrise Haleakala Observatory

Back on the bus and commencing the trip back down we made several stops at places of further interest where we could get stunning views and photographs.

An observatory has been built which makes use of Halekala’s location above one-third of Earth’s atmosphere, and the fact there’s limited light pollution.

It also has a military use being part of the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI).

Haleakala National Park Sunrise View Over South Of Maui

As the clouds below retreat to reveal the stunning Maui landscape and another day of fantastic weather ahead it’s little wonder to see why this island is so beautiful.

Haleakala National Park Sunrise Neil With Haleakala Crater In The Background

Driving further down the volcano the bus made a welcome stop for breakfast at the small, quaint, cowboy town of Makawao.

The breakfast at Casanova Italian Restaurant was included as part of the tour with as many coffee “top-ups” as you could fit into the time allocated and it was delicious!

My chosen breakfast was a delicious frittata of baked eggs with zucchini (courgettes), onions and sundried tomatoes and focaccia bread.

Yes, it’s on the list to re-create here in the breakfast recipes section!

Lynne had a bagel with cream cheese, salmon and fresh fruit.

Well that’s our quick review of the Haleakala National Park sunrise, I hope you enjoyed it. I’d certainly recommend putting it on your bucket list.

I’d like to thank Amanda here as I’d always wanted to to go Hawaii but it wasn’t until I read her post, the one thing you HAVE to do in Maui a couple of years ago that finally placed the trip firmly on our bucket list schedule. 🙂

Don’t miss the next part of our trip to Hawaii and San Franciso when we go whale watching in Maui!

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  1. You make me so jealous! looks like your having so much fun!
    rachel @ athletic avocado recently posted…Crispy Lemon Pesto Roasted Brussels Sprouts {Whole30, Paleo + Vegan}My Profile

    • says:

      Thank you Rachel, it was an amazing holiday and the reason why I do these posts is to hopefully encourage others to do the same and enjoy the benefits of travel.

      You would love it! 🙂

  2. Wow, Neil, what breathtaking photos of the sunrise over Haleakala National Park! When I go, I have your posts AND Amanda’s for reference now! In Sri Lanka there are some crazy winding roads that meander their way up mountains scattered with tea fields and I get sweaty palms just thinking about that – so I’d much rather take a bus than drive those winding roads myself!
    I cannot wait to read your next post on your trip and I cannot wait to see that recipe recreation of that delicious frittata of baked eggs with zucchini, onions and sundried tomatoes and focaccia bread.

    • says:

      I am looking forward to seeing your photographs over Halekala Shashi! 🙂

      If you are interested in more crazy winding roads too, you should definitely stop over in Scotland one day and I’ll take you on a few!

      Recipe is on the to-do list. (Which is huge) 😀

  3. I love that picture of your and Lynne at the top. It just says everything.
    Sunrise is my favorite time of day. I used to love sunset… but now I am all about sunrise.

    • says:

      Aw, thanks Susie. Yeah, it was a really special moment.

      Special because we’d talked about it for ages and imagined us being there. And there we finally were!

      I never make it to sunset. I’m usually flat out asleep. (Except on holiday 😉 )

  4. How wonderful! Sounds like a beautiful trip.

    • says:

      Thanks Jeff. It was an amazing trip. A total trip of a lifetime for both Lynne and I. 🙂

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