One of the most exciting things to do in Maui is watch the sunrise from Haleakala National Park. At 10,023 feet above sea level, Haleakala is a dormant volcano that sets the stage for a breathtaking view of the sunrise. The process to get there is not easy, but you’ll forget about the journey up once you watch the most incredible sunrise of your life!
First things first, before taking the trip there, you have to reserve a date ahead of time at recreation.gov. This will be the reservation for your parking spot, which costs $1.50.
Be prepared to wake up SUPER early! Always check what time sunrise will occur and make sure to get there AT LEAST 30 minutes before. It took us almost 2 hours to drive there from our hotel, and we left around 4:30am. Once you get to the park, you purchase a “ticket” to get in, and the cost depends on the type of vehicle. You have the option to walk or ride a bike to the top, although I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re in great shape. It’s also super dark early in the morning so it’s dangerous too.
The drive to the top of the park (and back) is definitely a little nerve wracking - the road is narrow and there are constant turns / curves, with no fences to stop you from driving off the road (we realized this on the drive back down in the light). There are also no lights on the road, so make sure your headlights work, and drive slow!
I know that Hawaii is super warm and the last thing you’ll think to take with you on your trip is a coat, but the top of the mountain is FREEZING. In fact, the average temperature at the top is around 30 degrees F, so below freezing. I had a light winter coat which was not enough, so I had to wrap around my beach towels and I was still shaking of cold!
If you want to get a prime spot for pictures and videos, get there as early as possible, because it gets crowded. We arrived at least a half hour before the sunrise and there were a lot of people already there. We also stayed in the car with the heat on for awhile since it was so cold out. Our spot was a little bit behind everyone but we were still able to capture the amazing sunrise.
If you want to avoid traffic on the way down, I would suggest leaving shortly after the sun rises. This was truly an unforgettable experience, and I don’t think I’ll ever watch a more beautiful and invigorating sunrise. It’s extremely worth the trip and I look forward to doing it again (and being a bit more prepared for the weather) if I ever go back to Maui.
Remember, before entering in the park, it’s necessary to purchase a ticket that is valid for three days in all National Parks in Maui.
Private Vehicle: $25
Per Person: $12
Commercial Organized Groups: Haleakalā National Park charges commercial entities a fee to enter the park based on the capacity of the vehicle and/or the activity the commercial groups offer in the park.
$12 per person for non-road based organized groups that offer activities such as Astronomy and Hiking.
$25 plus $12 per person for road based tour vehicles, such as sedans, with a capacity of 1-7 people.