Oh you beautiful Haleakala (Haleakalā) sunrise.
If you are like my family, when we go on vacation, we GO ON VACATION. This means that we do our best leave behind all of the itineraries, plans and our proclivities to schedule, schedule, schedule. Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when travel calls for some structure, but for us, our time in Maui, is not one of them. We have been here multiple times and we localize VERY quickly, so it pretty much do what we need to do in order to relax and rejuvenate.
That said, if you are going to do one thing besides, say beach, shave ice and more beach, I would highly recommend the 1/2 day excursion to see the sunrise from the volcano, Haleakala. While ti might seem daunting, I depending on your need to see stuff and the energy of your party, I might suggest this as alternative to the Road to Hana which is not for everyone.
Here are 10 quick tips to make your day go well. Please keep in mind that the reference point is Kihei, so if you are coming from Lahaina, Wailea, etc. you’ll need to adjust your drive time.
Check the time for sunrise
Yeppers, sunRISE means that this is an early day. Summer sunrise is around 6:00am, so some of you (except the driver) may just want to push through the night before 🙂 To find sunrise times, use the National Parks service chart for general times or google sunrise in haleakala for daily times.
Give yourself two hours to get there
Two hours is PLENTY of time. This will give you time to get deal with traffic, grab a snack at Zippy’s and most importantly get you there early. THE worst thing you could do is get up early and then be late for the sunrise.
You can def get there and back to a station on 1/2 tank, but play it safe and fuel up the night before. Again, running out of gas would not be the kind of “adventure” that I would suggest experiencing.
Don’t be “those” people . . . like we were about 10 years ago. We are not big travel book readers, but one thing that you should pay attention to is the “dress warmly” advice that they all give. Nothing like ruining a sunset or sunrise viewing because it it just too damn cold to stand outside and see it. Remember you are 8,000 feet elevation, it is windy and it is cold. I would suggest at the very least, jeans, hat and two layers of sweatshirt/jacket. It may very well be the ONLY time you were pants for your entire Maui stay, but just suck it up and warm up.
Bring 10 bucks
It costs $10 to get into Haleakalā National Park and they prefer credit or debit card. I would assume that most folks have cash/credit while on vacation, but just a heads up that it’s not free.
Stop at Kalahaku Overlook
Do not drive all the way to the top to the visitor center. On the right hand side of the road just before the top, there is a parking lot, Kalahaku Overlook. Stop and park even if no one else is doing it. Once you park and bundle up, follow the path across the street for about 1/8 of a mile. Do not turn back, even if you think I have led you astray. Soon you will see a shelter and if you are like us, NO ONE else will be there. This is THE best place to view the sunrise.
Seriously, do not doubt me on this one.
Visit the Visitor Center
After the sunset, head on up to the Visitor Center. By this time some parking will be opened up (another reason you should stop at Kalahaku Overlook) and you can see a wider view of the world. The sites from here are truly stunning, there is some more info to read about the area . . . and, yes, there is a gift store.
Eat a quiche
On the way back down the mountain, stop by La Provence in Kula. Use your GPS as it’s a bit hard to find, but well worth it. On the weekends they serve breakfast, but during the week, the pastries are AMAZING. I had the crab and mozzarella quiche and it took all of my willpower NOT to order another one, or two, or . . .
As you head home, you will find that because you woke early than God, it’s still early. Pukalani Superette is a great local stop where you can grab lunch or supplies for your kitchenette. The lunch plates include everything from bento, to spaghetti to potato skins, so even the choosiest of eaters can find something here. There is also a Chevron station for you Safeway Rewards users right around the corner.
Take a nap
While I really shouldn’t HAVE to add this to the list, I would not suggest trying to do much more than this as your day’s activity and for heaven’s sake don’t plan something back-to-back. This is unless you like drivers falling asleep, grumpy family members and, oh, I don’t know, getting tired from your vacation. Seriously people, take a nap after lunch and then return to your beach time and shave ice consumption.
I hope this has been helpful. My family has been here enough now that I feel like we can offer a wee bit of insight for those who want to have a great experience in Maui.
You can see all of my Haleakala Sunrise here: SunriseHaleakala.