PHOTOS: Haleakala Maui Sunrise 2021
Aloha everyone! It’s Russell with Maui Happy Hours and I recently had the great pleasure of ascending Maui’s Haleakala volcano to view the legendary Haleakala sunrise.
About Maui’s Haleakalā
Haleakala, or “House of the Sun” in Hawaiian, is a massive dormant volcano that forms more than 75% of the island of Maui and rises to 10,023 feet (3,055 meters) above sea level. In ancient Hawaiian folklore, the crater at the summit of Haleakala was home to the grandmother of the demigod Maui. According to the legend, Maui’s grandmother helped him capture the sun and force it to slow its journey across the sky in order to lengthen the day.
Haleakala Sunrise Reservations
A reservation is required for Haleakala sunrise (although not sunset) and sunrise reservations are hard to get. We reserved our spot about two months prior and, at that time, it was the next one available. You can browse the available dates and reserve a spot on the Recreation.gov website.
Don’t count on getting one after you’ve arrived on Maui. It’s definitely something you need to plan for in advance, although there are Haleakala tour companies that may have spots available on a paid tour even at the last minute.
A couple of dozen additional spots are released a few days prior to the date you want, but they are seemingly impossible to get.
When my Mom was visiting Maui several weeks ago, we tried with four phones on four different accounts for four days in a row (not kidding) and we could not get a reservation for Haleakala sunrise.
When to Depart for Haleakala Sunrise
To depart for Haleakala, we left Kihei at 3:05 am and arrived with time to spare at the summit (no stops). Google Maps GPS proved to be pretty accurate about the arrival time, even with some slow-moving traffic in front of us on the way up the mountain. There is a Park Ranger stationed at the entrance to check your reservation before entering the summit area.
Haleakala Sunrise: Beautiful and Spiritual
Arriving early at the Haleakala summit allowed us to get in place and build anticipation for the sunrise. A local guide provides a native Hawaiian chant in the moments before the sunrise and it gives the whole event a spiritual feeling.
Being above the crowds makes the sunrise itself indescribable with the overall mood making the experience unforgettable. In addition to arriving early, I recommend hanging out for a while after the sunrise as the colors continue to morph and the rising sun illuminates the crater landscape.
There is an area slightly above the main sunrise viewing area. Go up there for pics if you have the energy to walk up the stairs, which is challenging at 10,000 feet!
As you can see below, I went completely nuts with the photos. And I actually decided not to filter or enhance them at all since they already look so cool (in my opinion of course). I can honestly say these photos are what it really looked like.
Special thanks to Kayla DeLong and Sal Sanchez for joining me. You’ll see them – they’re the other two people in onesies!
Other Tips for the Haleakala Maui Sunrise
Dress very warm as the temps can dip into the 20’s and 30’s pretty regularly with a stiff and sometimes very heavy wind. The first time I did Haleakala sunrise I was miserably cold. Dress in a lot of layers with a good jacket. You may want gloves as well. Especially if you have the cool ones that let you take smartphone photos with the gloves on.
Give yourself some extra time. It wouldn’t be as much fun if you rushed out of the car to see the end of it and it would be outright devastating if you missed it completely.
Pack a snack and some hot beverages if possible. We had hot tea that was still remarkably hot (thank you, Yeti) and that was a big blessing.
Above all, enjoy your time above the clouds viewing the sunrise at Haleakala!
Ever been to Haleakala sunrise? Have questions? Tell us in the comments.
About the Author:
Russell Snyder, the creator of the Maui Happy Hours app, is a writer, ocean enthusiast, and full-time Maui resident who enjoys sampling the island’s best happy hours and sharing his findings with the masses. When not writing about Maui bars and restaurants, you can find him surfing, walking the dogs, or lounging on the beach. Follow Russell on Instagram @russellscottsnyder or contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.