We wanted our first trip to Maui to be special, so we did our research.
I told Velda one option was to watch the sun rise above the Haleakala volcano, knowing that Velda would never approve that idea. I’m the early riser. She’s the late riser. So on vacation, would she want to get up early enough to see the sun rise?
If you’re going to Maui, I think this is one of the 5 things you MUST do. Here are the 5:
- Go find the World’s Best Banana Bread
- Take the Road to Hanna
- Eat at Lahaina Grill
- Go to Warren & Annabelle’s Magic Show
- See the sun rise over the Hale’akala Volcano
Now, of course, there are many, many other things you should do. Cook fresh fish on the grill, drink your favorite beverage on the beach, see every gorgeous sunset (which is every one) … many things to do. But this is the story of Haleakala.
To enjoy the trip, it’s all about the prep. Know this: it will be cold at the summit. Bring layers of clothing. Long pants, gloves, hat, heavy socks, shoes. Yes, you’re going to a tropical paradise, but the summit of Haleakala is 10,023′ above that paradise. You’ll be in the dark, faced into a stiff wind, and it will be bone cold. Be prepared, or you won’t enjoy this wonder.
Get the car ready the day before, with a full tank of gas. Have breakfast preset, or eat in the car. We got up at 2:30 am in order to get to the summit before sunrise, and we did not get there any too early. We had time to get there, figure out what we should be doing, take a bathroom break, and then claim our spot on the observation rail.
When you arrive, the parking lot is pitch black. You really just have to know where you’re going. You can just go to the east … which is the larger, lower observation position. There’s also a gate that’s opened a few minutes before sunrise, allowing you to go to the upper observation area near the Haleakala Observatory. It’s higher, but the view of the sunrise is pretty comparable. (After sunrise, make sure you go there to see the silverswords.)
I brought a monopod to steady my DSLR. I held it steady against the metal handrail (I was there in time to get in the front row). Some of the photographers did bring tripods, but I was fine on the monopod; the slowest exposure below is the first one, which was 1/30 of a second. The pictures below are not color enhanced.
You watch the sun rise above the edge of the Haleakala crater. You stand above the clouds, and watch the sunrise. The views are simply astonishing.