Haleakala National Park: ‘House of the Sun’

7 07 2012

There are few times when you willingly and knowingly set your alarm for 2:30am.

But for those people visiting Maui, I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of visitors plan a trip to the summit of Haleakala, the world’s largest dormant volcano, to watch the dark star-studded sky turn to deep blue, then orange, then pink as the sun makes its first appearance over the clouds of the horizon.   At over 10,000 ft high, it’s quite a view.

The Sun lightening the sky at Haleakala National Park

Moments Before Sunrise

The Peeking Sun

Haleakala: House of the Sun

A Sunrise not to be Missed

There are definitely a few tips for this excursion that could increase the enjoyment of your experience.

  • Wake up early and get to the summit early before the sun starts to rise.  It takes about 2 hours to drive from the Wailea area, so keep that in mind.  Take time to dial in your camera settings because flash is just not going to cut it.  The tripod is very handy!
  • Dress warmly because if your hands/ears are cold it’s just no fun.  It’s not so much the temperature that was cold (although it was chilly), it was the wind that made it COLD!  So earmuffs/headbands, gloves and hot pockets are a perfect solution
  • Don’t think you need to join the masses and take in this experience at the Visitor’s Observatory area.  It gets crowded and although you may feel that this experience is best enjoyed in a quiet moment, others may not have that idea and your quiet sense of solace or romantic sunrise moment could be ruined with people fluffing their blankets around their shoulders and complaining that they aren’t getting good photos.
  • When you park your car, take the walking path to the LEFT of the parking lot, on the opposite side of the Observatory – you’ll be able to get an even better range of photos than at the Observatory – and without the crowds

Last tip.  Don’t run away as soon as the sun rises over the clouds.  There are so many moments to enjoy.

Top of the World

Haleakala Visitor’s Center

Haleakala Crater

One more thing.  You’re going to be hungry.  Best place to recover from the experience buzz of the sunrise and enjoy a great view of the island coast?  Kula Lodge.  Take the time to enjoy the macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup and the Loco Moco….after all, it’s only 7am.  You’ve got a whole rest of the day of adventures ahead of you.