There is something renewing about seeing the sunrise first thing in the morning, awakening the world to a new day. Being a night owl myself, I’ve seen dozens of beautiful sunsets, but I can probably count on one hand the times I’ve actually sat and watched a good sunrise.
Haleakala crater on Maui is home to one of the most spectacular sunrises in the world thanks to the Hawaiian demi-god Maui, so beloved that the whole island is named after him. So, when in Maui…!
According to legend, Maui’s mother Hina made beautiful kapa (Hawaiian fabric made of pounded bark) and would leave it to dry during the day, but the sun made it’s journey across the sky so fast that the kapa would still be damp at night. To help his mom out, Maui climbed to the 10,000-foot summit of Haleakala crater where the sun slept. He hid until morning and watched for the sun to begin it’s daily journey. When the sun appeared, Maui caught it with his lasso of twisted coconut fiber.
When the sun demanded to be released, Maui would not let go and said,“Promise me that you will move more slowly across the sky.” The sun struck a bargain with Maui and said it would move slowly for six months out of the year, and then move at it’s preferred pace for the other six months.
Mahalo Maui for making that sucker slow it’s role!
No trip to Maui is complete without making the journey up the crater to Haleakala, the “House of the Sun.” You can go for sunrise, or even sunset, but either way don’t miss it!
If you are going to make the sunrise journey, here are a few tips:
When I say early, I mean early on in your trip (like the second or third day), AND early in the morning. Yes, if you are a night owl like me, this will pose a significant challenge. But I can promise you that it’s totally worth it. We got there about an hour and 15 mins before sunrise which left us plenty of time to park and grab a great spot. When people started pouring in 30 minutes before sunrise they couldn’t find parking, or a place to stand and watch.
2. Dress very warmly.
I know it’s Hawaii, but it is FREEZING at 10, 000 ft ! Trust me: layer up, and bring a blanket, scarf, beanie, gloves, etc. We were so cold that we wrapped ourselves in some dirty beach towels we found in the back of the car, and even bought a beanie from the gift shop to cover up. It will be COLD so plan accordingly.
Once you park and get your spot, the waiting game begins. Then your stomach starts to remind you that you woke up too early for breakfast. Then you start to get hangry.
4.There is a $15 fee per car.
Keep the receipt because it’s good for three days and there is so much to see and explore in the National Park. You can go back until the receipt expires to explore it all.
5. Explore the rest of the park if you can stay awake!
We took an epic 4 hour nap in the jeep then finally started walking around the crater. So many beautiful views!