There’s nothing quite like seeing the sun rising over the entire island of Maui.
Local guides and park rangers narrate the Hawaiian legends and give information, pointing out unique features of that day’s sunrise live.
A short distance away a group of teenagers sing the opening number from The Lion King (while this is not an official attraction, I have yet to go there for sunrise without this happening).
But what do you need to bring on your trip up Haleakala? We’ve put together a guide to help you have a great experience watching the Haleakala sunrise in Maui.
1. Your reservation confirmation and payment for entrance
Haleakala National Park now requires reservations for each car planning on entering the park between 3am and 7am. Reservations can be made at www.recreation.gov and cost $1.50 per car. You can make reservations up to 60 days in advance; be sure to bring reservation confirmation and a photo I.D.
There is also an entrance fee to the park itself; this gives you access to all of Haleakala National Park for three days (save your receipt).
For more information on sunrise reservation rules, check out our guide.
2. Blankets or warm jackets
The summit of Haleakala is significantly colder than anywhere else on Maui; the thin air at the summit does not hold in heat, and it is not uncommon (in the winter months) to view the sunrise in freezing temperatures (factoring in wind chill).
Bring layers to wear over cool, loose clothing, as the temperature will rise fairly quickly as you head back down the mountain. If you are traveling from a cold state and need to bring a jacket for your return home anyway, wear that; otherwise, layers are good.
One hoodie usually doesn’t cut it, but a pullover and windbreaker is usually fine. Wear shoes and socks. Because I live here on Maui, I usually bring a throw blanket as well–look at the weather for the early morning hours, and remember that cold feels cold in paradise, too.
3. Thermos with hot beverages
Whether you prefer tea, cocoa, or coffee, it’s not a bad idea to bring along some warm drinks for the trip down, or even to enjoy while you watch the sunrise.
The Park is very strict about littering, so the best move is to bring a reusable thermos (such as a Hydroflask) with your hot beverage of choice, especially if you want to watch the sunrise from start to finish, or if you are planning on stargazing. Light snacks aren’t a bad idea, but save room for breakfast!
4. A camera (and possibly a tripod)
Stargazing from Haleakala is an absolute delight. There’s simply nothing like it. If you have a DSLR camera, this is the time to use it, and your spare battery and memory cards.
For those of us a little less photographically inclined, make sure your phones have plenty of memory and charge, as the sunrise is a great opportunity for photos from beginning to end.
5. A full tank of gas
For your own peace of mind, fill up your tank before leaving Kahului, as there are no gas stations for some time, and it won’t hurt to know you don’t have to make any extra stops on your way back down
Wondering what to do after you see the Haleakala sunrise? Get inspiration from our blog: Four things to do after viewing the Haleakala Sunrise.