Discovering the Mt Haleakala Sunrise

Discovering the Mt Haleakala Sunrise

Mt Haleakala Sunrise is a must-do if you find yourself in Maui. This was one of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed hands down! Waking up at 2 am to make it up the twisting and winding, no guard railed or lighted road was so beyond worth it.

Haleakala Sunrise in Maui Tips

Background to Mt. Haleakala

Haleakala National Park is Maui’s highest peak soaring 10,023 (3,005 m) feet above sea level.  Haleakala means “house of the sun”. This is also where the demigod Maui lassoed the sun, to give his people more daylight for things like fishing, farming, and dry their Kapa.

Before You’re Visit to Haleakala National Park

If you plan to do the 7 sacred pools and other hiking around Mt Haleakala, plan to do this within 3 days of each other this way, your receipt is valid. I must note, that we did not (lesson learned) however they told us for $5 dollars we can use that receipt towards a year pass to the park(not sure if this is always the case).

If this is your first visit to Mt. Haleakala, the price is $25 per private vehicle (credit/debit card only) and is valid for 3 days.

Additionally, I’d suggest reading these important 6 Sunrise Mt. Haleakala things to know.


Another lesson learned was the reservation process. We just assumed like the rest of our ventures in Hawaii, we can just show up…NOPE. Luckily we spoke with the front desk at the beginning of our stay!

The woman alerted us that a reservation must be made for the sunrise (3 am-7 am) online only. If you’re like me and didn’t know this, there is still hope.

Get a Ticket

Each day, 40 tickets are available for reservation two days in advance, at 4:00 p.m. Hawaiian time. They go quickly so have the web page open and ready to go at 4 PM Link You might need to do a little extra searching with the link above, as the recreation gov website sometimes gives an error page.

If you are smart and looking this up now, you can purchase your reservation 2 months in advance and the reservation is $1.50 dollars. There are other guidelines, so definitely check out the recreation gov’s website. You do not want to wake up at the crack of dawn to realize they will not let you up.

Other tips to keep in mind is having cameras and phones charged

Mt. Haleakala Sunrise Experience

We got there and it was freezing, about 34 degrees Fahrenheit. Thankfully I brought the comforter from our hotel! There was a group of people waiting by a rail next to the bathrooms to watch the sunrise. I thought to myself, how am I going to see it through all these people.

That’s when we noticed some people walking up the mountain and so we followed them, giant comforter wrapped around me and all. Slightly tripping and falling up the mountain terrain in the pitch dark added to the experience as we made it to the top and sat on a rock for the show.

We had perfect conditions as the sun slowly fired up the clouds giving a view I will hold with me for a lifetime. It was truly spectacular!

short trail to see the Haleakala sunrise

Mt Haleakala Sunrise Summary

So to summarize, we had 3 hours of sleep resulting in a 2 AM wake-up, 3-hour ride up, crazy twisting roads in the dark, and freezing weather, but it was so beyond worth it to sit above the clouds and just be apart of this moment in time.


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Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

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