On Top Of The World! Sunset At Mt. Haleakala-Maui, Hawaii
Our trip to Hawaii this summer was one I had dreamed about my whole life and it did not disappoint! One of my favorite activities was viewing the sunset at Mt. Haleakala. We had planned on viewing the sunrise but did not realize that policies had changed and you needed to purchase advance tickets. There were not any tickets available for the days we wanted to go so we decided to view the sunset instead, which did not require tickets. I’m not going to lie-waking up at 3:30 a.m. on my vacation to view the sunrise did not hurt my feelings, although I have heard it is totally worth the early wake-up time. After seeing the sunset-I would have to agree! Next time!
Stops On The Way Up To The Crater
I have two suggestions for stops on the way to this destination. The first is Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop. The food is AMAZING and I’m still dreaming of the pie! The reason I suggest bringing food is that we did not and regretted it! (We had been to Leoda’s earlier in the week and realized this would have been a great place to stop and order food to take with us.) I had packed some snacks but we were enviously eyeing those that had thought to pack a full meal and enjoy it at the top of the mountain while watching the sunset.
The other stop I would recommend is the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. This was a pretty quick stop for us and we spent about an hour wandering around the gardens and checking out the gift shop and cafe. It was such a peaceful, beautiful place to explore.
Preparing For The Drive Up
So, the drive up the mountain is not for the faint of heart or those that get carsick easily! My youngest tends to get carsick and she used sea bands which work great. You place them on your wrists and they help with nausea. For this trip, we also gave her children’s Dramamine, which did the trick! It makes her drowsy, so she took a little nap on the way up and was good to go by the time we got there.
Also, take it easy when you first get to the top of the crater. The increased elevation may cause headaches or make you feel lightheaded. It helps to go slow and stay hydrated. My head hurt a bit when we first arrived, but as my body adjusted to the elevation, it went away.
When To Arrive
In addition to bringing food, I would also suggest arriving early. We arrived about 4 hours prior to sunset and explored the viewing area and took some great photos while it was daylight. If you are interested in exploring the National Park, there are also hiking trails. Look for the marked pathways. Parking is limited and fills up quickly, so keep that in mind when deciding on your arrival time and restroom stops. There are no bathrooms at the very top, but just a short drive down at another viewing area public restrooms are available.
What To Wear
Wear WARM clothes! We had done our research and packed winter coats, hats and mittens which seemed crazy considering how warm it was by the beach, but trust me, you will be glad you did! It is very windy and once the sun starts to drop it gets very chilly. I saw many people in shorts and tank tops that looked miserable. We didn’t bring a blanket, but I would also add that to the list. Some people brought chairs or a thick blanket to sit on, which would also be a good idea if perching on a rock is not your cup of tea!
Observatory operated by the US Air Force and The University of Hawaii
Bring a Good Camera
The view from the top of Mt. Haleakala was nothing short of amazing! I have never experienced anything like it! It felt like being on top of the world! (I apologize in advance for the picture overload.) I really regretted not bringing my good camera for both the sunset pictures and the stunning display of the nighttime starry sky.
Once the sun set and darkness fell, we looked up at the sky and words cannot describe how brilliant the stars were! It was absolutely amazing seeing the Milky Way, shooting stars and all of the constellations. My oldest who has taken sailing navigation courses helped us spot some favorites!
Starry Night Sky
By far, my favorite part of the whole trip was standing under the brilliant night sky with my family. The temperature was dropping quickly, so we all huddled together in a circle and just hugged each other enjoying the spectacular view. My heart was so full of gratitude to the One who blessed me with this family and this spectacular view!
All too soon, we decided to head back down the mountain to find food and warm up! Another important tip, make sure your driver is comfortable driving on curvy, winding and dark roads. My guy didn’t mind the drive, but I would not have attempted it. I did see tour groups at the top, so if driving on a mountain crater is not your thing, then that would be an option.
Tips For Visiting Mt. Haleakala Sunset
1. Stop at Leoda’a Kitchen and Pie Shop or bring food and plenty of drinks for dinner.
2. If time allows, make a stop at Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm.
3. Bring warm clothes and a blanket or chairs to sit on.
4. Bring a high-quality camera get some amazing pictures!
4. Arrive early to find a parking spot and get some great photos while it is daylight.
5. Make sure your driver is comfortable with mountainous driving conditions.
6. Plan ahead if you have anyone that gets carsick.
7. Take it easy when you first get to the top of the crater, the increased elevation can make you feel lightheaded or give you a headache. Take it easy and stay hydrated.
8. Enjoy the spectacular view!
This was definitely a bucket list moment for me! Standing on the top of that crater with my family at 10,023 feet above the world, I was inspired and in awe of the beauty stretched out before me. I felt so close to God and so thankful for the opportunity to view one of His glorious gifts of nature. If you ever go to Maui, I would definitely recommend the trip to Mt. Haleakala.