Sunrise atop Mt. Haleakala in Maui

Sunrise atop Mt. Haleakala in Maui

Shaka Guide's Sunrise at Haleakala National Park Tour Itinerary

Shaka Guide

Standing at an elevation of more than 10,000 feet, Haleakala is the world’s largest dormant volcano.

This national park is home to some of the most magnificent sunrise and sunset views.

Perhaps that’s where this volcano got its name? Haleakala means house of the sun in Hawaiian.

Whether you plan to visit Haleakala for sunrise, sunset, or anytime in between, Shaka Guide is your perfect companion with turn-by-turn directions, places to explore, and interesting stories and Hawaiian legends.

With over 60 audio points, a variety of hikes, and a number of lookouts plan on spending about 4-6 hours driving to the summit and back.

Important Information

  • You’ll need a reservation to enter the park for sunrise, you can make one here.
  • Bring a jacket and blanket. The summit gets really chilly, especially at sunrise.

sunrise at haleakala tour map


You’ll need to leave your accommodations extremely early to make it to the summit for sunrise.

In the winter, the sun rises at around 5:30 a.m., and in the summer, it rises close to 7 a.m.

You can expect the drive to Haleakala from West Maui (the major resort areas of Lahaina and Kaanapali) to take about 2 hours, which doesn’t include the drive to the summit.

Stop in Pukalani Town

Approximate time: 15 minutes

Make a quick stop here for some snacks and water. There is no food once you’re in the park.

Drive up Mount Haleakala

Approximate time: 45 minutes

As you ascend the mountain on your way to the summit for sunrise, we’ll tell you stories and legends about the sacred Hawaiian volcano you’re about to explore.

You won’t make any stops on your way up Haleakala to the summit so you can make it in time for the sunrise.

Watch the Sunrise atop Red Hill - Summit

Approximate time: 20 minutes

About a minute past the visitor center at the end of the road, you’ll find an overlook called Pu‘u‘ula‘ula or Red Hill.

This is the actual summit of Mount Haleakala at 10,023 feet above sea level.

From here, you can watch as the sun greets the day, rising from the arid, mars-like landscape of Haleakala Crater into a sea of clouds.

Sliding Sands Trail

Approximate time: 30 minutes

sliding rock in haleakalaCrater at Haleakala National Park, Photo by Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Now that the sun is up and you are thawing, it’s time to start hiking the many paths Haleakala National Park has to offer.

First up is Sliding Sands Trail. You’ll find the trailhead just next to the visitor center.

It is a rigorous 11-mile hike. Since there’s still so much to do on the tour today, we recommend you just hike to the first switchback or until you get tired.

You don’t need to travel far to see the expansive view of the massive crater open up before you!

When you are ready to return, just retrace your steps back the same way you came.

If you plan on doing the whole hike, or a large portion of it, remember to bring water.

The area isn’t shaded and you’ll be walking for a long time.

Pa Ka’oao Trail

Approximate time: 30 minutes

This mini hike starts at the visitor center and takes you to an overlook with a great view of the crater.

The walk is just .5 miles, and it’s well worth it. Take your time and breathe deeply, the air is much thinner up there.

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Kalahaku Overlook

Approximate time: 15 minutes

At this overlook, you’ll see the crater floor from a completely different perspective. It’s definitely worth a stop!

Leleiwi Overlook

Approximate time: 15 minutes

haleakala overlook with cloudsHabit view Hana coast at Leleiwi Haleakala National Park, Photo by Forest and Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0 US, via Wiki Commons

You might be thinking to yourself, “How many overlooks are there on this tour?” But we promise this one’s worth it.

Most visitors pass up Leleiwi Overlook but in our opinion, it’s one the best on the mountain!  At the lookout, watch as clouds roll by.

In one moment, the fog will be so dense you can barely see the terrain around you, in the next, it will clear giving you a panoramic view of the crater.

It’s truly a sight to behold!

Halemau'u Crater Hike

Approximate time: 1 hour

This 8-mile trek is rated hard, but we suggest you just hike the first mile, then turn around the way you came.

You’ll still get a great view of a crater rim in the condensed version and you'll have more time for the rest of the activities on this tour!

sunrise at haleakala download

Hosmer Grove

Approximate time: 30 minutes

Hosmer Grove is located just outside the national park entrance at an elevation of 6,800 feet.

Here you will see trees from all around the world, including:

  • juniper and fir from North America
  • cedar and seigi pine from Japan, and
  • eucalyptus trees from Australia

This is a short, relaxing, half-mile loop trail. It’s a great spot to stop and breathe in the fresh air from all the foliage around you.

It’s also a completely different landscape from the ones you saw earlier in the tour.

National Park Entrance Sign

Approximate time: 5 minutes

As we pass the ticket booth for the park entrance, you will see a sign on your left for ‘Haleakala National Park.’

On the sign you will see a depiction of the Hawaiian legendary God ‘Maui’ with his rope trying to pull down the sun.

You’ve learned all about this demigod on the tour today. Might as well stop and grab a picture with the sign!

Final Viewpoint

Approximate time: 5 minutes

overiew of haleakala crater roadScenic point on Haleakala Crater Road overlooking West Maui, Photo by Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

As we make our way to the bottom of the mountain there is a lookout that offers one final glimpse of Maui. Feel free to pull over for a quick view or to snap a photo.

Optional Trip to Upcountry Farms

Approximate time: 1+ hour

As we near the base of Haleakala, we will approach Upcountry Maui. In Upcountry Maui there are a couple of interesting farms in the area.

Here you can find the Ali’i Lavender Farm, a great place to unwind and enjoy the fragrance of lavender.

For plant lovers, there’s Kula Botanical Garden. And, for cheese enthusiasts check out Surfing Goat Dairy.

This spot has a petting zoo and sells gourmet goat cheese and specialty items like chocolate goat cheese truffles.

Finally, you can check Maui Winery which is famous for its pineapple wine.

If you want to head back to your hotel, hit the beach, or check out Shaka Guide’s West Maui tour, just continue down the road -- we’ll tell you how on the tour.

Makawao Town

Approximate time: 1 hour

makawao town signboardVisit historic Makawao Town, Photo by Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Just outside of Haleakala National Park is a charming little town named Makawao.

Makawao is dubbed the biggest little town in Upcountry Maui and has its roots in the cattle industry.

In recent years, Makawao has evolved into a charming art town where you will find galleries and workshops of local artists, many with Hawaii-inspired themes, as well as lots of tasty local food.

This is a great place to end your day by grabbing a bite to eat.

When you’re in Hawaii, we ask that you act respectfully toward the locals, land, and wildlife. 

Please pick up your trash; never touch any marine life, plants, or other animals; and avoid unsafe spots.

Hawaii’s natural resources are precious, it’s up to all of us to help preserve these resources.

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We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

Ready to take the Sunrise at Haleakala Tour? Here's everything you need to know before you go! 

Don't want to wake up for sunset? No worries! Check out our Sunset & Stargazing Haleakala Tour


5 Must-Visit Historic Sites in Maui

10 Ways to be a Safe and Responsible Traveler in Hawaii

Haleakala Sunrise & Sunset: Everything You Need To Know

Watching the Sunrise On Haleakala with Shaka Guide

When to Visit: Beautiful Haleakala at Sunrise and Sunset

Best Day Hikes in Haleakala National Park

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