Stargazing atop Mt. Haleakala in Maui

Stargazing atop Mt. Haleakala in Maui

Shaka Guide's Sunset and Stargazing Haleakala 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 many lookouts,  plan on spending about 4-6 hours driving to the summit and back.

sunset haleakala tour stops


The sun begins to set at around 5:30 in the winter and 7:00 p.m. in the summer.

On this tour, you’ll make a bunch of stops on your way up to the summit, so you can expect to spend 4-6 hours, depending on what you do.

Keep this in mind if you want to reach the summit for sunset. We recommend you start the tour around noon.

Also, if you’re staying in West Maui (the resort areas of Kaanapali and Lahaina) it’s about a two-hour drive to Haleakala.

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.

Makawao Town

Approximate time: 1 hour

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

Just before Haleakala 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.

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’ll see later in the tour.

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Halemau'u Crater Hike

Approximate time: 1 hour

This 8-mile trek is actually 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!

Leleiwi Overlook

Approximate time: 15 minutes

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

Head in the clouds? It will be at this overlook. Most visitors pass up Leleiwi Overlook but in our opinion, it’s actually 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!

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!

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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. If you’re thinking to yourself, “another overlook?” Yes, but we promise -- this one has great views!

Pro tip! The nearby visitor center is a great spot to use the restroom.

Sliding Sands Trail

Approximate time: 30 minutes

As you make your way back from the summit, you can return to the visitor center parking lot to hike Sliding Sands Trail.

It is a rigorous 11-mile hike, but 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.

NOTE: we recommend you do this hike during the day.

Watch the Sunset atop Red Hill - Summit

Approximate time: 20 minutes

haleakalaAtop Haleakala, Maui, Photo by Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) 

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 sets for the night into the arid, mars-like landscape of Haleakala.

Drive Down The Mountain

Approximate time: 45 minutes

As you descend the mountain we’ll tell you more stories and legends about the sacred Hawaiian volcano you’ve just explored.

There are only two stops on the return trip — a viewpoint and Upcountry Maui.

If it’s past sunset and dark out, you’ll want to skip these spots.

Final Viewpoint

Approximate time: 5 minutes

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.

PLEASE NOTE: many of these shops close by 5 p.m. If you’ve stayed to watch the sunset, you can always visit these another day.

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

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Ready to take the Sunset & Stargazing Haleakala Tour? Here's everything you need to know before you go! 

Want to check out the mountain at sunrise? No worries! Check out our Sunrise at Haleakala National Park Tour

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10 Ways to be a Safe and Responsible Traveler in Hawaii

Best Places To Catch A Sunset in Maui

When to Visit: Beautiful Haleakala at Sunrise and Sunset

Haleakala Sunrise & Sunset: Everything You Need To Know

Best Day Hikes in Haleakala National Park

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