Hawaii – Maui 2: Haleakala Sunrise

Hawaii – Maui Day 2

Today was my highlight of the trip to Maui – sunrise at 10,000 feet at Haleakala!! I set the alarm to 3 am so we had 45 minutes to get ready and make our 2+ hours drive.  We left our hotel exactly by 3:45 am and our GPS gave us a shock…it said driving time 3 hours!!!  We were so afraid that we couldn’t make it by sunrise which is 6:45 am today that hubby speed a little above the speed limit.  The road off course had no traffic at this time except for a few cars.  We can tell the cars ahead of us were all Mustangs LOL and driving at this time?? Must be tourists like us!  We stopped at the red lights and according to our GPS, right turn, and all the cars in front of us….all turning right LOL!

The road all the way to the base of Haleakala wasn’t bad at all!  We reached it in one hour.  The drive going up Haleakala however was “adventurous”.  But it was much better than I thought…I had read reviews that it was dark, dangerous, and challenging.  None of that, you are not putting your life at risk, let me tell you!  It was a paved road, the road reflectors were brightly lit that you can just follow the road and plus you won’t be alone because many tourists are driving up the same way!  Make sure to slow down on sharp turns…this was when our GPS came in handy, we knew the road ahead of us!

Almost 2/3 of the way there was an “entrance gate” where you pay the $10 admission fee per car, save the receipt, I heard it is valid for 3 days if you want to go back for sunset or another sunrise.  We arrived the summit parking by 6-6:15 am, there was plenty of parking spaces when we got there.  There is the Haleakala Visitor Center and restroom facilities up on the summit.  We saw people waiting inside the Visitor Center because it was so cold and windy up here.  We were well prepared for the weather…..coming from Boston, we had our winter coats! It was in the 40’s degree F, so wasn’t as cold as Boston’s winter! Instead of waiting outside of the visitor center which got crowded quickly, we walked up maybe half a mile.  It was a dirt road and a lot of rocks, we were prepared as well…we bought our flashlights!!  We got an open spot and set up our tripods and did some testing shots.  This was our first time shooting sunrise photos 🙂

After minutes we settled down, the sky started to have some colors and I saw clouds….right in front of me!  I was never that close to the clouds except in the airplane! That felt like I was above the world!!

Here are some of the hundreds of photos we took:






The sun light hit the rocks and it looked like Mars!!!

Here comes the sun:

Sunrise happened very quick….it was amazing!!  There was a huge cloud on the horizon so we seized the moment when the sun was out of the clouds!

We managed to took a photo of us two while all the actions with snapping photos haha!

 And of course I took a pic of hubby working on the camera:

As soon as the sun came out, the sky lit up very fast and it turned to different colors red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, blue!!!

 This couples were not prepared for the cold weather but they were so sweet!

The crater and the clouds were unbelievable!

Out of this world!!!



Picture of the parking lot, we were above the clouds!!

Haleakala Observatory

Haleakala Visitor Center

Silversword, plant that only can be found in Haleakala, I was so glad that I found it and have a chance to take a photo of it!

We drove back down around 7:30 am and we were planned to visit Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm but our GPS totally got us to the wrong place!  So we turned back and looked for the nearest gas station in Kula.  Gas prices weren’t as bad, it was $3.99 per gallon.  Next, we tried to search for Kula Botanical Garden in Kula but couldn’t find it!!!

We didn’t feel like to go back to our hotel to sleep so we continued to our journey!  Next we headed to Iao Valley State Park and passed by Denny’s so we had breakfast first.  I had the Hawaiian breakfast Loco Moco, it was pretty good 😀

It was easy to drive to Iao Valley! Parking was $5 per car. Iao Valley was an easy “hike”, took only 5 minutes to walk up to have a view of it.

Iao Valley didn’t take us that long so on our way out of Iao Valley, we saw the Tropical Gardens of Maui but it was closed!!! We really want to visit a botanical garden to see tropical flowers so lastly we tried for Maui Nui Botanical Gardens.  Maui Nui Botanical Gardens was really small, not the garden I thought it is and only few were blooming.  My favorite ones:

I never see this plant before, the flowers grow out from the tree!! Love the bright color of it!

We still have energy to get to one more space LOL…we were looking for Makena Beach State Park but ended up in Wailea Beach. We really had no luck finding places in Maui lol!!!

Here was a sand devil while we drove by, first time seeing it as well!

Wailea Beach, pretty nice beach with beautiful grounds:

At least I spotted this cool flower near the beach after 3 failed attempts to search for a botanical garden!!

Love the island on the background in Wailea Beach:

By now we were tired so we drove back to our hotel and we took a long nap!!!

I called up Sansei Seafood & Sushi Restaurant to make a reservation but they said they were fully booked so we have to get there early for walk-ins.  We rested in our lovely room until 4:45 pm and drove to Sansei (Kapalua Resort 600 Office Rd, Lahaina), we got there before 5 pm and there was only one group lined up ahead of us.  It started to rain a bit so Sansei opened its doors earlier around 5:15 pm.  We were 2nd in line so no problem getting a table.  Oh forgot to mention, we got here so early for the early bird special… 25% off your bill on orders placed by 6 pm!!!

Hubby is a sushi roll fan so here were the food we ordered, so many that I tried to remember what is what:

Mango Crab Salad Roll, their award winning roll, it was good!

Shrimp Dynamite, one of their signature appetizer but we thought it was okay:

Salmon sashimi:

Eel sashimi:

Lobster roll, no discount, it was just okay not really worth the $15:

Our cousin ordered the seafood pasta:

Hubby ordered the Shichimi Seared Fresh Atlantic Salmon and Tiger Prawn, he said it was okay:

I forgot this but I think it was the Grilled Fresh Hawaiian Ahi & Award Winning Asian Rock Shrimp Cake, the shrimp cake was really good:

I ordered the Dungeness Crab Ramen with Asian Truffle Broth, it was yummy!

Creme brulee:

Fried ice cream was so good!

Our dinner was good we thought but not awesome, our bill was $219.47 including tips for 4 of us which wasn’t too bad for all the foods we ordered!

On our way back to our hotel, we passed by Times Supermarket so we stopped by and bought some groceries.  We decided to have BBQ in our hotel tomorrow (our last day in Maui) since our hotel has BBQ grills around the property.  We bought salmon, steak, and shrimps for tomorrow’s “brunch”.

We had a long day today since we woke up at 3 am but the sunrise was so worth it!  It was like a once in a life time experience….how often can you go up 10,000 feet to see the sunrise after all!  It was our cousin and his wife’s first time seeing sunrise so I bet it will be very memorable for them!  It was also our first time watching the sunrise together 🙂 I had suggested to my husband back then when we weren’t married yet to see a sunrise together but we never had a chance to until now. But at least our first sunrise together was up at 10,000 feel at Haleakala National Park in Maui!!!!


1 thought on “Hawaii – Maui 2: Haleakala Sunrise

  1. Awesome photos. Do you recall what lens and camera settings you used to capture the beautiful sunrise photos? Use any filters? I plan to use tripod with cable release. I use a Nikon D7100 with 10-20 Sigma lens, 18-200 Nikon lens and 18-55 Nikon lens. Thanks.

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