Haleakala. House of the Sun. It is seemingly a world away from the rest of Maui, a huge landmark that composes nearly half of the entire island.
With an elevation of 10,023 feet, the summit of Haleakala offers stunning panoramic views above the clouds that make you feel as though you’re on top of the world. (In case you’re curious: the volcano’s last eruption was in 1750.) The crater, which has over 30 miles of hiking trails, is carved out into an otherworldly landscape with swirling clouds, circular rainbows, multi-colored mountains of sand, Sahara Desert-type trails, jagged fields of lava, and a color-palette that seems suited to a sci-fi film set shot on ‘Mars.’
I’ve done a couple of previous posts about Haleakala (the sublimity of a Haleakala sunrise and mountain biking down Haleakala, and hiking the Haleakala Crater) but have to create another one that is dedicated solely to a Haleakala sunset… because to be quite honest, it is one of those life-altering events that deserves thousands of posts. And it happens every single day.
A few days ago, I took one of my besties up Haleakala to watch sunset. We got there a couple hours early so that we could explore Sliding Sands a bit, watch the clouds, and simply be carried away by the Haleakala stunning while we waited for the Main Event.
It is a cold wait, with the temps typically dropping to the 40s at sunset, so be prepared!
Sunset is perfect for silhouette play, something that I am, as you can see, a bit obsessed with.
Most Maui tourists have a Haleakala sunrise on their bucket list, as for some reason it has received the most hype, but I am equally entranced by the Haleakala sunset. A few positive things about it in addition to the experience itself: it is a little warmer at sunset than at sunrise, it doesn’t involve an early wake time (you have to be up by 2am to get up to the summit for a Haleakala sunrise) and it is typically significantly less crowded.
I’d say both are worth seeing 😉 But if you only have time for one, you’ll just have to check out the pictures of both (here’s the link to a Haleakala Sunrise) and see which one calls to you the most! Regardless, you’re not going to be disappointed.
Entrance to the Haleakala National Park is $15/vehicle. If you are a local, or a visitor planning to also visit the volcano parks on the Big Island (Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa,) I highly suggest getting an annual pass ($25) that gets you into Haleakala National Park (including the Kipahulu section,) Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and Pu’uhonua ‘O Honaunau National Historical Park.
To the adventurous bearded-and-incredibly-stoked fellow from Seattle jumping up and down in shorts and t-shirt trying to stay warm as the sun dropped towards the clouds — thank you for recognizing this magical daily occurrence for what it is: life altering. Happy trails.