So one of THE most popular things to do in Haleakala National Park is to see the Haleakala sunrise.
It is one of the most popular things to do in all of Maui!
It is possible to do the Haleakala sunrise on your own!
So first, yes, you can do the Haleakala sunrise on your own!
So you don’t need a tour to do the Haleakala sunrise.
And while you don’t need a tour to do the Haleakala sunrise, you do need a reservation.
Going to see the Haleakala sunrise on your own means a drive to the Haleakala summit.
It’s about watching the sunrise from the Haleakala summit.
One of the most important things you should know about doing the Haleakala sunrise on your own is that it requires waking up very early.
Since you are going to see a sunrise… it means that you need to wake up well before sunrise to go and actually SEE it!
And it also takes some time to drive to your Haleakala sunrise spot.
Many people report leaving their hotels at 3am or 4am to make it in time to see an epic Haleakala sunrise.
If you decide that you’d rather not do it on your own, there are also Haleakala sunrise tours. (Tours might mean waking up even earlier.)
🌋 See the best Haleakala sunrise tours.
Can you go to see the Haleakala sunrise without a reservation?
And then another one of the most important things you should know if you want to do the Haleakala sunrise is about reservations.
No, you can’t go to the Haleakala sunrise without a reservation if you’re doing it on your own.
You need to buy your Haleakala sunrise ticket from the National Park Service before you go.
If you want to go after sunrise time, then you can go to Haleakala without a reservation on your own!
You need a permit only if you want to go to the Haleakala summit between the hours of 3am and 7am… and these hours include the sunrise hours!
The Haleakala sunrise reservation often (always?) sells out in advance.
So, you don’t need a TOUR to do the Haleakala sunrise, but you do need a RESERVATION or permit of sorts.
👆 The road to the Haleakala sunrise viewing area is a national park fee area. This means that there is a national park entry fee. Additionally, reservations are required for entry from 3am to 7am. This means that reservations are required to see the Haleakala sunrise!
Going to Haleakala after sunrise
Now, I have not actually seen the Haleakala sunrise myself.
I decided that I did not want to wake up so early and/or put in so much effort to see the sunrise.
Instead, I went to the Haleakala summit during the day, and I thought it was amazing.
But, plenty of people have said it is well worth it to see the Haleakala sunrise!
So you may think it’s well worth it to see the Haleakala sunrise too!
No matter when you go – sunrise, during the day, sunset – weather does have to be on your side, though!
Plan your Haleakala sunrise earlier on in your Maui trip
Another thing that you may consider as you are planning your Maui itinerary is that you might try to schedule your Haleakala sunrise trip within the first few days of landing in Maui.
If you’re flying from the mainland US or Canada for example, jet lag will be on your side.
3am Hawaii time is 6am PT is 9am ET! (Exact time difference will depend on when you go. There is no daylight savings time in Hawaii.)
A bit about how to see the Haleakala sunrise below!
Here's some info on Maui trip prep!
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You can read reviews for the best Maui tours.
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MAUI TOP 3
- Haleakala summit on your own OR Haleakala sunrise tour
- Molokini + turtle town snorkeling tour OR Maui snorkeling on your own
- Road to Hana on your own OR Road to Hana tour OR Road to Hana helicopter
The big list: 50+ things to do on Maui (mostly free + outdoors!)
IMPORTANT!!! If you wanted to see the famous Iao Valley in the West Maui Mountains, unfortunately that won't be possible from August 2022 and the rest of the year. Check the Hawaii State Parks website to confirm.
How to see the Haleakala sunrise on your own
1. Make a Haleakala sunrise reservation through the National Park Service in advance.
Once again, reservations are required in order to enter the Haleakala National Park summit entrance on your own between 3am and 7am. (It was like this even pre-covid.)
You will make Haleakala sunrise reservations through the National Park Service reservation system which is recreation.gov. (If you need any convincing to do the Haleakala sunrise, you can read the reviews there too. Most reviews are VERY positive.)
The cost to make a Haleakala sunrise reservation is $1. See current fees.
2. The night before your Haleakala sunrise, get ready as if you’re going on winter vacation the next day.
The Haleakala summit, where you’re headed to see the Haleakala sunrise, is at high altitude.
The summit is above 10,000 feet!
This means that it can be COLD.
Since you’ll be arriving before sunrise, that means that you’ll be arriving in the dark.
And that means that it will be even more cold!
Also as part of your preparation to enter Haleakala National Park before sunrise, you will want to make sure you are ready to show proof of reservation.
Reviews indicate email or print will work.
The day before you will also want to be sure you have a full gas tank so that’s not something you have to worry about in the morning!
3. On the morning of your Haleakala sunrise, leave your hotel very early in the morning in time to make it in time for the Haleakala sunrise.
And then you will want to add in some extra buffer time just in case!
4. Arrive at the Haleakala National Park entrance.
Once you arrive at the Haleakala National Park entry station, you will also need to pay a national park entrance fee.
The Haleakala National Park 3-day pass is around $30 per car. See current fees.
There is no one-day Haleakala pass.
But this 3-day pass (receipt) is also good for the Haleakala coastal side. (aka the Kipahulu district of Haleakala National Park aka the Road to Hana side of Haleakala National Park! This side of Haleakala National Park is where you will find the famous bamboo forest and famous waterfalls.)
5. Drive up Haleakala Highway in the dark up a narrow winding unfamiliar road.
Look carefully as you are driving so you don’t hit the NENE! (pronounce: nay-nay)
The nene is a Hawaiian bird.
☝ Nene, as seen in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. You may also see nene in Haleakala National Park. As you are driving the Haleakala Highway in the dark for your Haleakala sunrise, take extra care to look out for wildlife, including nene!
6. Arrive at the Haleakala National Park Visitor Center parking lot near the summit.
Driving straight from the national park entry to the visitor center may be around a 30 minute drive.
You will also pass a Haleakala “headquarters” visitor center shortly after you pass the entry station. This is not it!
The main visitor center is near the summit.
If you end up parking at the Haleakala National Park Visitor Center, you can walk the remaining half a mile to the summit.
👆 Parking lot near Haleakala Visitor Center, also the Sliding Sands trailhead parking.
7. If the parking lot at the summit isn’t at capacity, then keep driving to the Haleakala summit parking lot!
8. Watch the sunrise from the top of Haleakala!
And your Haleakala sunrise experience may go something like that!
You will know best whether you think a sunrise is worth waking up for!
Because according to the Haleakala sunrise reviews, pretty much everyone who goes thinks it’s an amazing experience and well worth it!
So if you decide to go… and you get good weather so that you can see the sunrise… there’s a very good chance that you will think the Haleakala sunrise was worth it too!
The absolute closest place to stay near the Haleakala sunrise
👆 You used to be able to just show up for free camping in the Haleakala National Park Summit District at the Hosmer Grove Campground. Not anymore! 😭 You now need to make a camping reservation through the National Park Service.
If you want to shorten the morning drive time to the Haleakala sunrise, then there is the Hosmer Grove Campground located in Haleakala National Park that you can try.
This is around a 30 minute drive to the summit.
And technically even though you are already in the national park, you are supposed to still have the Haleakala sunrise reservation if you want to be on the road to the summit between 3am and 7am.
This Haleakala campground used to be free, and it used to be first-come first-serve. Both of these were actually rather good things.
Now that there are reservations required, and there are so few campsites available, well, it probably requires a little bit of luck to go camping at this spot near the Haleakala sunrise. (There are only 6 campsites.)
But, you can try!
And that’s a bit about what it might be like to go to see the Haleakala sunrise!
See more about what the Haleakala summit is like during the day!
More for your Haleakala National Park trip planning:
- Hiking the Pa Kaoao Trail (Haleakala crater overlook near the Haleakala Visitor Center)
- Hiking the Sliding Sands Trail (Haleakala crater hike)
- Hiking the Pipiwai Trail (bamboo forest and waterfalls on the Kipahulu side)
- Hiking to the Oheo Pools (waterfalls and stream that flow into the ocean on the Kipahulu side)
- Things to do on the Haleakala coast
More Maui volcano exploration:
- Hiking the lava fields in South Maui
- Hiking the lava fields in East Maui
- Hiking the Hana lava tube cave
More for your Maui trip planning:
- The best of Maui with a car
- The best of Maui in 3 days
- The best of South Maui
- The best of West Maui
- How to spend one day in the West Maui mountains
- The best of the Road to Hana
HAPPY WATCHING THE HALEAKALA SUNRISE!
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