Until we have excursions and flights to the moon, Haleakala National Park might just be the next best thing.
At over 10,000 feet above sea level, Haleakala is Maui’s highest peak. The mountain is, in fact, an active volcano capped by a dry crater. It hasn’t erupted in more than 500 years, so don’t expect to see any new lava here. What you will see at “The House of the Sun” is one of the most stunning sunrises in all of Hawaii.
The otherworldly landscape of the Haleakala crater is an impressive 7.5 miles long by 2.5 miles wide, and boasts colors you might not expect commingled in a natural landscape; bright reds and sparkling yellows mix with black coal, rust colors, white lichen, and glistening minerals. If you didn’t know better, you truly might think you were visiting another planet.
In ancient Hawaii, only the high priests and their students were allowed at the sacred summit of Haleakala. There, they practiced secret rituals, rites of passage, and meditations. Today, visitors eager to watch a star-studded sky give way to the glorious Hawaiian sun will have to get up bright and early. Tours leave major hotels around 2:30 -3:30am, depending on the time of year as sunrise occurs between 5:30am and 7:30am, and you must allow for travel time. Don’t forget your camera and a sweater, and expect others to be there.
You can drive to Haleakala or take a tour. There are a variety of options available. Adventurers can even take a coach up to the summit (past the “watch out for ice” sign – yeah, ice – the elevation is that high!) and then ride a mountain bike all the way back down .. watch out for cars.
Whether you opt for the famed Haleakala sunrise or not, the park itself is worth the trip. It’s a shockingly beautiful sight and will make for some fabulous photos, not just of the crater but of all of Maui and the sparkling ocean stretched out beneath you.
Bring your camera, pack a lunch and enjoy the day.