Directions to Haleakala Summit for Watching Sunrise

Maui Sunrise Haleakala

From my advice for watching Haleakala sunrise, I recommend that you map out your directions at least a day before you plan to go. Otherwise, you’ll be fumbling around for directions in the dark while you’re only half awake. That’s a recipe for getting lost in a hurry.

In theory, getting to the summit of Haleakala sounds easy peasy. In my opinion, it’s not as easy as it seems. Though, we’ve been to Haleakala for sunrise multiple times, we still sometimes wonder if we’re headed in the right direction. Driving in the deep dark of the night just adds to the challenge.

The last time we drove to Haleakala for sunrise, we temporarily parked at the Visitors Center. We had a brief argument discussion whether we were in the correct spot or not. I’m not going to say who was right or wrong ;-) but I asked Andy to humor me and continue drive a bit further, because I could faintly see that we hadn’t reached the summit. Well, he did and then we reached the summit.

To help clear confusion. Andy created this brilliant custom Google map identifying the summit parking lot. From this map you can enter your starting point to generate your personalized directions to the summit. (Disclaimer: Please note that the summit parking lot is accurately identified, however, sometimes Google directions may not be 100% accurate.)

View Haleakala Summit Parking Lot in a larger map

More hints and tips to help you get to the sunrise view:

- Once get onto the winding road to the summit, you need to drive as high as the road takes you. The prime sunrise viewing point is at the summit.

- After you’ve found the correct parking area, you’ll need to find a short trail that leads you to the a hexagonal-shaped shelter.  You can see that shelter in the satalite-view in the custom Google Map.

- Use a GPS Navigation System if you have one. The audible directions are very helpful in the dark.

- Review more tips on my Haleakala sunrise post, including what to bring and wear.

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About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

8 comments

  1. Inspiring spot for sunrise or sunset. Some of our party went for sunrise and others sunset. I think you’ve done a good job of helping folks find their way. It does seem like it takes forever with the lower speeds and criscrossing. Also might want to mention that you go thru areas where animals may cross or be on the road, so beware.

  2. We’re planning a trip for October and we’ll definitely be taking our rental car to Haleakala! We’re leaning toward the sunSET. Reasons include: 1. Maui will be the last of 3 islands we visit so we’ll already be adjusted to the time change; 2. don’t really want to get up at 2am; 3. to enjoy the Milky Way after the sunsets; 4. leary of driving in the dark which we’ll have to do either way. Number 4 is our greatest concern, so could you please describe what the drive is really like? How trecherous is it, if at all? It seems like, when we drive DOWN after the sunset, we’d be on the inside-next to the volcano, not on the edge of the cliff. Do all the cliffs have guardrails? It sounds like thousands do this every year, but what can you say to put our minds at ease? Thanks!

    • Becca — I personally feel like it’s easier to drive uphill on winding roads in the dark. When you’re driving downhill, you have to work harder to control your speed around curvy roads.

      There are sections of the drive to Haleakala that have guard rails, but not everywhere. Here’s a youtube video I found of someone driving towards the top of volcano. http://youtu.be/JQltcV8YRGQ As you can tell there’s very little (none) guard rails at that section. From that video, you can also get a picture of what it would be like driving down the other side of the road.

      As you’re driving downhill, you’ll be driving on the outside of the volcano and the inside of the volcano as the road switches back and forth.

  3. About how long does it take to drive from the park entrance to the summit?

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