If you want an amazing sunrise experience atop Haleakala volcano, from start to finish, do not be tempted to go with any company other than Temptation Tours! If you do any research on Maui, Hawaii, you’ll see that sunrise at Haleakala is at the top of people’s “must do” lists. And, for good reason!
First of all, do not be scared off by the 3am pick up time (which can vary); our awesome guide Scott easily kept us awake by keeping conversation flowing and explaining some of the area’s history, and other random facts about Hawaii. The seven seater tour van was extremely comfortable and practically brand new. Scott was totally prepared for anything we might need, and kept checking to ensure we were all comfortable for the winding switchbacks on the way up to the volcano in total darkness.
Our group was the very first one up, allowing Scott to guide us to the best possible viewing spot well before the hoards of tour busses let off hundreds of visitors. We were on the rail, right at the mouth of the crater, facing east. We were offered extra sweatshirts, gloves, and hats, which we gladly accepted despite looking ridiculous in our 6 layers! 5FT Tip: Do dress warmly and in layers because it gets seriously frigid at 10,023 feet above sea level! We were freezing in spite of how well prepared we thought we were (it was about 35 degrees Fahrenheit with 30+ mph winds up there).
Once we were all properly bundled and in place, the heavens opened up before us…we were blessed with a totally clear night sky allowing us to see Jupiter, Saturn, shooting stars, a satellite orbiting the earth, and the Milky Way! Scott was a pro at helping each person in his group find the best settings for the difficult-to-photograph starry night.
Little by little, the stars began fading when the horizon came into view as the very first light appeared. That’s when we first saw the Mars-like landscape of the crater right below, and in front of, where we were standing. Once again, Scott was there to take pictures of us and offered help with camera settings for the changing light. As blues and oranges lit up the sky, changing from night to day, the clouds below us were illuminated, cameras were clicking away trying to catch the exquisite sunrise.
After experiencing the joy of a beautiful start to a new day, we were driven a little farther up to the true peak of Haleakala Volcano, where we were treated with more sweeping views of the newly risen sun above the clouds and valleys below. We could even see the Big Island, Hawaii, and it’s snow-topped 14,000′ zenith.
After a few more opportunities to capture the gorgeous views, we headed back to the van and down the switchbacks, with a (much needed) cup of steaming hot cocoa in hand!
We had some time to warm up before stopping for breakfast at the lovely Kula Lodge, where we enjoyed a hearty and delicious meal.
Thoroughly sated, Scott then gave a tour of the beautiful gardens behind the restaurant, and gave us time to browse the two neighboring shops. More enjoyable conversation and interesting facts about the island accompanied our ride back into Lahaina, before being dropped off at our hostel around 10:30am.
I’m so grateful the weather was cooperative, allowing us to fully appreciate the spectacle nature put on for us atop Haleakala. And a heartfelt thank you to Temptation Tours, and especially our guide, Scott, for giving us an exhilarating early morning and a truly memorable experience!
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**Special thanks to Temptation Tours for sponsoring our experience. As always, all opinions are my own.