a VirtualTourist member from Estero
I've heard the majority of visitors ascend the mountain in the pre-dawn hours to view the spectacular sunrise and if skies are clear one can see the other Hawaiian islands in the distance. It supposedly gets very crowded in the mornings so an option would be to visit in the afternoon to see the sunset. Has anyone seen the Haleakala sunsets? If so are they less spectacular than the sunrises? Sunrise or sunset I'd like to hear of your experiences at Haleakala. Thanks!
It's always a roll of the dice for this. On a previous trip, we had to leave Lahaina at 3:30AM to make it to the top before sunrise. But once at the top we were met with strong winds and high clouds (it was below freezing up there with windchill factored). There was no spectacular sunrise for us that day. On a subsequent trip, we were up early on our first morning (as always is the case the first few days on the islands since we are eastcoasters). We ate at Denny's in Lahaina and left there about 4AM. We seriously thought of driving to the top since we had time to kill. But all we thought about was our last attempt that was met with disappointment. So we blew it off. Much to our even greater disappointment this time, as the first rays of sunlight began to outline Haleakala, we saw that there wasn't a cloud around up there. It was a perfectly clear morning up there. We should have gone. We've never attempted a sunset here but have done so on Mauna Kea on the Big Island. It stands about 3800 feet higher so clouds are less of an issue (if any form, you're well above them). I have a few pics in my travel logs. The sunset and stargazing with Arnott's Lodge (link on my pages) was spectacular. If you go to this island, I highly recommend them.
We stayed in Kahului, so the drive up was well under an hour. We left about 4:30, I think, and were up there in plenty of time. It was much chillier than I had expected, so I wound up wearing about four layers and looked idiotic, but the sunrise was absolutely stunning with virtually no clouds at all. We wouldn't have missed it for the world. The effect of the early rays of the sun slowly spilling down into the crater is as eery as it is mesmerizing, for the crater landscape looks positively lunar -- well, maybe, Martian, because it's decidedly reddish. This was early July, but it wasn't all that crowded; parking certainly wasn't a problem. If you're a cyclist, you might consider take one of the "tours'" that are offered locally. You drive up in a van pulling a trailer loaded with bikes and then ride down the mountain. It would be an amazing run, I think. There are at least two dozen switchbacks on the relatively narrow, tarmacked road that leads down from the top. I don't know how much it costs to join up with this kind of operation or who to contact, but I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to do a web search for it.
put it this way: locals go for sunset.
Driving up in the mid-morning, I saw how precarious some of the roads are. I can't see driving up that in the darkness. If I were to do the sunrise action, I'd book a tour (without the bike ride, thanks). But me is me and you is you. :)