What to Bring for Haleakala Sunrise? + FREE Haleakala Sunrise Checklist
Watching the sunrise from the summit of Mt. Haleakala can be one of the most humbling and beautiful things you'll ever experience. There are a handful of things that will help make that experience the best that you possibly can. My Haleakala sunrise checklist will help take any of the unknowns out of the equation so that you can just focus on enjoying your sunrise on top of the world.
People are always surprised when they hear that it's cold on Mt. Haleakala. Many think, that “Hawaii Cold” is not actually cold. Then, when they go up Maui's resident volcano for sunrise, they realized that Hawaii-Cold actually is cold.
It snows on Haleakala sometimes. The earlier you're up there, the colder it is too. It's like a desert. At night, when there's no sun, it can drop to below freezing. While during the day, it warms up a little up there, it's never actually warm.
Recommendation #1: Bring a coat or jacket
You will want layers and/or a jacket.
I like Columbia. My Columbia gear has always lasted a long time, it's plenty warm and it doesn't cost a ridiculous amount like some brand names you'll see out there.
As long as your clothes keep you warm, you should be set but if I were you, I wouldn't underestimate this statement:
It gets cold on Haleakala.
I like this jacket.
The description for the next few things on this list will be redundant, as I think I've gone over enough that it gets cold up there.
I usually recommend that you take a blanket up there too. If you don't have one, you can grab the comforter from hotel or condo you're staying at.
You could always hang out in the car with the heat on, but if you do that, you won't get the greatest spot to watch the sunrise.
Even with the reservation system, it is still busy up there.
If I were you, I would get up there a little earlier than I would need to so that I could get a good spot to watch sunrise.
If you do that though, you'll be sitting out in the cold, so it's a good idea to have a blanket.
This is an awesome travel blanket. It's lightweight and it's a great one in general for traveling and packing light.
I'd bring something a little heavier for Haleakala, but this is an easy one to keep in your bag and I take mine just about everywhere I go.
You never know when you'll need a little bit of warmth.
Thermos (Yeti Bottle)
Another must for my checklist, you'll need something to put your water in to stay cold or your coffee in to stay hot. I recommend bringing both water and coffee.
Your trip that morning will likely be from 2am ish to 8am ish, when you'll probably get back down to Kula and you can either have breakfast at a restaurant or stop at store and get water and snacks.
Most people now have a water bottle, whether it's a Hydroflask, a Yeti or the generic one from Costco.
Whatever you have, bring it up for sunrise.
Whether you're a coffee drinker or a tea drinker, waking up at 2am is probably not your normal wake-up time.
There are a handful of portable options for making coffee on the go and there are also options to keep your coffee warm if you get it or make it ahead of time.
You'll have to get your coffee ahead of time, but these mugs will plug into your car's power outlets and give you warm coffee on the summit, where there is no coffee shop.
You'll love that you have these if you're a coffee drinker at all.
If you don't like coffee.
GoPro! I would recommend this for Haleakala and the rest of your time on Maui!
The newest one as of writing this post is waterproof without the separate casing, as long as you stay about a certain depth (which most people will). Not that you'll be swimming on Haleakala.
The quality of the photos and movies are the gold standard for action cameras that are available right now and while $300+ isn't the cheapest of options, there are plenty of occasions in life that you'll use this camera.
Super easy to throw in your bag and go, a GoPro is a must for your time on Maui!
You're probably not planning on camping up there and getting up to the top for the sunrise, but if you are, this is a great sleeping bag.
I wouldn't use this one outside a tent if I were you, but it's warm enough for any other weather that Maui will throw at you.
It can be packed into bag that's a little bigger than the size of a soda can, but it keep you warm in all situations except wintery ones.
I'm including this on the packing list if you get up there early and want something other than a blanket to keep you warm.
It's my go-to travel sleeping bag.
I love it.
I also bring a hat up when I go up to the summit of Haleakala.
Planning on getting the best seat for the sunrise? Go up a little early and set up camp at a good spot.
If you sit on the ground, you'll be cold.
These portable travel chairs are awesome for the beach and they work equally as well for the sunrise at the summit of Mt. Haleakala. You can just throw them in the trunk and have them with you as you travel and explore the island.
You can have them set up in less than a minute. Throw a blanket or your sleeping bag down on top of them for insulation and you'll have a front-row seat to the sun rising on top of the world.
One of the Most Important for Haleakala! Portable Charger / Hand Warmer
I always recommend that you have some kind of portable battery charger.
Everything nowadays needs a charge. If you don't have your phone, you're disconnected from the world and lost.
There are portable battery chargers that have built-in solar panels that allow you to charge your phone, even without a power outlet like this one or this one
For my Haleakala list though, I would recommend this one. Not only can it charge your devices (like you're phone and your camera, which you will definitely want), it is also a hand warmer.
Even if your hands don't tend to get cold like mine do, you'll love that this can give you a little warmth in cool air up on the summit of Mt. Haleakala.
Dried Mango, Granola, Protein bars, whatever.
If you like breakfast or think you'll get hungry anytime between 2am when you leave for the sunrise to 7am – 8am when you get down from the summit, back to where there's civilization, bring snacks.
I know my hands get cold up there. I always bring a pair of gloves, or at least have hand warmers in my pockets.
Where do I get hand warmers on Maui, you ask?
Shoes for hiking and shoes for warmth.
You get into the habit of wearing sandals while on Maui.
If you wear sandals on Mt. Haleakala's summit, your toes will freeze. Bring shoes and socks, or buy a pair at Target.
If you brought hiking or running shoes, those should be enough. But don't forget your shoes.
Make sure you bring socks!
These will be your favorite socks if you buy them. Not only are they great quality and they're warm when they need to be warm and are cool when they need to be cool, if you get a hole in them, you can send them into the company and they'll send you a new pair!
Darn Tough's are the epitome of quality socks. You won't regret it.
I've included this on my list for Haleakala as kind of a joke, but kind of not.
I went to Haleakala summit for sunset one time with some friends from Austria. Their phones didn't have service without wifi, so they didn't have service on Haleakala. It never occurred to me that this could be a problem.
Then we got separated.
It was my car and I had the keys, but I couldn't find my friends. Of course I called them, knowing this wouldn't work, but our frantic brains never make logical decisions.
It gets cold enough to snow up on the summit. People always expect Maui to be warm but it's not uncommon for it to dip below the thirties, especially at night. My friends halfway expected this too, so they weren't very prepared for the cold.
It occurred to me that if I couldn't find my friends, they might be stranded up there at night (meaning they might be stuck up there, in the dark, in sub-freezing temperatures).
I completely missed the sunset that night because I was frantically looking for my two Austrian friends, bouncing back and forth between the upper viewing parking lot and the lower one.
Right as it was getting dark, I finally saw one of their bright pink shoes they had been wearing their entire trip. They were watching the sunset, none-the-wiser.
Moral of the story, make sure you have a way to contact whoever you're up there with. It's best just to hang out near each other. Phones don't always get reception up there. And if you're watching the sunrise (or sunset) with someone from out of the country, make SURE you don't split up.
Somewhere to put your keys
You don't want to get locked out of your car on the summit.
The prevailing theme of this post is that it gets cold up on top of Haleakala. If you're going up for sunrise, it'll get warmer the longer you're up there (that's not to say that it's going to be warm).
There's no way a tow truck or AAA will make it up there in a timely manner if you' lock your keys in your car.
Leave your doors unlocked or have a window lockbox for your car keys. It'll come in handy as you're hiking around too, or just playing at the beach. That way, you won't have to worry about losing your keys in the water or getting sand stuck between the buttons.
Well, you won't have to worry as much.
As of a few years ago, you need a reservation to get into Haleakala National Park between 3am – 7am.
You can head to the Haleakala National Park website or here to get a pass.
They book up really far ahead of time, so you need help getting a reservation, these guys might be able to help you get one.
Don't Bring These to Haleakala:
Now even though I say, don't bring a drone up Haleakala, I'm not saying:
“Don't bring a Drone to Maui”
Drones are awesome little toys that let you see the island in a way you probably wouldn't be able to see otherwise.
On top that, if you're a photographer, you can get some awesome nature shots
Downloadable Haleakala Summit Checklist