A Maui Sunrise and Haleakala Volcano Downhill Bike Trip

View from the Haleakala Volcano - Maui, Hawaii
View from the Haleakala Volcano - Maui, Hawaii

Sunrise at Maui's Mt Haleakala - The House of the Sun

The sunrises from the top of the Haleakala volcano on the island of Maui are famous for their beauty . I'm a morning person by nature and have always enjoyed watching the sunrise. So when my husband and I and a small group of friends decided to take a February trip to Hawaii , I knew that visiting Haleakala National Park and watching a sunrise from the volcano summit was an experience I didn't want to miss.

Mt Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui is the world's largest dormant volcano and the Hawaiian name translates into English as "House of the Sun". After witnessing one of the Haleakala sunrises myself, I doubt that any place on earth has more beautiful sunrises. The volcano sits on the Hawaiian Island of Maui in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and rises to more than 10,000 feet in elevation providing an unobstructed view of the horizon as the sun rises each morning.

Following the sunrise, many people enjoy taking the famous volcano downhill bike down from the mountain. The trip down from the volcano follows a winding road for over 20 miles from the 6500 foot level of the mountain to the bottom and on to the town of Haiku. As the road twists down around the mountain there are fabulous views of the island and ocean at every hairpin turn. In some ways, this adventure is not for the faint-hearted, but if you are looking for a fantastic experience, you might want to consider adding the Haleakala Sunrise Bike Downhill to your bucket list of things to do before you die.

On this page you will see the beauty of a sunrise at Maui's Haleakala National Park and experience what it is like to do the famous Haleakala Downhill Bike Ride.

All photos by the author, Vicki Green, unless credited otherwise

You need to be a little bit cuckoo

You have to get up at what time?

If you want to see the sunrise from Mt Haleakala, you need to get up really early, or maybe just go to bed really late. As the old saying goes, if you snooze, you lose.

Depending on where you are staying on the island and which company you rent a bike from, you will need to get up in the morning by around 2 am if you want to see the Haleakala sunrise and do the bike downhill. First you need to get to the bike company where you will be fitted with a bike, helmet and rain gear. After everyone has their gear, they load the bikes into trailers and the people up into tour bus vans and drive about an hour to get to the top of the mountain.

What would you do?

Would you get up at 2am to go see a Haleakala sunrise?

See results without voting

Donning our Bicycling Gear - Checking out our bike helmets

Bike Shop in Haiku, Maui, HI
Bike Shop in Haiku, Maui, HI

Our Mount Haleakala Adventure Begins

We drove from our condo in Kihei to the other side of the island to the bike shop in Haiku. After arriving at the shop, we were fitted with our bike helmets and rain gear. Rain gear is provided because the weather on Haleakala can change quickly and it often rains several times during the course of a day. Here is our group after getting fitted for our helmets and rain gear, waiting for the bikes to be loaded into the trailers so we can be on our way.


Bikes are Loaded into Trailers

Haleakala Bike Company Trailer, Maui
Haleakala Bike Company Trailer, Maui

Mt Haleakala National Park

Before Dawn at Haleakala National Park
Before Dawn at Haleakala National Park

Mt Haleakala National Park in the Dark

We didn't take any pictures as we rode in the van to Haleakala National Park because it was still too dark to see anything. We found our way in the dark from the parking lot to the sunrise viewing area by the visitor center as a small glimmer of light started to appear on the horizon.


Bundled Up for the Cold in Hawaii

Haleakala Sunrise
Haleakala Sunrise | Source

What do you wear to watch a Mt Haleakala sunrise? - Hint: Pack the Long Johns

Yes, this is me on a tropical island in Hawaii bundled up like the Michelin Man waiting for the sunrise. As a small bit of color begins to show on the horizon I'm wearing long underwear, a turtle neck shirt, a down vest, a polar fleece jacket with a hood, bike pants, gloves and the rain gear provided by the bike company. My teeth were still chattering!

Although Hawaii is in the tropics, the summit of Haleakala is over 10,000 feet in elevation and in the early morning before sunrise it is cold and windy. The temperatures are often below freezing and the wind chill makes it feel even colder. If you want to see the sunrise on Haleakala, pack your long johns, down jackets and polar fleece and be prepared for all kinds of weather. Don't forget a hat and gloves!

Dress in layers to so you can take warmer clothes off as temperatures rise while you glide down the mountain to lower elevations and as the sun rises higher into the sky.


Stay warm and dry at the top of the volcano - Clothes to pack

If you want to watch the sunrise from Haleakala, don't forget to pack your warm clothes and dress in layers. I brought a down vest and was glad I did. Other than being cold for a few minutes when we first arrived at the visitor center, I was able to stay comfortable by taking off layers and stashing them in my backpack as the temperature rose.

The light and color of the Sunrise is starting to appear - Brilliant red and orange colors appear on the horizon

Sunrise at Haleakala Volcano
Sunrise at Haleakala Volcano

Here comes the Sunrise at Haleakala National Park - Above the clouds at the summit of Mt Haleakala

Mt Haleakala Volcano Sunrise
Mt Haleakala Volcano Sunrise

The sun rises above the horizon in Hawaii - The colors change with the rising sun

Haleakala Sunrise
Haleakala Sunrise

The Hawaiian Sunrise Chant

Nan Cabatbat, Haleakala National Park Cultural Educator
Nan Cabatbat, Haleakala National Park Cultural Educator

Hear the Hawaiian Chant to the Sunrise by Nan Cabatbat

The Haleakala Volcano National Park Visitor Center - Many gather each morning to watch the spectacular sunrises

Haleakala National Park Visitor Center
Haleakala National Park Visitor Center

Views on the Maui Bike Ride

Haleakala Dowhill Bike Ride
Haleakala Dowhill Bike Ride

The Haleakala Bike Downhill Starting Point

The park service does not allow the tour companies to start the bike ride from inside the national park, so there is designated area just outside the gate where the bike tour operators can park and everyone can get their bike to start back down the road from the volcano. I wish we had more pictures from the downhill bike ride, but we only took a few. From the top of the volcano to sea level there are 5 different climate zones, so the weather can change suddenly. We were thankful for the rain gear, because we did pass through a brief rainstorm. Here is one photo we took shortly after getting our bikes. The numerous hairpin turns of the road are visible as well as the breathtaking views of the island and ocean beyond.

Kelty Shrike Backpack, Black
Kelty Shrike Backpack, Black

This is a compact and well-made small backpack that worked perfectly for our bike ride and other adventures in Maui.

 

Bring a backpack or daypack on your trip to the volcano

I found this Kelty daypack very handy to have along. As we dropped in elevation and as the temperatures became warmer, it was great to be able to take off layers of clothes and stuff them in my daypack. It has lots of compartments to easily keep and find cameras, sunglasses, valuables, water bottles and snacks. It is available in several colors and I used it often during our trip.

From Haleakala to Haiku - Our route down the volcano to the Haleakala Bike Company

show route and directions
A markerHaleakala National Park Visitor Center -
Haleakalā National Park Visitor Center, Haleakalā National Park, State Highway 378, Kula, HI 96790,
[get directions]

Haleakala National Park Visitor Center

B marker810 Haiku Road,Haiku, HI -
810 Haiku Road, Haiku, HI 96708, USA
[get directions]

Haleakala Bike Shop

What is it like to bike down the volcano?

Choosing a Bike Tour Company

If you are interested in doing the Haleakala Sunrise Bike Downhill, there are several reputable companies that provide bikes and bike tours on Haleakala. We chose the Haleakala Bike Company because they offered the bike and gear rental without an escort or time constraint. They only required that we have the bikes back to the shop by closing time at 5pm. If you need assistance during your ride for a flat tire or any other type of problem, their vehicles make frequent trips up and down the mountain so you can flag one down. Or if you don't see one of their vehicles, they provide a phone number to call, so bringing along a cell phone is a good idea.

Although an escorted trip would have meant having support vehicles along for the entire trip, we preferred to be able to have the flexibility to take our time and stop whenever we wanted to enjoy the view or see other attractions. All of the escorted bike trips we looked at required everyone to keep up with the group. Everyone in our little group was on the "downhill" side of 50, so we didn't want to be rushed into going faster down the volcano than what was within everyone's comfort zone. We had no mishaps or mechanical problems and everything went smoothly so the "freestyle" trip worked well for us.

Haleakala Sunrise Tour
Haleakala Sunrise Tour

View the Haleakala Sunrise - Skip the Bike Ride!

Convenient Pick-up to See the Haleakala Sunrise Only

For those who would like to see a magnificent sunrise from Haleakala, but aren't able or willing to ride down the volcano on a bike, there are also convenient tours available that will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the top of the mountain and return you to your hotel after the sunrise.

Aston Maui Hill Condo Resort
Aston Maui Hill Condo Resort

Planning a Trip to Maui?

This is the Aston Maui Hill Resort where we stayed in Maui. There are a lot of fantastic hotels and condos on the island of Maui. Since we had a group of 3 couples, it was a little more tricky to find a place that fit everyone's criteria. Instead of getting 3 separate rooms, we decided to try to find a 3 bedroom condo with a kitchen to be able to prepare some of our meals rather than eating every meal in a restaurant.

Some of the criteria that was important to the group was a King or Queen size bed in each bedroom, a separate bathroom for each couple, a view of the ocean and a large pool. We also needed to stay within everyone's budget. We found the Aston Maui Hill in Kihei fit all of our criteria and was a great place to stay.

Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook
Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook

This book is not only comprehensive, but it is written in a humorous and easy-to-read style. It has lots of full color photos and maps that really helped to find some of the more off of the beaten path places.

 

Planning a Trip to Maui?

I borrowed and purchased several books about Maui to help us plan our trip. "Maui Revealed" was by far my favorite. The author lives in Hawaii and anonymously tries all of the hotels, restaurants and adventures featured in the book. I found the reviews and tips very helpful when planning our vacation.

More Adventures in Hawaii

My Hubpage, Planning a Trip to Maui has more details about other adventures in Maui and if your travel plans include Honolulu, be sure to include a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

© 2010 Vicki Green

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Have you done the Haleakala Sunrise Bike Downhill? - Please feel free to share your experience and comments. 48 comments

anonymous 6 years ago

This is on my bucket list of things I need to do before I die... preferably I will do it while I can still ride a bike too.... so, I guess I should start planning my trip huh?;)


mbgphoto profile image

mbgphoto 6 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

How beautiful! Thanks for sharing your trip!


Diana Wenzel profile image

Diana Wenzel 5 years ago from Colorado

Sign me up! I am definitely ready for my first Hawaii sunrise. :-) It's on my life list.


CruiseReady profile image

CruiseReady 5 years ago from East Central Florida

Oh, this sounds just wonderful. Lensrolling to my cocoCay lens.


tiff0315 profile image

tiff0315 5 years ago

Okay, you convinced me. That's now on my to-do list. Great pics! Great lens!


pixelposy profile image

pixelposy 5 years ago

Gorgeous sunrise! Definitely a must do if ever in Hawaii.


boutiqueshops 5 years ago

Absolutely beautiful photographs! Thanks for sharing this!


indigoj profile image

indigoj 5 years ago from UK

Beautiful! I love this kind of travel photo essay, and feel lucky that you shared such a wonderful experience with us. Sadly your videos seem to have vanished (might be a temporary glitch) but this page is so interesting and well-presented that I was delighted to leave an angel blessing.


anonymous 5 years ago

This sounds so exciting, Hawaii being the most beautiful place on earth. Biking is the best way to savour the scenic beauty of these stunning mountains.


squid-janices7 profile image

squid-janices7 5 years ago

Looks and sounds like SO much fun. When we drove up to Haleakala, it was socked in by clouds/fog so we didn't get to see the sunrise which was a huge bummer. We did see several groups of bicycles heading down the mountain and it looked like great fun. Can't wait to go back to Maui.


Krafick profile image

Krafick 5 years ago

I've done a lot of biking in other countries. It's a fantastic way to see places. Rafick


Krafick profile image

Krafick 5 years ago

I've done a lot of biking in other countries. It's a fantastic way to see places. Rafick


CastleRoyLisa profile image

CastleRoyLisa 5 years ago from Rhode Island

Beautiful


Srena44 profile image

Srena44 5 years ago

amazing...


donaldwilson profile image

donaldwilson 5 years ago from Yakima, WA

I haven't been to Maui, but have spent some time on the Big Island. I can vouch for the "Revealed" series of books. "The Big Island Revealed" was our tour bible and was so, so useful during our trip. I won't go back to any of the islands without buying the revealed book for that island. Thumbs up for that recommendation.


writerkath profile image

writerkath 5 years ago

FABULOUS Adventure! I'd want to be darned sure that the bikes have the best brakes...:)


fullofshoes profile image

fullofshoes 5 years ago

This looks like so much fun. And your photos are wonderful!


Gayle Dowell profile image

Gayle Dowell 5 years ago from Kansas

Wow! What a fun looking activity! Bikes and sunrises, two of my favorite things.


ohcaroline 5 years ago

Vicki....this has been on my bucket list for many, many years. I heard about it when I was in Maui and said I would do it when I came back. Still waiting to get back there. Thanks for sharing this awesome experience. You lucky rascal!!!


Scarlettohairy profile image

Scarlettohairy 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

This looks like an adventuresome trip on a bike! Lovely photos. Thanks!


sherridan profile image

sherridan 5 years ago

Fab lens. We enjoyed spectacular sunsets at key West, but I have never done the sunrise observation. Looks fun.


goo2eyes lm profile image

goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

i saw the sunrise from above during a flight from dubai to kuala lumpur. i think that i will include this photo in one of my lenses. squidangel blessed.


CherylK profile image

CherylK 5 years ago from Minnesota

No, I haven't although I did live in Hawaii years ago. Thanks for sharing this experience. If I ever go back, I'll be sure to visit Haleakala during the sunrise.


livinglargeandh profile image

livinglargeandh 5 years ago

Enjoyed your content and also your Squidoo techniques.Very nice and looks like fun.


anonymous 5 years ago

Very enjoyable, and thanks for the wonderful pictures.


PaulWinter profile image

PaulWinter 5 years ago

I've never been there, but it looks beautiful


MarilynImanse profile image

MarilynImanse 5 years ago

Beautiful sunrise photos. The sunrises remind me of doing watch on overnight passages on my sailboat and seeing the sun rise over the horizon. Spectacular pretty much sums it up. Maui is a wonderful place.


Blackspaniel1 profile image

Blackspaniel1 5 years ago

Nice lens.


anonymous 5 years ago

Looks like a lot of fun! Now I know what to do if I ever get to Hawaii!


anonymous 5 years ago

very nice lens


gypsykitschpres profile image

gypsykitschpres 5 years ago

Stunning photos. Thanks for sharing. Maui is the one vacation I didn't want to go home...ever.


kendrafowler 5 years ago

This is an amazing experience indeed!! Great pics !!


favored profile image

favored 5 years ago from USA

This was really something. It seems funny that you would be all bundled up in Hawaii. So glad you took the pictures to share this with us.


Shorebirdie profile image

Shorebirdie 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

Sounds like a lot of fun! I think I'll put this on my bucket list.


TravelingRae 5 years ago

Oh, wow. Totally adding this to my bucket lens! Thank you for such a lovely lens. :::blessed:::


FinancialTips4U 5 years ago

What a lovely experience! Thank you for sharing your insight and photos :)


FinancialTips4U 5 years ago

What a lovely experience! Thank you for sharing your insight and photos :)


MelonyVaughan profile image

MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

Beautiful!


jimmyworldstar 5 years ago

How high up is that mountain? It looks like you're above the clouds themselves!


anonymous 5 years ago

You didn't just write about this topic, you actually did it! That deserves something extra ... *blessed* ...


RomanaSwan profile image

RomanaSwan 5 years ago

Looks like an awesome place to visit!


Sara Krentz profile image

Sara Krentz 5 years ago from USA

Beautiful - looks like a great time! Hawaii is on my bucket list.


seosmm 5 years ago

Look like a lot of fun. Very nice lens!


PNWtravels profile image

PNWtravels 5 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA Author

@jimmyworldstar: The summit of Haleakala is just over 10,000 feet and we were above the clouds.


norma-holt profile image

norma-holt 5 years ago

Returned with a blessing for this wonderful lens. It is now featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012. Hugs


profile image

mouse1996 lm 4 years ago

Such a beautiful sunrise. I hope I get to see it in my lifetime.


Carashops profile image

Carashops 3 years ago

Stunning photographs. Lovely!


Blackspaniel1 profile image

Blackspaniel1 2 years ago

Great images of the sky.

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