Beating the Sun to the top of Haleakala

It was 3:00 in the morning when my alarm began to go off. I could instantly hear the roar of the ocean above the alarm and I remembered where we were. We were in Paradise. We had arrived in Maui the day before, and after the long day of travel, the last thing I wanted to do was wake up and get going. My body was telling me to relax in bed, to listen to the ocean and fall back asleep, yet my mind was screaming “Wake UP! You’ve got to get going!”

My husband and I reluctantly dragged ourselves out of bed and hurried to dress. We drove out of town heading south on the highway that would eventually lead us to the top of the giant, dormant volcano, named Haleakala. After about a two-hour car ride we were finally driving the two lane road up the side of this old volcano. The crater road twists and turns, back and forth, allowing us to climb the steep slopes to the top. There were two cars in front of us, and many more behind us—I never thought I would be caught in traffic on the slopes of a dormant volcano.

The sky was getting lighter and I began to worry that we would miss the sunrise (How inconvenient would that be… travel for two hours, just to miss the very reason we drove up to the summit to begin with). Luckily, we made it to the top, parked our car, and found the perfect spot to watch the sun rise above the horizon.

From my prior research, I knew that it was going to be cold so we dressed accordingly, but as we waited, it felt like the temperature was still dropping. Just an hour before we were in our tank tops driving with the windows down, and now as we sat bundled up atop the summit of Haleakala we wished that the sun would hurry up and rise.

As we admired our surroundings, we realized that we could be standing on the surface of another planet, or even the moon. The landscape was foreign. Standing high above the cloud level, and 9,740 feet above sea level, we felt as if we were on top of the world. And then it began, the sun slowly started to peek over the horizon. The bright orange glowing mass against the stark contrast of the dark lava formations and cloud cover was a sight to behold.

Even though we were exhausted from our day of travel completed less than 8 hours before, there was no better way to start off our honeymoon than experiencing this beautiful sunrise in such a foreign landscape. We had won the race to the top of Haleakala.


  1. April 10, 2012 / 5:35 PM

    Great shots, love being in the mountains, even in paradise.

    • April 13, 2012 / 3:37 PM

      Thank you. I love the mountains as well. 🙂 Being in the wilderness is refreshing!

  2. Cody
    April 10, 2012 / 8:58 PM

    Great times I had a blast and although I was tired it was way worth it. You are right I couldn’t have thought of a better way to start our honeymoon it was one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. One of the others was less than 48 hrs earlier when you walked down the isle to me at our wedding.

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