Our friends recently drove to the summit of Haleakala volcano to view the sunrise at about 5:40 a.m. They loved the experience but had to get up at 2 a.m. to make it in time. Expect a 2:30 am departure from both the West and South coast. The national park service provides more information at their web site.
A great alternative for those that don’t want to wake up that early is viewing the sunset from the summit. That way you’ll be able to get a good idea of weather conditions. Day time viewing of the crater is also very interesting, and the park offers hiking. Another option is going to the crater at night for incredible star gazing.
Either way, the key to enjoying Haleakala is preparation. At 10,000 ft, the summit is icy cold. It’s a bit of pain having to fill up your suit case with winter clothes for a trip to Hawaii, but it will be worth it. You’ll need long pants (jeans or better), closed shoes, long sleeved shirt (and another layer underneath), a winter jacket, gloves, and a toque. Additional preparations if you plan on hiking. Also pack some food. Perhaps even a thermos with hot chocolate.
The park currently charges an entrance fee of $10 per car.