For almost the last year now, I (alone) have been gearing up to make the trek up Haleakala bright and early to see the sunrise. And as our next trip gets even closer, we have a tough decision to make…
Haleakala Sunrise vs. Haleakala Sunset/Star Gazing?
There was a similar question posted on Go Visit Hawaii back in October, but I didn’t pay too much attention to it at the time because I had my goals set on a sunrise. Yet, looking at a few guided sunrise tours (which as it turns out, there are only a few) that 2am-3am departure time from Ka’anapali still seems a little underwhelming. We were planning to do go up to Haleakala that first morning we were there, which is recommended because of the time difference and the jet lag coming in from Chicago, but we still aren’t that sure about it.
Seeing the limited selection, and pricing, of the guided Haleakala Sunrise tours, I started weighing the option of driving ourselves, and not knowing the road very well. As a comparison, we’ve taken two guided tours on the Road to Hana on our past trips, and it’s only now do I think I’m ready to brave the drive myself.
Then I started rationalizing against the sunrise on Haleakala this trip because we’re planning to spend a night in Hana, and could see a spectacular sunrise off the East Maui coast. Added to that, I began comtemplating a replacement for the Haleakala sunrise by doing a star gazing tour with Star Gazers Maui. That would include both the sunset and star gazing on top of Haleakala, and includes dinner, down jackets, and hot chocolate to keep us warm. There is no transporation provided, however, so we’d still have to drive to and from the summit ourselves.
There wasn’t a lot of information on the Star Gazers’ website, so I emailed them a few questions yesterday and am waiting to hear back. I did find a few reviews on Trip Advisor that seemed very encouraging. Cindy’s aunt and uncle also did this tour a few years ago and had nothing but good things to say about it.
A Tough Decision
While this is turning out to be a tough decision to make, I guess by most standards, this is a relatively nice problem to have. At this point, I’m starting to lean towards the side of caution and just saying we’ll do both. Driving up to do the sunrise ourselves would still mean leaving too early and not knowing where we’re going, but doing a trial run down from the summit in daylight will certainly help for when we’d have to do it in the dark for the Star Gazers.
There’s a lot of information on the Haleakala sunrise in guidebooks and in the blogosphere, but not too much about stargazing up there. I know you can see the stars from Haleakala before sunrise, too, but I think a night tour would give me more time to add to my Maui Stars collection. We’ll probably make up our minds sometime next week depending on what we hear back from the folks at Star Gazers Maui. In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions, experiences, or other guidance that you’d like to share about either of these options (or doing both), we welcome your input.