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  • Writer's pictureChristina Hammoud

Haleakala Sunrise | Hawaii

Have you ever woken up at 2:30 AM? If not, let me tell you, it’s an experience all on its own. The world feels different at that hour—calmer, almost magical. This was the start of one of the most unforgettable mornings of my life. As the tour bus pulled up to my hotel, I was barely awake but buzzing with excitement. We were headed to Haleakala, the famous volcanic crater on Maui, to catch the legendary sunrise.

Bundled up and half-asleep, I climbed aboard the bus, joining a group of equally bleary-eyed adventurers. As we made our way up the winding roads, our guide shared fascinating stories about Haleakala, its history, and the cultural significance it holds for Hawaiians. To help with the winding roads and potential motion sickness, our thoughtful guide handed out ginger candies. It was a small gesture but made a big difference for many of us—nothing like a zesty kick to keep you from getting queasy!

As we climbed higher, the temperature dropped steadily. I had expected a tropical paradise, but Haleakala had a surprise in store for me. It was cold—much colder than I had ever anticipated! Fortunately, our guide handed out thermal poncho blankets before we got off the bus, which was a lifesaver. Wrapped in the cozy poncho, I shivered less and felt more ready for the adventure ahead. The stark contrast between the cool air and the warm glow of the tour guide’s stories kept me on edge, ready for what was to come.

One of the unexpected highlights of the journey was the night sky. With minimal light pollution, the view from the bus window was incredible. I could see countless stars twinkling above, creating a mesmerizing backdrop as we ascended the mountain. It was like a preview of the stunning show that awaited us at the summit.

Finally, we arrived at the summit. Stepping off the bus, I was greeted by a gust of icy wind that took my breath away. We found our spots and waited, the horizon a barely visible line in the pre-dawn darkness. Slowly, the sky began to lighten, shifting from deep purples to soft pinks and oranges. As the first rays of sunlight broke over the horizon, the crater below lit up in a spectacular display of color and light.

"I felt like I was watching the gates of heaven open," I thought, standing there in awe. The sheer beauty of the scene was overwhelming. It was a moment that made every second of lost sleep, every shiver, completely worth it.

As the sun continued its ascent, casting a warm golden glow over everything, a spontaneous wave of applause erupted from the crowd. It was as if we were collectively expressing our gratitude for witnessing such a magnificent event. The clapping added to the sense of community and shared wonder, making the experience even more special.

Just when I thought the moment couldn't get any more magical, a man in our group got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. As she said yes, the crowd erupted in cheers and applause. It was a beautiful and touching moment, adding an extra layer of joy and celebration to the already unforgettable morning.

As I stood there, mesmerized by the sunrise, it hit me—I was on top of an active volcano! Haleakala, meaning “House of the Sun” in Hawaiian, is very much alive, and I was standing at its peak. The realization added a thrilling edge to the experience, blending the awe of nature’s beauty with the raw power of geology.

After the magical sunrise, our adventure was far from over. With hearts still racing from the breathtaking views and the surprise proposal, we headed off to Café O'Lei at the Mill House for brunch. Nestled in the beautiful Maui Tropical Plantation, the café was the perfect place to unwind and reflect on the morning’s adventure. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and delicious island cuisine welcomed us as we settled in. From the hearty breakfast platters to the refreshing tropical fruits, every bite was a delight. It was the perfect way to wrap up our early morning escapade.

This sunrise at Haleakala was just one of the many stops on my Hawaiian vacation, but it was undoubtedly one of the most memorable. The combination of the early start, the unexpected chill, the star-studded sky, the breathtaking views, the spontaneous applause, the heartwarming proposal, and the delicious brunch created an experience I’ll cherish forever. If you ever find yourself in Hawaii, I can’t recommend the Haleakala sunrise tour enough. Just remember to dress warmly and maybe pack some extra ginger candies!

From the moment the sun peeked over the horizon to the time we descended back to warmer climes, and finally to the delicious brunch, the Haleakala sunrise was a magical journey, one that will forever be etched in my memory. If you’re seeking an adventure that captures the true essence of Hawaii’s natural beauty, this is it.

Happy exploring! 🌴🌺

Christina Hammoud


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