Most of us look for that golden hour each day to get those perfect pictures but when you’re in Maui every hour is beautiful. And when it comes to finding that magical spot for a breathtaking sunrise; well – Maui has some spectacular scenic lookout points just waiting to be discovered.
My boyfriend and I are passionate hikers, and we always look for a gorgeous sunrise or sunset to end our treks. That means we’ve explored all the trails with a stunning view of the sun coming up or going down and can confidently say that these are the best sunrise hikes in Maui.
From the ease of the trail, the time it’s taken, the location, and more – we’ve spent days researching, trekking, and testing flashlights and sturdy shoes – so I could create this ultimate guide.
Of course, it can be challenging traipsing around looking for them – especially if you’re not familiar with the area – so be sure to come prepared with a flashlight, sturdy hiking shoe, and maybe even a tour guide (or group!). It will be worth your while as watching that pink-hued sun emerge from behind the horizon is truly something special!
Get ready to watch a beautiful sunrise in Maui!
Sunrise in Maui doesn’t get better than from the Haleakala Crater, which is a live volcano in the Haleakala National Park at an elevation of 10,000 ft. The sunrise here gives breathtaking views of the land as you watch it come to light.
In fact, this is such a popular spot that you need to get a reservation in advance, as people travel from all over the world to see it.
The hike to Haleakala Crater takes a three-hour round trip by car from a winding road up to the lookout point. The drive up is in the dark, so be careful since some places don’t have guardrails between the road’s edge and the mountain face.
Once at the top, there’s a capacity to park 150 cars, and you can sit inside or walk further up to witness an incredible sunrise. The way the light changes is truly magical, turning high and low-lying clouds from shadows to shapes.
You’ll fall in love with the views at Haleakala and keep coming back to see them again, as it’s the best sunrise hike in Maui.
- There’s a $30 entrance fee for Haleakala National Park, valid for three days.
- Wear warm clothes, and pack gloves, as it gets chilly at the top.
- At the elevation, you can get short of breath, so bring water.
Located in West Maui, opposite the valleys of Haleakala, Mauna Kahalawai is an eroded volcano with knife-like ridges, steep slopes, and deep valleys. The trail leading to the top is lush with vegetation and streams falling into waterfalls.
There’s no direct route leading to the volcano’s peak; however, two separate trails snaking through the lush landscape can take you to the top. These are the Waihe’e Ridge Trail, which takes nearly two hours both ways, and the Lahaina Pali Trail, a three-hour round trip.
Since the trails pass through thick foliage and steep slopes, you’ll have to be careful as most of the hike will pass in complete darkness. However, my boyfriend and I find that going with a group, packing multiple light sources, and lots of water are the key to reaching the top easily.
When you arrive, marvel at the sunrise, which unravels from behind Haleakala, and lightens up all of East Maui in a slow ascend.
The enchanting scenery is worth the trek up, as Mauna Kahalawai has the best sunrise hike in Maui.
- The Mauna has horizontal bands of vegetation arranged by elevation zone.
- You’ll encounter a variety of native Hawaiian and exotic plants on your trek.
- There’s some wildlife at the volcano’s base but stick to the trails to avoid them.
Waihe’e Ridge Trail
Want to see the sunrise over East Maui, its deep valleys, and the distant beach? Then take the Waihe’e Ridge Trail, which goes up a steep ascent for 2.5 miles, and offers incredible views of the coast and Makamakaole Falls. However, this trail is a hotspot for hikers and is often crowded, even for sunrise hikes.
You’ll start from Camp Mahulia, where the Waihe’e Ridge Trail starts, about ten miles from Kahului town. The trail has uphill inclines, a mix of packed dirt and gravel lining most spots, and a lot of mud.
There are benches on the way, to rest and take in the scenery, as the hike can get tiring. At the top, you’ll be met with a wooden viewing platform and picnic tables, perfect to take in the killer views of the valley, the shoreline, and Kahakuloa Head.
If you can’t reach the top by sunrise, the view from the trail is equally beautiful, and you can take great pictures.
You’ll love hiking the Waihe’e Ridge Trail, which is challenging but rewarding, and one of the best sunrise hikes in Maui.
- The trail is a 2-3 hour round trip, depending on how long you stop in between.
- There’s limited parking at the trail’s starting point.
- The entire hike gives terrific photo ops at a 1500 ft. elevation.
Lahaina Pali Trail
As famous as its counterparts but never as crowded, Lahaina Pali Trail is a 4.8-mile round trip with steep inclines, leading to a panoramic viewing point. The trail is muddy at many points but gives way to scenic views of the white-capped ocean at sunrise.
There are two ways to take this hike, the Ukumehame Trail, which is shorter and easier but not as great in views, and the Maalaea side, which has better views.
We took off at 3 am to start the hike and were done with time to spare for dawn. Of course, essentials like a headlamp, hiking poles, and lots of water are necessary and make the hike less taxing.
Once you see windmills, that’s the top, and you can watch the gorgeous sun rising over nearby towns and lightening the ocean. This was such a spectacular sight, and being secluded made it more magical.
Don’t miss the Lahaina Pali trail, as it’s one of the best sunrise hikes in Maui.
- The hike takes three hours on a round trip, with stops.
- On the way down, you see aerial views of Kihei and Lahaina towns.
- The hike is moderately difficult.
Wrap Up: Best Sunrise Hike Maui
The Maui sunrise is a sight worth seeing, and the island’s gorgeous mountains and volcanoes give the best views of it. Hiking the terrain at night can be challenging, but nothing beats the views at the top and the calm of watching the sunrise.
We highly recommend everyone to watch the stunning island sunrises and sunsets because that’s the only way to let people know you’ve truly experienced Maui.
The best sunrises in Maui never disappoint!
Last Updated on February 12, 2023 by Brigitte