• Get there early to get a spot. I recommend hiking up the short little trail to higher ground (to the right of the visitor center
• Take a soft lens cloth to wipe off the foggy lens. When you get out of your warm car and step out into the cold Haleakala air – you’re lenses are going to need time to adjust to the climate change. A soft wipe is good for trying to speed up the process.
• Bring a tripod. However know that it’s possible to get the shot without one.
• Bring your big zoom lens. I did most of my most dramatic shooting this morning with my 300 mm lens – you will get amazing shots of the cloud details and the light bouncing off the clouds.
• Shoot before the sun comes up – get the whole progression. Just remember to always be adjusting your settings – ISO and metering is changing constantly as the lighting is changing every minute.
• Turn around and shoot the softly lit landscape behind you.
• Stay after the sunrise. The sun continues to rise and light up the crater floor – it’s worth it to stay and get these shots with amazing lighting.
• Use filters – I used my polarizing filter as well as my graduated neutral density filter so that hopefully I would have to do less post processing after the fact.
• Finally – make sure that you take a few moments away from the viewfinder and just enjoy nature’s beauty.
This is an experience not to be missed. There are different tour companies that can take you to the top to see the sunrise. You can also drive yourself to the top, which takes about 90 minutes. Being at over 10,000 feet above sea level, it is extremely cold and windy when you arrive. But you will quickly find that the temperature will rise unbelievably fast once the sun appears. We chose to do a trip with Mountain Riders which included a bike trip down the mountain after sunrise. They picked us up at our hotel at 2:30am and gave us a snack for the trip to the top. After sunrise we biked down and made several stops along the way. The trip was over before it was even 10am so we still had an entire day to hit the beach! Truly a special experience!
The next stage involves a bit more muscle, climbing vertical mud slides with the help of an old rope and clambering up waterfalls on a questionable wooden ladder, less of a ladder in fact more rotten wooden steps and string. The reward is an impressive waterfall with a refreshing spring water pool.
Nothing quite prepared me for the three hour bike ride through Maui's Haleakala National Park! In actuality, the self-guided bike tour (a driver takes you to the starting point) takes you down a volcano. It's also downhill and extremely scenic.
Make sure to pull over if you plan on taking photos of the view. Much of the trail is on a main road and while cars are far and few, you still need to watch out for them when they pull around the winding corners.
I booked with Haleakala Bike Company and they were helpful in making sure we were all suited up - backpacks, jackets, helmets and bikes.
More on Bohemian Trails.
Be sure to check the weather forecast the day before to ensure a clear day ahead and bring a sweater and sturdy shoes.
Haleakala, a massive dormant shield volcano, forms more than 75 percent of Maui's landmass. As such, it pretty much demands you ascend it to peer down into the crater—and down into the island's very soul. The 60-kilometer (37-mile), two-hour drive climbs from sea level to 3,055 meters (10,023 feet) and through as many ecological zones as a spin from Mexico to Canada.