Hawaiian Sunrise & Bike Ride Down a Volcano

I went to Hawaii over a month ago and I’m seriously still having dreams about that place. It was the perfect family vacation and one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

I mentioned in my post about swimming with sea turtles that there were really only two things I wanted to do while I was in Hawaii: Swim with sea turtles and sea the sunrise at the top of Haleakala, followed with a bike ride down.

I asked the whole family about it to see who was interested and there were around 7 of us that were keen. So naturally the day of, two of us headed to the bike shop at 1:45am.

We organized our tour through Haleakala Bike Co. because they advertised being able to ride down on your own — because who would want to bike down a volcano in a huge group of 50 others who may or may not brake suddenly and cause a pile-up-collision of bicycles. Not I.

We got everything organized (they provide bikes, jackets, gloves and super sweet moto-style helmets) and were off to the summit at around 230am. In between giving us “easy” directions on how to bike back to the shop, our tour guide told us different Hawaiian folklore tales and other bits of history about the island (although I struggled to stay awake to hear all of it on the way up): Haleakala means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian and is 10,023 feet high. Maui is a demigod in Hawaiian mythology and the crater of Haleakala was where his grandmother lived.

We arrived at Pu’u ‘ula’ula (the summit) about an hour before sunrise and most people walked around while Brooke and I napped in the bus until the sun was actually rising. In hindsight, it might’ve been a good idea to scope out a good spot instead of waking up last minute and then scuttling around trying to find a good view (one of many times being short is a disadvantage).

However, being small also means being able to squeeze between people to get a perfect view of this amazing sunrise:

(Excuse my picture overload)

My first glimpse from the crowded lookout was of the dark valley below us. The sun hadn’t risen yet but illuminated the thick blanket of clouds that covered the island. As it rose, a local park ranger chanted a Hawaiian song as everyone else listened in silence. The sun slowly peaked over and all you could hear were camera shutters and phones clicking away. The valley came into view and over half a dozen craters were visible from the lookout.

While climbing to the top of Mt. Fuji to see the sunrise was a much more rewarding experience (and much higher), I would definitely have to say that Haleakala had the better view.

Mark Twain himself called it the “sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed” – is “sublimest” an actual word? Yes, I just googled it and apparently it is.

Our tour guide brought us to a few other lookout points before we started our 23 mile journey down. He gave us maps, reminded us of the few landmarks that meant we were going the wrong way and sent us off one at a time. Brooke and I stayed together and enjoyed the easy cruise down. It was a beautiful view from the top of the island and perfectly sunny and warm.

Until we passed the school. I knew our tour guide said something about passing a school and I was almost positive it meant we were going the wrong way. I was uncertain and we kept going until we were officially lost and had to turn around to start the journey UPhill. You definitely don’t realize how far you’ve traveled when you’re going all downhill. We biked uphill for what seemed like forever since I’m pathetically out of shape, until I was dripping sweat in my huge helmet, 3 shirts, 2 sweaters and jacket I had worn (it’s fricken cold at the top, layers are important).

Overall, an amazing day! The tour seemed a bit overpriced for basically just renting bicycles (it was $120 for the “tour”), but it was relatively stress-less and obviously, one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

Haleakala Sunrise


  1. Looks gorgeous!
    Never doubt Mr. Twain 😉


    1. haha I know – what was I thinking?! Thanks for reading 🙂


  2. Incredible. Sunrises/sunsets are one of those things that never get old, and from the top of a mountain are a million times cooler, too!


  3. Wow, absolutely stunning.


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