The full video from our volcano sunrise and cliff jumping adventures is at the end of this post.
After surviving the Road to Hana and snorkeling at Kapalua Beach, our remaining bucket list item for the week was to catch the sunrise at Haleakala National Park. Haleakala translates to house of the sun and the experience is definitely worth the 2:00 am wake up time. The observation deck is at the summit and 10,000 feet above sea level so it’s breathtaking in more ways than one, read: it’s freezing at the top. If you plan to catch a sunrise yourself, there’s a few other things you should know.
- ARRIVE EARLY: Our Airbnb was a two-hour drive from the national park and we planned to arrive about an hour before sunrise but this turned out to be barely enough time. Luckily we snagged one of the last spots left in the upper parking lot, the lower lot is a mile trek uphill to get to the observation deck, and decided to find a spot to sit right away. Although the sunrise wasn’t for another hour and the heated seats of our rental car were calling our names, within two minutes of finding a seat we were surrounded by a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. Bonus tip: I enjoyed the stargazing more than the sunrise and you won’t get a chance to catch the nighttime views unless you arrive early.
- DRESS WARM: Unfortunately we didn’t research this adventure before departing Shreveport or I would have packed one of my parkas. The early hours, elevation, and wind combined to create freezing temps and even in multiple layers and blankets, we were still shaking. If I could do it over again I’d wear long johns, thick socks, boots, multiple jackets with a hood, and something to block my face from the wind.
- EXPLORE AFTER THE SUNRISE: A lot of the crowd departed immediately following the sunrise but if you take at least a few minutes to explore, you’ll realize the views are well worth braving the cold for a little longer. If you’re feeling really crazy, check out the 30+ miles of hiking trails.
After leaving the national park, we ventured to the nearest town for breakfast and the only spot open at 6:00 am was Serpico’s in upcountry Pukalani. Try the Loco Moco breakfast (hamburger steak, brown gravy, rice and 2 eggs on top) and be sure to get the fried rice. SO DELICIOUS.
We ventured around upcountry Maui for a bit, through the cowboy town dubbed Makawao, and eventually stumbled upon Surfing Goat Dairy. A dairy farm offering tours, a petting area with baby goats, samples of cheeses and desserts and a small restaurant.
Just down the road from the goat farm is Ocean Vodka Farm and Distillery. Their $10 tours start at 9:30 am and run for about an hour. Had we not been up since 2:00 am and feeling a little delusional, we would’ve taken a tour as it’s the only way to sample the vodka. Instead, we purchased a bottle to take home and headed back to the Airbnb for a nap.
Later that evening we ventured over to the Cliff Dive Grill at the Sheraton Maui to catch their evening Cliff Diving Ceremony off Black Rock.
As the sun begins its slow dive into the ocean, torch lighting signals the nightly ritual of Lele Kawa (cliff diving). Legend tells us the last chief of Maui, Kahekili (Thunderer), proved his spiritual strength by leaping from sacred Pu’u Keka’a to the Pacific. With sunset painting the sky, a young cliff diver honors his heritage each evening by re-tracing footsteps in the sand on Kaanapali Beach. A chant of old Hawai’i begins the progression of our warrior; the echo of the conch shell announces his arrival. He leaves a trail of glowing torches surrounding the lagoon as he makes his way to Black Rock. Upon reaching the summit, he offers his torch to the ocean below, casts his flower lei into the sea; and finally takes the breathtaking dive from Black Rock into the rolling surf below. – Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa
Wrapping up our last day in Maui, we decided to close our vacation with a symbolic cliff dive of our own. We swam through the sea of snorkelers to climb black rock and after our feet couldn’t take the harsh volcanic rock any longer, we made it to the top. With no choice but to jump, we took the leap – even Momma Knecht!
Later that night we caught out last Hawaiian sunset from Front Street in Lahaina. From the upper deck at Koa’s Seaside Grill we toasted to an epic vacation filled with a lot of laughs and some incredible memories to take home with us. The food was delicious, the drinks were amazing and the view was spectacular – Koa’s was good to us and the perfect way to end our vacay.
Check out the video from our volcano sunrise, goat farm and cliff diving adventures here.