Haleakala Sunrise and Bike Tour

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Have you ever seen a Haleakala sunrise? Let me show it to you:

Honestly, my crappy/ shaky video doesn’t do it the least bit of justice.

They say that, from atop the Haleakala crater in Maui, you can see the most beautiful sunrise ever. By “they” I mean Google, of course.

But one should never take Google results for granted, yes?

I had to see this legendary sunrise for myself, so before leaving for Hawaii, I booked a “sunrise tour” with Maui Sunriders bike company. These tours are part van ride (with a guide), part bike ride (without). Here’s how they work:

  • you meet up at the bike shop at 3 a.m.;
  • they drive you to the top of the crater by 6 a.m. or so (it’s a long and winding road, taking you from sea level up to just about 10,000 feet altitude);
  • you spend the next 30 minutes or so in awe of Mother Nature;
  • meet back at the van, to be driven down to about 6,500 feet altitude;
  • you are given a bike;
  • van leaves, and you bike down back to the shop – on your own time, at your own pace;
  • the ride is supposedly 26 miles long, but my RunKeeper measured 23.7, so let’s call it 24.

It’s an amazing experience and absolutely worth the $90 or so per person (gratuity not included, you will be reminded several times).

I mean, that’s about as much as your average half marathon – and the bike ride itself takes about two hours, so there you go. On top of that, you get to experience what I have now confirmed to be the most beautiful sunrise ever.


[click for larger size]

Though again: photos do not do it justice. It really is something to experience yourself — and absolutely worth the 2 a.m. wake-up call!

You know what else isn’t done justice in these photos? The frig-gggggg-ging cold!!

You start at sea level, where it’s 80 degrees — OK, maybe 70 at 3 a.m. Up there? 30 at best before sunrise. (And you do get there about 30 minutes before the sun comes up!)


HusbandRuns mocked me for dragging two thick comforters with us — and even questioned my advice to change the shorts for something warmer. Let me just say that he was very, very grateful to have married such a wise woman, who on top of her infinite wisdom (or because of it?) loves to research the heck out of just about everything.

If you ever do this Haleakala sunrise thing, be sure to take your warmest clothes — and a thick blanket on top! We were among the few who did and were able to snag the best “seats” in the house — for the best views!

Because we weren’t as freezing as everyone else, we were also the last ones to make it back to the van, after playing photographer for a good number of couples (some of them were on their honeymoon, awwwwww!).

After a quick ride down, Remy (our tour guide) dropped us off right outside Haleakala National Park and we started our 24-mile bike ride winding from 6,500 feet altitude down to sea level.

We breezed through in two hours, including stopping for breakfast, and several more times to take photos.

Because you go downhill all the time, there is basically no pedaling involved, except for one tiny little hill (more like a bump). We were told this ride has been done in as few as 45 minutes, and the average speed for bikers is about 30-40 mph.

Not us: I’m more of a turtle than a hare, and my fingers grew tired from pressing on the brakes all the time. (No, really. All the time.)

But our glacial pace allowed us to enjoy the crisp air and wonderful views.

If you ever find yourself on Maui, do yourself a favor: book a ride to Haleakala, then bike down on your own. Both are experiences of a lifetime!

Today’s run bike ride:

And the elevation chart, lest you get unduly impressed by our distance or time or anything:

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