**Updated : February 2023**
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Late last month we had the opportunity to head out on a bucket list experience in Haleakala National Park, sponsored by Visit Maui. Not only was the sunset above the clouds unlike anything we'd seen before, but the stargazing was incredible and we learned so much! Other planets, moons, and galaxies were just the tip of the iceberg. Read on for what you need to know before heading out on the tour yourself, and our complete, honest review of our experience.
What to Know
Contrary to what we thought, this tour actually begins outside of Haleakala National Park. When you meet the van at the designated meeting spot, you’ll wait for everyone to arrive before following the tour van into the park. You’ll be driving your own car and the entrance fee to the park is not included, so you’ll have to pay an additional $30 per car to enter the park. We asked why this was, and apparently the National Park tends to change the rules quite often. Some years they require tour guests to ride in the van, and other years they require tour guests to follow the van into the park - it really all just depends. After entering the park, you’ll make a quick stop at the Park Headquarters Visitor Center before making your way to the summit of Haleakala at over 10,000 feet. Here you'll have some time to explore the summit and observation tower areas - just make sure to take in the incredible views of the crater below. Depending on cloud coverage you’ll either stay there or head a little lower to the Haleakala Visitor Center, where you'll most likely eat the dinner you brought with you. Maui Stargazing also provides you with tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. As it gets colder you’ll also have the option to use one of Maui Stargazing’s winter coats and gloves (they were surprisingly great quality and very warm!). This lower area has some short hikes and a bathroom which we recommend using! Because of cloud coverage we actually ended up heading even a bit lower to avoid the clouds that were still obstructing the view from the top. We had this Kalahaku Overlook all to ourselves, and were able to see the sunset clearly even though there were still clouds near the summit! After watching the sun go down on top of the clouds, we waited for it to get dark and then were given a full lesson on astrology - we saw multiple planets, galaxies, comets, meteors, and even other moons! The tour ended around 8 pm and and guests had the option to stay at the top to stargaze on your own or follow the van down.
Our Honest Review
Ok, so here's the thing - could you do this tour on your own? Yes, probably. However, do we recommend booking a tour anyways? 1,000% yes. As the only stargazing tour on the summit, we were literally the only group that managed to see the sunset that night by avoiding the clouds that still obstructed the view from the summit, where everyone else stayed assuming this higher overlook was the best spot to watch the sunset. We also know nothing about astronomy or stargazing, and don't have access to a high grade telescope worth tens of thousands of dollars. Jan, our tour guide was truly incredibly knowledgeable about the Hawaiian night skies, and was pointing things out that we never would have seen or noticed before. She answered every question we had, telling us stories about different constellations, pointing out different planets, galaxies, moons, comets, asteroids, and meteors. We highly recommend a tour through Maui Stargazing if you're looking for a relaxing yet mind blowing tour. We also highly recommend taking Dramamine before the drive to the summit and staying hydrated if you get car sick or altitude sickness easily! Lastly, it's worth noting that there are restrooms at the first stop (Park Headquarters Visitor Center) and the 3rd stop (Leleiwi Overlook). Make sure to bring dinner and a snack!
Watch our Sunset & Stargazing Adventures here!
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We're Deborah & Tyler, a pretty average husband and wife duo from a pretty average state that didn't want to live so averagely. After our *Covid wedding we sold everything that didn't fit into the Jeep and moved to Alaska, then decided to take a gap year!
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