Maui vacation tips from a local

West Maui Mountains
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Maui vacation tips from a local

We here at the HAT Blog have been on Maui for a few days for a 7-night stay with visiting family. Thus far, things have gone quite smoothly. We did encounter one minor snag. We also enjoyed a spectacular sunrise at the summit of Haleakala Crater. We offer a couple of Maui vacation tips from the ground here on the Valley Isle.


The in-laws arrived in two groups, four of them together on a direct United Air flight from Denver. They picked up one rental car without delay and headed straight to the West Maui condo that was booked back in June.

Two others had a connecting flight from Honolulu that would see them land within 30 minutes of the Hawaiian Air flight Honorable Wife Person and I took. Their DEN-HNL was delayed, and they missed their connection to Maui. Fortunately, United Air got them on a Hawaiian Air flight shortly after.

Missed connections happen. Be prepared.

Unfortunately, their checked bag failed to make that flight. We waited for two subsequent Hawaiian Air flights in the hope that the bag would make it onto one of them. It didn’t. It cost us close to two hours of waiting in vain. An agent then assured us the bag would be delivered to the condo that night (Thursday) or the following day. The bag was delivered to the condo the next morning.


Our advice to those with a connecting flight to Maui who are checking a bag is to make sure that a checked bag does not hold anything that you may need immediately upon arrival. Check only bags packed with items you can wait 24 hours for in the event of just such an occurrence. It ended up being only a minor inconvenience.

West Maui ocean view
Enjoying the view from a West Maui condo.


We spent a leisurely Friday in beach chairs on the grass at the beachfront condo, sipping beverages and snacking on sandwiches and other comestibles purchased from nearby Times Supermarket. I grilled some chicken and vegetables for the family for dinner, and we retired early. We left for the summit of Haleakala early the next morning (the middle of the night, actually, at 3:00am).

That gave us plenty of time to reach the summit before the first rays of the rising sun. A Haleakala National Park ranger confirmed our reservations at the park entrance, which are required from 3am-7am daily. We made the final 10-mile ascent to the summit and found the uppermost parking already full shortly before 5:00am. The lower parking lot offered ample spaces at that early hour.

Haleakala Summit sunrise
The first rays of a new day at the summit of Haleakala Crater.

The area around the Visitor Center stirred with activity, even though the office doesn’t open until 7:00am. Tour vans disgorged bundled passengers and the pervasive anticipation of the sun’s arrival was palpable. It was electric, really.

We left Mom and Dad at the Visitor Center viewing area and made a short 5-minute hike to another viewing area on the east-facing side of a tall rock outcropping. It is important to note here that it was cold, 42 degrees at 5:30am. The in-laws, Colorado residents all, even admitted as much. These are people who regularly scale the Rocky Mountain State’s 14,000-foot peaks. Because of the cold, I made an awkward attempt at improvised calisthenics to keep warm under a long-sleeve t-shirt and heavy hoodie sweatshirt.

Haleakala Crater
Barren beauty at Haleakala Crater.


Sunrise itself at the summit of Haleakala defies superlative and baffles any poor attempt at an accurate description. It is spectacular, with a rising Venus (the morning star) as an opening act. It simply must be seen to be believed. We suspect even the world’s most accomplished outdoor photographers would admit their work fails to capture the human experience of the sunrise at 10,000 feet in the sky. 10/10, as is said in the popular vernacular. “No notes.”

Half of our group set out on the 12-mile hike to the crater floor (six miles each way, uphill all the way back). The rest of us headed back down the mountain, taking in the stunning views from Upcountry Maui obscured by darkness on the drive up. Nene geese and grouse were spotted by my brother-in-law, a keen hunter, and free-range cattle gazed at us impassively as the air warmed.

The shadow of Haleakala Crater stretches west at sunrise.

The adventure was an unqualified success. This was because we informed ourselves and duly prepared for the trip. It is advice we give often here at Hawaii Aloha Travel. From the ground here on Maui, we assure you that it works.