Navigate Haleakala Sunset and Weather in Style with Maui EVs

Exploring Maui in an electric vehicle (EV) lets you enjoy the island’s beauty without awful emissions. We know some new EV users worry about the car’s battery life, especially on big trips like driving up to the summit of Haleakala. At Maui EVs, we’re here to show you there’s nothing to worry about. Follow along as one of our team members shares their trip to Haleakala for a stunning sunset, proving just how dependable and fun an EV can be for your Maui adventure.

Tesla Model 3 at the second Haleakala visitors center parking lot above the clouds in the background

Adventure Overview

Embarking on a breathtaking journey to Haleakala’s summit to catch the stunning sunset is an unforgettable experience, especially when you’re driving a Tesla Model 3 from Maui EVs. We set off from Kihei at 1 PM with the Tesla charged to 80%—that’s about 180 miles of range (other vehicles in our fleet get 270+ miles when fully charged). While we usually recommend a full charge for longer excursions, we wanted to show you that even at 80%, our Tesla handles the climb effortlessly.

As we ascended to the summit, initially, our Tesla’s charge estimator projected arriving with 14% battery remaining. However, as we neared the summit, this estimate improved, reflecting the efficiency of the Tesla under varying driving conditions. We reached the summit with about 44 miles left (20% charge), ready to enjoy the breathtaking sunset.

The real magic happened on our descent; thanks to Tesla’s regenerative braking system, we actually regained energy! By the time we returned to the flat roads of Kihei, the battery had recuperated to approximately 59 miles (27% charge), showcasing the remarkable efficiency of our EV. Below, you’ll find a map of our route, highlighting how manageable and enjoyable an EV trip to Haleakala can be. Join us at Maui EVs for a worry-free adventure to witness Haleakala’s spectacular sunsets!

Map showing our round trip Haleakala sunset adventure, starting from Kihei, to Kula Bistro, the Sliding Sands trail at the second Haleakala Visitor center, and finally to Haleakala Summit.
Our Roundtrip Adventure to Haleakala Summit
Sunset view from Haleakala Summit

Haleakala Sunset Video

Checkout our quick short highlighting our adventure to see the spectacular Haleakala sunset.

Journey to Haleakala's Summit with Maui EVs

Kihei (1:00 PM, Start)
Our adventure kicked off in the vibrant heart of Kihei, a bustling hub on Maui’s southwest shore filled with activities and a friendly atmosphere. It’s the perfect launching point for any Maui exploration.

Ascent to Haleakala
The drive to the summit might last just over an hour, but it’s a journey through worlds of varying climates and ecosystems. Starting at sea level, we quickly ascended through lush rainforests into shrubby landscapes, and finally into the stark, alpine zone near the summit. The weather shifted dramatically from bright sunshine to enveloping clouds and occasional rain, setting a dramatic stage for our adventure.

The view looking down at the valley from Haleakala

Kula Bistro (2:00 PM, 80% battery)
Nestled on the majestic slopes of Haleakala, Kula Bistro was our first major stop. Amid the rustic charm of Upcountry Maui, we savored a meal of homestyle Italian dishes, each bite infused with local flavors, offering a delightful pause in our climb.

House Special pasta dish from Kula Bistro

Sliding Sands Trail (4:15 PM, 20% battery)
Entering the Sliding Sands Trail was like stepping onto another planet. The trail gave us a breathtaking glimpse into the heart of Haleakala’s crater with its vibrant colors and shifting sands. Our short hike was wrapped in thick, cold fog that occasionally cleared, revealing stunning views of the inner cinder cones bathed in sunlight—truly a surreal experience.

Sliding Sands Trail
Haleakala sunset view dipping below the clouds

Haleakala Summit (6:25 PM, 20% battery, Arrival for Sunset)
Reaching the summit just in time for sunset was the peak of our adventure (pun intended). Despite starting with only 20% battery and brisk, cloudy conditions at the summit, there was no cause for concern. The immense size of Haleakala often breeds its own weather system, leading to unpredictable cloud cover that can obscure visibility. On this day, although clouds partially blocked the sunset, the glimpses of sun breaking through still painted the sky in surreal colors—truly a sight worth the drive. Thanks to the regenerative braking of our Tesla, we were confident that our charge levels would be enough on the descent. Given the increasing popularity of sunset viewings, the summit parking fills quickly, often 45 minutes before sunset. We parked at the second visitor center and had to endure a chilly 15-minute walk to the summit, so we didn’t miss this otherworldly experience.

Da Kitchen, Kihei (8:15 PM, Dinner)
Following the descent, we warmed up with dinner at Da Kitchen, a hub of local comfort food in Kihei. The robust flavors of our meals mirrored the diversity of Maui’s culture, perfectly rounding off our day.

Fried Spam Masubi at Da Kitchen

Return to Kihei (8:30 PM, 27% battery)
We wrapped up our day back in Kihei, our spirits high and our Tesla displaying a whopping 27% charge left (59 miles). This finale beautifully demonstrates the impressive efficiency and capability of our EVs. This trip didn’t just showcase the beautiful landscapes of Maui but also highlighted the exceptional performance of our Teslas. By utilizing green technology, we contribute to preserving the beautiful environment of Maui for generations to come. The ascent to Haleakala tested our Tesla’s range, while the regenerative braking system efficiently reclaimed energy on the descent, ensuring that our journey was as carefree as it was memorable.

Recommendations for Your Haleakala Sunset Adventure

Dress Warmly for Haleakala Weather

Due to it’s altitude, Haleakala weather and temperature can vary drastically from the pristine conditions at sea level. The temperature at Haleakala summit can be as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit lower than at sea level, and with windchill the temperatures can often be below freezing. There is constant winds at the summit, so prepare for a dramatic temperature drop as you ascend to the Haleakala summit, especially for sunset. DO NOT WEAR YOUR BEACH WEAR AND/OR SHORTS. Packing layers—jackets, pants, closed-toed shoes, and warm hats—is essential to enjoy the breathtaking views comfortably, despite the chilly winds that might greet you.

Check the Haleakala Weather

Haleakala’s weather at the summit can be as unpredictable as it is spectacular, changing from sunshine to clouds to rain within the same hour. To improve your chances of a clear view, check the live webcam feeds a few hours before your trip:

No matter the visibility, the experience is otherworldly and worth the drive!

Entry Fees

A visit to Haleakala requires a park entry fee of about $30 per car, valid for three days. This allows you multiple entries into the park, perfect if you’re planning to explore different areas like the Road to Hana.

Haleakala Summit Parking lot

Sunrise and Sunset Views

  • Sunrise: If you’re planning to witness the sunrise, you’ll need to make a reservation in addition to your park entry. These $1 reservations are crucial and sell out quickly. They open about 60 days in advance, with a few additional slots available two days prior.
  • Sunset: No reservation is needed for sunset, which offers a gorgeous, albeit often “cooler”, viewing experience. Arrive at least 45 minutes early as summit parking fills up quickly. If the lot is full, you may need to park at the second visitor center and walk about 15 minutes to the summit.

Food Recommendations

Don’t miss the chance to enhance your trip with some fantastic local dining:

  • Kula Bistro: Enjoy hearty homestyle Italian meals in a casual setting. Perfect for a pre or post-visit meal.
  • Kula Lodge: Offers a slightly more upscale dining experience with stunning views and a full-service bar.
  • La Provence: Delight in authentic French bistro classics in a charming outdoor setting.

Enhanced Travel Experience

Make your drive to the summit more engaging with the Shaka Guide app. This offline audio guide enriches your journey with cultural insights and historical context, turning a scenic drive into an immersive experience.

Charging on the Go

Although a full charge should see you through your Haleakala adventure comfortably, here are a couple of convenient charging locations if needed:


At Maui EVs, we offer more than just car rentals; we provide seamless and eco-friendly ways to explore Maui’s legendary landscapes. From Haleakala’s stunning sunsets, its serene beaches, or the twists and turns on the famous Road to Hana, our Teslas are equipped to ensure your journey is smooth and sustainable. Join us at Maui EVs and make your adventure on the island truly unforgettable.

FAQ for Haleakala Sunset Journey with Maui EVs

What should I pack for a trip to Haleakala Summit?

For your comfort, pack warm layers like jackets, pants, hats, and gloves, even in summer. The summit can be significantly colder than sea level, often dropping below freezing with wind chill. Sunglasses to protect your eyes is never a bad idea. Also bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated and some cash if you’d like to stop at some of the fruit stands on the way up to the summit.

How early should I arrive for the Haleakala sunset?

To secure a good spot, it’s best to arrive at least 45 minutes before sunset. Keep in mind, the summit parking lot fills up quickly; you might have to park at the second visitor center and walk about 15 minutes to the summit.

Can I check the weather at Haleakala before heading out?

Yes! For the most current weather conditions, you can view live webcams at Haleakala Observatory and the National Park Service’s website. This can help you decide the best time to go for clear views.

What if the summit parking is full when I arrive?

If the summit parking is full, you can park at the second visitor center. From there, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the summit. Be sure to dress warmly as it can be quite chilly, especially after sunset.

Is there a difference between sunrise and sunset viewing at Haleakala?

Yes, sunrise viewing requires a reservation and an early wake-up, as it occurs between 3 AM and 7 AM. For sunrise you also look to the East and see the sun rising above crater as you’re looking which can be a magical site. Sunset does not require a reservation and provides a beautiful, albeit cooler, experience. For sunset you get to look to the West and generally see a sea of clouds, and possibly the valley below on a clear day as your backdrop. Both offer unique perspectives of the crater and surroundings.

Absolutely! Consider stopping at Kula Bistro for some homestyle Italian cuisine or Kula Lodge for a more upscale meal with beautiful views. For a delightful French touch, La Provence offers excellent bistro classics.

What are the charging options if my Tesla needs power after visiting Haleakala?

Your Tesla should handle the round trip without issue, but if needed, you can top up at the Pukalani Terrace Center near Pukalani or various charging stations in Kahului.

How can I enhance my driving experience while traveling to Haleakala?

Download the Shaka Guide app—an offline audio guide that not only navigates but also shares cultural insights and historical facts, making your drive educational and engaging.

What do I need to know about the entry fees for Haleakala National Park?

There’s a $30 car entry fee that gives you a three-day pass to the park. This is ideal if you plan to explore more of Maui’s scenic spots like the Road to Hana.