Some of the most famous astronomy, navigation, and wayfinding stories take place on the Hawaiian islands. The ancient Hawaiians were adept at navigating their daily lives in the natural world. They sailed around Polynesia, using the night sky as a compass and the ocean as a guide. There are a lot of major observatories and telescopes in Hawaii that can be used in stargazing. To honor the ways of the first Hawaiians, traditional voyagers continue to use celestial navigation and wayfinding. What is the most enthralling aspect? More than 500 years later, we can still explore the same skyline that Hawaiians studied and used to navigate. Also, the best places in Hawaii for stargazing are not hard to find. While Maui now has small cities such as Kahului and Kihei, the sunsets transform the entire island into a glowing light show.
Maui’s Best Stargazing Locations
1. The Hyatt Tour of the Stars
Despite the name, the focus of this rooftop stargazing experience is on Hokule’a rather than Hollywood. When the zenith star of Hawaii, Hokule’a, twinkles directly overhead, it indicates the latitude of the island. Learn all of this and more from astronomers on the Hyatt’s nine-story rooftop, where you can peer into space through the 16-inch telescope Great White. On Friday and Saturday nights, couples’ nights combine cosmos with romance by serving strawberries and champagne.
2. The Kalahaku Overlook
The evening stargazing on Haleakala is superior to the sunrise. The Milky Way stretches like a celestial zipper connecting two gaping sides of the sky from the upper slopes of this dormant volcano, and there are so many shooting stars racing across the darkness that you may run out of wishes. At 9,300 feet, Kalahaku Overlook provides a dark and private corner, as well as the best view of the crater floor when the moon rises. Just don’t forget to bring a jacket.
3. Lipoa Point
This rugged, volcanic, panoramic headland was completely covered in pineapples during West Maui’s agricultural heyday. A blanket of stars still covers the sky above historic Honolua Bay, thanks to local conservation efforts that halted proposed developments. Spread a blanket on the hood of the car as the sun sets over the knife-thin ridges of Moloka’i for a private celestial theater.
4. Honomanu Bay
Honomanu Bay’s jet-black sands reflect the inky black sky and are located on the world-famous Road to Hana. The nearest townhouses are only 200 people away in taro-lined Ke’anae, and while tourists crowd the beach during the day, the only nighttime companions are the occasional fisherman and the crashing surf.
5. Star Lookout
At this rustic cabin in rural Keokea, the Pleiades meet pastureland. The perfect spot for sipping hot chocolates from the privacy of a wraparound deck is tucked away on a country road at 2,900 feet elevation. No one around. No electricity. There are none. No worries.
6. Stargazing our at Haleakala
Head to Maui Stargazing for a guided tour of Haleakala’s night sky and historic wonders, as well as the only place on Maui that offers astrophotography tours. Join Maui Stargazing for a spectacular sunset at Haleakala Summit, followed by a 60-minute science-based guided telescope tour of the cosmos. Observe the most deep-sky objects with Haleakala’s largest portable telescope. A 12-inch aperture Dobsonian telescope allows you to see the visible planets and deep-sky objects of the Milky Way, such as nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies beyond. Maui Stargazing offers tours that include viewing the famous Haleakala sunset before embarking on a celestial journey through the stars. Enjoy an expert-led astronomy tour, a laser-guided constellation survey, Haleakala’s largest portable telescope, a family-friendly observing site, and more.
Before You Go Haleakala Tour: Sunset and Stargazing
You’re about to embark on an incredible journey to the top of Maui’s tallest volcano, but there are a few things you should know about the tour before you begin.
1. You should start planning
- Visiting the park at sunset does not require a reservation. Sunrise reservations are required only.
- Bring warm clothing because temperatures at the summit can drop below freezing.
- The adventure begins and ends in Kahului. The resort areas of Kaanapali and Lahaina in West Maui are about a 2-hour drive away.
- There are no food stands in the park. Prepare a picnic or eat something before you leave.
- The entrance fee to Haleakala National Park is $30 per car, payable in cash or by credit card.
- Around 5:30 p.m., the sunsets. 7:00 p.m. in the winter this time of year You must wait for an hour after sunset to see the stars.
- Plan on spending 4-6 hours on the tour.
- We recommend departing around noon from Kahului.
2. Expect to spend 4-6 hours exploring.
Only a few stops outside of Haleakala National Park are included in this tour. It’s designed for you to stop on your summit for sunset and then concentrate on the dark drive back. Please note that this tour does not have to be completed before sunset; it is still a fantastic experience regardless of when you go.
3. The Cold Temperature and Possible Altitude Sickness
You may not have brought a jacket on your Hawaii vacation, but a trip to Haleakala will require you to rush to the nearest gift shop and purchase a sweatshirt. The park is much cooler, especially at the summit, where temperatures can drop below freezing. Altitude sickness is common atop the mountain, so bring some water with you. In a short period, you’ll gain a significant amount of elevation.
4. To Be Active
Haleakala is one of Maui’s most popular hiking destinations. Sliding Sands Trail, Halemau’u Crater Hike, and Pa Ka’oao Trail are the three hikes included in this tour. The first two are about 11 and 8 miles long, while the third is only a half-mile long. If you want to hike Sliding Sands or Halemau’u Crater but don’t have enough time, you can always go about a mile in and turn around; you’ll still get some great views.
5. Malama Aina
The Hawaiian words Malama and Aina mean to take care of and land. We ask that you practice this in Hawaii by picking up trash, respecting marine life, plants, and animals, and avoiding dangerous areas. Hawaii’s natural resources are valuable, and it is up to each of us to help preserve them for future generations by respecting the Aina when visiting.
We ask that you treat the locals, the land, and the wildlife with respect while in Hawaii. Please pick up after yourself, never touch marine life, plants, or other animals, and stay away from dangerous areas. Hawaii’s natural resources are valuable, and we must all work together to protect them.