On the way to the summit of Haleakala, one of Maui’s two dormant volcanoes, there hides an overlook that should not be, well, overlooked. At 8,800 feet, Leleiwi Lookout commands views across a 3,000-foot deep crater, all the way to Kihei on the coast. This massive crater is 7.5 miles long and 2.5 mile wide — so large that both Santa Monica, California and Camden, New Jersey would fit inside with room to spare (though we wouldn’t recommend the exercise).
The panoramic moonscape view is not the main attraction, however (though NASA astronauts trained here for the moon landing). Leleiwi offers a phenomenon that occurs in only two other places on the planet: Scotland and Germany. When the clouds are low, and the sun is in just the right place behind you, usually around sunset, you will see the reflection of your own shadow on the clouds, ringed with a rainbow halo. This amazing optical illusion, called “Specter of the Brocken,” is caused by just the right combination of sun, shadow, and mist. In Hawaiian, the spectacle is called akaku anuenue (reflection rainbow). Some, including indigenous Hawaiians, have likened the experience to seeing one’s own soul.
To look over the Leleiwi Lookout, look out just beyond mile marker 17 on Highway 378, along a short trail from the parking lot.
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