Maui Sunsets: How To Get The Best Photos

A photo of a Maui sunset is always going to be fabulous, and it’s never going to be as good as the thing itself.

The Maui sunset is a spectacular sight, and all we can do is try our best to capture the depth of light and shadow.

We have tips for photography, how to frame your picture, and answer the most important question: where should you go to watch the sunset on Maui?

If you want to try your hand at getting the best photos of the Maui sunset you possibly can, read this guide. 

People walking along the beach at sunset.

Where Is The Best Place To Photograph The Sunset On Maui?

A sunset on Maui is gorgeous pretty much wherever you’re standing. But there are a few places where the sunset takes your breath away.

Of course, we have to start with Haleakala. The volcano that forms the bulk of Maui, Haleakala summit grants you unforgettable panoramic views. It’s best known for sunrises, but the sunsets are fabulous as well (and you don’t have to wake up early).

For a beach shot, our top choice has to be Keawakapu. This Wailea location has abundant rocks and tide pools to use for an excellent foreground.

Our second beach choice is Makena Secret Cove. Waves on rocky outcrops help to capture the gleam of light from the Maui sunset. The only disadvantage is you may capture a bride and groom as well—this is a popular wedding location.

A slightly more unusual choice is Poli Poli. This open field in the upcountry gives you views of the north and south shore, as well as the West Maui mountains. Cloud banks add depth to a photo, but be sure to pack a jacket for the chilly evenings.

Decide How To Center Your Photo

The good news about a photo of a Maui sunset is that Maui does a lot of the work for you. Once you’ve found your setting, pointing and shooting is often enough to get a pretty good picture.

And if you’re combining photo taking with your evening meal, that’s probably all you want to do. But if you’re hoping to capture the best Maui sunset photo you possibly can, then you need to consider your framing.

The typical way to photo a sunset is with the sun in the center of the frame. This is all well and good, but it tends to get a little boring. And with the sun in the direct center of your shot, everything else can be dulled. 

  • Consider where in the frame you want the sun to be, and what you might want to see center instead. Remember the rule of thirds, to keep the frame full of interest. 
  • As you’re on Maui, you’re bound to be surrounded by some beautiful imagery. Take a look at the natural scenery to see if there’s a good focal point for your shot.
  • What about out to sea? Avoid overcrowding the shot, but a simple focal point can bring the picture together. Finding an interesting focal point can also bring shadow and depth to the sunset.

Find Your Focus

Don’t focus the camera on the sun itself, as you’re likely to end up with a blurred and flat photo. As the camera struggles to capture the brightness of the setting sun, the rest of the sky looks dull in comparison.

A Maui sunset is fantastic because of the rich golden hues emanating outwards. Focusing on the sun itself means the camera can’t capture these colors.

Instead, set the focus just away from the sun. Point your viewfinder just to the side of the sun, and focus the camera (this is often done by depressing the button halfway). You should see the colors and shadows become bolder and richer.

Depending on your camera, you may be able to adjust the shutter speed. Try experimenting with a shutter speed of 1/30, or 1/60. 

Another setting to consider is the ISO, which is the camera’s sensitivity to light. A low ISO setting is best, typically between 100 and 400. You may need to go higher if there are lots of clouds.

Before you head out for your sunset photography trip, get to know the settings of your camera. No one wants to get all the way up Haleakala, only to discover they don’t know how to adjust the focus.

Once you’ve taken a photo, review it there and then. This way, you can react quickly to adjust the camera settings.

Sunset through palm trees at a resort in Maui.

Consider A Tripod

A tripod isn’t an essential, not with the amount of light provided by a Maui sunset, but they can be a good way of ensuring a sharp image.

Get Your Timing Right

There’s not one great moment for a sunset on Maui. Instead, the sun drops slowly through the sky like honey. Because of this, there can be up to an hour for you to get a decent photo. Our recommendation? Be there the entire time.

The golden hour refers to the time of day when the sun is lower in the sky, bathing the landscape with a golden glow. On Maui, this golden hour is spectacular.

Head out early, and watch as the sun makes its slow descent through the sky. As the shadows and highlights change, you can capture a number of photos.

Because Maui is close to the equator, there’s little variety in the time of day. Sunset in mid-winter is only about an hour earlier than it is at the height of summer.

If you’re visiting during summer, you’ll find the sun starts to set around seven, so it’s easy to factor sunset photography into your day.

Try Again Tomorrow

We all know the feeling of taking a photo that seems to be artistic brilliance at first glance, only to get home and discover a blurry mess. Photography is hard, even when you have a subject as glorious as a Maui sunset. 

Luckily, the Maui sunset is gorgeous most nights of the year. Even if you can’t return to the same spot, you can still find someplace new to capture the scene.

And now you have the experience from the night before, you can put your new skills to the test.

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