There is nothing like experiencing the sunrise over the edge of this ancient volcanic crater as the conch shell is blown.
I have done this tour twice. Once it involved a breakneck bike ride back down the mountain after sunrise, and the other involved me pregnantly and happily sitting in a minibus on my way to a lavender farm for breakfast.
It does not matter which of the many versions of this experience you choose from among various tour operators and options. What matters is that you do this. It will involve getting up very early (4 am or so) and dressing in your warmest clothes (even in Hawaii?) and it will be an experience that you will never forget.
After a long and windy drive, you will step out into the chill mountain air and a landscape that looks like it is another planet. Plants and animals exist in this national park that do not exist anywhere else. There is a science lab at the top of the crater to study the flora/fauna/volcanic activity and weather patterns.
It won’t matter how many people are there, it could be hundreds-it will be deathly quiet as the sun climbs over the ridge to light the crater. The conch shell blows long and echoes in the crater to greet the day.
The more adventurous of you can hike and even camp overnight in the wilderness cabins inside the crater. Or you can go to a lavender farm and have an excellent omelet and honey bread. But this experience will change you.
You can drive up yourself or book a tour – the tour is worth it. The drive is harrowing at best.