I read once an article called the 10 Must Do List on your Bucket list that must be crossed of before you die. As I was counting and marking happily and proudly, I realized Hiking Mauna Kea Volcano was one of them.
At 4,207 meters (13,803 feet) Mauna Kea is the highest point in Hawaii. The dormant volcano is also considered the world’s tallest mountain if measured from its base on the ocean floor. So many reasons Mauna Kea is a must do while visiting Hawaii! It is also considered a sacred place, in Hawaiian mythology, where only the highest-ranking chiefs were allowed to visit, in the old times.
The best part of this trip, is that you don’t have to walk much. Driving a 4x4 is the most popular way to make it to the top of the volcano. Fairly easy, right? Before you take the ride upwards, stop first at Mauna Kea Visitor Center (open daily between 9am-10pm daily).The visitor center in located at 2,804m (9,200ft), and it is a perfect place to use the restrooms, get refreshments, souvenirs, and also put an extra layer of clothes if needed. They also offer some useful videos to watch and learn before going forward. Ensure you have plenty on water, snacks and extra clothing at this point. If your car is not 4x4, it won’t work from here on. My husband and I had attempted this trip back in 2016. We were all prepared, except the car was not 4x4. What a disappointment we had, but we turned it into an opportunity to come back and finish our goal.
From MK Visitor Center drive will be slow for another 30-40minutes to the top. The summit is unhospitable with an air temp about 30F/-1C with low oxygen levels. If it happens you do feel some signs of hypoxia, rest and control your breathing, acclimatize, then continue your journey. It’s all worth it. Mauna Kea was always known to the Ancient Hawaiians, as the home of the gods. The feeling is normal, we are all gods on top of the world, looking down to thick blankets of white cumulus clouds floating below you. No wonder this place is one of the best sites in the world for astrological observation. Up there 11 countries have set up infrared telescopes to peer into the space. Unfortunately, you can’t visit them, however the views are breathtaking and well worth the trip. Oh, and did I mention that Mauna Kea is the only spot in Hawaii that gets snow all year round?
If you are not in a hurry to leave, wait the see the sunset: an absolute bliss and beauty. Are you still hungry for more? Then it is time to gaze away into the infinite skies. A perfect opportunity to lose yourself into the Milky Way, hop onto the top of your Jeep and enjoy star gazing from the best spot in the world.