BIG ISLAND ADVENTURE - LANDMauna Kea - Summit
For the ancient Hawaiians, the Mauna Kea summit was one of, if not the most, sacred spot in Hawaii. There is no way they could have known that this is the tallest mountain on Earth when measured from its base, which rises from the ocean floor more than 31,000 ft. You will most likely be able to see the other two taller Hawaiian volcanos in the distance. Mauna Loa at almost the same elevation, and Haleakala (House of the Sun) on Maui, about 1,000 ft shorter. Not many places exist where you can easily drive so high – 13,796 ft. at the summit. There are several tours (see end of article) – or depending on your transportation, you may be able to make it on your own. The road is usually well maintained, for the astronomers. But always keep one eye on any possible “winter” weather. And be sure to dress warmly. Even when perfect weather at sea level, it can be extremely windy that high. The air is scarce at the summit. So those with respiratory, heart, circulatory , or other health issues, and pregnant women, should avoid this adventure. Scuba divers should know the dangers of these types of altitude changes too soon before or after a dive. There is a Visitor Center around 9,000 ft. where you can stop for a breather, small snack, and information. It is at this elevation that the astronomers stay, and drive up the remaining gravel road to the observatories at night to do their work. Telescopes at the Visiitor Center are sometimes set up with students to help share the wonders of the Universe. These sights are much more apparent at this elevation and when free of the light pollution on the Mainland. This is truly one of those unique and special spots on the planet. And one you will always remember if you time it to catch a nice sunset, meteor shower, passing satellite, or just a moonless night with billions of stars for your wonder and awe. One of the better tours leaving from Kona is Hawaii Forest & Trail.