Mauna Kea

Suitable for:
Everyone, active people, nature lover
Insider tip or tourist spot?
Known and overrun
Insider Tip
Time needed:
4 hours
Optimal arrival time:
07:00 o' clock
Suitable for:
Everyone, active people, nature lover
Insider tip or tourist spot?
Known and overrun
Insider Tip
Time needed:
4 hours
Optimal arrival time:
07:00 o' clock

Mauna Kea - Beschreibung

At over 4200 meters, Mauna Kea is one of the highest elevations in the Hawaiian archipelago. When it comes to naming the volcano, the Hawaiians are pragmatic: since the summit is often covered in ice and snow during the winter months, a volcano is simply given the name "white mountain. Measured from the seabed, it even counts as the highest mountain on earth at 10,203 meters. Because of its heavy weight, the base of the volcano has sunk into the seabed and measures a total of 17,000 meters! The bombastic volcano is therefore visible from every point on the island (in clear weather) and watches over the island like a silent observer or "head of state". Mauna Kea is considered a dormant volcano, having been inactive for 4000 years. Quite in contrast to its brother, Mauna Loa ("long mountain"), which last erupted in 1984. Moreover, the mountain is sacred to the Hawaiians (one is supposed to be able to contact deceased ancestors on the summit). Thus, there are always demonstrations against the construction of more roads or telescopes.

From Hilo, the volcano is about 56 km to the west. To do this, one usually drives the well-known Saddle Road, which winds through the middle of Big Island. No matter if you drive to the volcano at sunset or sunrise, you should plan 2 hours to be on the safe side. Passing cactus fields, through green rainforest and vast steppes, you reach the Onizuka Visitors Center at 2900 meters, which offers free guided tours to the summit of Mauna Kea every Saturday and Sunday. Starting point is the Visitor Center at 1 p.m., the tour ends around 4:30 p.m. On the summit you will find the largest observatory in the world, as well as the most powerful telescope on earth. There are even some hiking trails up there. In winter there is snow on the summit. It must be a special experience to ski or snowboard down the pink-lit craters at sunrise.

Actually, you should stop halfway through to acclimatize. However, the view of one of the most beautiful sunrises or sunsets in the world often makes you drive through. Once at the top, the fast ride is immediately noticeable. The air is extremely thin. Elderly and sick people should definitely take a short break.

What we say

The sunrise above the clouds is bombastic. I have never experienced clearer air. And it's freezing cold. I underestimated that. So you should definitely think about a winter jacket and closed shoes. Whether the sunrise or sunset is a highlight of Big Island? Certainly. But only if you plan enough time on the island. Whether it's from Hilo or Kona, with an estimated drive time of 1.5 hours easy and the time spent up there, you'll need to budget almost a full day. Not to be underestimated is the fact that the high temperature differences (from summery 30 degrees on the beach to partly below 0 degrees on the summit), driving through 11(!) climate zones, as well as over 4000 meters of altitude are a strain for the human body and one then returns relatively tired from the trip.
A visit to Mauna Kea is a must on your trip to the Big Island. The view is incredible and there is a unique atmosphere in the air at sunrise and sunset. Simply everyone looks fascinated towards the horizon. Only with small children I recommend you the Mauna Kea rather not, because just the little ones often have problems with the "thin air".
Our checklist & tips:
  • Pack warm clothes! (jacket, closed shoes etc.)
  • The optimal time of arrival is rather according to the sunrise/sunset
  • You should be there at least 30 min. before each event.
  • With small children unfortunately not suitable

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Map and contact data

Mauna Kea Access Rd Hilo, HI 96720 United States
Longitude: -155.46805071885427
Latitude: 19.821013666100527

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