The Big Island of Hawaii is arguably the most unique out of all the Hawaiian Islands. It is certainly the largest, and part of that reason has to do with the sizable mountains and volcanoes that are there. In fact, Mauna Kea is an enormous dormant volcano, one that stands over 13,800 feet above sea level. It is the highest point of all of the Hawaiian Islands, but it is actually much taller than it would seem. It actually goes down to the base of the ocean, measuring a full 33,000 feet in height. This makes it the tallest of all mountains in the world, and it plays a large role in Hawaiian mythology. It is also the site of the Mauna Kea observatories, a research facility that was established back in 1967. It is one of the best places on earth to observe the night sky, providing dark skies, clean air, and a near absence of water vapor. Here are a few reasons that you should consider visiting the Mauna Kea Summit, and a few of the tours that you will be able to take.
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Native History Of Mauna Kea
According to the ancient Hawaiians, and even those that live there today, Mauna Kea is one of five volcanoes in Hawaii that are considered to be sacred. Due to its height, this particular volcanic mountain is considered the most sacred, thought to be the region of the gods where benevolent spirits can be found. As a result of their beliefs, the positioning of the Observatory was initially a controversy will decision. Even today, it is considered to be sacrilegious to some degree, and many have protested adding any additional telescopes at the summit.
Mauna Kea Observatories
Located in what is called the Astronomy Precinct, this encompasses about 500 acres of land at the top of the summit. Established in 1967, it is a beautiful location, providing incredible views of the surrounding land, the ocean, and the skies at night. There are several telescopes at the top which are managed by many different companies from a wide variety of countries. The University of Hawaii controls two of them, and many more people have wanted to place telescopes there because of this strategic location. Fighting against native Hawaiians and environmentalists for years, it has been a difficult task positioning any of the telescopes that are at the top. Even the Audubon Society objected, but despite all of these obstacles, there are many powerful telescopes including the University of Hawaii 88 inch telescope and the Keck Observatory.
Tours To Mauna Kea Are Available
There are actually a couple tours. There is the Mauna Kea Summit Adventures tour and also several companies that are allowed to take people on hikes to the top. There is the Visitor Information Station about halfway up, or 9200 feet, where you can acclimate to the higher altitude before making your final journey to the top. The reason for the stop is that you will actually have 40% less oxygen at the peak of Maunakea, which is why it is recommended that people in poor health, or women that are pregnant, not go to the top of the summit. These tours will cost anywhere from $200 on up, but it is well worth every dollar that you will pay. There are few places in the world that will provide you with such an incredible view.
Although most people associate Hawaii with beaches, snorkeling, and walking through rain forests, this is something unique to the Big Island. If you are going to visit the Island of Hawaii, you should certainly consider booking a tour to the top of Mauna Kea Summit, a destination that you will not soon forget. Just make sure that you check the Mauna Kea WebCam in order to verify the weather out the summit prior to making your journey all the way to the top.