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Mauna Kea, Island of Hawaii

(4.6/5 based on 200+ reviews on the web)
Mauna Kea, also called Mauna a Wākea in Hawaiian culture, is a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii. Standing 4205m above sea level, its peak is the highest point in the state of Hawaii. Much of the mountain is under water; when measured from its oceanic base, Mauna Kea is over 10000m tall, taller than Mount Everest. Mauna Kea is about a million years old, and has thus passed the most active shield stage of life hundreds of thousands of years ago. In its current post-shield state, its lava is more viscous, resulting in a steeper profile. Late volcanism has also given it a much rougher appearance than its neighboring volcanoes; contributing factors include the construction of cinder cones, the decentralization of its rift zones, the glaciation on its peak, and the weathering effects of the prevailing trade winds. Mauna Kea last erupted 6,000 to 4,000 years ago and is now considered dormant.In Hawaiian mythology, the peaks of the island of Hawaii are sacred, and Mauna Kea is the most sacred of all. An ancient law allowed only high-ranking aliʻi to visit its peak. Ancient Hawaiians living on the slopes of Mauna Kea relied on its extensive forests for food, and quarried the dense volcano-glacial basalts on its flanks for tool production. When Europeans arrived in the late 18th century, settlers introduced cattle, sheep and game animals, many of which became feral and began to damage the mountain's ecology. Mauna Kea can be ecologically divided into three sections: an alpine climate at its summit, a Sophora chrysophylla–Myoporum sandwicense (or māmane–naio) forest on its flanks, and an Acacia koa–Metrosideros polymorpha forest, now mostly cleared by the former sugar industry, at its base. In recent years, concern over the vulnerability of the native species has led to court cases that have forced the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources to eradicate all feral species on the mountain.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • We drove up to the visitor center. It was chilly. Be prepared. I was a little disappointed that we couldn't see the summit from the visitor center. We ended up driving around the north tip of the isla...  more »
  • Go rent a car. I came while climbing in the mountains, through the clouds, in the fog scary. We have left the clouds before the sun goes down, so parked on the side of the road and watch the beautiful sunset. Observed stars waiting until it got dark and then parked in the Visitor Center parking lot. Milky way looks good, wasn't impressed. And be careful because if you take the car in a personal way there is rough! Photo of defective (* _ *)
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  • We headed up to the Ranger's station (at about 9,000 feet) to get above (most of) the clouds and watch the sunset. Definitely worth the outing, but make sure you dress for what was a very cold outing ...  more »
Google
  • Beautiful white sand beach with great snorkeling on the North side of the beach, and nice snorkeling on the South side. There is good shade along the South side of the beach, a restroom with showers, and the opportunity to see Sea Turtles. Highly recommended, however there are limited parking spaces as the parking lot is owned by the Mauna Kea hotel. If you don't show up quite early in the morning, you most likely won't be able to get in as the lot fills up quickly, and they don't keep track of beach-goers leaving, so even if there are open parking spots you may not be able to get past the gate at the entrance. We tried half a dozen times to be told the lot was full, and ended up coming at 7:45am one morning to get a spot.
  • Excellent beach with shade and snorkel possibilities. The only drawback is, that there are only 40 parking lots available for public parking. But do not get despaired even if it is said to be full, drive down and check, there are continously people leaving.
  • This is a beautiful beach and great for snorkeling. When you're facing the ocean, the reef is to the left. They say to get there early but it's not like people are going to stay at the beach all day. The guard let us down. (It's attached to a resort). A spot opened up. We had to catch a flight the same day so we definitely looked the showers! Also, rent gear from the town up ahead...about 5 miles. It's much cheaper.
  • Awesome beach for that romantic walk in the surf and sand. You will love it.
  • Snorkeling is ok near the rocks on the left, if the waves aren't stirring up too much sand. It gets better further out, but the waves have too cooperate and the calmness can be deceptive due to the reef. All it takes is a wave higher than the reef to pull you out and slam you down. Nice beach over all though, beautiful for Sun bathing, probably ok for bogey boarding. Hotel tries to impede your visit, but all beaches in Hawaii are public and if you keep repeating yourself you'll get there. The rich can buy up all the land but the beach a and if they do that they are required to make it publicly accessible, they can do it grudgingly though.