When we visited the first time, we didn’t get a chance to go up Mauna Kea because rental cars were sworn off of Saddle Back Road. Thank goodness for road improvements because this time, we were able to hit the road and drive up to the tallest point in Hawaii.
We started off in Kona and headed east toward Mauna Kea. When we were about halfway up the mountain, we stopped to layer up. That’s right, I was wearing winter clothing in Hawaii. Who would have thought? Now, let me just say this: I only had on a pair of jeans, a tee-shirt, sweatshirt, coat and a hat. Bob, on the other hand, wore jeans, long johns, a tee-shirt, a long sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, coat and a hat. I guess the man was afraid of freezing up there. I’ll have to give him some leeway, Sam did warn us that it would be bitterly cold, I just chose not to believe him.
Once we reached the Visitor Information Center, we climbed up a hill to view the sunset. You are allowed to drive to the summit but would need four-wheel drive, which we did not have. We had arrived in time to hike up the hill and take these gorgeous photos on top of the world:
The real appeal of Mauna Kea is the crystal clear night sky that occurs about 330 days out of the year. It is one of the BEST places to view the night sky due to the stable airflow, altitude and dry environment. Once you are up there, you are surrounded by the stars, you are just blanketed by them. It is incredible. There are no words to explain this, I can only show you the photos but even then, you don’t even get the full effect of how tiny you feel being surrounded by such a huge sky.
I would have to say that this was my favorite part of the trip. You have to check it out if you are on the Big Island, it’s worth the drive.