Big Island Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Visitor Information Center
When you visit the Big Island of Hawaii, one of your must do stops should be the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Center.
Mauna Kea is the largest mountain on the planet at a staggering 32,000 feet! What makes this mountain unusual is that only 13,800 feet of it is above sea-level.
Because Mauna Kea is also surrounded by thousands of miles of ocean, it also presents the cleanest air on earth making it the world’s most coveted spot for astronomers.
The Mauna Kea Visitor center is located 9,300 feet up the mountain, and every night you can enjoy a spectacular sunset, and once it becomes dark you can also enjoy looking at the night sky from one of the darkest night-time spots on the planet.
Making these evening skies even more amazing will be the dozen or so telescopes set up to help you peer into God’s great universe.
Plan on a 90 minute drive from the coast-line, and plan to arrive at the information center around 6:00. This will give you time to hike up the hill to observe the sunset, and then traipse back down for the evening’s program put on by the park staff.
You should also plan for cold weather. It was 45º when we made our trip, and with the winds it was bone-chilling cold.
When it got to be 7:30, and completely dark, we were absolutely awe-struck by the stars that we never get to see in areas with far more ambient light.
I promise you, the trip up this mountain will be a memory you will cherish for a life-time. Nowhere on earth can you see the stars from such a dark, unobstructed sky.
Here is a view of the sunset from above the clouds at Hawaii’s Mauna Kea: