The highest point in Hawaii is Mauna Kea on the Big Island. It rises 13,796 feet above sea level, which makes it the tallest mountain in the world.
The summit of Mauna Kea is also one of the most famous mountain tops in the world, attracting thousands of visitors to its 13 international observatories. The summit is considered sacred in Hawaiian culture, revered as a place of worship and home to the gods.
Hiking to the summit of Mauna Kea is no easy feat, though. It’s a 13-mile round trip that climbs and descends 4,670 feet, resulting in a significant physical challenge even for well-trained hikers.
It’s also a high-altitude environment where there is less oxygen, which can cause altitude sickness if you’ve recently been at sea level. That’s why it’s important to wait 24 hours after you SCUBA dive before climbing the summit of Mauna Kea.
The world’s largest observatory, the International Gemini Observatory, is situated at the summit of Mauna Kea. It attracts astronomers from all over the world and is used to study the deepest recesses of the universe.
Mauna Kea has become a point of tension between native Hawaiians and those who wish to build telescopes on its summit. The volcano is deeply sacred and revered by native Hawaiians, while the international astronomy community finds it attractive for its calm slopes and dark skies.