Mount Everest is known for the being the highest mountain in the world. Almost 1000 people attempt to conquer Everest’s summit annually. Coming in at 29,029 feet tall, it’s no wonder why not every one of those people are able to make it to the top.
Technically… it’s not! The world’s tallest mountain is actually located in Hawaii, and its name is Mauna Kea. Over one half of this beast is submerged underwater causing a lot of controversy whether it should be considered the tallest or not.
Mauna Kea towers 13,796 feet above sea level. Compared to Everest this doesn’t seem too high, but 19,700 feet of Mauna Kea stays hidden below the Pacific Ocean. Totaling about 33,500 feet tall, it is technically the tallest mountain in the world. Mauna kay is actually an inactive volcano. If measured from the bottem of the ocean floor, Mauna Kea is about a mile taller than Everest.
Unlike Everest, Mauna Kea is easily accessed. You can access the summit by car, but once you reach Hale Pohaku basecamp, it is required to have a 4×4 vehicle to proceed to the summit. Mauna Kea requires a 30-minute acclimatization stop at the Onizuka Visitor’s Center. The visitor center is at 9,200 feet and allows your body to adjust to the altitude.
Mauna Kea is arguably the best stargazing location in the world. The summit provides the perfect vantage point to watch its famous sunrise or sunset above the clouds. Mauna Kea’s clear thin air, little precipitation, lack of light pollution and high altitude makes for an unforgettable experience for anyone who has the privilege to visit.
Some of the world’s best telescopes are located here at the summit. Mauna Kea’s landscape makes you feel like you are in another galaxy or on another planet. (You can see why in the picture above.) Looking off in the view on a clear day you can see Maui in the distance. This, on top of everything else, makes for the perfect training for NASA’s astronauts who train here.
Before sunrise or sunset, there are free stargazing programs at the visitor center. You can also purchase guided trips through Inclusive Excursions. The guided Inclusive trips include hot meals, drinks, transportation, and a professional astronomy educator with a laser pointer to explain clusters. Truly a magical experience.
If you are planning a trip to Mauna Kea, make sure to come prepared. Wind speeds can reach up to 150MPH at the summit. This causes sleet, dirt, and sometimes even rocks to fly close to this speed as well. Make sure you prepare for the dropping temperatures. The temperature at the summit can drop to 20 degrees Fahrenheit in just 4 hours, so dress properly and enjoy.