The islands of Hawaii are home to 13 major peaks in total, with several others dotting the landscape. From Big Island to Maui, these are some of the best Hawaiian summits to tour.
Mauna Kea, Big Island
Mauna Kea, which reaches almost 14,000 feet in elevation, is famous for being the greatest summit in Hawaii, and is usually the one that the majority of visitors want to tour. Guided tours to Mauna Kea are best taken in the late afternoon, so that you can reach the summit by sunset and watch the golden rays beautifully transform the land below you. Tours will usually first stop off at the Mauna Kea Visitor Center, where you will be able to see some of the largest telescopes in the world, before swapping over to a four wheel drive for the 30 minute journey up to the summit. There are several famous observatories to be found here, including Keck and Gemini, and these will begin rotating into position as the sun starts to set. Once the sky has turned dark, portable telescopes will be used to take in the beauty of the night sky, while warm drinks and snacks will be served up to help keep visitors warm.
Mauna Loa, Big Island
The second tallest summit in the state, Mauna Loa can also be found on Big Island, and driving to the peak is relatively simple. While this may be the case, the road can often be quite treacherous, with narrow turns and multiple potholes, so careful driving is absolutely necessary. The road will take you up over 11,000 feet to the Mauna Loa Weather Observatory, and you will pass by many points of interest along the way, from the Lava Tube at Microwave Ridge to the Dipping Pot at Chocolate Bonbon Hill. If you decide to attempt this drive on your own, be sure to pack adequate supplies in case the weather turns and you end up needing to stay the night, which is a common occurrence here.
Rising up over 10,000 feet, the third highest peak in Hawaii is the Haleakala volcano on Maui, and, just like with the other peaks, sunrise and sunset are the best times to visit. The road to the summit is well-marked and paved, making the drive quite a simple one when compared to some of the other Hawaiian volcanoes you may decide to tour, although the roads do follow cliff edges and do not have any guard rails. In addition to taking in the views below, and above, the summit, which is considered to be one of the best spots in Hawaii for stargazing, you will also be able to visit the Haleakala crater, which can be found just below the Visitor Center. There are also over 30 miles of hiking trails to be found at the summit, so do leave plenty of time to be able to explore the area on foot, as you will be able to see many different species of native plants and wildlife.
Touring Hawaii’s peaks is one of the most popular activities for those visiting the islands, as they offer unbeatable views that simply cannot be found elsewhere. From taking in the lava features around Mauna Loa to stargazing at Haleakala, these are experiences that can only be had at Hawaii’s famous summits.