One of the things that I wanted to see this trip that I didn’t get to see a few years ago was the summit of Mauna Kea. So we decided to go visit a beach early and be back in time for the trip to Mauna Kea to watch the sunset on the summit.
We decided on Mauna Kea Beach (Kauna’oa Bay) since it’s supposed to be one of the best beaches on the island and we hadn’t seen it yet. Now that I think of it, we only saw a couple last time. Anaeho’omalu & Hapuna.
This beach is pristine! It’s perfectly crescent-shaped with powdery white sand, and enough trees for some shade. The water is a calm, crystal clear blue, perfect for bringing the kids to teach them boogie boarding on the tame waves. Another thing that’s really nice about this beach is that there’s only forty or so public parking places so the beach isn’t crowded at all.
At the south end of the beach there’s a rocky point with a shoreline access path behind it perfect for exploring.
Dad, looking at two sea turtles sunbathing on the rocks.
After going back to the resort for lunch and grabbing our winter clothes we were on our way down Saddle road to Mauna Kea.
We were watching the wild goats at the resort while eating. Dad was pretty much obsessed with them. By the end of the trip I was all goat-ed out.
The whole drive down (actually up) saddle road was very interesting. First of all, it isn’t exactly a smooth ride. It reminded me of an old rickety roller coaster. It’s very long, narrow, & winding with one lane bridges, and many ups & downs even though we’re ascending to 6,600ft at the “saddle” between Mauna Kea & Mauna Loa mountains. It was a little crazy. We went from lava desert to grasslands, ranches, forests, fog, mist, rain, back to desert, & even a sand storm!
Finally, at mile marker 28 you start taking the road up to the Visitor Information station which also happens to be the mid-level altitude acclimatization center at 9,300ft.
Sadly this is about as far as we made it. Our weak little four cylinder rental car could barely make it this far up and would have surely died before we reached the summit at 14,000ft. Talk about disappointing! Since we were there we decided to make the hike up the large hill across the road from the visitor’s center. You can really tell the air is thinner up there making the steep hike! I think that the blowing wind actually helped my breathing while going up. Weird.
Above the clouds!
As you can see, I’m wearing a sweater, jacket, gloves, & a hat. It was quite cold & windy up there!
As it got closer to sunset quite a few others who couldn’t make it to the summit joined us.
The sun setting over the clouds next to the island of Maui.
After sunset we made our way down the freezing cold & windy (really, I felt like I was back in Minnesota) hill back to the visitor’s center where they had some telescopes set up for stargazing.