Snow in Hawaii? Big Island's Mauna Kea

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Does it ever snow in Hawaii? Believe it or not, the answer is yes! Although temperatures throughout nearly all parts of the islands remain between 75 and 85 degrees most of the year, snow can be found almost year round atop the Big Island's Mauna Kea, the highest point in the state of Hawaii. There, the high elevation (13,796 feet above sea level) results in freezing temperatures and snow. A volcano that first erupted one million years ago, Mauna Kea measures 33,500 from its underwater base to its summit, making it significantly taller than Mount Everest. To Native Hawaiians, Mauna Kea is considered a most sacred place and ancient law allowed only high-ranking officials to visit its peaks. Some believe that ancientent Hawaiian gods reside at the summit and Hawaiians go there in search of mana or divine power.

Today, Mauna Kea is important not only because of its spiritual significance, but also due to the important role it plays in astronomical observation. The dry atmosphere, the lack of turbulence at its elevation and its distance from city lights provide optimal conditions for astronomical research. In fact, the summit is home to thirteen observatories (the largest such complex in the world) representing eleven countries. And while Mauna Kea is not exactly an ideal place for winter sports like skiing or snowboarding due to its limited amenities (although some people ski the Poi Bowl just to say they skiied the volcano), it is a great place to visit. One of the only places in the world where you can journey from the beach to the nearly 14,000 foor summit in about two hours, Mauna Kea is open from 9AM to 10 PM every day of the year. There is a great 6-mile hike that takes you to the summit and free nightly stargazing and star tours are available from 6PM to 10PM nightly. Believe stars and the sky are like nothing you have seen before. If you plan to visit Mauna Kea, I suggest you visit the Mauna Kea visitor information website for directions, activities, and helpful hints to prevent altitude sickness. Have fun and don't forget your sunscreen as you'll be closer to the sun than anywhere else in the islands.

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