Snow in Hawaii?

Snow on the road in Hawaii

Believe it or not, yes. Since snow is pretty basic, you just need some water and cold, and voila!  Ok, it's a bit more refined, but on one of my two recent trips to the Big Island of Hawaii, trying to get up to the top of Mauna Kea, the road started to become slushy... something I generally see in the beginning of winter back home in Utah.  I rented a Cadillac Escalade, and honestly it was one of the worst in snow.  Long story short, it couldn't make it up the hill.  

We had to turn around and go back down.  I did end up seeing some snow on the road, and about 3" on the sides of saddle road.  But I wanted more.

Fortunately, the opportunity came along to see the snow again on a separate trip.  A few friends and I went to the top and saw some amazing snow and sunsets.  It was a trip well-worth it.

Yes. Sometimes there is snow in Hawaii.

Snow in Hawaii.  Mauna Kea - Big Island

0 TO 13,796 IN 60

There’s never a dull moment when visiting the islands of Hawai’i.   Oh sure, there are some people who never see the outside of their resort except to arrive and depart.  Those people are odd.  Hawaii has so many things to offer and they won’t see any of it, except some nicely groomed lawns, some perfectly placed coconut trees and a sandy beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas.  It’s nice to relax on the beach–don’t get me wrong–but there’s so much of the islands to explore!

On our last trip to the Big Island, one of the days we spent the morning at Kua Bay (there’s another name for this beach, but that’s what the locals call it.)  This is the lowest elevation one can get before actually submerging themselves below the sea level (which I guess technically we did since we were snorkeling and were able to swim with the sea turtles.)  Back to my train of thought… In a matter of a couple hours we did two interesting things without the use of an airplane or jet: go from 88 degrees to 25 degrees (brrr) and from a negative sea level to 13,796 feet.

On top of Mauna Kea - 13,796 ft

Mauna Kea is one of the tallest peaks in the world.  According to Wikipedia, it is ranked 15th. Its elevation is 13,796 ft above sea level.  I’m from Utah and we have tall mountains, but I never got light headed like this when hiking Timpanogos.  It was interesting to say the least.  Whenever I bent over to get in my camera bag and stood back up, I felt very dizzy.  The oxygen is pretty thin up there.  It was cold, and there was snow.  I knew there was snow in Hawaii but I never thought I’d be able to see it first person.  Anyway, the view was spectacular.  You were above the clouds.  We timed it perfectly.

We watched the sun set above the cloud cover.  The colors were beaming off Mauna Loa (the other large peak, which is an active volcano).  It was gorgeous. Having shorts and no real coat, my hands were about to freeze off.  I got a couple shots of the sky with the most stars I have ever seen with my naked eyes.

Me photographing on top of Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Me photographing on top of Mauna Kea, Hawaii

It was hard to pinpoint constellations because there were so many stars in the sky.  Light pollution by stars!  I can definitely see why they have all the observatories up there.  It is a perfect place for that sort of thing.

After some time, I couldn't take any more of the cold.  I didn't have the proper gear to be up there for that long with those temperatures.   I wish I could have stayed longer, but it is what it is, and we had to descend back down the mountain.  That day was very eventful.  I highly recommend it to anyone looking for something to do that isn't cliché.  I love the beach and I love photography.  But there’s only so many pictures you can take of the same beach before you have 8 gigabytes of sand photos.

0 feet to 13,786 feet in 60 minutes.