Hawaii has 13 mountain peaks higher than 500 m, and Mauna Kea is the tallest. Most of Hawaii’s highest peaks are volcanic in nature since the islands of the region were formed as a result of volcanic activity. The mountains of Hawaii are rich in natural resources that have been heavily exploited over the years. Therefore, large areas of these mountains are now conserved to allow the ecosystem to recover. A list of the tallest summits in Hawaii is provided below.
1. Mauna Kea
Mauna Kea is a 13,802 ft tall dormant volcano and is the highest mountain in Hawaii. The mountain actually is actually taller than Mount Everest if the height below sea level is included. When measured from the oceanic base, Mauna Kea has a height of 33,000 ft. The indigenous people of the region considered the mountain to be sacred and made sustainable use of its natural resources and ecosystem for their livelihood. However, with the arrival of the Europeans, the natural balance of the mountain ecosystem was lost due to excessive exploitation of the natural resources and the introduction of invasive species. Currently, the mountain offers one of the best sites in the world for astronomical observations.
2. Mauna Loa
Mauna Loa is the world’s largest volcano that has a volume of 75,000 cubic km and makes up part of the island of Hawaii. The volcano is active in nature. Its peak is 13,679 ft tall, making it the second highest in Hawaii. According to estimates, the mountain rose above sea level about 400,000 years back. The volcano has erupted several times in the 20th century and has caused fatalities. Therefore, it is regarded as one of the most hazardous volcanoes existing today. The volcano is also used for astronomical observations and has observatories located on it.
Haleakalā is a shield volcano that makes up more than 75% of the island of Maui. The volcano’s highest peak is 10,023 ft above sea level, and is potentially one of the most hazardous volcanoes in Hawaii. The area surrounding Haleakalā is protected as part of Haleakalā National Park. Like the other major peaks in Hawaii, Haleakalā also provides ideal conditions for astronomical observations, and is popular among tourists.
Hualālai is 8,271 ft all and is the fourth highest peak in Hawaii. The peak is one of the five volcanoes in Hawaii, and is still active, with its last eruption occurring in 1801. The Hualālai’s slopes are home to rare varieties of flora and fauna. Royal complexes of the natives were discovered on the coast west of the volcano. Tourists visit the mountain in large numbers to explore its immense natural wealth.
5. Puʻu Kukui
Puʻu Kukui is 5,787 ft tall and is the fifth highest peak in Hawaii. The mountain is part of a private nature preserve. The area is one of the world’s wettest spots and receives an average annual rainfall of 9,820 mm, most of which collects in a bog. Due to its unique environment, Puʻu Kukui is home to several endemic species of flora and fauna. Birdlife on the mountain is particularly rich. The area is accessible by special permission and is a hub for research and conservation activities.