Most people think of Hawaii as the place to go for snorkeling, whale watching, and other beach activities. However, it is also a fantastic place to snowboard! Hawaii provides a very unique way to snowboard for enthusiasts. Skiers and snowboarders alike can cruise through powder on a volcano! The big island has Mauna Kea Volcano open for boarders throughout most of the year. Though the snow is best from January to March, many people board through the late spring.

However, skiing and boarding on Mauna Kea are a little different than most people are used to. It’s important to consider several things before packing up the snow gear.

Mauna Kea isn’t a Ski Resort

Unlike many places for boarding and skiing, Mauna Kea isn’t a resort, which means there are no ski lifts and no grooming machines. The best way to get to the top of the mountain is to take a vehicle capable of managing the dirt roads and a driver who will pick the boarders up after each run to take them back to the top of the mountain. It’s also important for each snowboarder and skier to bring their own gear since it isn’t a resort. Be aware that gear is likely to get slightly damaged because the terrain is difficult and laden with lava rocks.

Focus on Safety

Safety is vital for riding the “White Mountain.” There are many exposed rocks, and the air pressure is thinner at that altitude. It’s important to be in good physical health before going as well as staying hydrated throughout the trip to avoid altitude sickness. The wind speed can also cause dangerous conditions for drivers. If the wind is too dangerous, the road will be closed. Check out the forecast to see the summit conditions before heading up the mountain.

Mauna Kea is Sacred Ground

Having respect for this beautiful volcano is also important because it is culturally significant to the local Hawaiian people. It is also used for astrological purposes, which means skiers and snowboarders need to be respectful of the observatory staff and visitors.