Hawaii Big IslandProps to Jon, the guy I just interviewed because he’s the one who:

1. lived this first and told me about it and

2. gave me all of the information and ideas about it so I could do it too!

Hawaii Big Island 2If you are already in Hawaii for vacation I strongly suggest you venture out to the Big Island at least for a day. To begin, Hawaiian Airlines offers flights to the different islands most of the time leaving every hour. You’ll have to do some research, of the big island there are 2 airports Kona and Hilo so depending where you want to stay you’ll have to plan for that. We were planning to stay at the Kilauea Military Camp and that was only an hour away from Hilo / 3 hours from Kona, so we chose to fly in and out of Hilo airport.

Hawaii Big Island 3For a round trip flight to Hilo it was about $160.00 and we didn’t have any checked bags which was very nice. Once we arrived we walked down to the car rental station and picked up our Jeep that we would be driving around for the next couple of days. I really had wanted the 2 door soft top Jeep but they didn’t have any available at any of the car rental places so we had to settle for a 4 door Jeep with a hard top. I’ve never driven a Jeep before and it was instantly fun regardless.

Hawaii Big Island 4Hawaii Big Island 5We arrived late evening on a Friday and drove over to the Kilauea Military Camp. FYI: Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) is open to all active and retired military, members of the Reserve and National Guard, active and retired Department of Defense civilian employees including Coast Guard Civilians, dependents and sponsored guests.

We rented a cabin there for $115 a night and it was very nice. We got the jacuzzi tub so we could sit and relax in hot water after driving around all day, with a regular tub it is only $100 a night.

Hawaii Big Island 6Hawaii Big Island 6It’s a great place to take families. There is a huge playground and the cabins are separate enough that you aren’t on top of each other. There is a store, restaurant, and bar in the center of the camp and I was instantly in love with the area.

The cabins themselves have a fireplace and logs available for burning. We had a huge king size bed that would easily fit 3 people and the cabin was all hard wood floors with nice wooden furniture.

Hawaii Big Island 7Hawaii Big Island 8Hawaii Big Island 9In the morning, we woke up, dressed, and made a beeline for the jeep. It was time to hit the road and we wanted to drive to the top of a volcano called Mauna Kea located near the Northern Central area of the island, about a 2 hour drive from where we were. We were originally going to go for sunrise but we couldn’t get up early enough and it was pretty foggy in the early morning, so I think its better that we waited.

Hawaii Big Island 10Hawaii Big Island 11There is snow at the top of the volcano so we brought pants and a jacket and as we wound our way higher and higher we stopped to bundle up because we still had the top and windows down and the music blasting.

You should definitely have a 4 wheel drive car to reach the summit as soon as you turn at the sign for Mauna Kea you pretty much enter a dirt road track and the 4 wheel drive is very handy as the gravel spits out underneath the tires.

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Hawaii Big Island 13At the top we were above the cloud line and saw beautiful clouds, snowy peaks, and even people snowboarding! We even gave a father and son a ride back to the top for their 5th run, there were no chair lifts. I was feeling a bit nauseous from the bumpy ride but it was easily cured with a bit of sun from laying on the roof and a Big Wave brew.

Hawaii Big Island 14We slowly wound our way down the mountain with a few videos on the Go Pro and some care free singing (it won’t hurt if no one can hear you). At the bottom we decided to make our best effort to find the Green Sand Beach. That is a story for another day, so I’ll tell it when the time comes.

Hawaii Big Island 15Hawaii Big Island 15

That evening, after returning to our little cabin, we took hot showers and hunkered down with the Samuel Adams seasonal pack of brews, falling asleep easily from all the trekking. It was everything I’d hoped the day would offer and more!

Have you ever climbed to the top of Mauna Kea and if so do you have any other tips to share? They would be greatly appreciated below!

This article appeared first on Dynamic Soarer