Hawaii is known for its stunning beaches and beautiful natural landscapes, but it is also home to some incredible lakes. The biggest lake in Hawaii is called Lake Waiau, and it is a true hidden gem on the Big Island.
- Lake Waiau is located at an elevation of 13,020 feet on the summit of Mauna Kea, which is a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii. It is situated in the Mauna Kea Observatory complex, which is an important site for astronomical research.
- This remote lake is surrounded by vast lava fields and it is quite a journey to reach it. Visitors can take the Mauna Kea Summit Access Road, but it is recommended to have a four-wheel drive vehicle due to the rocky terrain.
- Lake Waiau is relatively small compared to other lakes, with a diameter of about 100 yards and a maximum depth of around 3-10 feet, depending on the season. It is considered a “pocket lake” because it is situated in a depression on the mountain.
- Despite its small size, Lake Waiau is still a significant feature due to its high elevation. It is one of the highest lakes in the United States and one of the only alpine lakes in Hawaii.
- Lake Waiau has great cultural and spiritual significance to the Native Hawaiian people. It is considered a wahi pana, or sacred place, and holds a special place in Hawaiian mythology and legends.
- The lake is believed to be a dwelling place for various spirits and deities, and it is often associated with healing and spiritual rejuvenation. It is not uncommon to see offerings such as flowers and stones left by visitors who come to pay their respects.
- Scientists study Lake Waiau to better understand its unique ecosystem and the impact of environmental factors at high altitudes. The lake’s water level and temperature have been observed to fluctuate over time, which may provide important insights into climate change patterns.
Visiting Lake Waiau offers a truly unique and awe-inspiring experience. Its remote location and breathtaking views make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and those seeking a deeper connection to Hawaiian culture.
Must-Do Activities at the Biggest Lake in Hawaii
The biggest lake in Hawaii, Lake Waiau, offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you prefer water-based adventures or exploring the surrounding nature, there is something for everyone at this stunning lake.
- Hiking and Nature Trails: Lake Waiau is surrounded by beautiful hiking and nature trails that offer breathtaking views of the lake and its surroundings. Visitors can explore these trails at their own pace and immerse themselves in the serene beauty of the area.
- Camping: For those who want to extend their stay and truly experience the tranquility of Lake Waiau, camping is a popular activity. There are several campsites available near the lake, allowing visitors to wake up to the sound of birds chirping and the sun rising over the water.
- Fishing: Fishing enthusiasts will be delighted to know that Lake Waiau offers excellent fishing opportunities. The lake is home to a variety of fish species, including trout, which can be caught using a variety of techniques.
- Water Sports: The calm and clear waters of Lake Waiau are perfect for water sports such as kayaking and paddleboarding. Visitors can rent equipment from local rental shops and spend a day gliding across the peaceful lake.
- Picnicking and Relaxing: Lake Waiau is an ideal spot for picnicking and relaxing. Visitors can pack a picnic basket and enjoy a meal by the lake while taking in the stunning views. The peaceful ambiance of the lake makes it a perfect place to unwind and reconnect with nature.
No matter what your interests are, Lake Waiau has an activity for you. Whether you prefer to explore the surrounding trails, fish in the clear waters, or simply relax by the lakeshore, this beautiful lake offers a wide range of opportunities for visitors to enjoy.
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Directions to the Biggest Lake in Hawaii
The biggest lake in Hawaii is Lake Waiau, located at the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island. To get to Lake Waiau, follow these steps:
- 1. Start by making your way to Hilo International Airport on the Big Island.
- 2. Rent a car at the airport, as it’s the most convenient way to reach Lake Waiau.
- 3. Take the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (also known as Saddle Road) from Hilo to the Mauna Kea Access Road.
- 4. Drive up the winding Mauna Kea Access Road until you reach the Visitor Information Station (elevation: 9,200 feet).
- 5. Check in at the Visitor Information Station for the latest updates on road and weather conditions.
- 6. From the Visitor Information Station, drive an additional 5 miles to the Mauna Kea summit area (elevation: 13,796 feet).
- 7. Park your car at the summit area and embark on a short hike to Lake Waiau, which is located near the highest point of Mauna Kea.
Visiting Lake Waiau requires careful planning and preparation due to its high elevation and remote location. Here are some additional tips to help you make the most of your visit:
- 1. Check the weather and road conditions before you go. The summit area of Mauna Kea can experience extreme weather conditions, including high winds and low visibility. It’s important to be aware of any road closures or hazardous conditions.
- 2. Dress appropriately for the high altitude. The summit of Mauna Kea is significantly colder than the surrounding areas, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. Wear warm layers and bring a jacket, hat, and gloves.
- 3. Bring plenty of water and snacks. The high altitude and physical exertion of hiking to Lake Waiau can cause dehydration and increased hunger. It’s important to stay hydrated and nourished throughout your visit.
- 4. Be respectful of the natural environment. Lake Waiau is a sacred site for the Native Hawaiian people and holds significant cultural and spiritual value. Remember to leave no trace, stay on designated trails, and be mindful of the fragile ecosystem.
- 5. Consider taking a guided tour. If you’re unfamiliar with hiking at high altitudes or prefer the guidance of an expert, there are tour companies that offer guided hikes to Lake Waiau. This can enhance your experience and provide valuable insights into the history and significance of the area.
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