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Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory
Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory

Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory

Saddle Road, Hilo, Hawaii, 96720

The Basics

Mauna Kea tours depart from Hilo, Kona, and Waikoloa Village, and usually last upwards of eight hours. Whether you choose to visit for sunrise, sunset, a midday summit tour, or after-dark stargazing, the mountain makes for a popular day trip on the Big Island.

The Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station sits at 9,300 feet (2,790 m) and features interactive displays and videos, with telescopes, talks, and tours. It’s important to stop here even if you’re headed to the summit to acclimate to the altitude. In addition to checking out the magnificent night sky, you can learn about Mauna Kea’s formation and why the mountain is considered sacred to native Hawaiians.

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Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour
$287.96 per adult
Traveler Favorite
Bonus
The Summit and star gazing with the use of equipment was great. We had the extra benefit of the volcanoe also erupting, this could not have been planned but was a super bonus.
Michael_G, Jan 2023

Recent reviews from experiences in Big Island of Hawaii

star-5
The Stars at Night Are Big and Bright...
Brad_F, Jan 2023
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
Highlights: the beautiful colors of sunset; the Zodiac constellation tour; the crystal clear view of the Milky Was and thousands of stars. The knowledgeable tour guide was very helpful. Be sure to bring a lot of light snacks and liquids. You'll probably need these at the visitor center and at the summit. Be prepared for 5 miles of unpaved, 4-wheel drive road that privatizes more than a few bumps. The vehicles wer clean, safe, and appropriate tot he terrain.
star-5
A must do!
David_D, Dec 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Stephan, our guide, was great from start to finish. He was very knowledgeable about all the topics. He was especially proficient with the astronomy portion of the tour. He was also very safety aware and since he also was the driver he was very calm and appropriate in his driving. Overall a fantastic experience.
star-5
Fantastic Tour!
kwd1976, Feb 2023
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Wes was a fantastic guide and very knowledgeable about the summit and Hawaii in general We had a great time and highly recommend this tour.
star-5
Best and safest trip up the tallest mountain
Paul_B, Jan 2023
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
Anna was the best tour guide for this tour. She was such an amazing driver. I felt so safe with her behind the wheel. Her knowledge and stories really helped make the whole trip super enjoyable. I am recommending this tour to everyone that comes here.
star-5
Absolutely the best guide
Robert_B, Jan 2023
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour
Stargazing was phenomenal. Guide Adam certainly knows his stuff and his enthusiasm is contagious Ample time for everything that was to be experienced. Totally taken care of the whole day
star-4
Breakdown but got a refund
Sarah_L, Feb 2023
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Van broke down on the way up. We were able to hitch a ride with others going up. We found a ride back down to the visitor center where another van met us and we were able to stargaze, eat our sandwiches and drink hot chocolate. The tour operator gave us a full refund.
star-4
Astaunishing
Theavy_S, Jan 2023
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
amazing view with a professional tour guide, great photos, with scientific exploration. I would recommend anyone to go a tour while on the Big Island.
star-5
Bucket list item! Experience is amazing!
Brian_M, Jan 2023
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Our guide, Wes, was fun and friendly and made the trip extremely enjoyable! He knew a lot about Hawaiian culture, the islands and the volcanoes. He went out of his way to make sure our trip was a great experience!
star-5
Would recommend
mdchamberlain12, Jan 2023
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
The trip to the summit was long but definitely worth it. We had a mostly clear day got to see a beautiful sunset. The star tour after the sun went down was a highlight, our guide was very knowledgeable and acclimated us to the altitude very well.
star-5
A magical tour!
Lisa_P, Dec 2022
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour
Eugene was an awesome guide! The sunset and star gazing was amazing and we were lucky enough to see the eruption of Mauna Loa and a few shooting stars! It was absolutely perfect!
star-5
Do it!
Jenny_R, Jan 2023
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
The whole experience was really incredible. I cannot say enough about our guide Anna. She was incredibly knowledgeable, accommodating and entertaining and really added to the experience. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, I would 100% recommend!
star-5
Incredible experience!
Robin_R, Jan 2023
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
An amazing and memorable experience! Our guide was spectacular and wonderfully knowledgeable. This is a trip no one should miss.
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How to Get There

The Visitor Information Station is an hour’s drive from Hilo, via Highway 200. From Kailua-Kona, the drive takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes on Highway 190; from Waikoloa, it’s about 50 minutes via the Saddle Road to the visitor center. Camping is not allowed on Mauna Kea.

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Insider Tip

Sunrise and sunset are great times to visit Mauna Kea. Enjoy stargazing (offered nightly from 6 to 10pm) andhot chocolate (available for purchase) at the Visitor Information Station, or rise bright and early to drive up to the summit in time to watch the sunrise.

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What Makes Mauna Kea Ideal for Astronomical Sightseeing?

The Subaru Telescope, the W.M. Keck Observatory, and the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility take advantage of Mauna Kea’s ideal location near the equator and above most of the atmosphere’s water vapor, which means a clear view of stars in both of the earth’s hemispheres.

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Best Ways to Summit Mauna Kea

You can make an ambitious go of the summit on your own (on foot or in a vehicle), or join an organized summit adventure tour during visiting hours (from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset). From the Visitor Information Station, a roughly 10-hour, roundtrip hike on a rugged trail takes you to the top and back. Be prepared for a workout, and be sure to wear layers and sturdy closed-toe walking shoes; you’ll encounter all kinds of weather as you ascend above the Big Island’s layer of cloud cover. You must bring your own water and pack out your waste; there are no amenities on the trail.

If you’d rather drive to the top, you’ll need a 4-wheel drive vehicle, plenty of water and sunscreen, and a keen eye for hazards. Depending on conditions, summit attempts can be particularly dangerous in winter. Mauna Kea is one of the only places in the world where you can drive from sea level to nearly 14,000 feet in a few hours.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the nearest attractions to Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory?
A:
Attractions near Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory:
Q:
What else should I know about attractions in Big Island of Hawaii?
A: