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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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Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
$280.00 per adult
Traveler Favorite
Beautiful evening
Shawn did a great job ! We had a beautiful sunset and a bonus of getting to see Mauna Loa and the lava flow !! The moon was to bright to see all of the stars that we wanted to. But oh well …..
Jon_R, Dec 2022

Recent reviews from experiences in Big Island of Hawaii

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
Beautiful evening
Jon_R, Dec 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Shawn did a great job ! We had a beautiful sunset and a bonus of getting to see Mauna Loa and the lava flow !! The moon was to bright to see all of the stars that we wanted to. But oh well …..
star-5
The tour guide was very...
Frederic_B, Dec 2022
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
The tour guide was very informative and lively. The views from the summit were amazing. Seeing the lava flow from Mauna Loa was spectacular. Will definitely recommend this tour to friends and families.
star-5
Amazing experience
Susan_A, Dec 2022
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
Driving above the clouds and seeing the view was amazing. We were so lucky that Mauna Loa was erupting and the view from the top of Mauna Kea was spectacular. Sunset was gorgeous but cold! So thankful for the coats and gloves! Seeing the stars and getting a tour of constellations was so much fun. Hot chocolate and snacks were a must. Would recommend 100%. Jamie was a great driver and guide.
star-5
Exceptional Mauna Kea Tour.
Rudy_S, Nov 2022
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour
The entire tour experience is exceptional. Our guide, Jeff, is an amazing talent. His knowledge of the terrain, customs, history and astronomy made the tour 5 star.
star-5
Tour was great. The view...
Clemens_S, Nov 2022
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
Tour was great. The view from Mauna Kea was amazing. So many stars visible that it was quiet surreal. Gavin was the best guide!
star-5
Our tour guide Jon is so...
Ying_C, Nov 2022
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour
Our tour guide Jon is so great and very knowledgeable. We had hot stew and hot drinks during the tours. Great experience and wonderful scene!
star-5
Do not miss this tour!!
Lea_C, Nov 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Can not say enough great things about this tour. Wes was a fantastic tour guide, very detailed, and always kept the group aware of what to expect. Everything was planned right on schedule. The sunset was beautiful and stargazing even included hot cocoa! The sandwich included was also really yummy. Do not miss this tour / so happy I did it and definitely worth the money!
star-5
Amazing trip to Mauna Kea summit
Ivan_N, Nov 2022
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
Wonderful tour with a very knowledgeable and friendly tour guide. Great views, once in a lifetime experience seeing the stars and constellations. Nice snacks and pictures time.
star-5
A “must do” for any Big Island trip
Philip_F, Nov 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Our tour guide Wes made a memorable trip even more enjoyable, providing us with a lot of cultural and local information throughout the entire tour. I would recommend this trip to anyone.
star-5
Impressively superb big island tour
Zhifan_J, Nov 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
This tour was the highlight of our stay in Hawaii big island. The guide Shoyu was thoughtful and kind. We really enjoyed the sunset with a delicious sandwich :) We also liked the stargazing after sunset, we saw a lot of constellations, as well as a nice view of Jupiter and Saturn using a telescope. Excellent free photos were also shared.
star-4
On Top of the World
Brian_S, Nov 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and made our trip very interesting during our ride from the Kona Coast to the mountain and up the mountain. The ride takes a hot minute to get there, about 2 hours from Kona. Word of warning, the air is thin and has 40% less Oxygen at 13,800'. The sunset and stars were fantastic.
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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:
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