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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!)
$266.67 per adult
Traveler Favorite
Once in a life experience
Awesome once in a life time experience. Liked tour and specially out guide Shawn and his detailed knowledge.
Abhinay_A, Jul 2022

Recent reviews from experiences in Big Island of Hawaii

star-5
Beautiful trip
Peter_H, Mar 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Shoyo was an extraordinary host - with many talents, good story telling, kindness, and commitment to our safety. We highly recommend the tour.
star-5
Experiencing something new!
Gregory_L, Feb 2022
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
My wife and I had an amazing time. Our guide was very knowledgeable, humorous, and safety conscious. They provided jackets and gloves which we ended up needing. The ride was safe as they have a vehicle equipped for the terrain. We took some of the best photos in our travel history here!
star-5
Spectacular Sunset
Michelle_C, Jan 2022
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
This was an incredible tour! Our guides Donna and Hunter were awesome. Hunter wad extremely knowledgeable. It is easy to see why Mauna Kea is such a sacred location to the Hawaiian people. It was magical seeing the sunset above the clouds. The guides ensured everyone's safety. The parkas and gloves were very appreciated! I think the star gazing part of the tour could be shortened a little, we were about an hour late getting back to Kona. I would highly recommend this tour to others!
star-5
Mauna Kea
Brandon_L, Jul 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Really a once in a lifetime experience. Stefan was a great guide that shared a lot of information about Mauna Kea, the telescopes and stargazing.
star-5
Our guide Hunter is very...
SZRUNG_S, Jan 2022
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
Our guide Hunter is very knowledgeable. pick up was on-time and the transportation van was clean. We ended up not seeing the sunset and stars due to the weather, but the view on top of the summit was still great.
star-5
A relaxing, educational & fun tour
Chung_T, Jun 2022
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour
Our tour guide and driver, Jeff, is excellent! He is friendly, efficient, considerate, humorous and knowledgeable. We had a great time! His service is beyond our expectations!
star-5
Great time on Mauna Kea!!
Karen_D, Jul 2022
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
Gabe and Aidan were excellent educators, hosts and drivers. We had a wonderful time! We learned so much about Hawaii's volcanoes. We also saw the Milky Way and so many stars and constellations. We highly recommended! Thank you!
star-5
Amazing Night at MaunaKea Summit
Elaine_F, Jul 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
The tour was an amazing experience! Shawn was our tour guide and I would highly recommend him. He was very attentive to all the guests, making sure everyone was feeling fine, watching for altitude sickness. He took numerous pictures of guests for the sunset and galaxy pics making sure everyone was happy with their photo. He was also very informative with history of the island and made recommendations for sites to see along our journey to the summit. Thank you so much for everything!
star-5
Best Mauna Kea Tour
Kay_R, Jul 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Wes our guide, and Mr. Aoki driver and photographer extraordinaire were terrific. Sunset above the clouds amazing; photographs taken by Mr. Aoki and downloaded to our phones a real perk; warm clothing provided at the top, with lots of time to explore and wait for sunset; star gazing with telescopes after, along with star sightings Hawaiian Eyes Tour the way to go. Arrived when they said, and ready to go. Van very comfortable.
star-5
Awesome!! A Big Island Must Do!
Michelle_A, Jul 2022
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
Awesome! Do not miss this one. What a great experience. The drive up Mauna Kea is a thrill and the sunset is spectacular and the there are no words for the star gazing. Sooo many stars!! Tour guide Gab was great. Friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating. Dres warm really does get cold up there like the description says. There are snacks and hot chocolate which we welcomed on top of the mountain/volcano. Bucket list for for sure!
star-5
If you could see what I saw, you would come see it!
WeiLik_L, Jul 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
A top of a great volcano with views to excite and calm the soul at the same time. To the greatness of technology framed by the greatness nature I am greatfull to have been able to see it with my own eyes. To the guides, Sean and Stephan, thank you for a great adventure. To the darkness of night I would quote Dave Bowman's final words, "My God, it's full of stars!" The Liems
star-5
Amazing experience!
Annemarie_C, Jul 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Amazing experience with Hawaiian Eyes Tours. Our guide Shawn was wonderful. The views from Mauna Kea are incredible and Shawn took great pictures of us. He airdropped or emailed the pics to everyone on the tour. The stargazing part was my favorite. Make sure you bring an extra layer as it's cold up there, but Hawaiian Eyes did provide really nice heavy coats. I can't recommend this tour enough.
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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:
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