Recent Searches
Clear
Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory
Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory

Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory

star-5
1,316 Reviews
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.

Show all
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour

Traveler Favorite

Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour
star-4.5
$246.07 per adult
My Favorite Activity in Hawai’i
My favorite part of my time in the Big Island. Not only do you get to see sunset from above the clouds, but the stars are incredible! Jason was an amazing guide and I loved the intimate group size, dinner, and snacks provided. An unforgettable experience.
Jeanette_M, Jun 2021

Recent reviews from experiences in Big Island of Hawaii

star-5
Great night out!
Alessandro_C, May 2021
Best and Cheapest Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Our tour guides were super nice and knowledgeable. Van was extremely clean and they took great care of us. Also, they took amazing pictures of us, even with the stars. Thank you!!!
star-4
Loved most of it
Safety_First, May 2021
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
I loved learning about the stars. This was an outstanding trip. Even though it was a thoroughly great experience, it didn't feel COVID-safe. There were 9 people on our bus which didn't allow for any distancing. We were enclosed for an 30-60 minutes at a time. Masks were required, but this was a lot of close exposure. As long as you're ok with that, this is a phenomenal trip.
star-5
Mauna Key delight!
Karl_B, Jan 2021
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour
Jeff was outstanding! His enthusiasm, passion and knowledge for The Big Island, Mauna Kea, the sunset and stars is palpable. They are a Covid safe operator observing social distancing, masks and hand washing. It will be a highlight of my trip!!
star-5
Wow observatories!!
Holly_F, Jun 2021
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars: Small-Group Adventure Tour with Astro Photos
We were very lucky on a clear night and the domes started opening up and moving around! Great experience!
star-5
A wonderful experience from start to finish
Don, Jun 2021
Best and Cheapest Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
From pick up to drop off the service was incredible. Our tour guide and driver were extremely personable, and genuinely dedicated to ensuring that we had a great experience. The Mauna Kea summit is A once in a lifetime experience that everyone should enjoy. The stargazing at the end was an added plus. I would highly recommend this experience and Hawaiian Eyes.
star-5
Definitely recommend
Christine_C, Jun 2021
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars: Small-Group Adventure Tour with Astro Photos
Bronson was great. Very knowledgable, entertaining, and very thoughtful for all guests. Ride was comfortable.
star-5
Amazing once in a lifetime experience
Daniel_Q, Jun 2021
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour
This trip had two of the most memorable moments of my life with the mountain top sunset and the evening stargazing. The drive up Mauna Kea was breathtaking and the views from the top were once in a lifetime. We followed that up with an hour of star gazing in pitch black conditions. More stars than my brain could comprehend. I was in awe. Jason our tour guide was knowledgeable, friendly and very patient with our group. A true gentleman. Would highly recommend to anyone visiting Kona.
star-5
A wonderful experience
Jack, Jun 2021
Best and Cheapest Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Simply put, a wonderful and amazing tour. The tour guides Wes and Aoki are super nice and knowledgeable. Wes is really friendly, social, and fun to know. (Ask him about his favorite restaurants in the area or his fishing experiences!). Aoki is a great driver and an extraordinary photographer. The pictures he took of us were professional-level, and even better, complementary! If you want to visit Mauna Kea and see breathtaking views, would recommend going with Wes and Aoki 10/10.
star-5
Great
Dean_H, Jun 2021
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
Best of tours. Boat ride the best. Team took great care of us. Saw dolphins, manta ray, and parrots.
star-5
Do it!
Nuha_A, Jun 2021
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars: Small-Group Adventure Tour with Astro Photos
Amazing!! Great guides!! stars were beautiful and we learned a lot about Hawaii culture and the star.
star-4
Have to do it!
Amanda_T, Jun 2021
Best and Cheapest Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Loved the sandwiches! The guides were knowledgeable and friendly. It felt like a once in a lifetime experience and so happy we went with a group tour.
star-5
Highly recommend!
Brenna_K, Jun 2021
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars: Small-Group Adventure Tour with Astro Photos
Beautiful, fun, and educational! It was a long excursion but well worth it. Very cold at the top, so layers were helpful, and the jackets/gloves/hot chocolate that were provided were appreciated! Guides were knowledgeable and friendly

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.

Show all

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.

Show all

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.

Show all


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.

Show all