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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
Stephan was funny and...
Stephan was funny and easy to listen to. He gave a lot of interesting information. The top of the world experience was remarkable. The hot chocolate saved our lives.
Jan_M, Aug 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
Stephan was funny and...
Jan_M, Aug 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Stephan was funny and easy to listen to. He gave a lot of interesting information. The top of the world experience was remarkable. The hot chocolate saved our lives.
star-5
Highlight of our trip!
Mirun_N, Aug 2022
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
This was the highlight of our entire Hawaii trip. Addison and Gabe were our guides and they were so knowledgeable and personable. They made this experience even more surreal. The views were absolutely breathtaking. Derek (our driver) was also very knowledgeable and hilarious. Don’t have a second thought. This is absolutely worth it.
star-5
Amazing
Paul_E, Aug 2022
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
This was a definite bucket list experience. The view alone was incredible. But the guides, Gabe, Derek, and Hunter really added to the experience. Just do it. You won’t be disappointed.
star-5
The stars despite the clouds.
Richard_S, Jul 2022
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour
The stars. And Jeff's enthusiastic commentary. Well done! Worked around the mist and clouds to deliver a great experience.
star-5
Great tour and amazing experience
Bryan_G, Aug 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Super knowledgeable tour guide. The views are amazing and the sunset photos are breath taking. We even got to see Saturn on our trip, rings and all. A larger telescope could have made the star gazing even better.
star-5
Loved it!
Heather_D, Jul 2022
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour
What an amazing trip! Our guide was terrific. Very knowledgeable. The views were amazing. Highly recommended!
star-5
A must do while on Big Island
Jason_S, Aug 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
The summit is just amazing. It’s good to go with someone who knows what they are doing. I’ve been to Moana Kea before, but wanted to summit with an outfit. Wesley was amazing and gave awesome knowledge. He made the experience great and cared very much about everyone’s comfort.
star-4
Great tour guide Shawn. ...
Philippe_Z, Aug 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Great tour guide Shawn. Fantastic Sunset on top of Mauna Kea. Although the moon was half phase we were able to see the Milky Way and some constellation.
star-5
Great experience
Hetal_P, Aug 2022
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
Star gazing was awesome and our guide Addison was great, very Knowledgeable. We loved everything about the experience.
star-5
Shawn and Hiro were...
Henry_A, Aug 2022
Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
Shawn and Hiro were superb drivers and story tellers. Having spent 4 years at HPA in Kamurla, it was great revisiting MK with two rxcellent guides.
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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:
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