Mauna Kea

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Mauna Kea: Our most recommended tours and activities

Mauna Kea Summit: Sunset Stargazing Adventure w Free Photo

1. Mauna Kea Summit: Sunset Stargazing Adventure w Free Photo

Get your photos taken by the stars during this sunset and stargazing adventure on the summit of Mauna Kea. Learn about the area from your guide as you sip on hot chocolate and eat snacks. Choose from pickup and drop-off options at several locations.  Delight in the awe-inspiring sunset at the top of Mauna Kea, the highest point in the Pacific. Get cozy with a parka, gloves, and hot drink as you learn historic accounts of Hawaii, the Big Island, from your guide. Stand amidst the world’s largest collection of research telescopes and see two of the eight telescopes which took the first photo of a black hole. Enjoy your very own private star show with a Celestron telescope. Capture your experience forever with photos taken by your guide on a DSLR camera. Get emailed these photos after your experience. After your unforgettable evening with the stars, depart back to your pickup location for drop-off.

From Hilo: Fly over Volcano National Park and Waterfalls

2. From Hilo: Fly over Volcano National Park and Waterfalls

Take a helicopter ride over ever-changing scenery at Volcano National Park with this tour from Hilo. Journey over black sand beaches where lava once flowed into the sea. Take off from Hilo and fly directly to Volcano National Park. See the caldera of the Kilauea volcano. Admire the Pu'uo'o' volcanic cone. Snap pictures of the massive volcanos Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Discover new lava fields that are forming and go over old lava fields. View how waterfalls create a deep blue pools amid jungle greenery.

Mauna Kea: Stargazing Experience with Free Photos

3. Mauna Kea: Stargazing Experience with Free Photos

Explore a secluded stargazing spot on the slopes of Mauna Kea. Stargazing on this summit has never been allowed for any individual or tour group; all other tours do their stargazing on the side of a busy road near the highway, but this tour allows you access to a remote spot located miles from any highway.  Head to the meeting point and grab a parka jacket. Hear about this unique spot from your guide, as they use a green laser to point out constellations, planets, space objects, and hopefully some fast-moving shooting stars. Your guide will also take some photos of the best objects in the night sky with an astro-modified camera/lens for you to check out later. Next comes everyone's favorite part; have some fun posing for astro-photos with the stars in the background. 2-3 photos taken during the experience will be sent to you after the trip. Look back on these photos, touched up with Lightroom photo-editing at no extra cost.

MaunaKea Stellar Explorer From Kona

4. MaunaKea Stellar Explorer From Kona

For an out-of-this-world experience, check out Maunakea Stellar Explorer. The in-house stellar explorers are the best and most experienced in Hawaii, with one having created the Mauna Kea Visitor’s Center and operated it for a decade. Staff have written noted articles and reviews for well-known astronomy magazines and have worked at world-class observatories. Next, you’ll travel across Saddle Road between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two of the tallest and most massive volcanoes on Earth. Your National Park Service trained guide will discuss the volcanology, geology, and history of these monstrous wonders, as well as providing in-depth narration on the various lava flows and flora and fauna that you’ll be passing by. While you’re taking in the breathtaking terrestrial views, your guide will prepare some heavenly views just as stunning. Setting up a state of the art solar telescope for your viewing pleasure, your specially trained guide will let you safely watch the sun come alive in true color with vibrant solar flares, sunspots, prominences, and any other current activity, weather permitting. Lastly, your guide will take you to one of the preferred locations on Mauna Kea for nighttime stargazing. You’ll observe deep sky and planetary objects through a large aperture Dobsonian telescope under one of the darkest and most pristine skies on planet Earth. The Dobsonian telescopes are a true purist’s experience to view the night sky. Their fast focal ratio enables you to see sprawling wide field views of objects that simply aren’t possible with the types of telescopes used by other tours. Depending on what is visible in the current sky and weather permitting, you’ll observe galaxies, nebula, star clusters, planets, double star systems, the moon, and much more; all the highlights and showpiece objects like you’ve never seen before. 

Mauna Kea: Stellar Explorer Tour from Hilo

5. Mauna Kea: Stellar Explorer Tour from Hilo

Visit Rainbow Falls and the Kaumana Caves before heading to your stargazing location. Travel across Saddle Road between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two of the tallest and biggest volcanoes on Earth. To complete your tour, your guide will take you to one of the preferred locations on Mauna Kea for nighttime stargazing. You will observe the deep sky and planetary objects through a large aperture telescope, under one of the darkest and most pristine skies on planet Earth. Enjoy narration from expert astronomers, who have written articles for well-known magazines and worked at world-class observatories for decades. The telescopes are a true purist way to view the night sky. Their fast focal ratio enables you to see sprawling wide field views of objects that simply not possible with other telescopes. Weather permitting and depending on what is visible in the current sky, you can observe galaxies, nebula, star clusters, planets, double star systems, the moon, and much more.

Big Island: Self-Drive Sightseeing Road Trip

6. Big Island: Self-Drive Sightseeing Road Trip

Explore Hawaii’s youngest and largest island and change the way you see the Big Island with this narrated, self-drive road trip. Visit historic sites, popular attractions, world-class beaches, and scenic hikes. Hear local stories, legends, and fun facts about the places you’re visiting and listen to unique Hawaiian music to entertain and relax you along the way. Drive across barren lava fields that are wedged between two active volcanoes. Visit a black sand beach and taste Hawaiian coffee and macadamia nuts on local farms. Be adventurous and go cliff diving or take advantage of the beautiful nature and take a scenic hike. See the tallest mountain in Hawaii at night for the ultimate stargazing experience. This adventure is great for families and solo travelers alike.

Other Sightseeing Options in Mauna Kea

Want to discover all there is to do in Mauna Kea? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Mauna Kea

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 117 reviews

Nate, our tour guide, was extremely knowledgable and confident on the drive up Mauna Kea. The views from the summit were spectacular and well worth enduring the cold. The stargazing is an experience that can't be put into words. Highly recommend this tour!

What a wonderful tour. I particularly appreciated that I learned something about the cultural significance of Mauna Kea to the Hawaiian people. Aidan is a very knowledgeable guide. Thanks!

girl power! We really enjoyed the flight. Pilot top. We felt very comfortable. Mahalo

Very nice visit and Mauna Kea is definitely a place to see once in your life!

We loved this experience! Would recommend and do it again!