Mauna Kea Summit & Stars Adventure in Kona, HI

Hawaii Forest & Trail73-5593 Olowalu StreetKailua-Kona, Big Island, HI 96740
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Offered by Hawaii Forest & Trail, Maunakea Tour: Maunakea Summit & Stars Adventure offers an exciting experience for guests ages 16 and older to enjoy. The adventure includes a drive to the Mauna Kea summit to find picturesque views ideal for taking photos, a provided picnic-style dinner, a hooded parka and warm gloves, an interpretive guide of Hawaii’s spectacular cultural and geological history.

Good To Know

from Ashley, one of our Kailua-Kona, Big Island Travel Experts
  • Tour duration: 7-8 hrs round trip.
  • Recommended for ages 16 and over.
  • Parkas provided.
  • View a sea of night stars at a 9,000-foot summit.
  • Interpretive guide provides unique insight into the culture and geologic history of Hawaii.
  • Enjoy a private picnic dinner at Historic Humuula Sheep Station, located at 7,000 feet elevation.


from Big Island Mauna Kea Summit & Stars Adventure
The drive to the summit of Mauna Kea is one you'll never forget. It's hard to believe you're in Hawaii as you climb to 13,796' elevation above sea level. Once at the summit we are afforded spectacular views of the horizon, Haleakala on Maui, Mauna Loa and Hualalai, and Mauna Kea's world-class array of telescopes. Mauna Kea is the world's tallest mountain, rising over 32,000 feet from the ocean floor to its summit, which is considered by many Hawaiians to be the most sacred place in all the islands.

Starting out from our headquarters in Kona, we travel up the coast over desolate lava flows for about a half hour before proceeding up the rolling pasturelands on the flanks of Mauna Kea. We arrive at our private dinner location at Humuula approximately 2 hours before sunset for a hot, picnic dinner served family style. After dinner and with a winter-style parka in hand, we’ll make the 45-minute drive to the summit. As you make your way up, you’ll be fascinated by your Interpretive Guide’s knowledge of Hawaii’s remarkable natural, cultural, and geologic history.

After sunset, we descend to the Visitor's Information Station at 9000' elevation. Here we set up our own telescope and have a stargazing party. Wrapped warmly in Arctic parkas, enjoying hot beverages and chocolate macadamia nut cookies, you will marvel at the brilliance of the Hawaiian night sky. Your Interpretive Guide will share with you stories of the world of the observable universe and offer you a personal and educational look at the heavens.

Please note: The tour time can change/fluctuate according to the time of the sunset.

This tour is great for: Couples, sight-seers, and adventurers

Schedule: Afternoon trips depart daily from Hawaii Forest and Trail Headquarters, Waikoloa Kings' Shops, and select resorts. Tour Duration is 7 - 8 hours round trip.

Rated: Easy to Moderate; ages 16 and over.

Included in the Tour: Hooded winter parka, hot picnic dinner at private location, private star show with telescope, hot cocoa, coffee, tea, and cookies
Teriyaki Chicken (gluten free) - Served with brown rice, carrot, zucchini, bok choy, yellow squash with a garlic & white wine sauce, and a caramelized pineapple garnish
Kalbi Beef Short Ribs (gluten free) - Served with brown rice, carrot, zucchini, bok choy, yellow squash with garlic & white wine sauce, and a caramelized pineapple garnish
Vegetarian Thai Curry (gluten & dairy free, vegetarian, vegan) - Served with brown rice, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, portobello mushroom, sugar snap peas, green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, onion, bok choy

Group Size: Tour limited to a maximum of 12 guests.

Physical: Persons with respiratory or heart conditions, pregnant women, or those in poor health should not access the summit. Scuba divers, please note that summit altitude is over 13,000 feet (4000 meters).
Age:Children under 16 are not allowed on summit tours.

What to bring and wear: Closed-toe shoes and long pants

Tripster Customer Reviews

3 Reviews
Susan O'Keefe
Fort Collins, CO
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"So Glad We Did This!"
July 2016
Wow! What a great way to see the summit of Mauna Kea without worrying about driving up that summit road! Our tour driver Brett was very knowledgeable and fun. We loved having our own private star show too with the Hawaii Forest and Trail telescope. We would do this again.
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Tip: Carefully choose the time of month for your trip so you don't have a full moon.

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Kathy Knighton
1 Review
"Above the clouds"
July 2015
My son and I went on this tour in June 2015. We both enjoyed the sites so much. The dinner was great and enjoyed the company. Our guide, Maka, was great he had a great enthusiasm that he shared with the entire group. They were on time to pick us up and was willing to meet another party on the way just so everyone was able to go. We made it to the top before sundown and what a beautiful site, above the clouds. After sunset we started down the mountain and stopped about half way where Maka took out his telescope and shared the knowledge he had of the constellations with us. Great tour and tour guide. If you ever get a chance to go please do, you will not regret.
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Tip: It is cold and windy at the summit.

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Bethany Bates
5 Reviews
"A beautiful site to behold!!"
January 2015
When my friends told me were going up to the top of Mauna Kea, I didn't see what was the big deal. However, once you make it to the top it truly is awe inspiring. The fact that I was on the beach playing in the sun in the morning and watching people play in the snow in the afternoon is crazy. The sky is so clear which is why the have telescopes placed on the top of this mountain. The tour is a climb so we stopped half way up the mountain for 30 minutes at a rest stop to let everyone get use to the altitude. It was a nice time to stretch your legs. Don't miss this experience!!
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Tip: Parkas are provided for this cold trip. The snow usually occurs in the winter months.

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TripAdvisor Reviews
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Rome, Lazio, Italy
"Excellent trip"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed August 16, 2019 NEW
I went on the Discover Volcano Country experience. Thank you Forest and Trail for giving me the exact experience that I wanted! Amazing guide, lots of stops along the way, excellent photo spots, no rushing trough the park but time to enjoy the place, comfortable bus is what you will find organizing your trip with them! A special mention to the lady working at the Hilo Hawaiian hotel who booked this trip for me!
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Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
"Awesome trip into a native forest"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed August 15, 2019 NEW
Great guide. Learned a lot about the native forest of the area and it’s history. Fun adventure rappelling down into the lava tube and climbing out. Enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
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Mark D
Eldersburg, Maryland
"Secret Waterfall Trip was Great"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed August 15, 2019 NEW
Had a blast. Beautiful hike. Not easy, but not too challenging. Jeff was our guide. He was awesome. Extremely knowledgeable and funny. Water was cold, but we'll worth it to swim in the falls. Love it!
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Cleveland, Ohio
"Awesome trip!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed August 15, 2019 NEW
This was one of the best things we did in Hilo! Our tour guide Amanda was fabulous - she was not only knowledgeable but altered the tour to what we wanted to see/do. Her insight in to the history and impact of volcanoes besides the explanation of lava rock formation including details on minerals involved was beyond our expectations!! This trip is worth your every penny. The black sand beach, coconuts, coffee plantation personal tour - the list goes on and on....this was one of the highlights of our trip for sure!!
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Glenview, Illinois
"Great Tour of Volcano National Park"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed August 14, 2019 NEW
My wife and I toured with our 20, 22 year old daughters and had a great day. We saw the highlights of the park, took a nice hike, had a good lunch, and saw private and awesome lava tube. We also received, from our guide Katelyn, a first rate education in volcanoes, lava, island history, Hawaiian mythology, and island plant and animal life. It was an incredible day. The tour effectively shuttled us around (we didn’t worry about full parking lots), showed us the highlights (we didn’t need to sort out what was closed or open, worthwhile or not), and gave us the complete backstory, wonderfully told.
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Big Island Mauna Kea Summit & Stars Adventure is located at Hawaii Forest & Trail73-5593 Olowalu StreetKailua-Kona, Big Island, HI 96740
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Frequently Asked Questions about Big Island Mauna Kea Summit & Stars Adventure

Are guests allowed to go into the observatories?
Some observatories are open to the public daily until 4 PM. As our tour arrives after this time, the observatories are closed to visitors.

How cold is it at the summit of Mauna Kea?
Average mean temperature is freezing.

Is the vehicle ride bumpy and windy?
The access road to the summit of Mauna Kea is four-wheel drive only, so it can be bumpy. Our custom off-road motor coaches will get you to the top and back in safety and comfort.

What kind of telescope is used for star gazing?
We utilize an 11” Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.

What is the guide to guest ratio?
Our maximum guide to guest ratio is 1:14.

How many guests do take up per night?
Our permit allows for a maximum of 2 vehicles per night and our vans carry a maximum of 14 passengers.

Do we go up to Mauna Kea summit every night?
We go every night, weather permitting.

Are children allowed on this tour?
Children under 16 are not permitted on this tour due to altitude.

Is there much walking/hiking on this tour?
There is minimal walking on this tour, the maximum being about 150 yards.

I would like to see a specific astronomical event from the summit. How can I arrange this?
Check out for upcoming astronomical events, and whether they will be observable in the Hawaiian sky.

Will there be snow on our trip?
Snow is seasonal at Mauna Kea, with the heaviest snowfall occurring during the winter months.

What if it’s cloudy on Mauna Kea?
The summit of Mauna Kea is normally above the clouds. If the weather (clouds, snow, ice or high winds) cause us to cancel the tour, there is no charge, of course.