Mauna Kea Summit & Stars Adventure in Kona, HI

Hawaii Forest & Trail73-5593 Olowalu StreetKailua-Kona, Big Island, HI 96740
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$225.00 $198.95
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Overview

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.

Description

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 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 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 a private location, private star show with a telescope, hot cocoa, coffee, tea, and cookies.
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Menu:
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.

Restrictions:
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.

Temporary road closure:
Due to a temporary road closure, a modified itinerary referred to as Maunakea Sunset & Stargazing is being provided to all guests. All guests must call Hawaii Forest & Trail at (808) 331-8505 4 days in advance of the tour to confirm the modified itinerary.

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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hjcraft
Longmeadow, Massachusetts
"Epic tour was awesome. Great guide great group"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed December 05, 2019 NEW
Worth the time and expense. The epic tour is a great way to experience the big island early in the vacation week to get a sense of what the island has to offer.
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hbshelton
Wilmington, Delaware
"Sunset and Stargzing"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed December 05, 2019 NEW
My wife and I went on the Mauna Kea sunset and stargazing tour this past November. Our tour group included three other couples. We began an excellent picnic dinner (I don't recall the caterer, but their food was superb) and got to know the other couples in our group. Our guide, Justin, did a tremendous job leading us and sharing his in-depth knowledge of all aspects of our tour. He is a great people person and easily remembered all of our names and got everyone involved with questions and dialogue. We particularly enjoyed his deep knowledge of astronomy with the stargazing portion of the tour. He went to great lengths to ensure that everyone could maximize their experience with both the open air and telescope viewing experience. We highly recommend Justin for such tours as he made this one of the best experiences we had on our recent trip to the Big Island.
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wrkwas
"Volcano Unveiled - Joel"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed November 30, 2019 NEW
What an amazing journey. Joel was friendly & very knowledgeable. We explored Lava Tubes & areas of the island I would have never had the opportunity to see & enjoy. Fantastic!
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lenareither
"Very informative and nice trip"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed November 30, 2019 NEW
Was a very informative and nice trip. We enjoyed it a lot. But a group of 14 is maybe a little bit too big, considering that everyone wants to see the starts. :-)
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kellyksells702
Las Vegas, Nevada
"Best Experience"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed November 29, 2019 NEW
I would highly recommend the volcano by land and air that departs from Kona and the sunset and star gazing experience. The guides are extremely friendly and knowledgeable. Anyone who wants to get a lay of the land and entrenched with the local history and sights these are definitely worth it!!
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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 www.space.com/nightsky 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.