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Mauna Kea Observatories

Address: Island of Hawaii, HI
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Type: Observatories/ Planetariums, Museums
Attraction details
Type: Observatories/ Planetariums, Museums
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30 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Calgary, Alberta
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
4 attraction reviews
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 22, 2014

Unique and amazing experience. We drove ourselves. You gotta get a true 4 wheel drive with locking differential. It's no joke. Ours was a Ford Ranger pickup, and while it fit the bill, it was not sufficient (back end too light maybe). On the dirt road after the visitor center, the back wheels kept slipping. It was a little scary... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes
13 reviews 13 reviews
8 attraction reviews
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 6, 2014

Pay the big bucks and rent the Jeep 4x4 and really use it! Best thing I've done in years on the islands is the FREE TOUR with a Park Ranger to the Observatory on top of Mauna Kea. It's nearly a full day and evening event. Pack your beach cooler and head up the Saddle Road in time to get... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes 3
Apex, North Carolina
Top Contributor
116 reviews 116 reviews
55 attraction reviews
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 9, 2014

We did this with a tour operator. Do not drive this yourself. It can be dangerous, the road is very steep and you can get dizzy when you get to 14,000 feet of elevation. Also, you will not have a telescope. The tour operators have them in their vans. We did sunset at the observatories and it is absolutely the... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes 2
3 reviews 3 reviews
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2014

Awesome drive ,beautiful views. be sure to stop at ranger station and gift shop to get used to altitude.

Was this review helpful? Yes 3
Brisbane, Australia
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
14 attraction reviews
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2014

This was hands down the highlight of my stay at Kona. We took our own car up (easy drive no matter what all the scary signs say). If you've ever driven the ski fields in NZ this is a walk in the park. One road up and one road down. Given the lack of oxygen in the air you do... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes 9
Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada
17 reviews 17 reviews
4 attraction reviews
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 26, 2014

Family fun driving through the cloud and fog and narrow, rough roads at times. Will we make it! Vegetation changes and land becomes barren. Then suddenly you break through the cloud and are at the top of the mountain where the sky is clear and blue and you're surrounded by the huge observatories. Fresh, clean, cool air and amazing view.... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes 3
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
13 attraction reviews
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 28, 2013

Took a trip up to watch sunset and star gaze The observatories are amazing when they open ready for the night sky . With no pollution you stare upwards in amazement at the night spectacle. The Milky Way is visible , Saturn and it's rings then viewed through the telescope it was breath taking. Returned part way down mountain and... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes 8
Winnipeg, Canada
3 reviews 3 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2013

Must see if visiting Big Island. Arrive just before sunset to enjoy all the stars. Drive up to the top is a bit scary but not bad - just need to use different gear when going downhill. Many telescopes were set up by professors and students of University. We saw Saturn so clearly - it was amazing. It was very... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Portland, Oregon
Top Contributor
111 reviews 111 reviews
25 attraction reviews
96 helpful votes 96 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2013

If you are a serious photographer and/or star gazer..AVOID the visitors center or be prepared for a lot of inconsiderate tourists taking FLASH photos with their iPhones. I have never encountered a more inconsiderate group of individuals in my travels. Add to that the very LOUD Star Gazer lady who insists that everyone yell ALOHA!!!!! at the top of their... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes 4
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
13 attraction reviews
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2013 via mobile

Drive to visitors center: Go around sunset so you can hike up a hill to see an amazing vista and see Mona Loa while standing on Mona Kea! After that hang around for the students to set up some very expensive telescopes to view the moon, nebulas and the specific planets. Bring a picnic dinner - the visitors center doesn't... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes 11

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