We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Worth the Drive” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Mauna Kea Summit

Mauna Kea Summit
Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii, HI
Improve this listing
Book ahead on Viator
and up
Dolphin Waterfall Boat Tour in Hilo
Ranked #1 of 116 things to do in Kailua-Kona
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: At 13,796 feet, this peak offers an incredible view of lava, desert, the valley and Mauna Loa.
Alpharetta, GA
Level Contributor
26 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Worth the Drive”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 13, 2014

Our family of four (kids 14 & 12) swung in to Mauna Kea on the way back from Hawaii Volcano National Park to Kona - it was definitely worth the trip! Once you turn off Saddle Rd and make the drive to the Mauna Kea Visitor Center, the weather begins to change (it was around 5:45pm). It's like driving to Heaven, where you're driving above the cloud line! Made it in time for the Star Gazing program they have each evening. Watched the sun through their telescope, then hiked up one of the peaks to watch the sun set. We did not make it all the way to the observatories due to our kids age (altitude of 14,000+ ft., which they don't recommend for kids) but it was perfectly fine at the Visitor Center (>9,300+ ft.). We plan to go back again to stay for the stars at night (it was a bit cloudy that night and our kids were tired from hiking at the Volcanoes that day).

Visited July 2014
3 Thank HotlantaAlpharetta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

2,311 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
  • More
Level Contributor
25 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Worth the trip”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 13, 2014

This is an easy drive on a full sized car. It was not as bad as I imagined. The views are breathtaking. We made it to the visitor center and after an hour or so the kids complained of queasy stomach and headaches because of the altitude, So we headed back down around 7 P.M, just before sunset. On the way down we went through thick clouds and it was surreal. We got some beautiful snaps of ghostly views as well as orange tinged clouds..
Note: 4WD is not required, we saw several small rental cars head to the summit. Tours are on the order of $200/person and I think it is not worth it. The guys at the visitor center are very knowledgeable and helpful. We asked lots of questions and they happily answered it all in detail.

Visited July 2014
1 Thank PartyAnimal123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
3 reviews
“Ride of a lifetime”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 13, 2014

Amazing views from the top above the clouds. Drive up and down was a thrill! Just make sure your low gears are working before you head up for the ride back down. Let's just say we made it down ok!

Visited September 2013
Thank Dorothy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Armonk, New York
Level Contributor
29 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Great experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 13, 2014

We had a great time going to the summit of Mauna Kea. Past the visitors center you have about 4 miles of a gravel road. Even though we had an all wheel drive, I was not concerned about not making it, I was concerned about getting a flat. The road has a lot of rocks and is very bumpy. I was so happy after the 4 miles that the last 2 miles were paved. I'm not sure I would try it if I did not have an all wheel drive. On the top it's an outer worldly experience. Being at almost 14,000 feet and seeing the giant telescopes, above the clouds and a landscape of volcanic craters really made us feel like you were on another planet. You definitely can feel the lower oxygen level here and the sunset was amazing. We stopped at the visitors center on the way down to view Saturn through the telescopes. So happy we were there

Visited July 2014
Thank Arynmichelle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nassau, New Providence Island
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Really awesome views in Hawaii”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 12, 2014

Long winding road to get to the top, plan for a couple of hours at least. We were in a 2 wheel drive mini van and despite the warnings of needed 4 wheel drive we made it quite safely. I think it's more a ply to keep the traffic down going to the top. Definitely a must see if in the the Big Island.

Visited July 2014
Thank PappaSUP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Mauna Kea Summit also viewed

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Island of Hawaii
Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii
Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii

Been to Mauna Kea Summit? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing