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“AWESOME” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Mauna Kea Summit

Mauna Kea Summit
, Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii, HI
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Small Group
and up
Best Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small Group...
Ranked #1 of 108 things to do in Kailua-Kona
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: At 13,796 feet, this peak offers an incredible view of lava, desert, the valley and Mauna Loa.
Bangor, Maine
Level Contributor
128 reviews
34 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2014

The drive up is amazing. It requires 4x4 as the trip DOWN is steep and the low gear has to be LOW gear. We drove up with a Jeep and had no issues....I took it slow as instructed, both up and down. There are no guardrails to speak of...a few here and there...the road starts tar, then immediately turns to dirt and starts to climb. Do not worry if there are low clouds, you drive above them....no worries. The accent takes a little while and if you go slowly as instructed, you accumulate to the altitude as you go. Same with down. GO SLOWLY.
The only thing I wish was some type of visitor center at the top. where are you allowed to go, where are you not? How about a tour of one of the telescopes? THAT would be AWESOME. How about offering Observatory BUS rides up...so everyone can go? Charge $10 for the ride up...and a professional drive. Anyway, the trip up was worth it. Remember it's the trip up more than what is up there...as once you arrive there are a LOT of HUGE buildings...a site on it's own. But that is IT....nothing to enter...nothing to see except the view....and even with the clouds below us, the view was spectacular. The ride down MUST be taken slowly....low gear in 4x4 low. 15-20 mph. Why hurry? You could end up sick due to altitude change and it is a dirt, gravel road that makes hairpin turns with no guardrails. NO ONE UNDER 16 IS ALLOWED to the summit!!! So those who brought young children didn't stop at the visitor center. Altitude sickness is real.

Visited July 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Concord, California
Level Contributor
144 reviews
33 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“Cloudy Views, but Refreshing, Cool Winds”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2014

I plan to return to Hawaii in hope of being there on a day when Mauna Kea is not enveloped in clouds.
It is hard to believe that this peak is so high, since it is low and sloping, not dramatically pointy like, say, Mount Rainer.
The area around the peak is surreal. Don't know that I recommend the complete drive to the top unless you are an observatory fan. Check out the times for site tours on their website.

Visited June 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pleasanton, California
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31 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Unique opportunity”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 15, 2014

If you can go from 7:00 to 9:00 pm they have a free program. You will find a beautiful sunset and a good education. They have volunteers with $20,000 telescopes you can look through for free. The visitor information station is at 9,300 feet. Do nit go to the summit of 12,000 feet with children. My 8 year old had a bad head ache when we tried to hike the extra 200 feet to see the sunset.

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alpharetta, GA
Level Contributor
20 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Worth the Drive”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 14, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
25 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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