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.

“Like a dream come true!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Mauna Kea Summit

Mauna Kea Summit
Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii, HI
Website
Improve this listing
Visit Mauna Kea Summit like an insider
Small Group
$207*
and up
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small Group Adventure...
Ranked #1 of 111 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.
Calgary, AB
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Like a dream come true!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2014

Stargazing on Mauna Kea has been a childhood dream of mine for a long time. I am an avid astronomy nerd so this was a huge deal for me. It was everything I had hoped. We planned our trip up 3 hours before the moon rise that day. The view of the cosmos was amazing. What I didn't expect was how many people were up there!

I loved how they setup huge telescopes for people to look at certain objects. Saturn was the hot chick that night and she was a show off. They also pointed their telescopes at the ring nebula, some start clusters, some galaxies and some of the oldest stars in our galaxy as well. I took the time to get some great photos of the milky way and the super massive blackhole that is at the center of our galaxy.

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

1,753 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    1,400
    277
    58
    11
    7
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Bangor, Maine
Top Contributor
108 reviews 108 reviews
29 attraction reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
63 helpful votes 63 helpful votes
“AWESOME”
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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Concord, California
Top Contributor
109 reviews 109 reviews
27 attraction reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
32 helpful votes 32 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pleasanton, California
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
14 attraction reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
18 helpful votes 18 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
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
21 helpful votes 21 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.

Travelers who viewed Mauna Kea Summit also viewed

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

If you own or manage Mauna Kea Summit, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.