Mauna Kea
MountainsObservatories & PlanetariumsVolcanos
9:00 AM - 9:30 PM
Monday
9:00 AM - 9:30 PM
Tuesday
9:00 AM - 9:30 PM
Wednesday
9:00 AM - 9:30 PM
Thursday
9:00 AM - 9:30 PM
Friday
9:00 AM - 9:30 PM
Saturday
9:00 AM - 9:30 PM
Sunday
9:00 AM - 9:30 PM

Top ways to experience Mauna Kea and nearby attractions

The area
Address
Reach out directly

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles323 reviews
Excellent
232
Very good
64
Average
14
Poor
6
Terrible
7

Innerchildatplay
Denver, CO12 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2021
One of the more remarkable things I've done on the big island and I've now spent a lot of time there over the years. This is by far worth it—even if you're only on Hawaii for 3 days. You'll eventually forget you were tired, but you'll never forget the views. Absolutely stunning and to be standing by the observatories as it changes from night into day is something that any celestial lover will remember for a lifetime. But DRESS WARM, cuz even us group of ski hounds from CO were not ready for that kind of cold.
Written May 11, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

S D B
Brooklyn, NY153 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2021
This is a must see when on the big island to go at least to the viitor center like we did which is just under 10000 feet high and then go acroos the street and hike up the mild hike to the small mountain and watch sunset and see the world from above the clouds. there are picnic tables near the visitor center. the roads to the visitor center are well paved and 2 way. It felt like the moon or mars up there.
Written July 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Laura
Minato, Japan32 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
We almost didn't get to visit because of the protests but thankfully the access road reopened a couple of days before our arrival. The drive up to the visitor center poses no challenge. The road to the summit was closed that day because of (apparently) inclement weather conditions but we didn't have a 4WD anyway so it wasn't a big loss. Once you're at visitor center level, you absolutely need to climb the rocky outcrop across it or you'll be missing all the sights. It's a relatively easy hike and the (daytime) views from up there are magical.
Written January 18, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

kytraveler
Shelbyville, KY209 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2021
We drove up to the visitor center in order to watch the moonrise and star gaze. We arrived just a few minutes before the visitor center closed and the staff were incredibly patient with us as we picked up a few souvenirs. Watching the moonrise was a tremendous experience. Star gazing was a tad bit disappointing due to nearly full moon plus cloud cover moving in but still a worthwhile trip. It was 86 degrees in Kona when we left and 43 degrees at the visitor center. Dress accordingly. Also, there's no need for your headlights to be on bright when entering the parking lot.
Written September 30, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

kibo1224
Pleasanton, CA268 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
When we read that Mauna Kea was reopening a week before our arrival, we were quite excited because my stepson is a space and astronomy enthusiast and couldn't wait to go stargazing. Unfortunately after driving up there, the "visitor center" had no telescopes or any programs like they apparently used to (even though the outdated website said that there were programs with telescopes available 4 days a week). We did hike up the hill across the street to see a great sunset. After that we hung out for a few hours in the car waiting for the spectacular night sky, but it never happened, as the moon was too bright to see many stars. Very disappointing.
Written January 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Dave
Springfield, VA150 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020
1. Dress warmly
2. Drive a four-wheel drive
3. Learn to drive downhill on gears rather than brakes
4. Take it easy -- 14,000 feet altitude can tire you out quickly
5. Look around and realize you are standing not only in a sacred place, but at the top of the world. Drink it in.

Wow.

Just wow.
Written March 10, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

County-Hunter
Tacoma, WA3,196 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Couples
We visited Mauna Kea on the spur of the moment. We were on the Saddle Road on our way to Hilo when we pulled over to check where we were and saw the sign. Intrigued, we decided to drive up to the visitor center. The views from 9,200' were quite impressive. The ranger was very helpful. They take safely seriously as they were checking each vehicle who were going to the summit if it wasn't AWD or 4WD, you weren't going. You also weren't going if you were under the age of 13 or if you weren't carrying water or even if you car was dirty. Our car was so we don't think he would have met us go. However, we did enjoy the visitor center and that was worth the drive.
Written August 22, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

alekuee
Philadelphia, PA19 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2022 • Friends
Like the volcano, I think your experience is all going to be based on timing. It was a clear night and we were able to see constellations very clearly. However, the moon was way too bright to allow us to see any difference in the Milky Way, compared to where we we could see it from our lodging in Pahoa.

The drive up was super easy (and much easier than Haleakala) but we did not drive all the way to the top of the summit. Luckily, we had no issues acclimating.

Flying out of Kona, it was cool to be able to see Mauna Kea from the plane and be able to see where we were the night before.
Written September 10, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mike H
Phoenix, AZ2,077 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
Not a problem getting to the visitors center but that is only at 9000 feet and you still have another 4800 feet to climb. The road is gravel and we have been on worse in Arizona but not at this elevation. Take your time as there is no guard rails and it is not a smooth road. There is snow up on top so it is cold have a jacket.
Written February 24, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

jamey
NC5 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Our sunset and stargazing trip up the 14,000ft mountain of Mauna Kea was breathtaking. Mauna Kea is snow capped year round, and even has ski/snowboard slopes, we could see the ski tracks as we ascended. The temperatures at altitude on our trip were about 5 degrees below freezing. Not to be worried, our outfitter had cozy down winter parkas and ski gloves for all. The ride to the summit is via a steep, 4X4 only, dirt road. The views going up were spectacular, you could see all the way to Hilo. We drove through some thin cloud banks on our way up, once we popped through the full moon was just cresting the summit. It was the biggest moon I have ever seen. The summit is dotted with modern observatories everywhere set on a very mars like landscape. As the sun sets, and night approaches, you begin to hear the mechanical whine of their huge protective doors opening, exposing the massive telescopes hidden inside. Time on these telescopes costs around a dollar per second, now that’s expensive! The reason is these all digital behemoths are situated in the cleanest air mass at the greatest elevation found on Earth, Mauna Kea Summit. We parked at the summit and viewed the best sunset ever. After checking out the sunset and observatories, from the outside only L, we headed down to slightly warmer elevation and setup our own 2 telescopes. Our guides, experts in astronomy, took us on a 2hr journey through the stars. From here you can see both the northern and southern hemispheres due to Mauna Kea’s close proximity to the equator. It was neat being able to see stars and constellations I can’t see from home. Here is a link to a great write up on Mauna Kea by Outside Online. We arranged our tour with Mauna Kea Summit Adventures. They are the original and absolute best outfitter on the island. We got to see the others while on our trip and they didn’t compare. Everything was done top notch and our guides were extremely knowledgeable about the Big Island, Mauna Kea, and astronomy. The trip starts with a long, but fascinating drive to the mountain. They drive the rustic and infamous saddle road, which was off-limits to my jeep because it voids your rental agreement, to the mountain. It is an interesting road for intrepid travelers, with its close-up views of the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes and the lava fields covering the "saddle" between the two. Overall I highly recommend this trip to everyone. It is a must do for sure!

Check out my whole Hawaii Itinerary at http://www.jheary.com/itinerary/hawaii.htm

Mahalo,
Jamey
Written October 18, 2004
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Showing results 1-10 of 206
Is this your Tripadvisor listing?
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.
Claim your listing

Mauna Kea - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

Frequently Asked Questions about Mauna Kea

According to Tripadvisor travelers, these are the best ways to experience Mauna Kea:


Mauna Kea Information

Excellent Reviews

232

Very Good Reviews

64

Mauna Kea Photos

1,214