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“Free hot water & telescope viewing”

Maunakea Visitor Information Station
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$186.46*
and up
Mauna Kea Voyage
Ranked #2 of 80 things to do in Hilo
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Irvine, California
Level Contributor
60 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Free hot water & telescope viewing”
Reviewed September 9, 2013

It is the best place to stop before & after you're going to Mauna Kea summit just for hot tea/ coffee or viewing the star from modern, big and expensive telescope. At the visitor center sell different staff from tea, coffee, noodle cup etc or bring your own staff because the hot water also the cup are free and viewing star from the telescope is free too. But spend your money in there is very wise since I heard that free staff came from profit and donation and most of the people who serve us in there are totally volunteer people.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
Thank jalan2lagi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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New Jersey
Level Contributor
21 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Worth the drive”
Reviewed September 9, 2013

This was such a nice, unique experience!

Try to get there when it is still light, so you can familiarize yourself with where things are. When we got there (at around 7:30), it was dark (and even more crowded than I expected), and we didn't know how many telescopes there were or even what we were looking at (Venus, Saturn and a double star). We went into the Visitor's Center and asked. Very friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
Thank DC4NJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hobart
Level Contributor
12 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Sunset on the tallest mountain in the world?”
Reviewed September 8, 2013

A great way to experience the world's tallest mountain (or is it Mauna Loa?) without having to hike several thousand feet in a rarified atmosphere. Beats altitude sickness on Cotopaxi. Fanastic sunset ... and you could see for miles and miles.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
Thank MoesArt2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northern California
Level Contributor
161 reviews
82 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 120 helpful votes
“Go to the top!”
Reviewed September 6, 2013

If you drive up to the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station on a Saturday or Sunday, you can join a caravan to the top led by a University of Hawaii Professor. The tour is free, and you will be able to go into at least one of the world-class observatories at the 13,500 foot level, but you will need to bring your own 4-wheel drive vehicle and dress warmly. More info on this opportunity to visit the summit is on the university's website: http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis/visiting-mauna-kea/visiting-the-summit.html

The vistor information station itself is small, but it has interesting displays, and you can buy food and drink there. We were required to watch a one-hour orientation video at the station before going up. It is also interesting to walk around the area of the station and observe the vegetation. There are silverswords and other interesting plants. On Saturday and Sunday evenings, there is also a free stargazing program at the information station. The rangers set up telescopes and everyone has a chance to stargaze--that is if it's clear.

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
Thank MaestraM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northern California
Level Contributor
161 reviews
82 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 120 helpful votes
“Not for the faint of heart”
Reviewed September 6, 2013

We drove up from Hilo to the visitors' center at 9,000 feet off the Saddle Road. It was a Sunday, so there was a free professor-led excursion to the top of Mauna Kea. First we watched an hour-long video in the visitors' center, which was a combination of orientation to the area and altitude and cultural program. There were seven vehicles in our caravan, led by the guide. To do this, you must bring your own 4-wheel drive vehicle because the gravel road is very steep. We proceded up in 4-wheel drive low, arriving at the top (about 13,500 feet altitude) after about half an hour. We were taken inside one of the Keck observatories and listened to a description of its equipment and activities by one of the employees. During this talk, a young woman in our group fainted from the altitude, but she soon recovered. It was very cold, and when we came out of the observatory, it was snowing and the wind was blowing at about 60 MPH. Rather that go higher up, our guide decided that we should return to the visitor center. There are more than a dozen observatories on top of Mauna Kea. The only way to get up there by vehicle is to take an expensive tour from Kona ($200 or more) or drive a rental vehicle as we did. The University of Hawaii's tour is free on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Information is on the university's website: http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis/visiting-mauna-kea/visiting-the-summit.html If you stay into the evening, telescopes are set up for free stargazing.

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank MaestraM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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