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“Educational and entertaining but expensive, use the coupon!” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Imiloa Astronomy Center

Imiloa Astronomy Center
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Mauna Kea Voyage
Ranked #24 of 79 things to do in Hilo
Certificate of Excellence
San Diego, California
Level Contributor
51 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“Educational and entertaining but expensive, use the coupon!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 2, 2013

My family visited Imiloa as our "Plan B" for inclement weather in Hilo; it rained almost every day of our visit so we chose a few indoor attractions to occupy us on those days too rainy for outdoor activities. It was fun and educational but a bit on the pricey side; $17.50 per adult, free under 5, and $9.50 for kids 5 and older. Discount for seniors, military, and kama'aina. Price includes one planetarium show, which is fun but can be overwhelming for very young children. Parking is free. We did not visit the gardens or the cafe, so this review is for the astronomy center only.

Both of my pre-K aged children enjoyed the astronomy center; we spent about 2.5 hours here. The older one (5 years old) got more out of it; the younger one (3 years old) did not understand how to interact with many of the displays and was frightened by the loud chanting in the planetarium show. You may want to skip the planetarium show for very young children. Adults and older kids will likely enjoy it. The free "4-D" short film (7 minutes) with 3-D glasses was VERY cool and my kids wanted to see it twice.

TIP: Use the coupon you can find in the Hawaii Visitors brochure at any of the major tourist attractions or at the airport for a small discount on admission, as it is a bit on the pricey side. Or, visit the website to learn the Hawaiian word of the day for a small discount on admission: http://www.imiloahawaii.org/169/WOD-discount. Recommended for adults with an interest in astronomy for families with children ages 5+, particularly on rainy days when outdoor activities are less attractive.

Visited December 2012
2 Thank orchid_blossom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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248 reviews from our community

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Saint Paul, MN
Level Contributor
145 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“Expected better”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 8, 2012

The mosaic in the entry is breathtaking. The design of the building is unique and the gardens and grounds are lovely. But I wasn't that impressed with the displays. Many had overwhelming amounts of information. I wish the display on the telescopes on Mauna Kea worked but the mouse cords had been pulled out from a computer that was behind a panel. A display on the planets that was supposed to light up didn't light up. There was staff at the front desk who were friendly when I entered but after that, not an employee anywhere. On the plus side, the planetarium movie was colorful and fun.

Visited December 2012
1 Thank Samcat1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada
Level Contributor
552 reviews
278 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 384 helpful votes
“Out of this World!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 29, 2012

The center is (obviously) devoted primarily to astronomy: the solar system, planets, galaxies, telescopes, astrological histories/legends, etc. However, there is also a secondary focus on early Polynesian history (the first arrivals to Hawaii by canoe), as well as a few displays on the history of the Hula, and the Hawaiian Language. Very interesting! All displays are new-looking, visually appealing, easy to read, interactive and stimulating.

The 1-hr show in the planetarium was interesting, but the young girl presenting was not the most exciting public speaker (she actually put my girlfriend to sleep...)

The restaurant's menu did not look that appealing, and the prices/meal for cafeteria-style dining didn't help. Despite this, the Center as a whole is phenomenal!

Visited November 2012
2 Thank Keith-B-Robinson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
15 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Interesting museum and a good lunch, but...”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 11, 2012

We enjoyed our lunch there, and apparently so do a lot of visitors. We really enjoyed the museum as well, something for everyone. I was a bit disappointed by the show in the planetarium. The facilities are great, and the show was well done, however, the show is appears to be a computer generated graphics movie, both images of the sky and the islands. Considering this is affiliated with one of the best astronomical observatories in the world, why not use REAL images of the night sky instead of CG images? Same for the images of the islands.

Visited August 2012
Thank BryanKD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
15 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 3, 2012

Great place to visit if you love everything about the night sky and beyond. We had already been to the Mauna Kea Observatory and this Centre was a great complement to viewing the stars outside.

It would be a great place for kids with lots of fun, educational activities.

There's also a bit of information about the Hawaiian culture and the historical navigation of the sea.

Our only disappointment was that we missed the viewing of the show we wanted to see. However, the one we did get to was still interesting and worth the viewing.

Visited October 2012
Thank Shell_Si
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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