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“Hawaii at 13,796' is a hard to beat trip on the Big Island”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Mauna Kea Summit

Mauna Kea Summit
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Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Kona and Waikoloa - Small Group Tour
Ranked #2 of 129 things to do in Kailua-Kona
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: At 13,796 feet, this peak offers an incredible view of lava, desert, the valley and Mauna Loa.
Menlo Park, California
Level Contributor
161 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
“Hawaii at 13,796' is a hard to beat trip on the Big Island”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 26, 2012

The trip from Kona to the summit is a 2hour drive (4x4 or AWD needed from 9000'+), and well worth the trip. If you can time it to go with the caravan leaving from the visitor center that takes you inside the Kek observatory, the guides are very informative. Views of Maui in the distance are great, and otherwise you feel as though you on Mars, and definitely no place you've been before.

Mountain weather is always changing, but in Dec it was 50*F up top (though 34*F in the observatory during the 30 minute tour). Wear pants and shoes (the only time you'll wear them on the island is here), some bring water to drink, sunscreen, and you'll be prepared for the adventure

It's hard to believe they don't charge for the service; so much so that a nice donation in the visitor center feels like you are still getting more than your moneys worth. The next trip to the Big Island will include star gazing from the summit!

FYI kids under 16 aren't allowed on the tour

Visited December 2012
5 Thank Hunter L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Centennial, Colorado, United States
Level Contributor
9 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Fantastic Day!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 22, 2012

My husband and I picked the Mauna Kea Summit tour to complement our week of scuba diving, volcano viewing, coffee tasting and sight seeing. We picked Mauna Kea after comparing on-line reviews and we were extremely pleased with the entire tour starting with the drive to the top of the mountain where we were provided an informative and interesting history and geology of the island. We were provided a delicious dinner at the visitors center and then proceeded to the top of the mountain to get a history of the observatories and watch the most amazing sunset - overlooking clouds and a mountain peak. Next we were lead to a private viewing of the stars with amazing telescopes and interesting descriptions by the guides. The guides (Mische and Chris) were very knowledgeable about the stars too! It was amazing to see all the stars unaided by the telescopes at this high altitude. But the telescopes provided us a view of the universe you just don't see. The tour was a highlight of our trip and an event we will not forget.

Visited December 2012
3 Thank Rita M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Salem, Ohio
Level Contributor
226 reviews
74 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
“Wow what a view!!!!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 21, 2012

We didn't want to leave the Big Island without visiting the Summit. We took a tour up, better than driving yourself ( if you do make sure you have 4 wheel drive) I would reccomend going with a tour. It was so beautiful! We got some outstanding pictures once we made it to the very top (13,000 feet). The sunset was so breathtaking from the view so high! Dress very very warm! Its about 30 degrees up there and feels even colder. Put lots of layers on. The air is very thin so make sure you take your time walking around up there. You may get out of breath quite easily. Star gazing was also incredible. They have a small gift shop at the visitors center . Some really neat things to look at there. You might want to bring a flash light if you go at night. Enjoy! You should go!!!

Visited December 2012
1 Thank Christa H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
14 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 20, 2012

The summit is spectacular and worth any challenges you may face getting there. Tour groups are incredibly expensive and I suggest doing it on your own. Rent a 4-wheel drive vehicle and get to the top yourself. I've seen plenty of 2-wheel drive cars make it up, but I wouldn't do it. Make sure you leave plenty early to make it to the top at least 30 minutes before sunset so you see the sunset in its entirety and you'll want to allow 30 minutes at the visitor's center to acclimate. We use the time at the visitor's center to suit up into our snow stuff as it can be very cold and windy both at the visitor's center and at the summit. Do not skip this simple step since altitude sickness will probably ruin your adventure. The road after the center is very rough, but you'll forget it all when you see the view from the top!

Visited December 2012
3 Thank emma1227
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
62 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Unbelievable Stars and Sunsets”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 19, 2012

You don't need to book a tour. Drive up to the visitor center park on the shoulder (back in to make it easy to get out in the dark). Hike to the top of the hill across from the visitor center for great sunset views (it takes a little longer than you'd think at the altitude). Wait for the visitor center to bring out the telescopes to get the chance to see planets, the moon, nebulas, and a free sky tour. We always pack a dinner to eat in the car after sunset while we wait for the stars to come out (there are also astronomy movies inside). Bring your own hot chocolate as there are free cups and hot water or buy packets up there. If you have 4x4 head up to the lake. A longer hike but incredibly silent sunsets! It is a sacred place of Ancient Hawaiians please respect it.

Visited June 2012
1 Thank kipukahonu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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