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“Gorgeous, if the weather cooperates”
Review of Mauna Kea Summit

Mauna Kea Summit
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Waterfall Heli-Trek: Big Island Helicopter Tour and Hiking Adventure
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Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour
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Volcano National Park Small Group Twilight Tour
Ranked #2 of 133 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.
Reviewed December 29, 2012

Your enjoyment of this trip will depend completely on the weather. We go up to the summit when it was nice out - cold but clear - and it was a sight to behold. Beautiful, otherworldly, straight out of a sci-fi flick. However, about 10 minutes later it started to rain and became bitterly cold and windy. We still made the short trek to the permafrost lake (~35 minutes each way from just below the summit at a cautiously slow pace given the altitude) and spent the next couple of hours at the visitors' center trying to dry out and warm up. Unfortunately the rain held up so there was no telescope viewing that night. I consider my crew lucky to have made it to the summit before the storm. Most at the visitors' center had not been so fortunate. By the time we left it was 20 degrees F at the summit and the scientists were considering evacuation. Ack!

For some reason they keep the visitors' center bathroom doors open, making them crazy cold. Strangely, I recommend the porta'potties near the summit over the real bathrooms at 9000 feet.

2  Thank StephanieK78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,494 - 2,498 of 3,611 reviews

Reviewed December 27, 2012

It's free! 4wd is good thinking yet some people dare not to use one. Recommend bringing a small bag of chips and place it on your dashboard so you can see it expand with the pressure changes. Also, the recommended half hour wait at the visitor center was a good idea because you will feel a big change respiratory wise at the top. Have fun!

4  Thank Jdeboe3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 26, 2012

The Visitor Center is at 9200 feet and your flip flops and shorts won't cut it! There are decent bathrooms, interpretive info and snacks etc.

1  Thank JWCFX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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

5  Thank Hunter L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

3  Thank Rita M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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