We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Gorgeous, if the weather cooperates” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Mauna Kea Summit

Mauna Kea Summit
Book In Advance
$199.00*
and up
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Kona and Waikoloa - Small Group Tour
Ranked #1 of 122 things to do in Kailua-Kona
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: At 13,796 feet, this peak offers an incredible view of lava, desert, the valley and Mauna Loa.
Oakland, California
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Gorgeous, if the weather cooperates”
4 of 5 stars 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.

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank StephanieK78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

2,879 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    2,308
    434
    104
    18
    15
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Czech first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Free and the best experience you will have.”
5 of 5 stars 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!

Helpful?
4 Thank Jdeboe3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Olympia
Level Contributor
43 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Bring Your woolies if you plan to stay awhile!!”
4 of 5 stars 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.

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank JWCFX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Menlo Park, California
Level Contributor
154 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
“Hawaii at 13,796' is a hard to beat trip on the Big Island”
5 of 5 stars 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
Helpful?
5 Thank Hunter L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Centennial, Colorado, United States
Level Contributor
9 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Fantastic Day!”
5 of 5 stars 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
Helpful?
3 Thank Rita M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Mauna Kea Summit also viewed

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Island of Hawaii
Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii
 

Been to Mauna Kea Summit? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing