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“Don't believe everything you read”
Review of Mauna Kea Summit

Mauna Kea Summit
Ranked #1 of 84 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.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

This is the best kept secret of Hawaii.

Everybody thinks of palm trees, ocean, beaches ... and lava, when you mention Hawaii. But "Mauna Kea?" What's that?

The world's tallest mountain, measured from the ocean floor.

NO, you do NOT need a "4x4" or 4-wheel drive to get to the summit. While working as an interpretive guide there, I witnessed countless numbers of NON-4-wheel drive vehicles go to the summit—included Volkswagen Beetles and Ford Mustangs. Any reliable vehicle will get you up there.

YES, the road is ... [cue scary music] ... "unpaved," but it is well-maintained and graded on a regular basis to keep it from becoming too jarring for all the sensitive equipment that is known to go up and down to the observatories.

Legally, the "management" cannot say that "4x4s are safe." They can't say ANYTHING is "safe." And, they CAN encourage you to NOT go up there without a 4x4. They do. In fact, I frequently heard some staff LIE and say that "4x4s are required."

No, they're not.

Hang out at the "VIS" and get acclimated to the altitude. Drink a lot of water. Be alert for the signs of hypoxia.

Follow the speed limit.

Stay on the road (don't "pull over" for pics, etc, except at obvious places made for such).

Minimize brake usaged on way down by using a lower gear.

You'll be fine.

When I worked up there, I frequently heard visitors say, "it was the highlight of our trip."

Make it to the Visitor Center by 1600 or so. Hang out and get used to thin air.

Take leisurely drive up to the summit for a spectacular sunset.

Drive down to the visitor center, again, for FREE stargazing—every night.

The weather is almost always (90 % of the time) accommodating for GREAT seeing of night sky objects. Some times, you may have a full (or mostly full) moon to deal with.

4  Thank Brian A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"warm clothing"
in 49 reviews
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in 124 reviews
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in 57 reviews
"ranger station"
in 36 reviews
"watch the sunset"
in 129 reviews
"sea level"
in 90 reviews
"the big island"
in 288 reviews
"high altitude"
in 58 reviews
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in 114 reviews
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in 36 reviews
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in 59 reviews
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in 41 reviews
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39 - 43 of 4,116 reviews

Reviewed 5 weeks ago via mobile

Picture speaks louder than words! Where warm clothes, freezing temps. Bring dinner and wait for sunset.

Thank travel0823
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 5 weeks ago via mobile

Great view of the mountain. Aurther was very knowledgeable about various things including the geology and Hawaiian history. We saw sunset from the top of Mauna Kea even though tropical storm Olivia was rolling in. There was fog in the evening for stargazing but they worked around the fog and found us a spot to view constellations and planets for a little while. The bus can get pretty full at the back, try to sit towards the front. Other than that the trip was great!

Thank Audrianna S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 5 weeks ago

5/5 and we didn't even go on the tour! Our trip got cancelled due to Hurricane Olivia. No hard feelings, as the staff promptly refunded the entire fee I paid. I'll definitely be back!!!!

Thank drcser
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 10, 2018

OMG! One of the BEST things I've ever done on the Big Island!! Go ahead and rent a 4 wheel drive, and don't forget to acclimate at the Visitor Center!

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

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