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Mauna Kea observatory

Mauna Kea Summit & Stars

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High on the summit of Mauna Kea, 4,205 m (13,800 ft) above sea level, the average temperature drops to around freezing, a world apart from the tropical warmth of the island below. The far-reaching view takes in Haleakalā on Maui and Mauna Loa and Hualalai on the Island of Hawaiʻi.

Most of Mauna Kea is underwater and if you measure it from its base on the ocean floor, it’s the world’s tallest mountain at more than 10,000 m (33,000 ft). It’s considered by many Hawaiians to be the most sacred place in all the islands. The peak is also the home of an array of advanced telescopes.

Starting out from Kona, travel for around 30 minutes along the coast over desolate lava flows, before proceeding up the rolling pasture land on the flanks of Mauna Kea. You’ll see ranch land, dry subalpine forest and rainforest, along with cinder cones, lava tubes and kipuka (an island of greenery surrounded by cooled lava).

Arrive at your private dinner location at Humuula approximately two hours before sunset for a hot picnic dinner. After you’ve eaten, don a warm hooded parka for the 45-minute drive to the summit. As you make your way up, your knowledgeable guide will explain Hawaii’s remarkable natural, cultural, and geological history.

After watching the sun set from the peak, descend to the Visitor’s Information Station at 2,743 m (9,000 ft). Here, you can gaze through telescopes and marvel at the brilliance of the Hawaiian night sky as you enjoy hot beverages and cookies. Your guide will share information and stories, providing a personal and educational look at the heavens.

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Experience it for yourself

You can enjoy this activity as part of the suggested tours below, or we can weave it into a trip shaped entirely around you.