Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Tour summit with snow

Sunset & evening tour to the highest point in Hawaii

Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Tour picnic dinner

Hot meal served picnic style halfway up Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Tour 4 wheel drive van

4 wheel drive van takes you to the 13,700 foot summit

Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Tour summit with snow

Nearing the Mauna Kea Summit - Mauna Loa (long mountain) is in the background

Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Tour map

Map of the Mauna Kea Summit observatories

Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Tour stars

Stars come out in force after dark in the crisp, dry air

Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Tour stars

Computer-guided telescopes give you an amazing tour of the night sky

Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Tour sunset at the summit

Sunsets from the summit are truly magnificent!

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Ask a QuestionReserve Now!!!
Join the professionals of Hawaii Forest and Trail on an intriguing and provocative journey through space and time, and discover Mauna Kea Summit and Stars. On your way to the 13,796′ summit of Mauna Kea you will learn about the remarkable evolution and changes the Hawaiian islands have experienced. On the way up the mountain the tour stops at a historic ranch outpost for a hot, picnic style dinner. After dinner the tour continues to the summit of the world’s tallest volcano for a sensational sunset view. Stand in awe amidst the largest collection of telescopes on earth and witness some of the most dramatic vistas you’ll ever experience.

The drive to the summit of Mauna Kea is one you’ll never forget. Once at the summit you are afforded spectacular views of the horizon, Haleakala on Maui, Mauna Kea’s world-class array of telescopes and the famous Mauna Kea sunset. You’ll experience the spirtiual energy of what many Hawaiians believe to be the most sacred place in all the islands. At the summit you’ll stand on top of the world’s tallest mountain – from the ocean floor Mauna Kea is over 33,000 feet high! In your hooded parka you’ll stand in awe – at both natures sublime creation and man’s astonishing technological achievements.

After sunset the tour descends back down to the Visitor’s Information Station at 9000’ elevation. Your interpretive naturalist guide will set up an 11” Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and, in the crystal clear atmosphere, the wonders of the Hawaiian night sky come into focus.  Wrapped warm in Arctic parkas, with hot beverages and chocolate macadamia nut cookies, you will marvel at the brilliance of the Hawaiian sky. Enjoy your guide’s entertaining “talk story” of the infinite world of the observable universe which offers you a personal and educational look at the heavens.

General Information
Schedule: Daily departure around 2:30pm from Hawaii Forest and Trail Headquarters (74-5035B Queen Kaahumanu Highway, Kailua Kona, HI 96740 Click to view map), Waikoloa Queen’s Marketplace (69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr, Waikoloa, HI 96738 Click to view map), and at the parking lot at Puu Huluhulu Cinder Cone (located at Mile Marker 28 on Highway 200, also known as “Saddle Road.” Click to view map).

Duration: 7 – 8 hours

Reservation: This tour is very popular and has limited space. Reserve your seat as soon as you know you want to do this tour!

Tour includes: Dinner (barbecue chicken with lemon-mint quinoa and a dinner roll or vegetarian tofu wrap with peanut dipping sauce, lemon-mint quinoa and a dinner roll, assorted teas, hot chocolate, and dessert.

Gear Provided: Hooded parkas and warm gloves. Parka sizes – (small, medium, large, x-large, xx-large) All parkas are men’s sizes – so women may wish to select one size smaller than normal.

Restrictions: Because of high altitude this tour does not allow those with respiratory, heart, or circulatory conditions, people in generally poor health, or pregnant women. Scuba divers should be aware of altitude changes and avoid doing this tour shortly after diving. Minimum age for this tour is 16.

What to Bring & Wear: Layered clothing, long pants, close toed shoes.

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations must be made at least 48 hours before the start of the event.


mauna kea
Views from the highest point in Hawaii
sunset from mauna kea summit
Sunset from the Mauna kea summit

CMauna Kea Summit and Starsruise Ship Passengers

The Mauna Kea Summit and Stars tour is not available for cruise ship passengers. We recommend doing either the Sunrise Bike Tour on Maui or the Haleakala Sunrise Van Tour on Maui.

Activity Tips

Kevin Ditamore – Owner / Manager

When you stand at the summit of Mauna Kea and look across at the summit of Mauna Loa, it is easy to forget that you are in Hawaii. The extreme climate and barren landscape provides a startling difference from the rain forests of Hilo or the heat of Kona and Waikoloa. About three months out of the year there is a very good chance you will see snow … yes … SNOW … at the top of this mountain! When we did this tour it was the first week of May, and a late-season storm had just dusted the summit with 4″ of fresh snow. It makes the tour even more beautiful and surreal!

The summit of Mauna Kea requires a 4 wheel drive vehicle; it is not possible to drive in your rental car. If you’ve rented a Jeep Wrangler you would be OK, however your rental car contract will probably forbid you from driving on this road. Besides, without the tour you won’t get the telescopic look at the night sky and you won’t get the benefit of the guide’s informative narration. You probably won’t be bringing a parka with you to Hawaii either and they are provided on this tour.

The most important tip is to remember the implications of high altitudes. The air is MUCH thinner here … this is not a good place for people who are in poor health or are pregnant. Scuba divers should be extra cautious and allow plenty of time before and after a dive when scheduling this tour.

One other consideration … BOOK THIS ONE EARLY because availability is very limited for this tour. The number of people allowed at the summit of Mauna Kea per day is strictly regulated.

After leaving the summit, an extended stop is made at the visitor’s center at the 9,000 foot level where your guide will set up a computer-aided telescope and give you a tour of the night sky. If you come at a full-moon the sky will be so bright it will be difficult to see stars, but you’ll get some unbelievable looks at the moon’s surface.

This tour is oriented toward people who are staying in the Kona and Waikoloa areas (where most of the resorts are located on the Big Island). Please note that if you are staying in Hilo or some out-of-the-way vacation rental somewhere else on the Big Island you will have a rather long drive to meet up with the tour. Hawaii Forest and Trail will meet you at at the parking lot at Puu Huluhulu Cinder Cone. This is located at Mile Marker 28 on Saddle Road (Highway 200), which is at the Mauna Kea Summit Road intersection.