Tour Summary: A stargazing journey from sea level to the nearly 14,000 foot summit of Maunakea reveals the wonders and world-class clarity of the Hawaiian night sky. This tour lets you see the sunset among some of the world's best telescopes and then takes you for a private star show at 9000 ft. with an 11” Celestron telescope.
- Enjoy a private picnic dinner at Historic Humuula Sheep Station, located at 7,000 feet elevation
- Your guide will share historic accounts of early travelers through the mountainlands
- Awe-inspiring sunset at the top of Maunakea, the highest point in the Pacific
- Stand amidst the world’s largest collection of research telescopes
- Sip hot chocolate during your private starshow at 9,000 feet elevation with an 11” Celestron telescope
- Small-group tour limited to 14 participants, ensuring a personalized experience with a naturalist guide
Important: Pregnant women and children under the age of 16 are not permitted on this tour. You also should not have scuba dived within 24 hours of the tour.
Tour Provider: Hawaii Forest and Trail
Tour start time: Between ~1:30pm and 3pm
Duration: 7 to 8 hours
Departure from: Kailua Kona
Pick-up available? Yes! From several locations between the Hawaii Forest & Trail headquarters in Kona and the Waikoloa resorts. More details available during the booking process during the "Where are you staying" step.
Included: Hooded parkas and gloves. Picnic style dinner, assorted teas, hot chocolate, and dessert
Cancellations: Customers will receive a full refund with 48 hours notice of cancellation. Private tours customers will receive a full refund with 72 hours notice of cancellation. Cancellations within the cancellation period and “no-shows” will be charged the FULL AMOUNT of the tour.
You can read more about this activity in our Stargazing guide.
The Mauna Kea summit an stars experience takes you to the summit of Mauna Kea for a private stargazing experience and to see an amazing sunset from the tallest volcano on our planet.
This tour is the better choice for people that don’t like to get up early (a slightly cheaper sister tour takes you up the summit for sunrise, read more details here) as tours depart from Kona between 1 and 3 pm (there are several more pickup locations north of Kona towards Mauna Kea). The 7 to 8 hour (round trip) tour will have you back in time for desert at your own place.
During the tour you travel up Mauna Kea for a small-group sunset and stargazing tour by luxury 4WD van. Leave the off-road drive to the pros, and ride from Kona or Waikoloa to a historic Hawaiian ranch for a picnic dinner. Continue to the Big Island’s tallest peak for sunset, then use powerful telescopes to observe constellations from Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station. Hear commentary from your guide, and keep warm with the provided jackets and hot chocolate.
The Mauna Kea Summit
For astronomers Hawai’i is one of the best places of the world to observe the stars. There are many world-class observatories on the 4,207 m (13,802 ft) high summit, which looks so other worldly that is also used to simulate living on other planets for months at a time!
If you like looking at the stars or telescopes a visit to the Big Island is not complete without some serious stargazing. What better place to do so than on the highest volcano in the state?
From the summit you can see the sun dip below the clouds in a spectacular explosion of color, framed by (snowy) peaks, old volcanoes, and futuristic world class telescopes.
MaunaKea facts and trivia
MaunaKea erupted last more than 4000 years ago and is not considered an active volcano anymore. The MaunaKea summit is the highest point of the state of Hawai’i, 13.796 ft above sea level. There have even been glaciers on the volcano during colder periods.
The story of Maunakea gets better. Because the volcanoes on the Big Island are so heavy and because a large part of the volcanoes is hidden under water, MaunaKea is actually higher than Mount Everest. Measured from the base on the ocean floor MaunaKea rises over 10,000 m (33,000 ft) high!
Image credit for most images used on this page: Hawaii Forest & Trail.
Hawaii Forest & Trail is a highly respected local tour company that has operated on the Big Island since 1993. They have gained access to private and restricted lands and are widely recognized as a tour company that has passionate and knowledgeable interpretative guides, all of which translates into consistent stellar reviews from their past guests.
Hawaii Forest & Trail is fully certified by the Hawaii Ecotourism Association. This means that their tours are eco-friendly, culturally educational and operate as sustainable as possible.
The HFT staff are picked to have strong academic backgrounds in biology, geology, Hawaiian culture and history, and extensive natural history field experience. It’s not enough for the guides to simply “know things”, they must also have a real passion for Hawaii’s natural world and enthusiasm for sharing it.
Giving back to the community
The vision of Hawaii Forest & Trail is to share the splendor of Hawai’i and inspire a deep connection with our natural world. They donate a small amount ($1 per guest) to a fund that makes donations to non-profit organizations whose mission and work aligns with at least one of the following criteria:
- benefits the conservation of Hawaii’s native ecosystems, species and landscapes.
- promulgates the understanding and practice of Hawaiian culture and the dissemination and understanding of Hawaii’s natural and cultural history.
- promotes and facilitates an appreciation and interaction with nature, especially programs that are youth oriented.
It is the intent of the fund to give preference to entities who are based or whose work is performed in the communities where they operate tours.
We are affiliate partners with Hawaii Forest and Trail meaning that we receive a percentage for each successful booking made through our website. This happens without any additional charge to you! (read more on the use of those links on our website here).
By booking tours through our website you support LoveBigIsland.com and help us to provide you and future visitors with free and high quality information about the Big Island. Thanks, you guys are amazing!