Snowcapped on its summit, fiery in its volcanic core, Maunakea is both serene and provocative. It's the tallest mountain in the world when measured from undersea to its cinder-cone peaks. People from everywhere have gravitated to its slopes for thousands of years seeking wisdom, discovery, enchantment, and a taste of the ethereal.
Your journey from sea level to the summit uncovers the connections of Hawaii's ancient practice of navigation and the modern technological pursuit of understanding our universe.
Enjoy a pre-opening tour and private star show at world famous Imiloa Astronomy Center's planetarium in Hilo. Experience multiple climate zones as you travel through tropical rainforest to a barren, moon-like terrain. Acclimate and explore the astronomical themed exhibits at the Visitor Center. Soak in expansive views at the summit of Maunakea, amidst the world's largest collection of research telescopes.
Explore cutting edge astronomy installations at the summit including the Keck Observatory and the University of Hilo 2.2 Meter Telescope. Home to 13 sophisticated astronomical observatories that peer deep into time and space from their perches on its summit. Traditionally the sacred home of Hawaiian deities, today Maunakea also hosts the greatest astronomical complex on earth.
As you return from the highest point in the Pacific, you'll have an opportunity to reflect on how ancient practices inform modern science to mold our understanding of the universe today.
Please Note: Entrance to the observatories is strictly controlled. Average mean temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 Celsius. The access road to the summit of Mauna Kea is four-wheel drive only, so it can be bumpy. Children under 16 are not permitted on this tour due to high altitude. Snow is seasonal at Mauna Kea, with the heaviest snowfall occurring during the winter months. Use of daypacks, walking staffs and warm wear are provided.
Reviewer: Larry Duignan
Excellent tour with super guide, Josh. He pointed out the transition from lava to growth in the topography as we ascended the mountain. The observatories were the highlight and Josh pointed out the various differences. He made the tour special and it was half the price for the ship's excursion using the same tour company.
Excellent trip. Our guide Joel was great. He shared a great deal of knowledge with us. Was very friendly and made the trip worth while.
Reviewer: Clifford Crowder
Highly informed tour guide who knew the history, geology, plant life, and other details relevant to the observatories on the mountain. This was my favorite excursion while in Hawai'i. The mountain top was covered in snow and the sky was crystal clear. Lunch was provided and we took a short hike before driving up to the top in order to acclimate. You get a wonderful view of adjacent Mauna Loa and, as the saying goes, you can see for miles.