Mauna Kea Observatories, Island of Hawaii

4.7
#2 of 8 in Childrens Museums in Hawaii
Mauna Kea, is a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii. Standing 4207m above sea level, its peak is the highest point in the state of Hawaii. Much of the mountain is under water; when measured from its oceanic base, Mauna Kea is over 10000m tall and is the tallest mountain on Earth. Mauna Kea is about a million years old, and has thus passed the most active shield stage of life hundreds of thousands of years ago. In its current post-shield state, its lava is more viscous, resulting in a steeper profile. Late volcanism has also given it a much rougher appearance than its neighboring volcanoes; contributing factors include the construction of cinder cones, the decentralization of its rift zones, the glaciation on its peak, and the weathering effects of the prevailing trade winds. Mauna Kea last erupted 6,000 to 4,000 years ago and is now considered dormant.In Hawaiian mythology, the peaks of the island of Hawaii are sacred. An ancient law allowed only high-ranking aliʻi to visit its peak. Ancient Hawaiians living on the slopes of Mauna Kea relied on its extensive forests for food, and quarried the dense volcano-glacial basalts on its flanks for tool production. When Europeans arrived in the late 18th century, settlers introduced cattle, sheep and game animals, many of which became feral and began to damage the mountain's ecological balance. Mauna Kea can be ecologically divided into three sections: an alpine climate at its summit, a Sophora chrysophylla–Myoporum sandwicense (or māmane–naio) forest on its flanks, and an Acacia koa–Metrosideros polymorpha forest, now mostly cleared by the former sugar industry, at its base. In recent years, concern over the vulnerability of the native species has led to court cases that have forced the Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources to eradicate all feral species on the mountain.
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Mauna Kea Observatories Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
96 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • We did not have enough time for a full tour of the observatory, so we headed out to the visitor center. The roads to the visitor center are great and it is an easy drive up the mountain. We arrived ar...  more »
  • We were really surprised with the difference of weather between the Kalua-Kona beach (warm) and the Mauna Kea mountains, where there is snow. It was an amazing experience to stargaze with Arthur (the ...  more »
  • What a beautiful place on Earth to visit. I did not realize that there were so many stars in the sky. It is a marvelous romantic spot too.  more »
Google
  • Absolutely stunning. Watched the sunset and did a star gazing tour. Star viewing is magnificent. No one in our group got altitude sick as you ascend at a decent pace but they do talk about it alot. One of the mountains has a lake you can trek too, with beautiful spiritual stories behind reasons for visiting. Got maybe 0 Celsius near top with some decent winds but nothing too cold to keep us from stargazing. Visitor center lacking in terms of shopping but expected at 9000 feet above sea level. A must do if visiting Hawaii.
  • Friendly staff but also they are good at making sure you stop and acclimate at the 8,000 point before going to the top. Don't expect to make this is a quick trip. Just enjoy and take your time. At the visitor center there is Coco and ramen noodle bowls but that's about it so if you want more plan accordingly. When we went to the top it was about 31f.
  • Very interesting experience and beautiful sunset. We drove there with regular car, no 4 wheel drive, no problem, if driver is experienced driving in the mountains and gravel roads. You must use lower gear on the way down, otherwise you burn your brakes. And don't forget warm clothes, it's VERY COLD UPSTAIRS!!! Fantastic experience.
  • Awesome view. Little (lot) chilly and need a four wheel drive but pretty cool view. Timing it for sunset is recommended, although we left early and saw it coming down and were still happy with our experience.
  • Spectacular views here. Should be a part of your Big Island adventure. We loved it. I worried about my motion sickness especially when going up so high, but I took precautions and medication so I was perfectly fine. We went on our own since we were on a tight budget and could not pay for expensive tours that lasted hours. We made the decision to stay safe and rented 4 wheel drive. They were checking for every single scratch on the bottom of the truck so we added insurance just in case (the reviews freaked us out). As it turned out it was waste of our money. The road up Mauna Kea was well maintained (we wet early October 2017) and easy so our rental car would have made it (if you can shift the gears you will be fine going down). The views up there were amazing, very cold, went to W.M.Keck observatory (open on certain days for public). They have it partially open (one room) for public. Unfortunately were not able to stay for the sunset. Recommend for your visit!
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