Mauna Kea Observatories, Island of Hawaii

4.7
#3 of 7 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. 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 Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources to eradicate all feral species on the mountain.
For travelers who use our international travel planner, Waimea holidays become easier to arrange, with trips to the Mauna Kea Observatories and other attractions mapped out and timetabled.
Source
Create an itinerary including Mauna Kea Observatories

(Waimea is the nearest city to Mauna Kea Observatories)

map
Mauna Kea Observatories Reviews
Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
89 reviews
Google
4.9
TripAdvisor
  • There is a star-gazing event nightly after dusk. Try to get there between 6:00 and 6:30pm to ensure parking is available. Watch the beautiful sunset then go into the visitor center to see a video of t...  more »
  • Just an advise: never noticed such an oxygen "free" place, specially with elevation from sea level to 4200m within an hour... prepare for that !  more »
  • We visited this place in Dec 2015. Initially, we though that we would be able to see few stars through telescope. But then what happened was amazing. We reached there around 7PM. There is a small shop...  more »
Google
  • It's takes a fair amount of time and effort to get here, but it's almost always wort it. You will need to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle to drive to the summit. Otherwise, you can hike from the visitor's center. Sunsets and Sunrises are amazing.
  • Awesome. Book ahead - we used Mauna Kea Summit Adventures - and watch the weather. I wasn't able to get to the summit during the Christmas holidays (winter here too - particularly at almost 14k ft), but did make it during March 2017. Wonderful views and guides are well informed and able on details. Stargazing is fun, but can be chilly depending on weather/wind.
  • Stunning sunset on the peak. The last road up to the peak is bumpy, 4wd is not necessary if you have a proper driving skill. But if you would like not to have any unexpected issue, still recommend to get up here by 4wd car. Make sure your tire is not wear out, stones on road are sharp.
  • As long as you have the right vehicle to traverse the road to the summit you will be fine. The acclimating to the altitude is a major concern and something that should not be taken lightly. Go to the visitor center and wait there before going to the summit. Once at the summit do not over estimate your abilities. Be sure to take lots of warm clothes it can get very cold up there.
  • Top of the mountain is amazing. Book a tour to the top, or brave the drive yourself.

Plan your trip to Island of Hawaii

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Where to stay in Waimea

You'll find lodges and bed and breakfasts scattered around the vicinity of Waimea. Some are adjacent to the coastline, while others stand among gardens; accommodations in both locations provide access to the area's natural wonders. Reservations for bed and breakfasts fill up quickly, so book a room early.
Live like a local, find unique places to stay
Millions of travel reviews on TripAdvisor

Plans in Island of Hawaii by other users

8 days in Kohala Coast BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, outdoors, beaches, hidden gems PREFERENCES: June, outdoors, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 25 days in United States BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA June, relaxing, beaches, popular PREFERENCES: June, relaxing, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 40 days in Hawaii & Japan BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, teens, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: July, teens, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 18 days in United States BY A USER FROM SOUTH AFRICA December, teens, culture, outdoors, historic sites, shopping, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: December, teens, culture, outdoors, historic sites, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 60 days in Europe, Asia, South Pacific & United States BY A USER FROM PORTUGAL January, culture, outdoors, relaxing, museums, wildlife, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: January, culture, outdoors, relaxing, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 20 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM August, culture, outdoors, museums, fast-paced, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: August, culture, outdoors, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Fast-paced 18 days in United States BY A USER FROM INDIA January, culture, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: January, culture, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 40 days in New York City, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park & Vancouver BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA December, culture, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: December, culture, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 16 days in Hawaii BY A USER FROM SINGAPORE April, hidden gems PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 60 days in United States BY A USER FROM SWEDEN June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 60 days in United States BY A USER FROM SWEDEN June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 7 days in Island of Hawaii BY A USER FROM PHILIPPINES February, popular PREFERENCES: February ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
View more plans