Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Lea Lea Tours Blog

The Mauna Kea Stellar Tour – The Ultimate ‘Wow!’ Tour Packed Full of Surprises

Kapohokine Stellar Explorer Kona - Milky Way and White Tour Van


We all take what’s up in the sky for granted. In the daytime there’s the sun and at night, there’s the moon and the stars, with the occasional combination of the two and a rare eclipse thrown into the mix just for something a bit different. Of course, while we can all usually see the sun when it is out, seeing many of the stars can be a bit of a challenge if you live in an area which suffers from pollution, and especially light pollution at nighttime.

Hawai’i’s crystal-clear skies are perfect for solar and stellar gazing

Maybe you’ve already noticed, but the air in Hawaii is clean and pure, and outside the major cities the skies are crystal clear, especially at night. For that reason alone, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to discover that the islands are the perfect place for looking closely at both the sun and the stars, and so much more that is contained within the Earth’s galaxy, called the Milky Way. As an aside, for those of you who are fans of trivia, did you know that in the U.S. and Canada, the chocolate bar you call a ‘Milky Way’ is simply called a ‘Mars bar’ throughout the rest of the world, and what the rest of the world calls a ‘Milky Way’, Americans and Canadians call it a ‘Three Musketeers.’

The Mauna Kea Stellar Explorer Tour with LeaLea – daytime and nighttime excitement rolled into one tour  

Who knew that you could combine a tour that involved a close-up look at the sun with a state-of-the-art telescope especially designed for safe viewing of the sun through uniquely designed filters, witnessing solar flares and other usually unseen activity like you have never had the chance to before and then, just a few hours later, you can be staring into the night sky through another highly specialized telescope? Talk about the best of both worlds, plus a few more worlds in distant galaxies! The night-time excitement comes from viewing the sky through a Dobsonian telescope which provides you with an astonishing wide-scale view of very distant galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters, as well as breathtakingly close-up views of the surface of the moon.

It is also very worth noting that from feedback left on the likes of Trip Advisor, Viator, etc., the guides on this tour are extremely knowledgeable and genuinely want to do their very best to make sure you the tour. Take a bow Krystal, Rich, Adam and Marcus!

Rainbow Falls Hawaii

Beautiful Rainbow Falls in Hilo Hawaii forms cascading flows into a natural pool and often casts colorful rainbows when the sun position is just right, as shown here.

The Mauna Kea Stellar Tour includes some fascinating aspects of the island’s volcanic past.

As the tour takes you to an altitude of 7,000 feet up the side of Mauna Kea, there’s a lot of volcanic landscape to also discover. How about the stunning Rainbow Waterfall near Hilo, so named as the mist from the twin 80-foot waterfall system, if caught in the correct light, creates its own rainbow? Then there’s the fascinating Boiling Pots of the Wailuku river, created by the unusual curvature and depressions in the rock which makes the water appear to boil. And, if that weren’t enough for great photo opportunities for your social media accounts, there’s the mystical lava tubes that make up the Kaumana Caves.

Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa – the world’s tallest volcanoes!

Yes, believe it or not, your route on the tour will take you through the pass between the world’s two tallest volcanoes. However, don’t be mistaken into thinking that you will see the tips of the volcanoes disappearing high above the clouds. The height of a volcano is traditionally measured from its base, not just what is visible above sea level. As an example, Mauna Kea rises up to 13,796 feet above sea level, but has a depth of 18,900 feet (3.6 miles) below sea level.

The Mauna Kea Stellar Tour picks up from hotels in both Hilo and Kona

LeaLea Tours will arrange for you to be collected either from or nearby your hotel, whether you are staying in Hilo or Kona. Of course, you are not restricted to going on the tour if you are staying elsewhere – just check with us for arranging a pick-up point. The tour lasts for approximately seven hours and begins at around 4pm in the afternoon depending on where you are staying. As for the extra surprises, how about having a meal provided before ascending Mauna Kea for some star gazing, or a stop off for something tasty from the local bakery where you can also treat yourself to some genuine Kona coffee?!