Maunakea Summit & Stars
Our 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. Delight in the awe-inspiring Hawaiian sunset at the top of Maunakea, the highest point in the Pacific.
Maunakea Summit & Stars Highlights:
- Enjoy a warm picnic dinner at our private location and learn about Hawaiian star navigation.
- Learn about the historical accounts of early travelers through the mountain regions
- Delight in the awe-inspiring Hawaiian sunset at the top of Maunakea, the highest point in the Pacific
- Descend to a lower elevation at 9,000 ft. as the sun slips over the horizon
- Sip hot chocolate during a private star show with our 11” Celestron telescope
Please read restrictions and FAQ carefully before booking this experience.
Weather changes can occur quickly, and the access road to the summit can close without warning; therefore we cannot guarantee access to the summit or favorable conditions. Guests should be able to walk on uneven or rocky terrain. The temperature can dip below freezing when at high elevations on the mountain. We sometimes encounter cold, wet, or muddy conditions.
Due to the high altitude, this tour is not advised for those with respiratory, circulatory or heart conditions, pregnancy, or poor health. If you plan to scuba dive, do not plan to go to the summit within 24 hours after you dive due to the altitude. No children under 16. Other tour restrictions may apply – please contact us at 808.331.8505 for more information.
- Are guests allowed to go into the observatories? There are currently no observatories open to the public.
- How cold is it at the summit of Maunakea? Average mean temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 Celsius.
- Is the vehicle ride bumpy and windy? For safety reasons the access road to the summit of Maunakea requires a four-wheel drive, so it can be bumpy. Our custom off-road motor coaches will get you to the top and back as comfortably as possible.
- What kind of telescope is used for stargazing? We utilize an 11” Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.
- What is the guide to guest ratio? Our maximum guide to guest ratio is 1:14.
- How many guests do you take up per night? Our permit allows for a maximum of 2 vehicles per night, and our vehicles carry a maximum of 14 passengers each.
- Do you go up to Maunakea summit every night? We go every night, weather permitting.
- Are children allowed on this tour? Children under 16 are not permitted on this tour due to altitude.
- Is there much walking/hiking on this tour? There is minimal walking on this tour, the maximum being about 150 yards.
- I would like to see a specific astronomical event from the summit. How can I arrange this? Check out Bishop Museum – Astronomy for upcoming celestial events, and whether they will be observable in the Hawaiian sky.
- Will there be snow on our trip? Snow is seasonal at Mauna Kea, with the heaviest snowfall occurring during the winter months.
- What if it’s cloudy on Maunakea? The summit and visitor center areas of Maunakea are generally above the clouds. Due to our high demand for this experience and the constraints of our permit, we are often unable to reschedule guests when cancellations occur. Therefore we try to avoid canceling tours if we can safely reach the visitor’s center and/or summit. Conditions constantly change on the mountain, and the weather is part of the adventure.
- Can I join the tour from Hilo? This tour only departs from Kona; our dinner location does not allow private vehicle parking, and there is no safe and legal place for you to leave your vehicle along the Saddle road late at night. Additionally, our permit does not allow guests to meet us at the Maunakea Visitor Information Center.
Closed-toe shoes, long pants, and a sweatshirt or sweater. Winter parkas and gloves are provided.
Picnic style dinner, assorted teas, hot chocolate, and dessert.
Warm wear including, hooded parkas and gloves.
The Health and safety of our staff and guests are a top priority at Hawaii Forest & Trail. Although the risk of COVID-19 can not be eliminated, we have taken the following steps to mitigate these risks:
Hawaii Forest & Trail has implemented new Health and Safety Policies based on guidance and requirements by the State of Hawaii and CDC. The following requirements will need to be met in order to join us:
- Proof of a negative COVID-19 test through the Hawaii Safe Travel Program or proof of 14 day quarantine (airline generated flight itinerary) Test results must be presented upon check-in.
- Health Questionnaire and temperature check with contactless infrared thermometer completed prior to your participation
- Face masks are required at all times in our vehicles and wherever social distancing is not possible. Guests agree to follow guide instructions.
- Group sizes are limited to 9 guests.
- Guest time in the van has been shrunk wherever possible. Pickups closer to tour destinations have been added and encouraged.
- All vehicles and gear are sanitized following every tour using commercial grease sanitizing equipment with CDC approved sanitizers.
- All staff are required to complete a daily health screening and temperature check before starting their shift
- Face Masks are worn at all times in our vans and on our facility.
- Protocols to reduce contact between employees have been put in place
- Access to free COVID-19 testing is made available through the state of Hawaii.
Adult (16+): $235.00 + taxes and fees
Availability and Schedule:
Availability varies; please check booking calendar for up-to-date information.
Approximate Pick-up Time:
Approximate Return Time:
Afternoon trips depart daily from Hawaii Forest & Trail in Kona, Queen’s Marketplace in Waikoloa Beach Resort, and Lava Java located in the Waikoloa Village Shopping Center. 7 – 8 hours round trip.