🪐 The 5 Best Mauna Kea Stargazing Summit Tours [2023 Reviews]

Mauna Kea is a massive dormant volcano with a peak sitting at over 4,000 meters above sea level which makes it the highest point in all of Hawaii and the second-highest peak of an island on the entire planet.

Considered a shrine for worship and as a “home to the gods”, it is very important to Hawaiians, and its preservation is taken very seriously. Thanks to the extremely dry environment about it, it’s extremely clear and offers unmatchable views of the stars from the summit.

The best way to take advantage of this phenomenon is by going on a tour! We have all the best stargazing summit tours at Mauna Kea right here for you, so don’t go anywhere!

Best Mauna Kea Stargazing Summit Tours

Sunset Stargazing Adventure w/ Free Photo at Mauna Kea SummitMauna Kea Stargazing Experience + PhotosBest Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)

Best Value Tour

Best Family Tour

Best Full Day Tour

editors choice
Mauna Kea Summit: Sunset Stargazing Adventure w Free Photo Mauna Kea Stargazing Experience + PhotosBest Mauna Kea Summit Tour
Departure:Hotel pickup and drop-off availableMauna Kea Forest Reserve , 44-5400 Daniel K. Inouye Hwy, WaimeaVariety Available
Start:3:00 PM9:30 PM 2:15 PM
Duration:7.5 to 8 hours2 hours8 hours
Includes:Pickup and drop-off (select locations), snacks and hot chocolate, free DSLR night photos (sent via email), parkas, glovesAll activities, professional photographer guide, parka jackets, complimentary medium resolution photosDinner, bottled water, snow parka, ski pants, gloves, admission fee for Mauna Kea 4x4 passenger van, expert tour guide, DSLR camera photo, astronomical telescope

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Quick Answer: The 5 Best Stargazing Summit Tours at Mauna Kea

  1. Best Value Tour: Sunset Stargazing Adventure w/ Free Photo at Mauna Kea Summit
  2. Best Family Tour: Mauna Kea Stargazing Experience + Photos
  3. Best Full Day Tour: Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)
  4. Best Sightseeing Tour: Maunakea Stellar Explorer From HILO
  5. Best Small Group Tour: Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour

Mauna Kea Stargazing Summit Tour Reviews

1. Best Value Tour: Sunset Stargazing Adventure w/ Free Photo at Mauna Kea Summit

Mauna Kea Summit: Sunset Stargazing Adventure w Free Photo

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 7.5 to 8 hours
  • Departure: Hotel pickup and drop-off available
  • Departure Time: 3:00 PM
  • Includes: Pickup and drop-off (select locations), snacks and hot chocolate, free DSLR night photos (sent via email), parkas, gloves

Hawaii is a place full of natural beauty that never stops surprising or impressing us. It’s one of those states that no matter how much you visit, there’s always something to wonder at. With the Mauna Kea Summit: Sunset Stargazing Adventure w Free Photo Tour, you’re sure to be blown away by the entire experience.

This 8-hour tour starts off by you being picked up at your hotel, so there’s no need to deal with organizing transportation to another meetup point.

Make sure you bring comfortable clothes, and long pants that are flexible enough to move in easily. Due to the high elevation, the temperatures can drop to below freezing!

You’ll all start heading up to the summit, as your guide tells you about the importance of this magical place. They’ll speak about its relevance and cultural significance throughout history, as well as present-day.

They do offer a warm parka, gloves, and a hot drink as well so you stay comfy and never too chilly.

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Once you arrive to the top of the volcano, you’ll be able to really settle in and appreciate this incredible view.

Here, you’ll find the world’s largest collection of research telescopes, along with 2 of those that took the first photo of a black hole! Everyone will get to use a Celestron telescope to check out the amazing star views! Enjoy some hot chocolate and snacks as you watch the celestial wonders above you.

You’ll surely want to commemorate this moment, and what a better way than to have photos taken of you by a professional DSLR camera? The photos will be emailed to you afterward, displaying you against the starry sky!


More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

2. Best Family Tour: Mauna Kea Stargazing Experience + Photos

Mauna Kea Stargazing Experience + Photos

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Departure: Mauna Kea Forest Reserve , 44-5400 Daniel K. Inouye Hwy, Waimea
  • Departure Time: 9:30 PM
  • Includes: All activities, professional photographer guide, parka jackets, complimentary medium resolution photos

Perhaps you like the idea of going to check out the magnificent luminous sky from the Mauna Kea summit, but don’t want to spend that much time up there. Maybe you have a packed schedule that won’t allow for it?

If so, we highly recommend the Mauna Kea Stargazing Experience + Photos that lasts 2 hours. You’ll start off by meeting up with your guide, where they’ll tell you about the area and what to expect.

This is a tour that’s recommended for people who have a moderate physical fitness level, and we highly recommend bringing warm clothing that you can comfortably “work out” in.

While they will provide you with warm parka jackets, it’s always best if you have something you know fits you well. Your guide will select a route depending on the weather conditions, that will offer you the best views possible.

You’ll be accompanied by an Analog-Astronaut and professional photographer guide who knows this area like the back of their hand.

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Not only that, but they’ll tell you all about the galaxies, stars, and constellations in the sky. With a small group size maxing out at 12 travelers, you can ask them any questions you have.

We found the guide to be incredibly patient and knowledgeable, offering so much interesting historical information about the cultural relevance, geology, and the history of the volcano. There are blankets so you can lay on the ground and look up at the sky without craning your neck for a couple of hours.

The guide also takes incredible photos of you with the starry skies in the background, which turn out like some sort of masterpiece! Afterward, they’ll send you the photos via email later on so you can have them framed or share on social media.


More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

3. Best Full Day Tour: Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour (Free sunset and star photo!)

Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Departure: Variety of locations available
  • Departure Time: 2:15 PM
  • Includes: Dinner, bottled water, snow parka, ski pants, gloves, admission fee for Mauna Kea 4×4 passenger van, expert tour guide, DSLR camera photo, astronomical telescope

Next up, we bring you yet another highly-rated, 8-hour tour to the top of Mauna Kea. This is one of the most mind-blowing places to see the stars in the entire world, and for the best views we highly recommend checking out the Best Mauna Kea Summit Tour!

With complimentary sunset and star photos taken by your professional guide, you’ll have something to share with everyone else as well! The tour will pick you and the rest of your group up from the Target in Kona, though the time will vary depending on which time of year you go.

As you travel towards Mauna Kea, your guide will get acquainted with everyone and begin telling you some interesting facts about the volcano and how it is considered a holy place of worship.

Make sure you bring warm clothes that you can hike in, as well as comfortable shoes with a good grip/tread on them so you can more efficiently climb up the volcano.

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Make a much-welcomed stop at the Onizuka Astronomy Complex, where you’ll check out their Visitor Center at an altitude of 9,000 feet. This is also crucial, to help everyone get acclimated to the altitude.

At this point, you’ll start to notice it getting a bit colder, so you can change into your warmer clothes. The gift shop here has some pretty cool stuff, so make sure to see their offerings, as well! If everyone would like, you can have an early dinner here and make sure to hydrate.

Next continue on your hike to the Mauna Kea summit, at an altitude of an impressive 13,796 feet! Here, you’ll see the beautiful observatory where you can explore, and see the sunset from one of the highest peaks in the world.

After the sun goes down, start gazing at the stars with their refractor telescope and razor pointer. The guide does an amazing job of explaining the constellations, planets, and stars that you will witness here.

They’ll also take marvelous photos of you with a professional camera, emailing these beautiful snaps afterwards.


More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

4. Best Sightseeing Tour: Maunakea Stellar Explorer From HILO

Maunakea Stellar Explorer HILO

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 7 hours
  • Departure: 93 Banyan Dr, Hilo
  • Departure Time: 3:30 pm
  • Includes: Bottled water, professional guide, hotel pickup and drop-off, coffee and/or tea, dinner

While Hawaii has a ton of fascinating places to offer on land, it also has prime stargazing to admire! The Maunakea Stellar Explorer HILO is a 7-hour tour that will take you through beautiful water phenomenons, lava tubes, volcano summits, and much more!

If you want an action-packed Hawaiian adventure that encompasses a ton of different fascinating places this is it! We loved that this tour includes a complimentary hotel pickup so you don’t have to plan extra time and budget to get to your meetup spot.

Transportation is comfortable and climate-controlled so you don’t have to worry about being too cold or hot and humid. Start off in the charming little Hilo town, where your guide will start telling you all about the area and the stunning Rainbow Falls.

This famous waterfall looks like something from a storybook! The twin waterfall system stands at a whopping 80 feet tall, and if the time is right you’ll get to see the rainbow around them!

Head up the Wailuku River – the second-largest river in Hawaii. The route along here is gorgeous, and is anything but boring. Also known as Pe’epe’e Falls, you’ll eventually come across the Boiling Pots river feature.

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Shaped by erosion and lava formations over time, it creates a pool of turbulent water that looks like it’s boiling. You can grab some impressive photos here!

Next, you’ll see the Kaumana Caves which is a section of the enormous lava tube system that transported lava 1.5 miles from Hilo-town in the late 1800s! Go inside to experience the high, cathedral-like ceilings before resting to enjoy a picnic lunch on top of them!

As the sun starts to go down a bit, your guide will take you to one of the best locations on Mauna Kea for stargazing at night. This will depend on the weather conditions, and they’ll let you see the sky, stars, and planets through their large aperture Dobsonian telescope.

Then go across Saddle Road located between both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa which are two of the biggest volcanoes on the planet. Your guide will offer a fascinating narration on the different lava flows, environment, and wildlife found here.

They’ll set up a top-notch telescope so you can watch vibrant solar flares, sunspots, and more!


More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

5. Best Small Group Tour: Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour

Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Departure: Hotel pickup and drop-off
  • Departure Time: Contact tour operator
  • Includes: Guide, hooded parkas and gloves, hot picnic dinner, hot cocoa and cookies, private star show with telescope, local taxes

Sometimes bigger groups mean bigger fun, and this definitely holds true with the Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour. While it says “small-group” in the title, they take up to 29 passengers, which is one of the biggest we’ve seen.

It offers camaraderie while seeing these incredible places and even a delicious picnic! The tour does offer hotel pickup, so all you have to do is meet them in your hotel lobby ready with some comfortable walking shoes and clothing!

Board the 4×4 luxury van and get settled in while your guide tells you and your group about the area’s history, geology, flora and fauna, and more. We found the van to be very smooth and with ample leg room, making it that much more pleasant.

You’ll first stop at the Maunakea Visitor Information Station, where you’ll learn about Mauna Kea and its significance throughout history. Then, enjoy a hot picnic dinner where you’ll chat further and just enjoy the view before heading to the summit.

Make sure you’re wearing warm clothes as you’re going to head up above the clouds, all the way to the Mauna Kea Summit! Once you arrive, you’ll all be able to take some time and relax! Enjoy a magnificent sunset from above the clouds while seeing the Pacific Ocean as well.

Once the sun sets, the group will travel to a lower elevation to keep everyone more comfortable. Here, they’ll share their 11” Celestron telescopes designed to see what seems like every star and planet in the sky!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

Big Island Travel Guide

Best Stargazing Summit Tours at Mauna Kea

The Big Island is the best Hawaiian island to visit by far. Why? Because it boasts active volcanoes, the world’s tallest mountain, 5 Marine Life Conservation Districts, and more wilderness and variety than any other island in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Not too mention the fishing! Kona is world renowned for its deep sea fishing!

Given its name, you won’t be surprised to learn that the Big Island is the largest island in the State of Hawaii. But this isn’t its official name. The Big Island is really the Island of Hawaii. However, calling it the Big Island helps to distinguish it from the state and avoid confusion.

It really is a big island. In fact, it’s the 3rd largest island in Polynesia. Only the two main islands of New Zealand are larger. You may think the island gained its name from the name of the state. In fact, the state was named after this island.

Although the Big Island now has the lowest population density of the four main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, historically it was the most powerful. In 1795, Kamehameha the Great from Hawaii untied most of the islands under his rule and named his extended kingdom after his home island.

Today the low population density and many fascinating natural attractions on and around the Island of Hawaii make it the premiere Hawaiian destination for anyone who wishes to experience the full scope of Mother Nature’s variety, beauty, and majesty.

Airports & Entry

Most visitors come to the Island of Hawaii by air. You can fly directly from the mainland US and Canada to Hilo International Airport (ITO) in the east or Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA) in the west.

Alternatively, you can fly to Daniel K. Inouye Honolulu International Airport (HNL) in Oahu and then take a short half-hour connecting flight to the Big Island. Most direct flights are from large cities on the western seaboard. However, there are also direct flights to KOA from Tokyo.

Although only 185,000 people live on the island, KOA saw 4 million and ITO 1.4 million passengers in the immediate each year pre-COVID. The vast majority of these are tourists.

If you intend to explore the whole island, it’s a good idea to arrange to arrive at one airport and depart at the other. This enables you to tour the whole island with no need to backtrack. However, many visitors stick to one of the main resorts, such as Kailua-Kona.

Before choosing your arrival airport, consider where you are going to stay. This will depend upon what you most want to see on the Big Island. It makes sense to arrive at the airport closest to your hotel.

KOA is a modern airport with 3 terminals, only 2 used for international travellers. ITO is much smaller with a single large terminal. Both airports offer a limited range of shops and restaurants focused on tourism. For example, there are gift shops, lei stands, and newsstands. Opening hours are arranged around flight arrival and departure times.

Eight major car rental companies operate out of both airports: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty. All the rental agencies have rental bases that are reached by a shuttle bus from the airports.
It is advisable to book vehicle rental in advance to save time and ensure you get the vehicle you want. If you plan to pick up at one airport and drop at the other, you must tell them in advance to avoid extra charges.

If you don’t want to hire a vehicle, you can take a taxi into Kailua for around $25. There is a much cheaper option — The Hele-On Bus operated by the Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency. However, they only operate a limited service.

Traveling in the time of Covid

Like many other destinations worldwide, tours and visitor attractions in the Island of Hawaii have adopted special procedures.

Wearing a mask in mandatory in many locations. You will be expected to supply your own mask and wear it when you enter public buildings.

Keep your distance from other visitors who are not in your family group or bubble. You will be expected to keep your distance inside minibuses and other vehicles and when seated in restaurants.

At the time of writing, the State of Hawaii welcomes visitors but requires pre-travel testing for Covid-19. You can obtain the most up-to-date information directly from the State of Hawaii Portal.

Eco-Tourism and Sustainability in the Big Island

The Hawaiian Archipelago offers many areas of outstanding natural beauty and protected wildlife areas you can explore. In order to maintain this wonderful place for future generations, many of the local tour companies operate eco-friendly tours.

When considering the tours we review on the World Travel Guides website, note that there are often eco-friendly options that empower you to become a more sustainable traveler. This is especially true around the islands of Hawaii. Take care of our world and it will take care of our children.

Planning Tips

It’s always best to be prepared. Here are 5 tips to help you make the most of your stay on the Big Island.

Tip #1: If you want to see whales, go in winter

During the summer, humpback whales feed and congregate around Alaska. In winter, they migrate south to mate and calve. From mid-December to mid-April, there are an abundance of whale sightings around the Big Island.

Between 10 and 12 thousand whales congregate in these tropical waters. Whales are often visible at a distance from the beaches and will circle any small boats that approach their pods. Winter is the best time to whale watch in Hawaii.

Tip #2: Take your time to appreciate all that the Island of Hawaii has to offer

Perhaps you only want to see the whales or surf in the sunshine, but there’s a lot more to see and do on the Big Island.

Don’t miss the opportunity to explore Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, experience a traditional luau, and visit Hulihe’e Royal Palace in historic Kailua-Kona. See the information on Nightlife and Attractions below.

Tip #3: Book Big Island tours in advance, especially during winter

The Big Island is a popular destination for tourists, so tours quickly sell out. Book in advance to avoid disappointment. You wouldn’t be able to forgive yourself if you went all that way only to miss your opportunity to whale watch because the tours were full.

Since many tours offer free refunds up to 24 hours before the activity begins, you’re not taking a risk if you book before you go. Just check the refund policy of each tour before you book.

Tip #4: Take summer clothes and raincoats

Because the Big Island is tropical, you need to pack summer clothes. However, don’t forget it also rains a lot on the island.

Light raincoats are an excellent idea. If you intend to visit the observatories on Mauna Kea, you will definitely need a jacket.

And if you plan to visit a plush Martini lounge or attend a luau, you should bring something a bit smarter for those special occasions.

Tip #5: Buy traditional local craft souvenirs

If you want to take home something unique, check out the Volcano Art Center inside Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Be sure to take a tour of the Volcanoes, it is an unforgettable experience.

Over 200 local Hawaiian artists contribute to this store, so you can find and original arts and crafts that will make a unique souvenir of your visit to the Island of Hawai’i.

Restaurants & Eating Out

The Big Island not only has a unique ecosystem with plants not found in the other 49 States, but it also boasts an uninterrupted cultural history.

That means during your stay you have the unique opportunity to taste genuine Polynesian food untainted by European colonial influences.

Because the Big Island is surrounded by abundant marine life, it’s no surprise many restaurants feature seafood on their menus. A popular dish is Opakapaka, which is crimson snapper either steamed, baked or grilled.

Monchong is a deep-water fish marinaded and grilled. Raw tuna is a favorite with the locals and is found in traditional foods like Poke.

Poke is like Japanese Sashimi but with the raw fish served in hearty chunks rather than thin slices.

Something unique to the Hawaiian Islands is luau food cooked in an earth oven called an imu. A tasty example of luau food is Laulau, made with pork, chicken, or fish.

The selected meat is wrapped in taro leaves and then cooked inside the imu for hours until it grows soft with a smoky taste. Delicious!

While many North Americans might consider either bread or potato to be their staple food during meals, on Maui taro is the staple root crop.

Taro is most often consumed as Poi, a thick paste that is either baked or steamed. Poi is slightly sour due to fermentation during its preparation.

And for dessert, why not try some Banana-Apple Fruit, Breadfruit, or Kulolo. Banana-Apple is a common fruit eaten cold or hot. Breadfruit is melon-sized and is served boiled, deep-fried, baked, or steamed.

Kulolo is steamed taro pudding. Yes! Taro is a versatile root.

Nightlife & Entertainment

This Big Island can’t offer the same nightlife and entertainments as Honolulu, but the large quantity of tourists passing through ensure that there are plenty of night spots where you can let your hair down.

Much like the resorts and hotels, the nightlife tends to be clustered along short sections of the east coast and the west coast. On the eastern side, most of the nightlife is found in Hilo. There you will find low key establishments frequented by locals and visitors alike. This is the best area for a quiet night and meeting friends.

On the west coast, the nightlife focuses on Kailua-Kona. There you will find a much larger range of options, from relaxed bars to elegant cocktail bars and lively nightclubs. The beach bars on this side of the island are the best place to witness an amazing sunset while you’re sipping a delicious cocktail.

But while you are in Hawaii, you really should attend at least one traditional luau. That’s a special Hawaiian evening party where you can hear local songs, watch amazing traditional performances, and eat luau foods.

If you go to an organised luau, you can expect a lei greeting, watch the Imu Ceremony (cooking a pig in an earth oven), join in a Hula Dance, and maybe play some traditional games. The highlight is a show by Polynesian performers who re-enact traditional sagas to educate and entertain you about the mythical origins of the Hawaiian Islands.

One of the most popular luaus is the Island Breeze Luau held in an historically significant location — the grounds of King Kamehameha’s Palace in Kailua-Kona. This king was responsible for unifying most of the State of Hawaii into a single kingdom. This luau pulls out all the stops, with an outrigger boat landing, a royal procession, and a fire knife dance.

Getting Around

The easiest and simplest way to get around the Big Island is to rent a car. There are vehicle rental facilities at both international airports. With your own car, you can go where you want to go when you want to go there.

The Hele-On Bus operated by the Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency is an option. However, because of the Island of Hawaii’s relatively low population density and large area, the public bus services are relatively infrequent and don’t go everywhere.

When driving around the island, bear in mind that the speed limits are lower than in the mainland US. Typical speed limits between settlements are 45 mph or 55 mph. When planning your journey, take the lower speed limit and the winding roads into account.

Note there are some locations you cannot reach with a rental car. Your rental contract will most likely forbid you from taking your car to the Green Sand Beach or to the top of Mauna Kea.

If you choose not to hire a car, your best option is to take guided tours to visit the attractions you are interested in seeing. Many guided tours have the option of a hotel pick up, and some tours take you to those locations forbidden to rented vehicles.

Of course, you could also take taxis to visit attractions around the Big Island. This is the most expensive option and not a great choice. The relatively large size of the island and slow journey times means that you’ll pay much more than if you hired a car.


Most visitors to the Big Island stay in one of the resorts. Many of these are clustered on the east coast and the west coast near the international airports.

The accommodation on the east side is centered on Hilo. This is the best place to stay if you’re interested in the beautiful scenery around the Big Island. It is near River State Park, where you will find the famous Rainbow Falls, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, with active volcanoes and rainforests. It is also the best base camp for visiting the summit of Mauna Kea via Saddle Road.

On the west coast, most of the accommodation is found in Kailua-Kona. This is the best location for cultural attractions and beaches. Most of the boat tours, snorkeling tours, and whale-watching tours sail from Kailua-Kona.

If you plan to see everything interesting on the Island of Hawaii, it’s a good idea to split your time between Hilo and Kailua-Kona. I would recommend that you visit Hilo first, since visiting the waterfalls and the volcanoes involves a lot of walking. Then, when you go to the west coast, you can relax on the beaches and boat cruises.


Although the Big Island is small compared to a continent, you will still find several distinctly different climate zones due to the island’s unique geography. The two important factors are the side of the island and the elevation above sea level.

The island can be divided into two sides. The north and east coasts are relatively wet with higher levels of rainfall. The west and south are dry, with very little rainfall. This is because the prevailing wind hits the eastern coast, which is the windward side. As the air hits the island, it is forced up into the tall mountains. This upward movement causes the air to lose its moisture as precipitation.

At the top of the mountains, it’s much cooler than down below. On average, it is around 300F cooler at the top of the mountains than on the coast. You might need to wear shorts and a T-shirt on the beach but a heavy coat and sweater at the top of Mauna Kea.

There are two seasons called winter and summer. In reality, in winter the temperature doesn’t often fall below 650F, and in summer the temperature doesn’t usually rise above 900F. The water on the beaches has an even narrower temperature range between 770F and 830F. The real difference between the two seasons is the level of rainfall.

The dry season is between April and October. The wet season is between November and March, which is winter on the Big Island. However, the west coast sees little rain even during the rainy season. So, if you want to sunbathe, the west coast is best for you.


The Big Island boasts both natural beauty and a rich cultural history. There are many fascinating attractions and activities to enjoy.

As mentioned above, the island is easily divided into an east and a west side. The major natural attractions are to the east. The major cultural attractions, boat tours, and best beaches to the west.

The East

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The Island of Hawaii is volcanic in origin. It was created by lava flows from five separate shield volcanoes, two of which are still active. And you can visit these active volcanoes inside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The park covers an area of 21 square miles and growing. It’s growing because the volcanoes are spilling lava into the see and expanding the size of the island. The Halema’uma’u Crater is said to be home to Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire. Steam constantly rises from this crater, making it a popular attraction for visitors. One fascinating exhibit is the Thurston Lava Tube which is 20 feet high and 500 feet long.

Waipio Valley

There are many beautiful valleys on the east coast of the Big Island. Waipio Valley is a popular hiking spot. It is the site of Hiilawe Falls, which boasts a drop of 1,200 feet.

The valley is difficult to access because of steep cliffs inland and the proximity of the sea to the east. It can be reached by road, but this road is one of those the car hire companies do not allow rental vehicles to use. Most visitors get there on foot.

Mauna Kea

This dormant volcano is not only Hawaii’s tallest mountain, but it is also the world’s tallest. While Everest boasts a higher elevation at the summit, the height from the base of Everest to the top is less than the same distance at Mauna Kea.

This mountain is also where you will find the Mauna Kea Observatory. This is probably the best place in the world to go stargazing. The visitor’s Information Station sits at an altitude of 9,200 feet above sea level. If you reach the summit, that’s 13,800 feet above sea level.

Just like Waipio Valley, car hire companies often do not let their vehicles use the road that leads up Mauna Kea. Therefore, to visit this mountain it is easiest to take a stargazing tour.

The West

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

This is a fantastic place to learn about ancient Hawaiian traditions. It features a palace complex and a restored temple complete with replica idols carved to replace those destroyed when the islands were converted to Christianity.

There are many things to see in this park, including the royal fishpond, the Keoua Stone, rock carvings, and the landing place of the royal canoes.

Ahu’ena Heiau

This is the best example of a traditional temple on the island. It was built by Kamehameha I in honor of the god Lona. The temple has been fully restored to its former glory so that visitors can appreciate the complexity and unique nature of the indigenous religion.

Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park

If you’re interested in Hawaii’s modern history, this is an essential spot to visit. It’s the location of Captain Cook’s landing and death in 1779. There you will find the Captain James Cook Monument.

This park also encloses Kealakekua Bay, which is one of the Island of Hawaii’s 5 Marine Life Conservation Districts. With its thriving coral and bright tropical fishes, this is a wonderful location for snorkeling and scuba diving.

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The Sunset Stargazing Adventure at Mauna Kea Summit is our Editors Choice for the best stargazing summit tour at Mauna Kea

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Robert Baker

Robert is a content writer and editor at World Guides to Travel where he shares his love for the great outdoors. He also writes in-depth travel blogs for other websites around the world. Robert is passionate about the environment and uses his writing to educate people about the advantages and importance of sustainable living. Robert enjoys creative writing. In 2009, his children’s novel Sally Hemings & the Good Associates won the Children’s Fiction section of the You Write On Book of the Year Award.
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