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Mauna Kea Tour

Sunrise or Sunset w/ star gazing!

With its cultural and spiritual importance, Mauna Kea has something for everyone! It is a must do when visiting the Big Island of Hawaii.

Mauna Kea is many things to many people.

To Hawaiians, it is a revered spiritual site, home to the mightiest Gods and burial place of their ancestors. The famous Adze Quarries and dozens of archaeological sites define Mauna Kea’s importance to Hawaii’s first settlers.
To Astronomers, Mauna Kea is home to the world’s largest telescopes and has atmospheric clarity better than anywhere else on earth. Cutting-edge science and new understandings of our Universe are constantly flowing from the summit.

To students of Geology and Earth sciences, environmentalists, and anthropologists, Mauna Kea has something for everyone: wonderful Ice Age/Glacial scouring, road cuts revealing strata and a well defined Volcanic history.

To James Ward and his adventure guides, it is an opportunity to share our accumulated knowledge with our many and varied guests and to recreate for each guest the absolute thrill and awe that we experienced on our first visit to Mauna Kea.
A Mauna Kea tour is a must-do when visiting the Big Island of Hawai’i. Check off your bucket list with Epic! Tours Hiking Adventures and enjoy the journey!

Our goal: We are an Adventure Tour company and guests come to do the Mauna Kea Summit for a variety of reasons such as cultural and spiritual importance, some have come to add Mauna Kea to their list of High Points in the world, some come to just to say they have stood on the tallest mountain or to examine its unique geology and Ice Age artifacts. A few come to view the worlds’ largest telescope buildings even though few have public access. Therefore we will do everything possible to get our tour to the summit as this is our main objective.
Weather: Mauna Kea is occasionally hit by passing clouds or bad weather which does not close the road. If the road is open to the summit, our tour WILL proceed. We cannot guarantee that you will see sunset or stars as we have no control of cloud coverage and spontaneous weather. Check out Mauna Kea’s webcam
Bring: Extra layer of clothes, long pants, sturdy “closed toe” walking shoes, a light meal, water, sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses, camera and an adventurous attitude.
Please do not bring: Alcoholic beverages or excessive gear.

The Sunset Adventure

Our tour leaves Hilo, Kona and Waikoloa at seasonally adjusted times (3 p.m. to 4 p.m.). We start our tour from your resort and make a quick stop at Rainbow Falls (If in Hilo), then go directly to the Onizuka Visitor Center (VIS) at 9200ft (3000m) where you may do some vigorous short climbs or watch videos on Astronomy and the Telescopes. The VIS also has hot drinks, snacks and a large range of mountain and astronomy related souvenirs and educational materials available.

Following a 30 to 45 minute acclimatization stop at the VIS, we ascend to 13,600ft where our guide will explain the various telescopes in view. Next we continue up the last few hundred feet to the road highpoint where those in good physical condition may walk around the nearby telescopes. This opportunity and sunset are often at the same time revealing spectacular views of sunset and the famous “Shadow” of Mauna Kea to the East.

Upon twilight, we descend to the VIS location where the VIS guide, leads you on a detailed journey across the magnificent night sky describing major celestial objects and Polynesian navigational stars. You will have an opportunity to use the VIS’s provided telescopes as well as have time for hot drinks and bathrooms before continuing back. We return to Hilo, Kona and Waikoloa usually by 9pm to 10pm