Catch a Sunset and Stargaze at Mauna Kea's Summit

Hawaii Mauna Kea Observatory

Added by

Take in otherworldly views at the top of the 14,000' dormant volcano. Mauna Kea is also one of the best places for stargazing and astrophotography. You can drive right to the top, but highly suggested you have an SUV; all wheel drive is your safest bet since the last 7 miles to the top are on a very bumpy dirt road.

While you can drive right to the summit of Mauna Kea on the 14 mile access road, the last 7 miles are on a very bumpy dirt road, so make sure your vehicle has plenty of clearance and good tires. All wheel drive will help a lot.

The drive up is amazing itself. Usually there is some fog lingering around a very desolate looking forest area until about half way up, when you reach the visitor information center. After that, the road turns to dirt and the landscape makes a vast change. It looks like another world and the color of the dirt changes to beautiful grays and reds as you ascend.

Once at the top, above all of the fog and clouds, you get to see all of the observatories and an incredible view. There are a few areas you can walk around and hike, but the air is incredibly thin that high up.

Park rangers will ask you to leave as the sun sets and it starts to get dark. They don't want vehicle headlights interfering with the telescopes or the operators. With that said, there are several pullouts along the access road that you can stop at for stargazing.

Pack List

  • Warm clothes...even though it's Hawaii, it's freezing at 14,000'
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Tripod if shooting stars at night
  • Sunscreen if there during the day
Read More

How to Get There

about 1 month ago

My Favorite Place On Earth (so far)

I know that's a strong statement (and I'm decently traveled), but it's another feeling driving through various vegetation to reach the park, making the drive up, then watching the sunset above the clouds; it feels as though you're on another planet. It's so peaceful and beautiful, and it was one of the only times I felt a strong presence of a higher power as well. The air is thin, so I do recommend acclimating half way up at the visitor's center and changing into warmer clothes if coming off the beach like I did. Other tip that helped me was having some seltzer and crackers to keep my stomach calm during the sunset. I may be a Hawaii native, but this place is a must experience once in your life!

about 1 month ago

4 months ago

Mauna Kea captures

Really wonderful captures on your visit, good job

4 months ago

6 months ago

Wow

The stars are absolutely beautiful at this view. I even saw a shooting star! Thought I would be at the very top of the mountain rather than the visitors stop to see the stars so that was a bummer but still amazing to see.

6 months ago

11 months ago

"Tallest" Mountain on Earth

Mauna Kea is actually the tallest mountain from the bottom of the ocean. This mountain is superb for stargazing and astrophotography as the light pollution is extremely low in the area.

11 months ago

about 2 years ago

Hang out at the visitors center after sunset and star gaze. They give free star tours and you can see several planets through their telescopes.

about 2 years ago

Added by Shane Black

I'm an avid landscape/timelapse/astrophotographer based out of central Ohio.

Activities:

Chillin, Photography

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Year Round

Rating:

Features:

Romantic
Scenic

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

More Adventures Nearby

Hike Kalepa Ridge

Hawaii / Kalalau Lookout

Kalepa Ridge is a narrow, unofficial trail that starts at the Kalalau Lookout in Koke'e State Park.

Saul Jacob
17 Saves

Cliff Jump from Hawaii's South Point

Hawaii / South Point, Big Island, Hawaii

NOTE: Cliff jump at your own risk and only do so when conditions are great (calm seas, clear skies, good water visibility).

Brian Fulda
32 Saves

Beach Day at Makua Beach

Hawaii / Makua Beach

Getting There:  From Honolulu, head west on the H1 and follow signs for Waianae. Continue as the H1 turn into Farrington highway and drive along the coast.

Erik Holmes
38 Saves