Mauna Kea Summit

Mauna Kea Summit, Kailua-Kona: Address, Phone Number, Mauna Kea Summit Reviews: 4.5/5

Mauna Kea Summit
4.5
About
At 13,796 feet, this peak offers an incredible view of lava, desert, the valley and Mauna Loa.
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4.5
4,554 reviews
Excellent
3,659
Very good
659
Average
169
Poor
30
Terrible
39

Lee L
33 contributions
Amazing sunset experience
Jul 2021
This was such an awesome experience! Driving up, it was drizzling and so foggy I was worried we wouldn't get to see anything. I was praying God would let us see just one good view of the susset. Walking up it was all still foggy and cloudy, we started to leave, but dragged around a little bit then the fog started to lift and we started to see the mountains peaking... next thing we knew the sunset starting turning all colors of red. What a beautiful sunset! So glad we did it and didn't turn back.

On a side note, a kid ran up and fell to his face. His siblings were giggling so we laughed too until we realized he wasn't playing. His mother said he ran all the way up, with the altitude change, just nearly fainted. We were only at the visitor center but it still is no joke. Please take pre-caution.
Written 26 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Julianne & Kim
32 contributions
3rd time up for Sunset - still just as amazing as the first
Jul 2021
The view never gets old!
It does get cold though... be sure to bring warm jackets and maybe even blankets if you're going to be there for sunset so you can hang out at the top and watch the colors change from amazing to spectacular. We brought a pre-made dinner and had an epic picnic while watching the sun set from 13,800'!
You do need an enclosed 4 wheel drive vehicle to drive up to the top and they're very strict about that but you can always try to hitchhike your way up from anyone with extra space in their car. Highly, highly suggest.
Written 21 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

AnnaWest24
Boston, MA252 contributions
Finger oxygen meter read is 68% oxygen on top!
Jul 2021 • Family
OXIGEN AT 68% ON TOP!

We did Volcano NP in the AM and arrived to Mauna Kea at around 4:30 PM. I brought the finger oxygen meter with me. I am a fit and healthy 49-year old. As soon as we arrived to the top, within 5 mins, my reading was: hear beat 105 and oxygen level 68%!!! I could not believe my eyes. After some research on the way down to sea level, I learned that the oxygen saturation between 13,000 and 15,000 feet is around 60% to 70% so my reading makes perfect sense. We did stop at the visitor center and we had a 4-wheel drive Chevy Tahoe. The ride up on dirt road IS TOUGH. My husband did it. I think if I was driving, I would turn back…. It is steep one lane with two way traffic. We did almost slide backwards on gravel a few times at lower speeds. So, you need some momentum and higher speed to get to the top and with curves and grade, it makes it a challenging ride. Beautiful scenery on top. I started to feel pressure on my head at visitor center already. The hubby said on top that he feels like he is buzzed and lightheaded. My teenage kids had headaches too. Just be careful! I personally wouldn’t stay until sunset on Mauna Kea…. Unless you leave right away to get down. I wouldn’t want to drive this road in the darkness. Our engine overheated on way up. Many people open the hood to let their engines cool off on top. The attached oxygen meter photo is the second reading I took after recuperating in my car for 2 mins.
Written 6 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Jim W
Champaign-Urbana, IL5 contributions
How we drove our rental 4WD to Mauna Kea Summit
Jun 2021
Our family of 4 rented a Jeep Compass for a week, and we drove it to the summit of Mauna Kea. Risks included:

1. Rental agreement specified “pavement only”. No agreement language specific to Mauna Kea.
2. Possible to overheat the engine or brakes if you don’t operate the vehicle properly.
3. Vehicle could break down.
4. Driver might be impaired from altitude sickness.

Here’s what I did to mitigate risk:

1. Spent some time in advance familiarizing myself with the 4WD system. Spent some time on google and tried a few test runs as we were driving up and down the steep slopes of Kona. I own a 4WD truck at home.
2. We spent about 45 minutes at the visitor’s center (9000ft) to acclimate to the altitude. Ate lunch, watched a video (outside, the building itself was closed due to covid).
3. Spoke with the ranger before going to the summit. He advised us to use “Low 4WD”, which made for a slower climb, but helps prevent the engine from overheating.
4. Back up plan was to hike to “sunset hill” (15min) from the visitor’s center if we judged the drive up was too risky. Having a back up plan helps overcome “summititis”, where you feel like you have to get to the top.

The experience:

We left Kona around 4:00PM. The drive to the visitor’s center is straightforward on paved roads. After about 45 minutes at the center, we checked in with the ranger, and started the climb around 6PM. The road turns to gravel immediately after the visitor’s center. The road is fairly wide (2 lanes), some sections have guard rails. The road surface is somewhat washboarded. Speed up the climb was about 15 mph, slower in some bumpy spots. In several sections, glare from the sun made it hard to see the road. Reached the summit around 6:30 PM, parked facing the sun to watch sunset at 7:13pm. Parking space filled up fairly quickly after we arrived.

Sunset itself was fast, lasted about a minute. We drove down to the visitor’s center while we still had some twilight and did our stargazing from there. The trip down is really the more difficult part. Put the vehicle in 1st gear, and engaged the 4wd. In a few steep sections, had to use brakes as well. Drove down to the visitors center parking lot. Parking was crowded, glad we decided to come down shortly after sunset. Additional cars arrived at the parking lot from downslope just for the stargazing.

The sky was dark and clear. We saw several satellites, the southern cross was visible in the southern sky. The milky way was easy to see. Polaris was visible just over the top of the mountain. A hundred cars with headlights entering/exiting the parking lot interfered with the stargazing a bit. We stayed about 30 minutes and drove back to Kona.
Written 3 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Sue J
5 contributions
Trip to the summit of Mauna Kea
Jun 2021
Loved our trip to the summit of Mauna Kea! Between the stories of high altitude sickness, and the rugged road to get there I was a bit nervous about traveling to the summit. However, in the end it was not as intimidating as I thought it would be. We followed all the rules (waiting at the visitor center for 30 minutes before going up, making sure we had plenty of water, full tank of gas and an appropriate 4wd vehicle) and had no issues. The sunset at the summit was stunning and then once the stars came out (you have to leave the summit just after sunset, but can travel down a bit to one of the parking lots) you get another amazing show. I have never seen so many stars/planets before and had perfect view of the Milky Way. Highly recommend this trip despite the long travel and preparation required.
Written 30 June 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

evelyn m
4 contributions
A night among the stars
Jun 2021
This trip was incredible. When the stars came out, the view was like nothing I've seen in ages. Stars covered the sky and the Milky Way appeared. Our guide Hunter had a background in astronomy so he could provide insight into what we were seeing. He set up a telescope so we could see Alpha Centari and Antares. The altitude may be an issue for some people but the tour people are careful to let you know what to expect.
Written 19 June 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Margie J
4 contributions
LOVED LOOKING INTO THE CRATER, IT WAS HUGE!
Jun 2021
Big Island Grand Circle Island Wasabi Tour with Richard! Heard more information about the big Island from Richard during the day than most of the reading about the big Island while there and before we went. He is knowledgeable, and always a humorous or interesting story to tell about the Big Island. Saw the 2 top of our list sights, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Loa Volcano crater and steam vents, and my favorite, Nāhuku - Thurston Lava Tube. Nice stops at Greenwell coffee farm with tasting cups of different coffees, loved the donut shop stop-YUM! And, the last stop at a farmers stand with fresh picked fruit sliced, diced or whole, just the way you like it. Thank you Wasabi Tours and Richard for a wonderful day in Hawaii.
Written 14 June 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Shikha M
Easton, MA111 contributions
Hard hike, easy drive
Jun 2021
Mauna Kea is the " tallest mountain " in the world if measured from the bottom of the ocean. I drove up to the Summit in a 4X4 jeep - part of the road is gravel- but , the drive is not too hard.
My family hiked up -
iot is HARD hike- they took 7 hours , as did other hikers. you start at 9000 Ft, the visitors center, and hike upto 13800
The Good thing is - there is Cell signal all over the area, the Rangers are Extremely helpful.
the view is beautiful but I did not like the Observatories - as they do give it a Sci-fi movie like feel.
Written 13 June 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Sam K
5 contributions
Wonderful tour
Feb 2021
Best view of a sunset and stars I have ever seen! The guide was knowledgeable and fun- we had a great time.
Written 9 June 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Becky V
Port Arthur, Texas26 contributions
Awesome
May 2021
The sunset was great. Star watching was even better. We saw the International Space station, shooting stars, and our guide pointed out constellations.
Written 30 May 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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