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“More stars than one can imagine - inspiring to behold”

Maunakea Visitor Information Station
Ranked #7 of 53 things to do in Hilo
Certificate of Excellence
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Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Reviewed 4 September 2018 via mobile

The stargazing is a must do on the Big Island. Remember to dress warm as at over 10,000 feet it gets cold especially after sunset. Take some blankets to wrap around you as we did as winter clothes were left back home.

Visitor centre volunteers conduct talks and point out various constellations and planets. Unfortunately for us conditions were not suitable for them to bring out the viewing telescopes. That being said with the naked eye we saw Mars, Venus, Saturn and Jupiter and countless thousands and thousands of stars. The Milky Way was an awesome sight.

Enjoyed a New York City trying to explain to his young son how come they can not see this many stars home.

I promise you if you get a great viewing night this experience will stick with you for life.

Thank MaxwellWade
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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JPMiles / Payback Arrow
Reviews (1,594)
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"mauna kea"
in 184 reviews
"watch the sunset"
in 56 reviews
"wheel drive"
in 75 reviews
"bring warm clothes"
in 43 reviews
"milky way"
in 70 reviews
"stargazing program"
in 27 reviews
"night vision"
in 19 reviews
"star gazing program"
in 19 reviews
"hot water"
in 41 reviews
"light pollution"
in 24 reviews
"saddle road"
in 80 reviews
"visitor's center"
in 51 reviews
"new moon"
in 18 reviews
"gift shop"
in 68 reviews
"sea level"
in 30 reviews
"altitude sickness"
in 16 reviews
"clear night"
in 21 reviews

13 - 17 of 1,595 reviews

Reviewed 27 August 2018

Helpful in weather predictions for the summit and road conditions. small gift shop with warm apparel for those who didn't bring any!

Thank Meg H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 August 2018

We took a drive up to the visitors center thinking they might have there own tours to the top of the mountain. You have to book those through your hotel. You can go on your own but it has to be 4 wheel drive and no rental care are allowed at the top. The center itself is very small and they have 2 telescopes there you can view. The views are amazing from there as well.

Thank Erin O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 August 2018

July 2018

Our original plan was to visit Mauna Kea on a Saturday night when they would have the telescope stargazing program, but the weather was not in our favor (forecast of 80% cloud cover), so we decided to wait for a clearer evening to go. Glad we didn’t because the web cams at the summit showed no visibility. Two days later, we made the hour drive from the Mauna Lani Resort. After a steady climb up the volcano (grueling if our poor rental car could talk), sometimes through fog (or clouds?) so thick it was almost impossible to see the road, we arrived at the Visitor Center around 5:30. We hiked up to the top of Sunset Hill (it’s tougher than it looks at the higher altitude) and watched the clouds roll in the valley below us as the sun set. Beautiful! With the darkening sky, the temperature dropped dramatically. We sat in our warm car until full dark and watched the distant orange-pink glow of the lava eruption reflected in the clouds 40 miles away. Thousands of stars lit up the sky and we could just make out the Milky Way. The ranger’s talk was very interesting, even without the telescopes.

Cons: idiots sitting in their cars with their headlights on or walking around with their cellphone flashlights, ruining everyone's night vision. I planned ahead and brought flashlights with red lenses. The visitor center really needs a large sign in several languages asking people not to do this.

Now for the important stuff: what to wear. Being July, I didn't want to pack winter parkas for one evening. The forecast was for low 50s at the visitor center, so we dressed in layers: jeans, long sleeves and windbreakers. That was fine until the sun set, then it got very chilly. Fortunately, I'd grabbed wool blankets from our rental condo so we wrapped up in those as we listened to the ranger talk and were just fine.

Thank Lori S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 22 August 2018

20% less oxygen once you get to the visitor's center. The staff is courteous and knowledgeable! Be sure to go during the day so you can continue to ascend to the Summit. 4 wheel drive vehicles are required.

Thank Reshma R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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