Stargazing from the Mauna Kea Observatory

Things to do

Did you know that the Big Island of Hawaii is home to the tallest sea mountain in the world? Mauna Kea (which means “white mountain”) stands 13,796 feet above sea level and over 33,000 feet from the bottom of the ocean floor, making it the tallest sea mountain in the world.

During the winter months, we often get snow on Mauna Kea, meaning that you can spend the morning enjoying the sun and sand at the beach, then drive up the mountain for some sledding and snowman-building!

World’s largest observatory

Fun and games aside, Mauna Kea is also the location of the world’s largest observatory – scientists from 11 different countries operate 13 telescopes from the summit. (Guests often ask why it’s so dark on the Big Island at night … it’s because our island has a strong lighting ordinance, which preserves our dark night sky and maximizes visibility for the astronomers!)

Go stargazing

But you don’t have to be an astronomer to appreciate the stars from Mauna Kea. Take a scenic drive to the Mauna Kea visitor information station, where there are telescopes for viewing and staff who can share insights and answer questions. (There are several hiking trails that start from the visitor center as well!)

If you would like to explore the summit, there are also numerous local tour operators that offer Mauna Kea summit tours – including nighttime stargazing and spectacular sunset and sunrise experiences!

Some important safety notes

Due to the altitude, pregnant women, persons in poor health, and children under 16 should not go above the visitor information station. Also, road and weather conditions can change very quickly on the mountain, so research conditions before you go and be prepared for cold temperatures (don’t forget to pack a jacket!).

Dreaming of the sea and stars this winter?

Let’s make it happen. Check out Google Flights for current fares to Kona, and set up a fare tracker to be notified of great deals. Then, get in touch with us to save 10% by booking your vacation rental directly with Kohala Coast Properties.

Your perfect Hawaii vacation rental

From small studios to luxurious villas, we have the perfect home base for your Hawaii holiday – like the two-bedroom, two-bath unit at the Shores at Waikoloa, where you’ll enjoy partial ocean and golf views from the large wraparound lanai. Your group of up to six will have everything you need with the full kitchen, master and guest bedroom, plus bonus room, and comfortable living room. On the property, you’ll find a fitness center, pool, hot tub, tennis courts and BBQ grills.

The vibrant Waikoloa Beach Resort boasts a white sandy beach, two championship golf courses, and the largest selection of shopping and dining options on the Kohala Coast. You can walk along historic footpaths to view petroglyphs, and enjoy local entertainment including live Hawaiian music, hula performances, lei-making, and a weekly farmers’ market.

Save on your Hawaii accommodations

Remember, you can save 10% on your vacation rental when you book directly with us and mention “Aloha Escape” in your reservation. Hope to see you soon – a hui hou!

(Mauna Kea photos courtesy of Paul Bica and Mike Ireland)


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