Our Mauna Kea Summit Tour is designed to showcase the beauty and wonder of one of the most impressive mountains in the world. Mauna Kea (meaning “white mountain”) is historically and culturally very significant to the Hawaiian people, and because of its contributions to geology and astronomy, to the world as well.
This nearly 14,000 foot tall (4200 m) peak is actually a dormant volcano, and has figured in the history of the Hawaiian people as a place of deep meaning: a sacred mountain reserved for access only to the ali’i; the ruling class. Dotted with archaeological sites, including the famous adze quarries, it figures in many Hawaiian histories and stories.
Mauna Kea is at the forefront of modern knowledge as well. 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. Learn more about the Volcano on our Volcano Twilight Tour.
A Mauna Kea tour is a must-do when visiting the Big Island of Hawaii. Check off your bucket list with Arnott’s Lodge & Hiking Adventures and enjoy the journey!
Our goal: Our main objective is to reach the summit of Mauna Kea. We understand that our guests come to visit Mauna Kea for many different reasons. Whether your goal is to try to understand the cultural and spiritual importance, to add the mountain to your list of high points visited, or to study its unique geology and history; we are here to help you reach the top.
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 http://mkwc.ifa.hawaii.edu/current/cams/
Provided: Carhartt hooded jackets, hot chocolate and an adventure of a lifetime.
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.
WHAT WE OFFER
- Our regular 4×4 van (14 pax) departs from our Lodge in Hilo for the Summit Tour.
- Are you lodging in Kona? While we do leave from Hilo, we can meet guests from Kona at the Onizuka Visitor’s Center on Mauna Kea, to join up with our standard Mauna Kea tour. There’s no need to be picked up and shuttled around the Kona hotels! Please do not park at the Visitor’s Center main parking lot! There is parking available in the lower parking lot, below the main Visitor’s Center.
- Private or Custom Mauna Kea tours. Usually small numbers in an SUV vehicle where we pick you up from Hilo or Kona/Waikoloa hotels. Private or Custom tours also encompass Sunrise, daytime telescope visits, Sunset and larger groups. Our private or custom tours have the same itinerary as our regular Mauna Kea tour but with the use of an exclusive guide.
WHEN WE OFFER THESE SERVICES
- Our regularly scheduled Mauna Kea tour days run everyday except for Tuesday.
- Private or Custom Mauna Kea Tours can be arranged for any day we have available capacity. Call us at 808.339.0921 or email us at email@example.com for more information and availability.
- A daytime Mauna Kea tour may occasionally be offered through the lodge. Check our calendar or contact our front desk for information on availability. The Mauna Kea Day Tour will leave Hilo at 8:00 a.m.
Arnott’s has been professionally operating on Mauna Kea since 1990 and has provided transport for both Keck and Subaru VIP’s during construction of these world class observatories.
We are also the only daytime operator taking cruise-ship guests to the summit, which requires a higher degree of training and insurance for this demanding sector.
Regular Mauna Kea Summit Tours
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Hilo departure or meet at the Onizuka Visitor’s Center)
Departure time varies from 2:30pm-3:30pm depending on season. Please call 808-339-0921 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org for tour departure. These days don’t work for you? Not a problem, ask us about our private or custom Mauna Kea tours. Subject to tour guide availability.
- $180/person – Regular Price (Pick up at Hilo Hotels or meeting at Arnott’s Lodge)
- $160/person – Drive yourself from Kona or Waikoloa. Meet at the Onizuka Visitor’s Center.
- $150/person – Arnott’s Lodge Guest price (must be a guest of Arnott’s Lodge for at least one night.)
- Please note that if only one guest is signed up for a tour, we will run the tour just for you, but must charge the Regular Price of $180 per person.
- Plus 4.16% Gross Excise Tax
- Gratuity is not included–tipping is customary in Hawaii: an optional tip of $5 and up per person would be greatly appreciated by your guide.
- These tours are conducted in a specially converted 4×4 Ford Van rated for 14 passengers and Carhartt jackets are provided.
- We usually make a brief stop at Rainbow Falls in Hilo. This stop is for guests picked up in Hilo only.
- The Starshow is conducted by our tour guide with a laser pointer. We do not use telescopes! A Starshow subject to moon and atmospheric conditions will be given after leaving the summit.
- 48 hours is needed to cancel your tour reservation: if you cancel your tour within the 48 hours you will be charged for the tour.
Click here for Private Mauna Kea Tours (including Sunrise, Daytime and Sunset tours)
IMPORTANT WEATHER INFORMATION. Arnott’s Lodge and Hiking Adventures does not guarantee fine weather. Getting you to the Summit area is the main thrust of this tour and full price will be charged if we make it to the top. As with all mountains, local heating and cooling can cause cloud or haze and impact Sunset and the Starshow, as can full moon, high wind or extreme cold. Our Starshow, if conditions permit, is an overview of what is seen that night including major constellations, Polynesian navigational stars, and signs of the Zodiac. We do NOT use telescopes. If we cannot get above the Visitor Station due to road closure, you will recieve a 50% refund. This is the ONLY case for a refund. There are cases where overnight snow and ice have the road closed even up to the time we leave Hilo for the mountain, however we monitor the 28 webcams on the mountain for any sign of thaw and possibility to get up to the top as we realize that road crews are also striving to get astronomers up to telescopes and many of our Adventurer guests have just this one shot to go. Sometimes the road only opens briefly and you have to be at the Visitor Information Station to take advantage; this is where 25 years of experience comes in.
Please read concerning all Arnott’s Mauna Kea Tours:
- People with respiratory and/or heart conditions, severe obesity, pregnant women, and children under 16 are advised not to go above the 9,200 ft. level where the visitor center is located. Do not go to the summit within 24 hours of scuba diving.
- We provide supplemental oxygen, however this is to restore oxygen balance only. This is a remote area with at least 90 minutes for emergency response and we take NO responsibility for the rare person who reacts negatively to altitude. Any use of oxygen is considered an emergency medical situation and immediate evacuation of the entire group from the summit is required.
- While Mauna Kea is renowned for over 340 accessible days a year, there are sudden storms that can force closure of the summit road. Our professional staff monitor weather and road conditions as the information becomes available on the internet. On those occasions where the road is found to be closed, we will visit the Onizuka Visitor Center at 9200 ft (3000 m). A fixed 50% discount/refund will be given if we do not get at least to the lower summit telescopes.
- If guests are interested, we may offer a tour to see Mauna Loa when Mauna Kea is inaccessible. Mauna Loa is the most massive mountain in the world, and reaches an impressive height of 13,679 ft (4,169 m). There are many things to see on Mauna Loa, including lava tubes and formations, pahoehoe and a’a lava flows, cinder cones, and the outside of the NOAA Mauna Loa Atmospheric Observatory.
- Guests meeting us at the Visitor’s Center will be driving up a steep but well paved road to 9,200 feet. The section just below the Visitor’s Center is the steepest part, you may find that your vehicle climbs better if you manually select low gear. Also on arrival at the parking area do not turn off your engine immediately or it may boil over. Allow it to run for 3 or 4 minutes of warm down.
In some cases of extreme weather, we may offer you the option to opt out with a full refund before we leave for the tour. Mauna Kea Webcams: http://mkwc.ifa.hawaii.edu/current/cams