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Mauna Kea

Make the journey up this gigantic dormant volcano for an impressive view.

The tallest peak in the state of Hawaii is the million-year-old volcano, Mauna Kea, one of the five volcanic hot spots that combine to form Hawaii’s Big Island. While the top of Mauna Kea is 13,796 feet (4,205 meters) above sea level, the volcano would be more than double the height of Mount Everest when measured from its base at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Mauna Kea is iconic, with its snowy peak visible across the island and its summit offers some of the best views in Hawaii.

Make the three-hour drive to Mauna Kea’s summit in the company of experts by booking a spot on one of the many four-wheel drive tours of the volcano. Not only are these tours a safe and comfortable way to experience Mauna Kea, they also provide a wealth of information about the history and environment of the volcano.

Stop halfway up the volcano to acclimatize to the altitude, and tour the Visitor Information Station, which is open every day of the year. See the largest telescopes in the world and learn why Mauna Kea is such an important location for astrologers.

From the Visitor Information Station the journey to the summit is along a steep gravel road. Traveling across the hardened lava that covers the summit region, at heights where little vegetation can survive, is a surreal experience. Pull on your gloves before you get out of the car, as temperatures at the summit are icy. Arrive in time to see one of the most sought after sunsets in North America, with views across the island and the Pacific Ocean.

The Mauna Kea access road is located approximately 28 miles (45 kilometers) from Hilo and the summit is a further 15 miles (24 kilometers) along the road. While it’s possible to drive yourself, many rental car agreements restrict you from doing so. The safest way to see the peak is by joining a tour from Hilo or Waikoloa. There is no public transportation that services Mauna Kea, but parking is available at the Visitor Information Station and summit.

There are heaps of ways to enjoy this attraction. Here's some things you can do at Mauna Kea:

If you're looking for more activities, have a look at our Kamuela things to do page.


Guide to Exploring around Mauna Kea


Map

Best Lodging Options Near Mauna Kea

See all 1,180 properties near Mauna Kea
Hamakua Eco-lodge Retreat Center in a Remote Conservation Forest
Hamakua Eco-lodge Retreat Center in a Remote Conservation Forest

Hamakua Eco-lodge Retreat Center in a Remote Conservation Forest

44-5350 Waikaalulu Rd, Honokaa, HI
     
    0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated by the ocean, this lodge is 0.3 mi (0.4 km) from Hamakua Coast and 2.7 mi (4.3 km) from Hawiian Vanilla Company. Hamakua Heritage Corridor and Kalōpā are also within 6 miles (10 km).

    Private, Romantic Cottage On An Estate Property In The Hamakua District
    Private, Romantic Cottage On An Estate Property In The Hamakua District

    Private, Romantic Cottage On An Estate Property In The Hamakua District

    44-4615 Waikaalulu Rd., Honokaa, HI
       
      0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated in the mountains, this romantic cottage is within 1 mile (2 km) of Kalopa State Recreation Area and Hamakua Coast. Hawiian Vanilla Company is 2.1 mi (3.3 km) away.

      Homestead on the Big Island - Hawaii
      Homestead on the Big Island - Hawaii

      Homestead on the Big Island - Hawaii

      43-1962 Paauilo Mauka Rd., Paauilo, HI
         
        0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated in a rural location, this holiday home is steps away from Hamakua Heritage Corridor and Hamakua Coast. Hawiian Vanilla Company is 2.9 mi (4.7 km) away.

        Your Big Island Getaway on the Hamakua Coast
        Your Big Island Getaway on the Hamakua Coast

        Your Big Island Getaway on the Hamakua Coast

        43-425 Hale Hookipa Pl, Paauilo, HI
           
          0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated in Paauilo, this holiday home is steps away from Hamakua Heritage Corridor and Hamakua Coast. Hawiian Vanilla Company is 3 mi (4.8 km) away.

          80/night ...2br/1ba House in Rural Kamuela
          80/night ...2br/1ba House in Rural Kamuela

          80/night ...2br/1ba House in Rural Kamuela

          Kamuela, HI
             
            0.0 out of 5.0 Stars
            A Slice of Paradise not Often Seen by Tourists
            A Slice of Paradise not Often Seen by Tourists

            A Slice of Paradise not Often Seen by Tourists

            47-5124 Hawaii Belt Road, Kamuela, HI
               
              0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated in a rural location, this apartment building is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Hamakua Heritage Corridor and within 6 miles (10 km) of Hamakua Coast and Waimea Reservoir. Parker Ranch Center and Waimea Park are also within 9 miles (15 km).

              Waimea Plantation Style Home.- Close To Town! Book 5 Nights, Get 6th Night Free!
              Waimea Plantation Style Home.- Close To Town! Book 5 Nights, Get 6th Night Free!

              Waimea Plantation Style Home.- Close To Town! Book 5 Nights, Get 6th Night Free!

              64-5135 Kalake Street, Kamuela, HI
                 
                0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in the heart of Kamuela, this historic holiday home is 1.1 mi (1.8 km) from Waimea Reservoir and 1.9 mi (3 km) from Hamakua Coast. Hamakua Heritage Corridor is 1.3 mi (2.1 km) away.

                Quiet House in Honokaa Town w/ Wraparound Lanai and Updated Kitchen
                Quiet House in Honokaa Town w/ Wraparound Lanai and Updated Kitchen

                Quiet House in Honokaa Town w/ Wraparound Lanai and Updated Kitchen

                45-512 Huapala St., Honokaa, HI
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated on the waterfront, this holiday home is steps away from Hamakua Heritage Corridor and Hamakua Coast. Hamakua Country Club is 1.8 mi (2.9 km) away.