Hamakua Coast


Maunakea volcano is the largest mountain on the Earth, about 30,000ft. high as measured from the seabed, and is a fantastic place to stargaze. Because of the remote location of this destination, make sure to top up your gas tank in Hilo before you go. Many of the finest telescopes in the world are situated here, and the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Center sits about halfway to the summit, at around 9,200ft above sea level.

Getting There

Take the turn to the visitor center from Saddle Road around mile marker 28. It is well-signed. There are often astronomy talks at the visitor center that are free and open to the public. There are also many private tours designed just to experience stargazing here. From the visitor center, you must have a 4WD vehicle to proceed to the 13,796ft. summit.
Keck Twin Lasers
Maunakea sunset

Driving to the Summit

If you mean to drive to the summit, spend at least a half an hour at the visitor center to acclimatize, as travelling upwards too quickly can cause serious health risks. Also: this unpaved road may be closed if there are hazardous wind, ice, or snow conditions. If you do reach the summit and the weather is clear, the views are unparalleled. Staying here for sunset is one of the most memorable things you can do.


The observatories will be closed to public access, but the summit itself is open to visitors until half an hour after sunset. Dress warmly, as temperatures at this altitude are often near 30 degrees F even on a clear day, and plummet once the sun goes down. A good way to plan your visit is to visit the summit first, then arrive back down at the visitor center for stargazing and any astronomy talks that may be in progress.
Maunakea Keck and Star rotation

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