The Mauna Kea summit Sunrise tour offered by Hawaiian Eyes is a First-class trip to the top! You will be conducted in comfort to a high altitude rest stop where everyone can get into some cold-weather clothing. After suiting up, we will continue climbing until we reach Onizuka Visitor Information Station (VIS). It is at this location that we leave other tour companies behind: all of our guides are night sky enthusiasts, and will be guiding you through an extensive explanation of the night sky. The night sky is an ever-changing display of fascinating objects, but we at Hawaiian Eyes don't just talk about them; we show them! You will be able to view several through one of our 8-inch Cassegrain telescopes which we bring on each tour. We even do a little astrophotography and customer photo-taking, all of which are downloadable soon after the tour.
From then it's on to the main event! We leave the VIS at around 5:00am, and make our way to the top. It's a rough road, so keep your seatbelts buckled! As we near the top, the sun will be nearing the horizon, which opens up in amazing colors along the way. Once we get to the top, standing far above a sea of clouds and surrounded by an international array of world class astronomical observatories, we will wait for true dawn. After some more guiding and photo-taking, your guide will prepare you for descent and the return trip to your places of stay.
12:25 - 3:05 am pick up at hotelv
(only hotels in Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Waikoloa)
3:00 - 4:30 am Onizuka Visitor Center Snack Time
4:30 - 5:30 am Onizuka Visitor Center Stargazing w/ Telescope
5:30 - 6:30 am Sunrise at Mauna Kea Summit
6:30 - 6:45 am Descent and stop at Mauna Kea State Park
8:00 - 10:00 am Return to hotels and drop off.
Spending all night and early morning on the move, you can really work up an appetite. To stave off that morning hunger, we offer brown bag-style sandwiches, as well as some warm drink options to keep you cozy during stargazing.
Staying Strong at the Top
One important concern with the Sunrise and Sunset tours is the possibility of altitude sickness.
The summit of Mauna Kea is a 14,000 ft.-altitude, tundra-like environment with an atmosphere that has 40% less oxygen than that at sea level. It is also completely driveable, thus relatively easy to access. Therefore, the possible onset of altitude sickness symptoms should be at the forefront of your mind. These include light-headedness, drowsiness, headaches and/or nausea, and they are not uncommon. Your tour guide will naturally be aware of this, and will take steps to help you avoid experiencing any symptoms. Each tour will take an hour-plus break at Onizuka Visitor Information Station to help everyone acclimate. Other than that, it's very simple - as we ascend, try to breathe deeply, and do your best to stay awake. After all, you've come to the summit of Mauna Kea, the roof of the Pacific. You won't want to miss a single moment!
Please be advised that under certain circumstances and health conditions, continuing your ascent past Onizuka VIS is actively discouraged. These would include, but not be limited to
-those in poor health
-anyone who is pregnant
-anyone under the age of 13
-anyone with heart or respiratory issues
Additionally, if you plan on scuba diving, please make sure your dive is scheduled at least 24 hours before or after your Mauna Kea summit tour.
*The time schedule will change depending on the season. However, the order of events will always be the same.
*Please note that for the Mauna Kea Tours, the Operator will not accept high school field trips. We do not have necessary permits or specified insurance coverages to operate in this capacity. Mahalo Nui for your understanding.
What to bring
Warm Clothes, Walking Shoes, and a Sense of Wonder!