mauna kea

MaunaKea is one of five volcanoes that form the island of Hawaii, the largest and youngest island of the Hawaiian Island Chain.

MaunaKea is the fourth oldest and fourth most active. It began as a pre-shield volcano around one million years ago, and became exceptionally active during its shield stage until 500,000 years ago.

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Winter Sports on the Island of Hawai’i

No you won’t be doing any activity in your swim suits.

No matter what the season.

360° VIEWS

The MaunaKea Observatories

mauna kea observatory

Stars and Galaxy’s await the human eye.

Maunakea’s altitude and isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean make it an ideal location for astronomical observation. Currently there are 13 independent multi-national astronomical research facilities located on the summit. While the summit is open to the public, the summit telescope facilities are CLOSED to visitors. Visitors will frequently ascend the summit during the day or to watch the sunset, then return to the Maunakea Visitor Information Station for free star gazing which takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings, with public telescopes operated by knowledgeable star-guides. The Visitor Information Station also hosts Saturday night presentations on astronomy and culture. Browse this section to learn what you can experience and expect on your visit to Maunakea!

Please check Summit Road Conditions before you come!


Maunakea Hazards

Anyone in poor health should consult their physician before planning a visit to Maunakea.

  • We do not recommend anyone who is pregnant to go further than the VIS.
  • People under the age of 13 should not go any further because their bodies are still developing and they are affected more rapidly when going to a high altitude.
  • If you plan to scuba dive, do not plan to go up to the summit within 24 hours after your dive.
  • Furthermore, we do not recommend anyone with a heart or respiratory problem to travel above the VIS.

For your safety and the safety of others please view Maunakea Hazards and the Visiting Maunakea Video.

Exposure to Altitude

The summit elevation is 13,796 feet (4,205m). The oxygen level is greatly reduced and you can experience shortness of breath and/or impaired judgment.  Reduced atmospheric pressure at high altitudes may cause altitude sickness or result in the development of other life threatening conditions such as pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) and cerebral edema (fluid on the brain).  Also, because the summit is above much of the atmosphere that blocks the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays, you risk exposure to serious sunburn and eye damage, especially if there is snow on the ground.

Please read more on safety precautions so your trip is a perfect.

No Matter if it is 100* degrees in Hilo, you better have your winter gear ready if you are venturing up Maunakea. It is cold and you will regret not wearing the appropriate clothes and protective gear. Socks, shoes, jackets, pants, hoodie, beanie or hat and gloves.

There is only one downfall to skiing or snowboarding on Maunakea… Be careful if you are playing in the snow. The lava rocks are very sharp and they will severely cut you. Carry a First Aid Kit in your car and wear protective clothing.


Maunakea, also known by its original name Mauna a Wakea is a sacred place for Hawaiians. Wakea, sometimes translated as “Sky Father” is considered the father of the Hawaiian people.

While it is the dwelling place of the goddess Poli’ahu it is also associated with the Hawaiian deities Lilinoe and Waiau. The summit was considered the realm of the gods and in ancient times was kapu (forbidden) to all but the highest chiefs and priests. Occasionally Hawaiian ali’i (royalty) would make the long trek to the top, the last royal visitor being Queen Emma in 1881 who led her companions on the arduous 6 hour journey to the top to see the summit and rejuvenate herself in sacred Lake Waiau.

While today Maunakea is home to 13 international observatories and receives thousands of visitors every year it remains a sacred place for the people of Hawai’i. On the the fourth Saturday of every month MKVIS hosts community speakers who speak about Mauna O Wakea from a cultural perspective.

Additional information on the cultural resources of Maunakea is presented in the detailed video (“A SACRED SUMMIT”).
This is where the Hawaiians and TMT become divided.

Learn what this land, this Aina means to the Hawaiian people. It’s Sacred Land, 13 observation buildings is enough!!! What Do You Think?

Watch the Video from Maunakea about the Hawaiian People’s fight for Maunakea

Hawaii Rising | Mauna Kea – TMT Standoff Recap- 06.24.2015

and in the Courts

Learn why TMT Needs to have more then 13 observation buildings

TMT Case: University of Hawaii Final Argument (Sept. 20, 2017)

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