from Mauna Kea Stellar Explorer (Hilo)
For an out-of-this-world experience, check out Maunakea Stellar Explorer from KapohoKine Adventures. This thrilling adventure is the only Big Island star tour to feature nighttime astronomical observing and safe daytime solar viewing, with all ages welcome! Their in-house stellar explorers are the best and most experienced in Hawaii, with one having created the Mauna Kea Visitor’s Center and operated it for a decade. Others on staff have written noted articles and reviews for well-known astronomy magazines and have worked at world-class observatories.
Start your adventure in quaint Hilo town, where you’ll drive along the historic waterfront before arriving at Rainbow Falls. This iconic waterfall, right off a postcard, features an 80-foot-tall twin waterfall system. Look for the rainbow effect that gives the waterfall its name! Continue traveling up the Wailuku River to Boiling Pots. Impressive photo opportunities are often found here when the river “boils” through depressions in the rocks. Explore Kaumana Caves, part of the lava tube system that brought lava 1.5 miles from Hilo town in 1881. Take a peek inside the cathedral-like space before tucking into a quick picnic-style lunch atop the caves. Next, you’ll travel across Saddle Road between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two of the tallest and most massive volcanoes on Earth. Your National Park Service-trained guide will discuss the volcanology, geology, and history of these monstrous wonders, as well as provide in-depth narration on the various lava flows and flora and fauna that you’ll be passing by.
While you’re taking in the breathtaking terrestrial views, your guide will prepare some heavenly views that are just as stunning. Setting up a state-of-the-art solar telescope for your viewing pleasure, your specially trained guide will let you safely watch the sun come alive in true color with vibrant solar flares, sunspots, prominences, and any other current activity, weather permitting.
Lastly, your guide will take you to one of their preferred locations on Mauna Kea for nighttime stargazing. You’ll observe the deep sky and planetary objects through a large aperture Dobsonian telescope under one of the darkest and most pristine skies on planet Earth!
Their Dobsonian telescopes provide a true purist's view of the night sky. Their fast focal ratio enables you to see sprawling wide-field views of objects that simply aren’t possible with the types of telescopes used by other tours. Depending on what is visible in the current sky and weather permitting, you’ll observe galaxies, nebula, star clusters, planets, double star systems, the moon, and much more—all the highlights and showpiece objects you’ve never seen before! Afterward, warm up with 100% Kona coffee or hot chocolate before returning to your resort. Warm jackets are provided.
This tour does not visit Maunakea’s summit or Visitor Center out of deference to Native Hawaiian concerns.