[Big Island Day 3] Sunset at Mauna Kea Summit

The main event of Day 3 was to drive to the summit of Mauna Kea and see the sunset. It was truly beautiful and stunning!

Mauna Kea Visitor Center
Views by the Mauna Kea Visitor Center

What We Did

We drove up the Mauna Kea access road to the visitor center after the brief stop at  Pu’u Huluhulu. It is recommended to stay and rest at the visitor center before continuing up the mountain. It is a good opportunity to have some food and watch their educational video about the observatories at the summit. From the video, I learned that it is almost always clear at the 14,000 feet summit, and thus it is an ideal location for telescopes. The sky wasn’t clear at the visitor center, and the staff said it isn’t common to have cloudy sky. We probably couldn’t see many stars when we were back to the center at night. How unlucky!

At around 5:30 pm, we continued our climb up to the summit with our four-wheeled drive (4WD). We rented a four-wheeled drive for a day just to come here because it is not safe to drive normal cars to the summit. I felt this drive was super long, and it seemed that the 11-mile gravel road would never end. We arrived at about 6:20 pm and the sun was just about to set. The weather up here was vastly different with the non-stop strong chilly wind. At this moment the sky hasn’t cleared up and we can see the clouds quickly moved by.

Sunset @ 18:23
Sunset @ 6:23 pm
Sunset @ 18:24
Sunset @ 6:24 pm

10 minutes later at 6:35 pm, the sky was cleared. Finally, there was the fabulous sunset scene!

Sunset @ 18:35
Sunset @ 6:35 pm

It was also very beautiful at the opposite side of the sun.

The opposite side of sunset @ 18:36
The opposite side of the sun @ 6:36 pm


It was an amazing experience! Even though renting a 4WD or joining a one-day tour is necessary, I think it is very worth coming. This is one of the three most memorable destinations on Big Island. Everyone who visits Big Island should come up and see if possible!

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