Your health in high altitude
Are children allowed on your tours?
Children 12 or younger are not allowed on our tours due to the high altitude. Prolonged high altitude exposure to minors may cause severe bodily damage. We follow the guidelines of the Office of Maunakea Management.
Are seniors allowed on your tours?
Healthy seniors are welcome to join our tours. Although there is no age limit for seniors, if you are 85 or older, you may only participate in our Private Charter Tours for our guides to be more attentive to your health during the tour. We also recommend that you consult with your doctor in advance of spending a few hours at a high altitude if you are over 80 years old.
What are the health risks of high altitudes?
At Mauna Kea summit, where the altitude is nearly 14,000 ft., the oxygen level is 40% less than sea level and the air pressure is much less as well. The following persons cannot participate in our tours as lack of vital oxygen can cause serious health problems.
- Persons who have heart or lung disease.
- Persons that have been scuba diving within 24 hours.
- Pregnant women
Also, please refrain from drinking alcohol within 12 hours of participation.
What are the symptoms of high-altitude sickness?
Even healthy people sometimes get altitude sickness, also called mountain sickness, due to the lack of oxygen. Signs and symptoms of altitude sickness include:
- Shortness of breath
- Impaired judgment
- Loss of balance and muscle coordination
What should I do if I get sick?
Mild symptoms of high-altitude sickness are quite normal even for experienced mountaineers so no need to worry. However, if you think you are really sick, please don’t hesitate to let your guide know. We are equipped with oxygen tanks to ease the symptoms.
Weather near the Mauna Kea summit
How cold is it at the Mauna Kea summit area?
The average temperature near the summit is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 Celsius. The wind-chill factor may dip the temperature far below freezing.
Freezing in Hawaii! How cool is that?
Can I rent winter clothes and gear?
We provide a heavy-duty hooded arctic-weight parka. We do not lend any other clothes or gear. Please bring your own.
What kind of clothing is recommended?
The average temperature near the summit is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, the following items are strongly recommended besides the warm hooded parka that we provide.
- Long-sleeved sweater or hoodie
- Long pants (thicker the better)
- Ankle-high warm socks to cover your ankles
- Closed-toe shoes
The following items are optional but highly recommended.
- Beanie cap or ski hat (Something that covers your head and ears)
- Thermal underwear
- Sunglasses (to protect your eyes from the direct sunlight, wind, and dust)
Is there a place I can change clothes during the tour?
There are not many places to change your clothes during the tour. There are a few bathroom stalls at Gilbert Kahele Recreation Park and Onizuka Visitor & Information Center where we make brief stops, but they are not guaranteed to be open. We recommend that you dress for the tour as much as possible before joining.
What if the weather is bad on Mauna Kea?
The tours can be canceled due to bad weather or road closures. If we are certain that we are not capable of conducting the tour by a few hours before the tour starts, we cancel the tour and you will receive a 100% refund or credit.
What if the weather becomes unfavorable on Mauna Kea after the tour has started?
We cannot guarantee access to the summit or favorable conditions. If the weather turns unfavorable during the tour, we do our best to give you the most enjoyable experience possible under the circumstance. Guests will receive a full refund or credit if we are not able to go to the summit due to road closure or other unforeseen circumstances. Guests will receive a $50 refund if we are not able to perform stargazing due to unfavorable weather conditions.
How do I get informed if my tour is canceled due to bad weather?
We will try to inform you at least a few hours prior to the pickup time by email or phone/text.
About Our Tours
Is a meal included in your tours?
No, our tours do not include meals. Please have a large meal before joining the tour.
We do not recommend having a big meal during the long break at the Visitor Center because eating heavily just before ascending to a high altitude on a rough road may make you feel sick. Instead, we provide light snacks and you are welcome to bring your own.
Are beverages included in your tours?
Our tours include a small bottle of water and a cup of hot chocolate per guest. You are welcome to bring your own bottled beverages.
*Alcohol beverages are not allowed during the tour.
Where can I be picked up to join your tours?
We provide 2 convenient pickup points in Kailua-Kona and Waikoloa Beach Resort. Select an ideal location according to where you are staying or your activity for the day. Please refer to the Pickup Locations page.
We also offer pick-up/drop-off at your accommodation for a fee of $50*.
*Hotels and Vacation Rentals in Kona and Kohala resort areas only. No private residence such as AirBnB accommodations.
Do you pick up in Hilo or the Volcano National Park?
Sorry, there are no pick-up locations in Hilo and the Volcano National Park areas. Pick-up at Onizuka Visitor Center can be arranged if you stay in those areas.
Please refer to the Pickup Locations page.
What kind of vehicle do you drive?
We drive 4×4 passenger vans specially built for the Mauna Kea tours. Only 4×4 vehicles are allowed beyond 9,200 ft on the road to the summit.
Where will we do stargazing?
Since we cannot do stargazing near the summit area because it may disturb the activities of the observatories, the guide will find the best spot between 9,200ft and 12,500ft according to the weather conditions of the day.
Can I enter the observatories on Mauna Kea?
Currently, there is no observatory open to the public. Even if some may open in the future, our tours do not include time to visit them.
Is there a minimum number of guests to hold a tour?
A minimum of 3 guests is needed to hold a tour. Tour will be canceled if the number of bookings does not reach 3 by 24 hours prior to departure. However, customers who have already applied have an option to pay the difference from the price for 3 so that cancelation can be avoided.
What is your cancelation policy?
- For parties of 4 or less, a full refund or credit will be given if cancellation notice is received by 12:00 noon (Hawaii time) 1 day prior to the tour date date.
- For parties of 5 or more, a full refund or credit will be given if cancellation notice is received by 12:00 noon (Hawaii time) 2 days prior to the tour date.
- For private tours, a full refund or credit will be given if cancellation notice is received by 12:00 noon (Hawaii time) 3 days prior to the tour date.
- A full refund or credit will be given in case of operator cancellation due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.
- No-shows will be charged the full price.