Experience Hawaii's natural history on a geologist-led exploration in Volcanoes National Park and search the sky for celestial objects as you gain unparalleled access to observatories and research facilities from the Big Island to Maui. 

Starting at: $6,395 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Mauna Kea Observatory. Credit: Joseph DeMatteo  The night sky from Mauna Kea  Sunset at Mauna Kea Obsevatory  Landscape of Haleakala  Viewing center and observatory at Haleakala   Haleakala observatory  Volcanoes National Park, island of Hawaii

Astronomy and Natural Wonders of Hawaii

Enjoy special access to a variety of Hawaii’s observatories

9 days from $6,395

Experience Hawaii's natural history on a geologist-led exploration in Volcanoes National Park and search the sky for celestial objects as you gain unparalleled access to observatories and research facilities from the Big Island to Maui. 

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

From the skies above to the ocean depths Hawaii is a magical place to marvel at the wonders of planet Earth. Gaze at the stars as scientists and researchers use sophisticated instruments to search for new asteroids, comets, and other celestial objects. Scan the ocean waters for fascinating marine life, and search the tropical rain forest for rare and endemic plants and birds.

Highlights Include

  • Special Access at some of Hawaii’s renowned observatories on the summits of Mauna Kea and Haleakala. One of the best locations on earth for astronomers to observe distant planets, star clusters, and galaxies with the unmatched clarity that only the finest astronomic instruments can provide.
  • Learn about important astronomical research taking place on Hawaii and the exploration of our solar system using a wide array of astronomical cameras, telescopes, and computing facilities.
  • Experience a wide range of natural habitats and fascinating diversity of marine life, from tropical fish and sea turtles to 13 species of toothed dolphins, including Hawaii spinner, spotted, bottlenose, and rough-toothed.
  • Explore diverse geologic and volcanic features, including Pahoehoe and A’a lava flows, and lava tubes, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island with a resident geologist.
  • Enjoy spellbinding exhibits relating to astronomy and the adventures of early Polynesian seafarers at the Imiloa Astronomy Center.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Home / Kahului, Maui

Fly to Maui and transfer to our hotel on the west coast of Maui at the base of Haleakala. Enjoy an evening welcome orientation and dinner. (D)

Day 2 —Wailea

After a morning lecture and free time, join a marine biologist for a private tour of the Maui Ocean Center, a three-acre tropical reef aquarium and marine science center with thousands of marine species that can be viewed in living coral reefs.

This evening board a cata­maran in Ma’alaea Harbor for a sunset, dinner and stargazing cruise. (B,D)

Day 3 — Haleakala National Park

This morning drive to the summit of Haleakala for a behind-the-scenes tour of one of the telescopes at the Haleakala Observatory site. Pan-STARRS uses very large digital cameras to observe the entire available sky several times a month, looking for objects such as asteroids and comets that might pose a danger to Earth. 

Following a telescope tour, enjoy the spectacular vistas at scenic outlooks and marvel at the volcano’s moon-like crater. At the Haleakala National Park Visitor Center, learn about the unique geology of the islands and go on nature walks to search for native birds and endemic plants such as Silversword and Sandalwood. Return to the hotel mid-afternoon to relax and enjoy the resort facilities before dining at one of the many fine restaurants in the area. (B,L)

Day 4 — Kahului / Hilo, Hawaii / Volcano Village

Fly from Maui to Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. During a curator-guided tour of the Imiloa Astronomy Center, explore exhibits relating to astronomy and watch a planetarium show about the night skies.

Drive from sea level to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at 4,000 feet, observing the dramatic change in botanic and volcanic scenery. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Accompanied by a local geologist, explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, including Steaming Bluff, Kilauea Visitor Center, Volcano Art Gallery, and vistas of Halemaumau Crater. Descend along the Chain of Craters Road, noting the pioneer plants colonizing the huge lava-draped mountainsides, and the Mauna Ulu flows. (B,L)

Day 6 — Volcano Village / South Kohala Coast

Drive along the scenic Kona Coast with a stop at a black-sand beach to observe green sea turtles. After a typical Hawaiian lunch, visit Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, a National Historical Park that was an important residence of Hawaiian royal chiefs and a place of refuge. This afternoon, arrive at the beautiful Fairmont Orchid, set amid tropical gardens, lava formations, and beaches on the South Kohala Coast(B,L)

Day 7 — Mauna Kea

Board four-wheel-drive vehicles for the ascent to the Observatory Complex at the 13,796-foot summit of Mauna Kea. Enjoy a specially arranged guided tour of the Submillimeter Array, a Smithsonian operated telescope that is part of the Mauna Kea Observatory Complex.

In the evening enjoy a spectacular sunset before stargazing through powerful 11-inch Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes near the Visitor Information Station. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — North Kohala Coast

Enjoy a backcountry excursion in the heart of the North Kohala countryside on the windward side of the island. Explore the extraordinary natural history on easy walks that include a series of waterfalls and magnificent views.

This evening, celebrate the adventure with a festive farewell reception and dinner. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 — South Kohala Coast / Kona / Home

Transfer to the airport in Kona for your flights home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)