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  Bottlenose Dolphins  Green Sea Turtle  Plumeria  One of many scenic waterfalls in Hawaii  Lava flow in 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

Discover the wonders of the universe and marvel at the Earth's immense geological forces and the undersea world during this unique tour. On the island of Hawaii, travel to the summit of Mauna Kea for special access to the Submillimeter Array, run by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and stargaze through a powerful telescope. Trace the history of Hawaiian celestial navigation and learn about the island's ongoing volcanic activity form a geologist at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Plus, take in waterfalls and breathtaking views in the northern backcountry and watch sea turtles on a black-sand beach. On Maui, visit an important observatory from the summit of Haleakala and enjoy a stargazing cruise with an astronomer. Explore the flora and fauna at Haleakala National Park and join a marine biologist on a private tour of the Maui Ocean Center. 

Highlights Include

  • Astronomy: Learn about distant planets, star clusters, and galaxies in a location of unmatched clarity for sky viewing. On the summit of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, enjoy special access at the Submillimeter Array, run by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, plus stargaze through a powerful telescope. Later, trace the history of Hawaiian celestial navigation at the Imiloa Astronomy Center. On Maui, visit another important observatory at the summit of Haleakala. Plus, take a stargazing cruise on a new moon evening with an astronomer.
  • Geology and Natural History: Spend a day with a resident geologist on the Big Island exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and learn about its ongoing volcanic activity. Plus, take a walk in the northern backcountry, known for its waterfalls and breathtaking views. And on Maui, explore the moon-like crater, endemic plants, and native birds at Haleakala National Park.
  • Marine Biology: Join a marine biologist on a private tour of the Maui Ocean Center. You’ll also see green sea turtles along a black-sand beach in Hawaii.

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 — 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 3 —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 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)