Discover the wonders of the universe and marvel at Earth’s immense geological forces and the undersea world during this unique tour of the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Hawai’i.

Starting at: $6,995 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Haleakala observatory  Viewing center and observatory at Haleakala   Landscape of Haleakala  Volcanoes National Park, island of Hawai'i  Bottlenose Dolphins  Green Sea Turtle  Plumeria  One of many scenic waterfalls in Hawai'i  Lava flow in Hawai'i

Astronomy and Natural Wonders of Hawai’i

9 days from $6,995

Discover the wonders of the universe and marvel at Earth’s immense geological forces and the undersea world during this unique tour of the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Hawai’i.

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

This unique natural history tour of Hawai’i focuses on the wonders of the universe, the Earth’s immense geological forces, and the amazing world under the sea. Discover the islands of Maui and Hawai’i through the lens of astronomers, geologists, and marine scientists, and through native Hawaiian culture and history.

Highlights Include

  • Maui: Ascend to the summit of Haleakala for a behind-the-scenes tour of one of the telescopes at the Haleakala Observatory site. Pan-STARRS utilizes very large digital cameras, telescopes, and computing facilities in its search for new asteroids, comets, and other celestial objects. Then enjoy spectacular vistas of Maui from Haleakala National Park. During a nature walk, marvel at the volcano’s moon-like crater and learn about endemic plants and native birds. Later, take a private tour of the Maui Ocean Center, where a marine biologist provides insight into this three-acre tropical reef aquarium and marine science center. And learn more about the night sky from an astronomer during a stargazing cruise aboard a catamaran in Ma’alaea Harbor.
  • Hawai’i: Trace the history of traditional Hawaiian celestial navigation during a curator-led tour of the Imiloa Astronomy Center and watch a planetarium show about the night skies. Stop in the picturesque town of Waimea to visit the headquarters of two astronomical observatories, Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) and the W.M. Keck Observatory, to learn about the innovative research being done at the summit. (Should the Mauna Kea Observatory Complex be accessible, travelers will instead ascend to the summit and meet scientists at Smithsonian’s Submillimeter Array.) Gain insight from a resident geologist at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, home to Kilauea and Mauna Loa and the volcano goddess Pele. Observe the volcanic activity from Steaming Bluff and view exhibits at Kilauea Visitor Center. Descend along the Chain of Craters Road to view huge mounds of black lava flows. Along the scenic Kona Coast, stop at a black-sand beach to observe green sea turtles and visit Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, once an important residence of Hawaiian royal chiefs and place of refuge. Later, take a walk in the North Kohala backcountry, known for its waterfalls and breathtaking views.
  • Accommodations: Enjoy stays at delightful hotels that feature spectacular views, luxurious pools, gardens, and beach, plus another stay near Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.

2021 Itinerary

Day 1 — Home / Kahului, Maui

Fly to Maui and transfer to your 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 stargazing cruise with appetizers and drinks. (B,R)

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, Hawa'ii / Volcano Village

Fly from Maui to Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai'i. 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 Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park at 4,000 feet, observing the dramatic change in botanic and volcanic scenery. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Hawai'i 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 — Waimea / Stargazing

Your morning is at leisure to enjoy the oceanfront pool, lagoon beach, and spectacular gardens surrounding the hotel.

In the late morning, gather for a lecture in the hotel, then depart for the town of Waimea passing picturesque farms and pasture lands. Waimea is headquarters for two astronomical observatories located atop Mauna Kea. In Waimea, visit the headquarters of Canada France Hawai'i Telescope (CFHT). The mission of CFHT is to provide a versatile and state-of-the-art astronomical observing facility well matched to the scientific goals of its user community. Also visit the headquarters of the W.M. Keck Observatory to learn about the research being done using Keck’s twin 10-meter telescopes. Keck is one of the world’s most scientifically productive optical and infrared telescopes.

Late in the day make your way from Waimea to the slopes of Mauna Kea for a bird-watching session and a spectacular sunset at Pu’u La’au (8,000 feet) followed by a picnic dinner and a stargazing safari through powerful 11-inch Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes at Kilohana Station (6,000 feet). (B,D)

Please note: The road leading to the Mauna Kea Observatory Complex and the Smithsonian’s Submillimeter Array, on the summit of Mauna Kea at an elevation of 13,796 feet, can close to public access on very short notice due to weather or other issues. Should the summit road be open prior to our visit, we will assess if we can access the site, and if feasible, revise the itinerary to include this stop instead of the headquarters visit to the Canada France Hawai'i Telescope and W.M. Keck Observatory.

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 your 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)