Experience Hawaii's natural history on a geologist-led exploration in Volcanoes National Park and on Maui tour Haleakala Observatory one of the most important observing sites in the world, plus enjoy hands-on telescope viewing and in-depth lectures throughout.

Starting at: $6,395 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 Hawaii  Bottlenose Dolphins  Green Sea Turtle  Plumeria  One of many scenic waterfalls in Hawaii  Lava flow in Hawaii

Astronomy and Natural Wonders of Hawaii

9 days from $6,395

Experience Hawaii's natural history on a geologist-led exploration in Volcanoes National Park and on Maui tour Haleakala Observatory one of the most important observing sites in the world, plus enjoy hands-on telescope viewing and in-depth lectures throughout.

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 Maui, visit an important observatory on the summit of Haleakala where an array of astronomical cameras, telescopes and computing facilities search the sky for new asteroids, comets and other celestial objects. Explore the flora and fauna at Haleakala National Park and join a marine biologist on a private tour of the Maui Ocean Center. On the island of Hawaii, stargaze through a powerful telescope into the night sky, and trace the history of Hawaiian celestial navigation. Plus you’ll learn about the island's ongoing volcanic activity from a geologist at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Marvel at cascading waterfalls and breathtaking views in the northern backcountry and watch sea turtles on a black-sand beach.

Highlights Include

  • Astronomy: Learn about distant planets, star clusters, and galaxies in a location of unmatched clarity for sky viewing. Gaze through a powerful telescope during a star-viewing excursion on the Big Island and trace the history of Hawaiian celestial navigation at the Imiloa Astronomy Center. On Maui, visit an important observatory at the summit of Haleakala plus take a stargazing cruise 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 — 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. After lunch in town visit the Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) headquarters. 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 W.M. Keck Observatory headquarters 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).

Please note: The summit road leading to the Mauna Kea Observatory Complex and the Smithsonian’s Submillimeter Array is currently closed to public access. Should the summit road reopen we will assess the visit, and if feasible, revise the itinerary to include this stop instead of the headquarters visit to the Canada France Hawaii 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 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)