4.5 star rating: Recommended 8 Reviews

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  • Address: Hawaii, USA, USA
The world’s most massive volcano doesn’t tower over Hawaii Island like you might expect. Instead, its giant three-pronged fingers take up most of the southern half of the island, reaching the sea in spots both north and south of Kailua Kona, across the Saddle Road interior and sloping down behind Hilo. It’s possible to be on the slopes of Mauna Loa and not even realize it.

To get a true sense of the volcano, most visitors opt to drive along the central Saddle Road, etched into the barren lava rock foothills where Mauna Loa meets Mauna Kea. Those who turn in near the 28 Mile Marker on Mauna Loa Observatory Road are rewarded with a 17-mile (one-way) scenic drive up its slopes from about 6,500 feet above sea level to 11,150 feet, ending near the entrance to mountain's observatories.

Unlike the astronomical observatories atop neighboring Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa’s observatories mostly monitor weather. They are possible to visit, but prior arrangement is required. Additionally, a number of hikes around the island explore Mauna Loa’s flanks and two challenging routes—a 13-mile day trip and a 30+ mile, three- to five-day trip—will get your feet shuffling toward the summit. Travelers should note that hiking the longer Mauna Kea Summit Trail requires advance permits obtained through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Along-the-route cabins restrict the trail to a maximum of 16 hikers at any given time, so it’s best to reserve permits in advance.

Practical Info

Though currently not erupting (the last was in 1984), the volcano is still considered active. Mauna Loa is not prone to violent eruptions—instead it oozes lava toward the sea—but visitors should still be aware of the possibility of eruption and take appropriate precautions when visiting. If you plan to go up Mauna Loa, or even just drive along the Saddle Road, note that elevation gain is significant and that this should not be done following scuba diving. If you have any signs of altitude sickness—weakness, trouble breathing, higher pulse—turn back to a lower elevation. It can be chilly at the top (it even sometimes snows!) so be sure to wear cold-weather clothing if you plan to leave your vehicle. Tours of the summit observatories are currently only offered on select Thursdays at 12:30pm (though this could change).

Tours & Tickets

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Hilo Volcano Special Tour, Big Island of Hawaii, null
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 3

Hilo Volcano Special Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 7 Reviews

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. While lava flow sightings cannot be guaranteed, you are likely to ...  Read more

Location: Hilo, Hawaii
Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $120.00
Waterfall Heli-Trek: Big Island Helicopter Tour and Hiking Adventure, Big Island of Hawaii, ... 
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 5

Waterfall Heli-Trek: Big Island Helicopter Tour and Hiking Adventure

See the best of old Hawaii and view several major volcanoes along with spectacular landscapes on this full-day helicopter and hiking tour. Fly for 1.5 hours ...  Read more

Location: Hawaii, Hawaii
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $791.00
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Big Island Highlights Small Group Tour, Big Island of Hawaii, ... 
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 2 ADMISSION : 3

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Big Island Highlights Small Group Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 9 Reviews

See two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa, on a small group tour that features the natural wonders of the UNESCO-listed Hawaii ...  Read more

Location: Hawaii, Hawaii
Duration: 10 hours (approx.)

From USD $166.67
Experience Hawai'i Big Island Helicopter Flight from Kona, Big Island of Hawaii, Nature & Wildlife
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 2 ADMISSION : 5

Experience Hawai'i Big Island Helicopter Flight from Kona

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 76 Reviews

Get breathtaking views of Hawaii from the air! On this deluxe, two-hour helicopter tour of the Big Island, you’ll take off from Kona and fly above spectacular ...  Read more

Location: Kona, Hawaii
Duration: 100-120 minutes

From USD $559.00
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour, Big Island of Hawaii, Helicopter Tours
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 2 ADMISSION : 5

Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 176 Reviews

Head to the Mauna Kea Observatory, nestled high in the mountains of the Big Island, and experience an intriguing and provocative journey through space and ...  Read more

Location: Kona, Hawaii
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $223.96
Big Island Adventure Combo: Helicopter, Zipline and Lava Tour, Big Island of Hawaii, Nature & ... 
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 2 ADMISSION : 5

Big Island Adventure Combo: Helicopter, Zipline and Lava Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 55 Reviews

Take your need for speed to new heights on this thrilling Helicopter, zipline and Active Lava viewing. Imagine soaring over the Kilauea Volcano. Ziplining ...  Read more

Location: Kona, Hawaii
Duration: 14 hours (approx.)

From USD $571.87
Big Island Air Tour by Cessna Plane, Big Island of Hawaii, Helicopter Tours
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 2 ADMISSION : 5

Big Island Air Tour by Cessna Plane

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 3 Reviews

Take in the stunning scenery of the Big Island on a deluxe sightseeing flight that lasts almost two hours. Fly over Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and its star ...  Read more

Location: Hawaii, Hawaii
Duration: 105 minutes (approx.)

From USD $399.00
Big Island Day Trip: Volcanoes National Park from Oahu, Oahu, Air Tours
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 2 ADMISSION : 5

Big Island Day Trip: Volcanoes National Park from Oahu

4 star rating: Recommended 433 Reviews

Discover the sights of the Big Island on this guided day trip from Oahu. Inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a UNESCO-listed site, hike along a crater rim, ...  Read more

Location: Waikiki, Oahu
Duration: 15 hours (approx.)

From USD $481.29
Kohala Waterfalls Small Group Adventure Tour, Big Island of Hawaii, Day Trips
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 2 ADMISSION : 5

Kohala Waterfalls Small Group Adventure Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 14 Reviews

Experience the Hawaiian beauty of the Kohala Waterfalls on this small group Kohala Waterfalls adventure tour. Drive along the Kona coastline and explore the ...  Read more

Location: Kona, Hawaii
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $192.00
Viator VIP: The Sunset Experience Helicopter Tour from Kona, Big Island of Hawaii, Nature & Wildlife
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 2 ADMISSION : 5

Viator VIP: The Sunset Experience Helicopter Tour from Kona

4.5 star rating: Recommended 4 Reviews

See the breathtaking landscapes of the Big Island of Hawaii like a VIP on this unforgettable helicopter tour from Kona. Home to some of the most biologically ...  Read more

Location: Kona, Hawaii
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $750.00

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