Our 9-day tour of the “Land of Aloha” features some of these islands’ most beautiful and breathtaking destinations — along with private stargazing sessions and behind-the-scenes tours of world-famous observatories.
Sky & Telescope offers you a chance to experience the astronomical and natural wonders of Hawai‘i from March 17 to 25, 2023. Accompanied by S&T's Observing Editor Diana Hannikainen you’ll marvel at the impressive volcanoes on Maui and the Big Island, luxuriate in the tropical waters, wiggle your toes on Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach, keep watch at sunset for the elusive “green flash,” and spend two evenings stargazing with local amateur astronomers.
This tour’s itinerary also offers opportunities to explore the colorful towns of Lahina, Hilo, and Kailua on your own. And you’ll have the option to extend your stay with a 3-day visit to Kaua‘i, the Garden Island. Perhaps best of all, our itinerary also includes special access to professional observatories atop Haleakalā on Maui and on the world-renowned summit of Mauna Kea on the island of Hawai‘i.
With so many adventurous travelers eager to visit exciting destinations around the world, this tour is certain to fill up soon. Space is limited for this remarkable tour, so get ready to pack your bags — and your binoculars — for an unforgettable trip.
|Here’s a 45-minute video showing what you’ll experience on this tour.|
If you’re ready to join the tour, click here to make a reservation!
Click below to learn all about the tour:
- Itinerary for our 9-day tour of Maui and Hawai‘i
- Itinerary for our optional 4-day post-trip tour of Kaua‘i
- What is and isn't included
- Pricing, payments, and terms
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE HAWAI‘I TOUR
This beautiful island is dominated by the towering presence of Haleakalā, the enormous shield volcano that occupies about 75% of the island. Rising 10,023 feet (3,056 meters) above sea level, Haleakalā (“House of the Sun”) offers breathtaking views from its summit. But few realize that this mountain is also home to an amazing assortment of professional observatories, including the U.S. Air Force’s 3.6-m AEOS telescope (seen below, which the tour is scheduled to visit) and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope — the world’s largest telescope dedicated to solar studies. While on Maui, we’ll do some stargazing on the slopes of Haleakalā with local amateur astronomers and watch for the green flash while relaxing at our seaside hotel.
The largest town on the Big Island is the gateway to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, an otherworldly place where ground still heaves with subterranean activity and occasionally gushes forth with eruptive fury. To the north of Hilo is beautiful ‘Akaka Falls, which cascades over a verdant precipice and tumbles 442 feet to the ground below. Several professional observatories are headquartered in Hilo, and at ʻImiloa Astronomy Center we’ll enjoy both a private planetarium show and a presentation about the interplay of Hawaiian culture and astronomical discovery.
Although Hilo is often cloudy, the western side of Hawai‘i features pleasant weather that’s almost always sunny. In 1795 King Kamehameha I chose Kailua to be his seat of government, and it later served as teh capital of the unified Kingdom of Hawai‘i. Today tourists are drawn to this vibrant but still-quaint community for its great weather and low-key vibe. From our centrally located hotel, we’ll watch sunsets over the Pacific in hopeful anticipation of spotting the “green flash.” And coffee lovers will find themselves in their own little bit of paradise.
Kailua-Kona will be our starting point for an ascent to the summit of Mauna Kea, meaning “white mountain” because of its snowy cap during winter. Gradually rising to a towering 13,803 feet (4,207 m) above sea level, Mauna Kea is home to 13 observatory facilities. We’ll visit these behemoths — including a behind-the-scenes tour inside one of them — and then linger at the summit to take in a spectacular sunset.
Itinerary for Hawai‘i Skies and Sights 2023 Main Tour
|Date||Itinerary at a Glance||Accommodation||Meals|
|Friday, March 17||Arrival in Maui, welcome dinner||Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa||D|
|Saturday, March 18||Haleakalā National Park||Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa||B,L,D|
|Sunday, March 19||Snorkel Cruise / Polynesian Wayfinding||Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa||B,L|
|Monday, March 20||Maui to Hilo; ‘Akaka Falls||Volcano House Hotel||B,L|
|Tuesday, March 21||Hawai‘i Volcanoes Natl. Park||Volcano House Hotel||B,L,D|
|Wednesday, March 22||Hilo to Kona, Black Sand Beach||Royal Kona Resort||B,L|
|Thursday, March 23||Mauna Kea summit||Royal Kona Resort||B|
|Friday, March 24||Kona sightseeing, Farewell Lū‘au||Royal Kona Resort||B,D|
|Saturday, March 25||Depart for home (or Kaua‘i)||—||B|
Day 1 (March 17) — Arrival in Maui; Welcome dinner
Depart from your home on a flight to Kahului, Maui. Upon arrival transfer to the resort, a spacious retreat on world-famous Ka’anapali Beach.
Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa (D)
Day 2 (March 18) — Haleakalā National Park and Observatory
After breakfast, we’ll ascend Haleakalā, the dormant shield volcano that towers 10,023 feet above sea level and is visible from just about every point on Maui. At the summit, we’ll explore Haleakalā National Park, recognized as an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations. Here there are more endangered species than in any other U.S. national park, including plants and animals indigenous to Hawai‘i like the endemic ‘āhinahina (silversword) and the nene (Hawaiian goose).
The mountain’s summit is home to the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (the world’s largest) and a group of Defense Department telescopic facilities known as the Maui Space Surveillance Complex. If permissions are granted, we’ll visit one of the DoD installations. After leaving the summit and a group dinner at a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy some casual stargazing at a lower altitude with the Haleakalā Amateur Astronomers Club.
Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa (B, L, D)
Day 3 (March 19) — Snorkel Cruise / Polynesian Wayfinding
This morning we embark on a snorkel cruise to the mostly uninhabited coast of the island of Lana‘i, regarded as one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world. Sail the scenic coastline in the company of dolphins and possibly a humpback whale. Explore a dazzling coral reef, home to abundant sea life, as we have lunch aboard our chartered vessel. After the cruise ends, enjoy some free time in Lahaina Town.
Then gather for an afternoon lecture by a Polynesian navigator who participated on the Mālama Honua – Worldwide Voyage of the Hōkūle‘a Polynesian Voyaging Canoe. During the voyage, over 245 participating crew members helped to sail the canoe and connect with more than 100,000 people worldwide. Afterward we’ll have a non-hosted reception to look for the elusive “green flash” — an optical phenomenon that sometimes occurs at sunset. Cap off the day with dinner on your own at a local restaurant.
Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa (B, L)
Day 4, March 20 — Maui to Hilo; ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center; ʻAkaka Falls
After breakfast and check-out, we’ll fly from Maui to Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. We’ll visit the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center for a private planetarium showing and a lecture on Hawaiian language and astronomy. Learn about early Polynesian nighttime navigation, history, wayfinding, and scientific developments on Hawaiʻi.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we visit ʻAkaka Falls State Park and its 422-foot-tall waterfall — taller than either Niagara or Victoria Falls, and one of the most impressive and accessible on the island. Enjoy the paved nature walk down to see the falls, and don’t forget to look for the smaller 100-foot Kahuna Falls nearby. Dinner at the hotel on your own.
Volcano House Hotel (B, L)
Day 5, March 21 — Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
Today we get an in-depth exploration of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, a UNESCO World Biosphere Site. Witness how Madame Pele (the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire) has created new land as our exclusive geologist guide leads us through one of the world’s most exciting national parks — and one that encompasses two of the world’s most active volcanoes: Kilauea and Mauna Loa.
Lunch follows at Volcano House’s Rim Restaurant, which overlooks the otherworldly collapse crater called Halema‘uma‘u. This afternoon, continue our tour of the park with a Native Hawaiian cultural guide, who will share traditional knowledge and interpretation of this sacred place. Evening dinner at the Rim Restaurant.
Volcano House Hotel (B, L, D)
Day 6, March 22 — Hilo to Kona, Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach
Hilo and Kona lie on opposite sides of the Big Island, and after breakfast and check-out we’ll head toward Kona via the scenic southern route. Our first stop is Nā‘ālehu Village, the southernmost town in the United States. After lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll visit Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach to look for the endangered Hawaiian honu (green sea turtles).
After arriving in Kona and hotel check-in, in the evening we’ll gather for an exclusive guest lecture about the Native Hawaiian traditions regarding Mauna Kea and the protests over telescope construction at its summit. Learn about the perspectives of Native Hawaiian practitioners and scientists, the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope, and other observatories located on the mountain before our departure the next day.
This evening gather for a non-hosted reception to look for the green flash before dinner on your own. Then enjoy a private stargazing session with the West Hawai‘i Astronomy Club on the lower slopes of Mauna Kea.
Royal Kona Resort (B, L)
Day 7, March 23 — Mauna Kea
After breakfast, you’ll have the morning free to explore Kona and have lunch on your own. Then gather in the afternoon for a briefing before departing for Mauna Kea. Although it erupted approximately 4,000 years ago, this massive shield volcano now lies dormant.
With an altitude of 13,803 feet (4,207 m) above sea level, Mauna Kea’s summit is home to 13 observatories that study the universe at optical, infrared, and submillimeter wavelengths. The summit of the mountain was considered sacred in ancient Hawai‘i and forbidden to all but the highest-ranking chiefs and priests. We’ll stop at Onizuka Visitor Center to get acclimatized to the altitude and hear a presentation about Mauna Kea. Then we’ll tour the summit and see the interior of one of the immense twin domes of Keck Observatory (permission pending). We’ll witness the breathtaking sunset from the summit before returning to the hotel.
Royal Kona Resort (B)
Day 8, March 24 — Kona Coffee Farm / Cloud Forest Sanctuary (or Mauna Kea)
Your morning is free to enjoy the resort or to take an excursion to the Mountain Thunder Coffee Farm and Cloud Forest Sanctuary. Hawai‘i is the only state in the US that grows coffee. The high elevation, rainfall, moderate temperature, sunshine, and volcanic soil of Kona produce unrivaled conditions to grow coffee. Learn how beans are grown, hand-harvested, dried, and roasted. The Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary is an accessible cloud forest located directly above the Kona coast at an elevation of 3,000 feet. The 70-acre sanctuary is home to native plants and more than 100 varieties of bamboo (!) as well as endemic and exotic birds.
Tonight we’ll enjoy farewell lū‘au dinner complete with Mai Tai cocktails, music, and hula!
Royal Kona Resort (B, D)
Day 9, March 25 — Depart for Home (or for Kaua‘i)
Breakfast is at the hotel. After check-out, we’ll transfer to Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport either for your flight home (those headed to the East Coast arrive home the next day) or to continue to Kaua‘i for the optional 4-day post-tour extension. (B)
OPTIONAL POST-TOUR EXTENSION TO KAUA‘I — THE “GARDEN ISLAND”
Itinerary for Post-Tour Extension to Kaua‘i
|Date||Itinerary at a Glance||Accommodation||Meals|
|Saturday, March 25||Hawai‘i to Kaua‘i; Allerton Gardens||Kaua‘i Beach Resort||B|
|Sunday, March 26||Waimea Canyon||Kaua‘i Beach Resort||B,L|
|Monday, March 27||Pineapple Farm||Kaua‘i Beach Resort||B,D|
|Tuesday, March 28||Depart for home||—||B|
Day 9, March 25 — Hawai‘i to Kaua‘i, Allerton Gardens
This morning depart for Kona International Airport (KOA) on an included inter-island flight to Kaua‘i. Drop off your bags at hotel, and then have lunch on own. We’ll gather in the afternoon for a visit to the beautiful Allerton Gardens. Located on the south shore of Kaua‘i, this paradise has been transformed through time by a Hawaiian Queen, a sugar-plantation owner, and most recently by an artist and architect. After our return to the hotel, enjoy dinner on own.
Kaua‘i Beach Resort (B)
Day 10, March 26 — Waimea Canyon
After breakfast, we’ll depart for Waimea Canyon, the geologically spectacular “Grand Canyon” of Hawaiʻi. First we visit Koke‘e State Park and the Koke‘e Museum. You’ll experience the island’s beauty and natural history, including stops to view Waimea Canyon’s incredible erosional valleys from several vantage points. A counterpart to Arizona’s Grand Canyon, Waimea is spectacular for its beauty alone. It is a mile wide, 14 miles long, and 3,600 feet deep. Today we’ll have a picnic lunch before returning to the hotel. Then enjoy dinner on your own.
Kaua‘i Beach Resort (B,L)
Day 11, March 27 — Pineapple Farm
This morning we visit a pineapple farm! Walk through the pineapple fields, learn the history of the farm and pineapple in the islands, and how exactly to grow a pineapple. Harvest a small pineapple from the field, and sample a taste of a freshly harvested fruit. After our return to the hotel, lunch is on your own and your afternoon is free. But come back to the hotel in time for the group’s farewell dinner.
Kaua‘i Beach Resort (B,D)
Day 12, March 28 — Homeward bound
Breakfast is at the hotel. After check-out, we’ll transfer to Lihue Airport (LIH) for your flight home. Those headed to the East Coast arrive home the next day. (B)
- Inter-island flight from Kahului, Maui, to Hilo, Hawai‘i
(surcharge if fare increases; see “What’s Not Included” below)
- Inter-island flight from Hawai‘i to Kaua‘i on optional extension
(surcharge if fare increases; see “What’s Not Included” below)
- Private group transfers from airport to hotel and to airport on return
- Accommodation in 3- and 4-star hotels
- English-speaking Tour Director exclusive to Sky & Telescope group
- Sky & Telescope astronomy director
- Expert guest speakers on Day 4 (Hilo) and Day 6 (Kona)
- Exclusive geologist guide on Day 5 (Hawai‘i Volcanoes Natl. Park)
- Land transport by private motor coach
- All meals as indicated on the itinerary, including welcome and farewell dinners
- Bottled water during outings
- Baggage handling
- Tips to local guides, drivers, service charges and taxes
- Entrance fees on itinerary excursions and visits
- Customized luggage tags and name tags with Sky & Telescope logo
- Pre-trip planning information and resources
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Round-trip air transportation between your point of origin and Hawai‘i
- Increase in the cost of the Maui-to-Hawai‘i flight above $145 per person
- Increase in the cost of the Hawai‘i-to-Kaua‘i flight above $130 per person
- Excess-baggage fees (inter-island flights are limited to one standard size-weight piece of checked luggage per person)
- Room service, meals, and snacks not specified in the itinerary
- Alcoholic beverages, aside from those included in the welcome and farewell dinners and hosted reception
- Private transfers
- Personal items such as laundry, wifi, and telephone calls
- Travel and medical insurance
(We strongly recommend the purchase of optional travel insurance)
- Medical expenses, quarantine costs, and COVID-19 testing, if applicable
- Tip for the Tour Director is at participant’s discretion
Pricing, Payments, and Terms
|PRICING (PER PERSON)||DOUBLE||SINGLE|
|Main Tour on Maui & Hawai‘i||$7,950||$9,950|
|Ocean-view rooms in Lahaina and Kona (additional and optional)||$290||$540|
|Post-Trip Extension on Kaua‘i||$2,950||$3,950|
PAYMENTS & TERMS
Note: Pricing is based on standard capacities on vehicles and at restaurants, hotels, and other venues and does not include any costs that may be incurred by any capacity limitations that may be imposed due to COVID-19 or any other reason. All tour prices are based on costs in effect at the time of posting. As such, prices listed here are subject to change. Royal Adventures and/or AAS Sky Publishing LLC will inform participants of any changes prior to departure.
- To make a reservation: A reservation request can be submitted by completing this form. Reservations are recorded and acknowledged in order of receipt. Royal Adventures (CST #2009579-40) handles all invoicing.
- Deposits: An advance payment of US$500 per person for the main tour only, or US$750 per person for both the main tour and the Kaua'i extension, is required to secure your reservation. Reservations made after December 5, 2022, must be paid in full at the time of booking. Initial deposits may be charged to a credit card; however, a 3% fee will be added. All subsequent payments must be made by check. Final payment (by check only) is due by December 5, 2022. Please make your check(s) payable to "Royal Adventures" and mail to: Royal Adventures, 9 Crow Canyon Court, Suite 205, San Ramon, CA 94583.
- Cancellations and Refunds: Cancellation fees are based on the date written notice is received by Royal Adventures. Should you have to cancel, the following terms will apply: Cancellations received within 14 days of booking will receive a full refund of the trip deposit. Cancellations received on or before December 5, 2022, will be assessed a cancellation fee of $500 per person. Cancellations received after the final payment due date of December 5, 2022, are subject to a 100% penalty of all deposits and payments, regardless of the booking date. Notification of cancellation must be received in writing by Royal Adventures. There are no refunds for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features.
- Itinerary: The itinerary is subject to change at the discretion of Sky & Telescope and Royal Adventures. All tour prices are based on costs and U.S. dollar exchange rates in effect at the time of posting. As such, prices listed here are subject to change. In particular, any increases in the fares for in-tour transportation, security, and/or fuel surcharges will be paid by the participants. Sky & Telescope and/or Royal Adventures will inform clients of any changes prior to departure.
- Tour size: This tour, exclusively designed for AAS Sky Publishing LLC, is limited to 25 participants based upon double occupancy. The minimum group size for the main program is 15, and the minimum size for the optional Kauai post-tour extension is 8. Should the minimum group number not be met, we reserve the right to levy a small-group surcharge.
- Travel insurance: We highly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance including “Cancel for Any Reason” because the cancellation penalty listed in the brochure will apply. Trip-cancellation insurance can be purchased by an agency of your choice or through our recommended provider, Travel Insured International; click here to get a quote or call 800-243-3174 and mention Royal Adventures #53140. Most insurance plans need to be purchased within 14 days of paying the initial deposit in order to waive preexisting medical conditions as well as to purchase “Cancel for Any Reason” insurance. Neither AAS Sky Publishing LLC nor Royal Adventures accepts liability for any airline-cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a non-refundable airline ticket or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for the tour.
- Disclaimer: Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information presented here. Royal Adventures, AAS Sky Publishing, LLC, and Sky & Telescope are not responsible for errors in or damages resulting from use of the information contained herein. Information contained here is subject to change.
- Responsibility Statement: Royal Adventures (CST #2009579-40), its owners, and employees act only as agents for the various independent suppliers and contractors providing transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant, and other services connected with this tour. Such travel and services are subject to the terms and conditions under which such accommodations, services, and transportation are offered or provided; AAS Sky Publishing LLC and Royal Adventures and their respective employees, agents, representatives, and assigns accept no liability therefor. AAS Sky Publishing LLC and Royal Adventures assume no liability for any injury, damage, loss, accident, delay, or other irregularity which may be caused by the defect of any aircraft or vehicle or the negligence or default of any company or person engaged in carrying out or performing any of the services involved. Additionally, responsibility is not accepted for losses, injury, damages, or expenses of any kind due to sickness, epidemics, pandemics, weather, strikes, local laws, hostilities, wars, terrorist acts, acts of nature, quarantine, force majeure, animal or insect bites, or other such causes. All services and accommodations are subject to the laws of the country in which they are provided. AAS Sky Publishing LLC and Royal Adventures reserve the right to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their sole judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of the tour participants. AAS Sky Publishing LLC and/or Royal Adventures shall not be deemed to be in breach of these terms and conditions or otherwise be liable to you, and shall not provide any refund, by reason of delay in performance, or by nonperformance, of any of our obligations hereunder to the extent that any such delay or non-performance is due to any force majeure event. A force majeure event, in relation to this tour, shall mean any circumstances beyond our control, including, but without limitation, to acts of God, explosion, flood, forceful wind, fire or accident, war or threat of war declared or undeclared, acts of terrorism, sabotage, insurrection, riots, strikes, civil disturbance, sickness, epidemics, pandemics, quarantines, government intervention or other unforeseeable events. Limitations on travel arising from the COVID-19 pandemic shall be considered a force majeure event. If this tour is affected by a force majeure event, AAS Sky Publishing and Royal Adventures shall be entitled to, and may in their sole and absolute discretion, vary, cancel or postpone any itinerary or arrangement in relation to this trip. The right is also reserved to decline to accept or retain any person as a member of the tour or to substitute another qualified leader or special guest. Baggage and personal effects are the sole responsibility of the owners at all times. The price of the program is given in good faith based on current tariffs and rates and is subject to change. Any tariff, exchange rate, security surcharge or fuel increases will be passed on to participants. Neither AAS Sky Publishing LLC nor Royal Adventures accepts the liability for any airline-cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a nonrefundable airline ticket. The air ticket when issued shall constitute the sole contract between the passenger and the airline concerned. As part of the consideration and right to participate in this tour, each participant will be asked to sign a liability release, an assumption of risk, and a hold-harmless agreement.
- Questions: Please contact Royal Adventures at [email protected] or call 800-453-4754 or 925-820-6260 (Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time).
|Reserve your spot today! Register by completing this form.|