The summit of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, is a staggering 13,803 feet above sea level, making it an ideal location for the world’s largest astronomical observatory. Its atmosphere is so dry it’s almost cloud-free—meaning the likelihood of a clear night is extremely high. And, with an island-wide ordinance that regulates outdoor lighting, the chance for an extremely dark sky is high, too. Mauna Kea has many options for tours up to its peak to enjoy stargazing and to witness panoramic views unlike anywhere else.
Get the best view of: the Crux and Southern Cross constellations
Where to stay: Visiting Mauna Kea means driving a bit from lodging, but the hour-and-a-half-away town of Hilo has you covered with AAA Three Diamond-rated Hilo Hawaiian Hotel (
), equipped with ocean views that make the drive worth it.