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Need a 1 day trip plan

Saint Helens, Oregon
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Need a 1 day trip plan

I know this is not recommended, but I need a 1 day plan to see HVNP. We will be staying in Kona across from the Kahaluu Park. I would like to drive the whole loop that day, should we go south in the morning or north 1st. We plan on doing most of the other stops north and south on other days. Plan on leaving the condo at 7 am, with lunch, snacks, and stuff to drink for the day. Will need a place for dinner. I know its 3.5 hours (we'll need a potty break somewhere, so 4 hours for us.) which puts us near the park at 11. What order should we do things, and how long should we expect things to take? Thanks!

Denver, Colorado
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1. Re: Need a 1 day trip plan

The whole loop of the island is possible but not practical. Even the day trip to VNP is a stretch.

Remember the main loop around is 220 miles not including rest stops and side trips. Better off to take the south route thru Captain Cook and maybe one side trip like Black Sand Beach otherwise you won't have sufficient time to enjoy the park.

My typical recommendation for looping the island is three full days with two night stay in Volcano. Its one full day in the park unless you are just looking out the window as you drive past all of the good stuff.

Best case is to add three days to your trip plan to do a full liesurely loop of the island or come back another time to do it right.

Pahoa. HI
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2. Re: Need a 1 day trip plan

Let's deal with what you want to do instead of what may be ideal. One full day at HVNP is excessive for most people. You can see just about all the things that are of interest to the majority of people in 4 hours or so, and that would include the 4 mile Kilauea Iki hike. Leave early, hopefully by 7 A.M. or so and you can be at the HVNP entrance around 10 A.M. or right after (take the southern route, Highway 11). And you could be done by mid afternoon. Long day, YES, but if this is what you want to do, go for it!

Marlton, New Jersey
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3. Re: Need a 1 day trip plan

I have done it four times in one day. Once with a one year old and another time with elderly parents. It can be done. Once did Devastation Trail. Another time did the Thurston Lava Tube. I did the Chain of Craters road all four times before, but this time I will skip it because I want to do some Hilo stuff and Hawaii Botanical Gardens. I start early before 7am and drive straight to VNP. I have done the southern route on the way out and the north on the way back before.

Saint Helens, Oregon
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4. Re: Need a 1 day trip plan

Thanks guys, I guess we do not need to drive the whole loop, and can do southern each way. We'll be there in March--sunset is at 6:42 pm... if that is the case, should we stop at anything on the way to HVNP (just for a look-see) in order to be up on the mountain at sunset, and then drive home? We could be home ~11 pm if we stay a whole hour after dark. What about dinner, is there a place to eat convenient for say an early dinner at 4 or so?

Pahoa. HI
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5. Re: Need a 1 day trip plan

The southern way (Hwy 11) both ways will definitely save you time. Total driving time from your hotel to the HVNP entrance shouldn't be more than 2 hours, or just a bit over. Would recommend you stop at Punalu'u Bake Shop in Na'alehu on the way and pick something up for lunch in the park. Check them out:

www.bakeshophawaii.com

You said "be up on the mountain at sunset". What mountain are you referring to? Kilauea? The Kilauea caldera is at the 4,000 ft elevation but it's not exactly a mountain in the traditional sense. It's dwarfed by nearby Mauna Loa (around 13,700 ft tall) so you certainly don't have any sense of being "up on a mountain". The ONLY thing that might be worth seeing would be the glow from the mini-eruption in the Halemaumau Crater (visible from Jaggar Museum), but this can change daily. No way to know what it might to do tomorrow morning and it's certainly anybody's guess what the status will be in March.

Very few good places to eat dinner up in the Volcano area. Kilauea Lodge & Restaurant probably the #1 choice. They open for dinner at 5 p.m. "Thai Thai" is much simpler, but if you like Thai food...

You may want to stop at Punalu'u Blacksand Beach for the turtles. Other than that you're probably best off dedicating the day to HVNP and the drive there and back. Total time, including the drive, dinner in Volcano and 4-5 hours or so in HVNP, you're probably looking at something like 12 hours. So, if you leave at 7 a.m. you could easily be back by 7 p.m. Unless the Halemaumau mini eruption happens to be extremely spectacular and you want to stay for that...

Pahoa. HI
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6. Re: Need a 1 day trip plan

Clarification:

When I said "The ONLY thing that might be worth seeing" I meant to say "at night"!!

Juneau, Alaska
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7. Re: Need a 1 day trip plan

I liked your response to the "VNP in one day" questions. You mentioned that you did the southern route (Hwy 11) from Kona to VNP, and the "northern" route back. What time did you leave VNP in order to get back to Kona (through Hilo, I presume) at a reasonable hour (before midnight).

Washington DC...
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8. Re: Need a 1 day trip plan

We do a one-day quickie trip every year from Mauna Lani. We usually go north way both ways but sometimes head south first and return north. Potty break...hmmmm...north way we stop at a gas station in Hilo to gas up and "break." South way we stop at the McDonald's in Capt Cook. Then dash for the facilities at VNP visitor center. :-)

In a short visit, one can see Thurston Lava tube, do the Kilauea Iki hike (2 hours if one does not dawdle, longer if dawdle), Devastation Trail. (Where you go depends on what is open.) If you want to drive down Chain of Craters that adds 2 hours. There are petroglyphs near the end of where you drive; if you ar enot big hikers, could doi this instead of Kilauea Iki. Try to leave before 4 PM to get closer to your lodging before it is dark.

Kona, Hawaii
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9. Re: Need a 1 day trip plan

I always do the loop.. going south returning north.. it will take about 2 1/2 hours south and 3 hours returning north.. that is daylight times..

New Jersey
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10. Re: Need a 1 day trip plan

Here is our recent driving trip. We started out from the Fairmont Orchid, about 25 minutes/30 minutes north of where you'll be.

We drove north through Waimea, then south towards Hilo. We stopped at Akaka Falls before Hilo, then in Hilo at a Dive shop (Nautilus near the University just off the highway). From there we headed to VNP, and saw a few sights. After seeing the cauldera and the Thurston Lava tube, we exited the park, headed out Highway 130 to the Kapoho tide pools. Spectacular snorkling in protected tidepools, then back to 130 and out to the lava viewing. Since it gets dark early, even 1.5 hours on the lava went fast, and we headed back to Hilo for dinner. Stopped at Ken's House of Pancakes for some Loco Moco (or Moco Loco?) which was (really) one of the best meals we ate on the whole trip(could have been we were ravenous after being seriously difficient in snacks), and then back to the Fairmont. I'd say we were back by about 9:30-10pm. A long day, but one of the highlights of the trip. The southern route is likely a bit longer, but you'd only miss seeing Akaka Falls and being able to stop at Ken's.