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Most scenic route from Kona to VNP to Hilo and back

Boynton Beach...
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Most scenic route from Kona to VNP to Hilo and back

We are looking for the most scenic route from Kona to VPN to Hilo and back. Can we do this is a day? Should we stay over night in Hilo?

We will be on the big Island for 5 days.

Thanks

Big Island, Hawaii
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1. Re: Most scenic route from Kona to VNP to Hilo and back

Five days (Four nights?) is a very awkward and unfortunate amount of time for the Big Island especially as you're trying to see both sides. Normally I would say yes, spend the night in Volcano (rather than Hilo) but basically that only leaves you three days for the west side, which is a bit of a travesty.

It would help if we knew your overall plan. How many nights total in Hawaii, when are you coming, where else are you going, where are you staying on the west side, is everything set in stone or can you reallocate some time and/or change lodgings. Have you read through the Top Questions on where to stay and things to do?

A day trip from the west side to the east side is possible but very long. That's one reason we need to know time of year. You're looking at a 12 hour day and that will be rushing to get through things. You absolutely do not want to be driving before or after dark cross island.

Generally the advice is to go via the northern (Hamakua) route to VNP and then take the southern route back. Depending on where you're staying exactly on the west side, this will be 6-7 hours of driving minimum. Then there is the time needed to stop along the Hamakaua sites. I think five hours in VNP is an absolute minimum but that's pretty much impossible on a day trip if you're wisely avoiding a night drive back.

You could do the Hamakua Coast as a separate day trip from the west and then just head over and back to VNP via the Saddle and not try to also cram in sightseeing along the way. But that eats into your very limited west side time.

Bear in mind the BI is 4000 square miles, as large as all the other islands combined. It is generally suggested that you allocate a minimum of 8 nights for both sides. So trying to do it in half that is a big challenge as will leave you with tough choices and many hours in the car.

Edited: 05 July 2013, 22:52
LA
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2. Re: Most scenic route from Kona to VNP to Hilo and back

Exactly where are you staying?

"Kona" is often used to describe the entire west side of the island and it can make a big difference in the recommendations.

I often visit Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park on a long day trip, but I stay in south Kohala, usually at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, and drive the northern route both to and from the park, and I don't need to stop at Waipio Overlook, Akaka Falls, or spend much time in Hilo.

Stanwood, Washington
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3. Re: Most scenic route from Kona to VNP to Hilo and back

we left Kailua at 8am and headed south. Went to South point and strolled around and talked to the local fisherman, got held up in a small town just south of there for about an hour that closed down the highway for a 4th of July parade. Went to the park headquarters for advice, steam vents, Jagger, and Kilauea Iki round trip and Thurston. Headed home via Hilo/Saddle and made dinner at Big island grill by 7 pm. tired but doable and enjoyable. I think we liked Saddle road more than the trip around the southern end for points of interest and scenery. However we had already spent a lot of time south of town with Coffee tours (Greenwell--great) and City (place) of Refuge

my 70 year old inlaws could have done without the Iki round trip and spent more time "looking". my 10 and 12 year old would tell you that the time we spent was just right.

Boynton Beach...
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4. Re: Most scenic route from Kona to VNP to Hilo and back

Thanks for all the feedback. We are actually staying in WAIKOLOA, we can not change anything as we are going to other islands afterwards. Our entire trip is 15 days. We are spending 5 nights on each island. We are leaving next week.

Big Island, Hawaii
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5. Re: Most scenic route from Kona to VNP to Hilo and back

Ok, so Waikoloa is not in Kona. Waikoloa Beach or Waikoloa Village?

Five nights is better than four although still a bummer. So you're also spending five nights each on two other islands that are a fraction of the size of the BI. There is no substitute for good advance planning...BEFORE you book a trip. But next time. As you're locked in, I would then double book a night in Volcano. Drive there via the Hamakua Coast. Drive back via the Saddle.

Boynton Beach...
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6. Re: Most scenic route from Kona to VNP to Hilo and back

The beach, the new Hilton time share. Our travel agent booked us a helicopter ride for one day. Where do you recommend staying?

Big Island, Hawaii
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7. Re: Most scenic route from Kona to VNP to Hilo and back

In Volcano I like Volcano Village Lodge and Kilauea lodge. It an be difficult to find lodging for only one night, but call around.

Island of Hawaii...
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8. Re: Most scenic route from Kona to VNP to Hilo and back

It sounds like your travel agent royally messed up that portion of your trip and has no idea what the Big Island is about.

I would drive the northern route but do not drive it after dark. I would not double book. I probably wouldn't go to VNP at all on a 5 day trip to Waikoloa flying in and out of KOA.

Of course it can be changed. Inter-island flights are the easiest to change. If you arrive from the mainland in a direct flight to KOA, your TA if worth a darn should have booked you departing out of Hilo so you could see the Volcano properly. Your TA should eat the fare change fee for being incompetent, although you also should have done research before agreeing to this plan.

Good luck!

Maybe another time you will get to explore this island. It has a lot to offer, so please don't judge it by the little you'll see of it. You have to put more time in to see the best of it.

Edited: 06 July 2013, 13:53
Boynton Beach...
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9. Re: Most scenic route from Kona to VNP to Hilo and back

I booked everything myself, It also had to do with time share availability. I might be able to extend an extra day on the big island and cut Maui by a day. Is four days in Maui enough?

Big Island, Hawaii
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10. Re: Most scenic route from Kona to VNP to Hilo and back

It's much more useful to us if you count nights instead of days.

Four or five nights is not "enough" to fully see any of the main islands. But it's much easier to do parts of Maui, Kauai and Oahu in shorter time periods because they're so much smaller. If you can add a night to the BI for Volcano, I would do so. I don't know what your third island is. If I had to take a night from one other island it would probably be Oahu first. If your other two islands are Maui and Kauai I'd probably take it from Maui.

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