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Volcano OR Hilo for one night stay and 2 days of exploring?

Ne Indiana
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16 posts
5 reviews
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Volcano OR Hilo for one night stay and 2 days of exploring?

Last minute decision to double book a BRIEF stay for 5 people to visit HVNP/ Hilo area at the end of December.

Originally thought it would be doable to take a few day trips to the areas, but have since realized from reading these forums that at least an overnight stay would be prudent (night driving issues, etc.) Have recvd 3 quotes in Volcano which we find acceptable to our needs/budget. All three in the $200-$300+ range. It's last minute, so you take what is available. We would like to try to see the evening glow at HVNP in addition to touring the park during the day. That was the basis for my decision to inquire in Volcano.

Our tentative plan is to leave early (from Kohala Coast area) on Day 1 travel the Saddle Road via Hilo to Volcano where we plan to spend the day and evening. On Day 2 we would leave early from Volcano and hit various stops in Hilo. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be on a Saturday or Wednesday for the Farmers Market (due to vacancy issues in Volcano). Then meander along the Hamakau Coast for the day back to the Kohala Coast. Intending to hit the highlights Akaka Falls, Botanical Garden, etc. as time allows focusing mainly on the far side of the island.

We intend to take at least a few additional day trips to explore other areas closer to our home base (north and south of our rental) while on the BI.

I guess my question is actually twofold: Can we hit the highlights on the East side in two days/one night? And ... is my decision to stay in Volcano (mainly to see the evening glow) a sound decision given our limited time. Or would Hilo be a better base camp for one night? The reason we are placing a premium on the evening glow is because it may be our only opportunity to experience "evidence" of lava. I know we won't be seeing lava firsthand.

I'm double booking ... and it kills me to just ignore the $350+/night I have already committed to our rental in Kohala. So far I have secured the option of one or two nights. Too late for rental/airfare changes, etc. so trying to make the best decision with the situation.

Checked the SEARCH function first and didn't see any recent inquiries that resembled my situation.

Big Island, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Island of Hawaii
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26,182 posts
77 reviews
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1. Re: Volcano OR Hilo for one night stay and 2 days of exploring?

I think your plan sounds fine, and yes, you can see the highlights. Volcano is probably the best base and I like your plan to drive the Saddle across, which will maximize your time at VNP, and taking the Hamakua Coast back.

Basically if you plan to do the two smaller recommended hikes, Kilauea Iki (two to two and a half hours or so, includes Thurston Lava Tube) and Pu'u Loa (one hour) and drive both Crater Rim and Chain of Craters, visit the Visitor's Center and Jaggar, VNP will take you roughly 7-8 hours. I would bring lunch with you.

So if you allocate three hours (it will probably take you less about 2 1/2) to get there on the Saddle, you'll want to hit the road by about 7am to finish up at VNP by sunset, check in to your lodgings, freshen up, go to dinner (I recommend Kilauea Lodge) and then after go to Jaggar to see the glow.

The next day, stopping in Hilo at Rainbow Falls, Queen Liliuokalani gardens, then up the coast to Akaka Falls, HTBG, Waipio overlook (unless you're planning to visit Waipio on another day for hiking or horseback ride) and through Honokaa and Waimea (both very cute towns with some nice shops and restaurants) will take you about 7-8 hours depending on stops.

Waimea is a very nice town to come back and visit on Saturdays if you're at your condo on a Saturday, it's just about 20 minutes away and has two farmers markets and lots of roadside stands and trucks and usually other weekend stuff happening.

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2. Re: Volcano OR Hilo for one night stay and 2 days of exploring?

It would kill me, too! But it's the smartest way to do this, by far. Your plan is entirely do-able and I think your choice of Volcano lodgings is much better than any alternative plan of staying in Hilo.

Staying overnight in Volcano is an experience in and of itself; it's a very special, very unique place, and you won't regret it. That way you can maximize your time in the park and enjoy the 'ohia-fern forest beauty of Volcano Village. Be sure to get a place with a nice fireplace.

Ne Indiana
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16 posts
5 reviews
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3. Re: Volcano OR Hilo for one night stay and 2 days of exploring?

Excellent ... thanks for the confirmation!

4. Re: Volcano OR Hilo for one night stay and 2 days of exploring?

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