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Staying in Kailua-Kona ... Day Trips to Hilo and VNP?

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Staying in Kailua-Kona ... Day Trips to Hilo and VNP?

Our family will be traveling to Kona next week for one week on the B.I., staying in a timeshare in Kailua-Kona (first visit, can't wait!), then a second week on Kauai.. There will be 6 of us traveling together ... 2 couples, an 80-year old and 13 year old. We would very much like to see the east coast of the island as well. We had tentatively planned to make two separate day trips .... one day to Hilo via Saddle Road and a separate day to Volcanoes Nat'l Park. Are we crazy to think this will work? I know it will be a lot of driving (although we have multiple drivers, will still be very tiring). We definitely don't want to drive back in the dark so our time will be quite limited.

While we do have our accommodations for the week in Kona, should we spend the extra money and stay overnight in VNP (presuming it's not too late to book)? If so can anyone recommend some mid-priced accommodations near the park? We also hope to do a helicopter tour and are considering either the 'Circle of Fire' tour out of Hilo or do the 'Island Spectacular' bigger tour on a separate day out of Waikoloa.

Thanks for any advise you can offer.

New York City, New...
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1. Re: Staying in Kailua-Kona ... Day Trips to Hilo and VNP?

if u have a time share in kailua, then going to hilo and back via saddle road is not a problem

if u want to stop at the VNP too i would recommend one night at a hotel in hilo, and drive out in the morning to VNP, then back to kona side of the island, that is what i did when i was there for 1 week,

choices of hotel in VNP are limited. so u can get a place in hilo and drive out or stay at bed and breakfast at VNP.

Big Island, Hawaii
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2. Re: Staying in Kailua-Kona ... Day Trips to Hilo and VNP?

It's probably best to combine the Hilo and VNP trip and stay overnight in VNP. I actually wouldn't drive saddle road, I would drive from Kona to VNP via the southern route, you can stop at Punaluu black sand beach along the way, arrive at VNP with time to do some hiking and sightseeing and hopefully some lava glow at night. There are tons of cute lodgings in Volcano at very moderate prices. Search these forums for specific suggestions on accommodation, the next day head out and drive back via Hilo and up the Hamakua coast, visiting those sites (Akaka falls, Waipio valley overlook, Waimea) and back to Kona.

Denver, Colorado
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3. Re: Staying in Kailua-Kona ... Day Trips to Hilo and VNP?

Find your acccomodatios now, cause desirable places are most likely already booked except maybe for the time share that is available to you.

From Kailua Kona its 5 hours minimum round trip to Volcano not including any side trips, lunch, etc. Add another hour roundtrip if heading as far as Hilo. So do you like that much driving? As the day light is gone pretty early this time of the year you will be likely driving back in the dark and rain (not fun on a winding 2 lane road)..

The Big Island is typically done best in a grand loop of the island w/ 10 days minimum w/ a combination of maybe 5 nights Waikoloa, 2 nights Volcano or HIlo (depending on drirection of loop) and 3 nights Kailua-Kona.

If you are locked onto a time share in Kailua-Kona you'll just have to make it work. If heading to Volcano or Hilo as a day trip then it needs to be early morning trip stats to make the best of the day. Definitely check weather before heading out, cause if Volcano is totally raining and fogged over it won't be that enjoyable of a day.

Edited: 18 November 2011, 18:19
Modesto, California
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4. Re: Staying in Kailua-Kona ... Day Trips to Hilo and VNP?

It is possible to do just what you stated: take one day and drive over the Saddle road to Hilo, and another day to drive to VNP. We did it with 4 adults & 3 children during a 6 night stay in Oct. It is a lot of driving. We started out by 7 both mornings, but that was not hard considering we were still on Pacific time.

We took the Saddle Road over to Hilo, went to Rainbow Falls, the Hawaii Tropical National Botanical gardens, & Akaka Falls. We thought the gardens was one of the highlights of our trip.

Volcanoes was interesting & we were glad to see (what little) there was to see (no lava flows visible, and we did not want to drive back in the dark, so we did not stay for the lava glow at dark) however, if you are considering a heli tour, you might consider skipping the drive to VNP. (Personally, I would save the heli tour for Kauai.)

The suggestion to drive to VNP, stay the night, then do Hilo on the following day would be ideal from a driving standpoint, but it is not absolutely necessary. Just know that it is a lot of driving, and enjoy the scenery. Put in that Hawaiian music CD and enjoy the ride!

Island of Hawaii...
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5. Re: Staying in Kailua-Kona ... Day Trips to Hilo and VNP?

I wouldn't drag an 80 year old on two day trips to the east side.

Overnight sounds like a better idea. Basically you get two days devoted to the east side either way, but with the day trips you get to subtract 5-6 hours of non-stop driving from the time you would have to sight-see if you do an overnight.

Six hours is a significant amount of time on a 7-day trip.

You are looking at 10-12 hours non-stop driving with the two day trips, but in fact you will likely drive more hours than that with various stops, so your chunk of time at your destination will be slim.

Up to you.

There is a lot to do on the west side.

For a first visit, you can't do it all. You could skip Hilo and just do Volcano. Instead of the Hilo trip, go up to North Kohala. It's a much easier drive and the scenery is very nice, and you can combine it with some beach visiting on the way or on the way back.

Next week being Thanksgiving, I don't know how much vacancy you'll find that sleeps 6 in Volcano.

San Carlos...
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6. Re: Staying in Kailua-Kona ... Day Trips to Hilo and VNP?

I agree with KamaainaK. Skip Hilo and tour North Kohala. Personally I would get there and see whom in the group are up for VNP and maybe have a day where everyone does there own thing. I would do that on both islands. Get away from each other to stay sane....

7. Re: Staying in Kailua-Kona ... Day Trips to Hilo and VNP?

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