We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Hotel/condo recommendations and booking at last minute

United States
Level Contributor
783 posts
26 reviews
Save Topic
Hotel/condo recommendations and booking at last minute

We are staying 7 days on the big island in Feb.

I had read on this board that it is much easier to split our time between 2 different hotels: one on the Kona side and one on the Hilo side. But that isn't really possible for us given our timeshare.

We really want to see lava glowing at night (not just the helicopter day tour). In order to maximize our chances of seeing the glowing lava should we:

A. Stay 8 days instead booking a hotel in Hilo the day before we move to the timeshare. FYI, my relatives also want to spend time in Oahu and have limited time so if this doesn't really improve our chances for seeing lava, they'd rather just spend 7 days on the Big Island

B. Book a last minute hotel room/condo for the 10 of us if needed if there suddenly is a report of major lava activity (just giving up one day of our timeshare hotel).

C. Just stay at the Kona hotel and make that long drive back to the hotel at night after we see the lava.

D. Anything else you guys can suggest.

I really want to see lava at night and read that not only is more convenience in terms of travel distance to stay at Hilo but you have better odds of seeing it cause your hotel can wake you up at night if need be. Is that right?

Edited: 07 January 2011, 21:09
Washington DC...
Level Contributor
14,165 posts
312 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Hotel/condo recommendations and booking at last minute

(C) is not my idea of a good idea.

It will either be flowing by 5 PM that day or it's unlikely you will be seeing it that night. So staying a day near Hilo in addition to your timeshare would be nice. If you could have a backup plan for if there is not an interesting surface flow that would satisfy you, then it would be a win-win for you.

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
38,803 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Hotel/condo recommendations and booking at last minute

>>> you have better odds of seeing it cause your hotel can wake you up at night if need be. Is that right?

I don't know what you'r reading. You can't go see lava during the hours that people normally sleep.

I need to ask who is in your group and what is your plan that you've made for seeing surface lava? What you seem to be envisioning and the actual situation do not seem to me to mesh.

Kalapana Cultural Tours or Volcano Discovery are your main tour choices. The ocean entry is on private land and you must have a guide. Opportunities to see surface outbreaks at the "public viewing" are spotty. The lava moved after that area was crated.

The lava hike with the guides is not for children or the elderly or anyone who is not a fit hiker who can hike in the dark without an actual trail, over rough terrain, for three hours.

The public viewing was a two mile walk the last I heard, but it changes a lot. The last car is allowed in at 8 p.m. and all must be out by 10 p.m.. However, it may be a waste of your time to go there, depending on the flow.

I can't answer your question without hearing your plan and who is going.

United States
Level Contributor
783 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Hotel/condo recommendations and booking at last minute

We have 10 adults going with us ranging in age from 20s to 60s. The 60 somethings all are in good health though one has a knee that acts up every once in a while but still doable.

The weakest I would say are in moderate health (the same as lazy coach potato americans).

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
14,165 posts
312 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Hotel/condo recommendations and booking at last minute

The one with the knee might really really like a hiking staff/pole for stability and to ease up/down off the rough and bumpy lava rubble surfaces. I speak as someone who really really likes mine because I can still get places I got when I was 40--could NOT without the poles.

United States
Level Contributor
783 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Hotel/condo recommendations and booking at last minute

Thanks. Will bring a walking stick.

I was just hoping to see a bright orange color. How close can I get? Should I bring binoculars?

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
38,803 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Hotel/condo recommendations and booking at last minute

I don't think this hike is for people in their 60's, unless they grew up walking the lava. You need to do some reading on the actual conditions. Search Lava Viewing in the Island of Hawai'i forum. When I get a chance, I'll bump the relevant topics.

You cannot afford to plan a trip like this with the vague idea of a glow ... you cannot be assured of accessibility to a glow at all.

Walking stick is good but not enough to make this hike OK for seniors.

Back in 2008 and 2009, that trail to lava viewing was fine for all ages, but conditions changed.

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
38,803 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Hotel/condo recommendations and booking at last minute

I bumped the topics there. You should call Civil Defense and ask them what you can see from the viewing area at this time. It changes so much. One month there is nothing; today there is a photo on the Lava Daily blog of people standing in front of lava.

Be aware that you cannot walk in or drive in to Kalapana Gardens subdivision. You would be trespassing, and can be fined. There is a road into the viewing area, and that is it for public access. The people running it tell you where you can and can't go from there. Do not pay or go with illegal guides.

The other tour, KCT, takes off from Uncle Roberts' which is a whole different road.

United States
Level Contributor
783 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Hotel/condo recommendations and booking at last minute

Thanks everyone. I think the best thing for me is to just book a room at the last minute if it turns out lava is visible when I get there (though I'm somewhat afraid I won't be able to find accommodations big enough to handle 10 people at the last minute). I'll give civil defense a call when its closer to my vacation time.

Michigan
Level Contributor
17 posts
18 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Hotel/condo recommendations and booking at last minute

Get hold of Volcano Discovery, Arthur or Phillip. We toured with them two days ago and they know what they are doing. Felt very safe however it is truly a situation to treat with great respect. We were lucky in the lava flow and it was beyond belief. If you have read the threads here, you know this is not something to do on your own. They took good care and also knew so much.

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
38,803 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Hotel/condo recommendations and booking at last minute

Arthur and Philip get big thumb's up from everyone here. !!!