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Day trip from Waikoloa to VNP - does this schedule work?

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Ft. Collins
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Day trip from Waikoloa to VNP - does this schedule work?

Hi All,

We will be traveling to the Big Island next month with 4 adults and 3 kids ages 6 and under.

We are staying in Waikoloa Beach area and would like to take a day trip to VNP and see some sights on the way.

I have looked through tons of forums and with all the information I have come up with the following schedule. I know it will be a LONG day and we are prepared for it.

Can you all please give me your advice and let me know if this is fairly do-able?

Also looking for recommendations on dinner on the way back to Waikoloa and I still haven't decided if driving back is better the North or South route.

Thanks in advance!

1. 7am - Start from hotel (Marriott) – planning on a weekday maybe Tuesday?

2. 8:30am Drive through Waipio valley – 9 miles to rim from HWY 19, really only stopping to check out the views and head back to the 19. – plan on 1 hour for this.

3. 10:00 am - Akaka Falls – about 11 miles from 19 - There is a short (1/2 mile) loop trail (from the parking lot) that includes Kahuna Falls. – Check out Honomu for great shopping. Plan on 1 hour for this.

4. 11:30 - Rainbow Falls – 10 minute walk from parking lot

5. Drive to Hilo and grab a quick lunch and re-fuel (since it's cheaper) – maybe we should take lunch?

6. 1:00 pm - VNP – visit museum, driver crater rim, Chain of Craters Road (hike maybe a mile), Thurston Lava Tube (quick 20 min walk)

7. Helicopter tour (1 hour) – maybe around 4:00 or 5 at the latest? – want to do this in daylight – night would be cool with lava but we want to see more so it needs to be in daylight.

8. Stop and have dinner – Tex Drive in? Malasadas? Any recommendations?

9. Drive straight back to hotel – south or north the way we came?

Washington DC...
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1. Re: Day trip from Waikoloa to VNP - does this schedule work?

It's too much. Pack a luch and don't waste time dining. Gas up in Hilo there is a statiojn right at the intersection.

Too late for helicopter. If you want to do this, do it right at Hilo. But then you will be late to VNP.

North is safer at night.

CAn you do Waipio overlook and Akaka falls another day, skip RAinbow?

Or drive to Pololu and Hawi another day and skip Waipio and the falls, just doing the heli and VNP?

Or something.

Destination Expert
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2. Re: Day trip from Waikoloa to VNP - does this schedule work?

Much too much! Can't imagine this day with just DH and me let alone with three little ones in tow! you have what I would consider 3 or even 4 days worth of driving crammed into one. Drive to Hilo and take the helio ride in the morning then explore Wiapio and falls etc on the way back. If you then want to actually go to VNP pack a lunch and just go for the day in the most direct fashion. FYI sunset will be around 6pm next month. Just my opinion but I would advise rethinking this one!

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3. Re: Day trip from Waikoloa to VNP - does this schedule work?

The oldest of the 3 children is Age 6...What are the ages of the others??? Either way...everyone is exhausted by about 11:30 a.m. according to that schedule.

I can see in your comments that you have done a lot of researching....however, you can not appreciate the vastness of this fabulous Island until you are on it's soil. The drives can be very long.I realize you are limited to what you can prepare (Picnic wise) as you are not staying in a Condo

Have you considered the Waikoloa Heli tour...which takes off about a mile from WBR.

If you drive to VNP or HIlo...it is North Up and North back.

Filling up with Gas in Hilo is a good idea.

Tex's is just O.K.

What is the total amount of time that you have on the Big Island?

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4. Re: Day trip from Waikoloa to VNP - does this schedule work?

They have closed the rim drive around the crater at some of the points, but even then, you could easily spend most of the day at VNP.

As mentioned above, way too much. It takes longer here to get where you are going.

Pahoa. HI
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5. Re: Day trip from Waikoloa to VNP - does this schedule work?

Agree with pretty much all the comments above. Considering the long drive to HVNP and back to the hotel, you should have only ONE destination that day: HVNP. Weather CAN be iffy in the afternoon at times, so the earlier you get there the better off you are. No guarantees, though, when it comes to the weather up around the Kilauea caldera.

A good place to stop for a meal would be at Ken's House of Pancakes in Hilo. Corner of Highway 11 and Highway 19. They're open 24 hours a day and there'll be plenty of stuff for the kids. (MUCH more than pancakes!). Perfect stop on your way back. On your way to HVNP you can stop at a number of places in Hilo and pick up sandwiches and drinks for your time in the park. Safeway makes sandwiches 'to order' (kind of hidden behind Prince Kuhio Plaza, on your left as you're leaving Hilo). At the same intersection, but on your right is KTA, also a large supermarket with lots of stuff. And beyond KTA, at the next trafficlight ia a Subway store.

All the other activities you mentioned should be planned for other days. About the helicopter - always good to plan for this in the morning. That way, if there's a weather related delay it's not that much of a problem. If you have it planned for late afternoon and if there's a delay, that would in all likelihood also mean a cancellation of the flight.

Marlton, New Jersey
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6. Re: Day trip from Waikoloa to VNP - does this schedule work?

I did this trip with a one year old and I was pregnant. However, I mainly did VNP (crater rim drive, Chain of Craters Road, getting a bite to eat at Volcano House). I also did Rainbow Falls with him on the same day and one or two other brief stops which were along the way. It worked out okay, but I couldn't have fit in a helicopter ride or much else. I did the stops so my one year old could get a little break and run a bit. I also drove to the top of Haleakala in Maui with him. It is a very long day. I remember that he slept on the way back from VNP. You may want to start a little earlier and put the kids in pjs in the car so they can be sleeping in their car seats for part of the drive. Also it is colder in VNP so bring jackets for the kids.

Menomonie, Wisconsin
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7. Re: Day trip from Waikoloa to VNP - does this schedule work?

This may be a silly question but what makes the north road more safe than the southern route? We drove along the southern road and it didn't seem that bad, however it was in the daytime. We were just on a day trip going from hilo to kona so we didn't take the northern road. Just wondering.

Ft. Collins
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8. Re: Day trip from Waikoloa to VNP - does this schedule work?

Thanks everyone for all your help, I really appreciate it. I am working on my condensed itinerary as we speak!

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9. Re: Day trip from Waikoloa to VNP - does this schedule work?

Wondering if you came up with a revised itenerary. We are going late next week with two kids (5 and 3) and I am very unsure about whether to make the trip to VNP from the Hilton.


Denver, Colorado
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10. Re: Day trip from Waikoloa to VNP - does this schedule work?

Best advice from Waikoloa if you wanna see the whole island spend three full days doing the loop and two nights in Volcano. If you insist on day trip to Volcano then limit your plans to maybe top half of VNP and maybe stop at Black Sand Beach on the way. If you luv really good pork chops a stop at Manago Hotel dining room would be nice on the way back. For a breakfast stop the Coffee Shack just south of Captain Cook is a really nice choice w/ a great view from the covered lanai.