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First Big Island trip 7 days should we go to Volcano?

Covina, California
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First Big Island trip 7 days should we go to Volcano?

I was trying to see if there were any current postings regarding lava flow sighting, and to see if its worth it to spend a day and a half driving the south route to Volcano, spend the nite, then on to Hilo and go north back to Kohala coast. Or just skip Hilo this time and just do the volcano and come back. Some details: Staying at Mauna Lani. Our arrival is at night, so we lose a day really. Then leaving at 10:30pm so we'll be "stuck" without a hotel the last night till then...I was almost thinking of driving down to Volcano the last day we are there, then straight back up to the airport the same day, but then we'll have a car full of luggage.

Hawaii
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1. Re: First Big Island trip 7 days should we go to Volcano?

hi ann marin,

nice to see your topic up!

Luggage on the last day is a reasonable concern that I often point out, but in this case I think the bigger concerns are the long drive at the end of the trip and the possibility of missing the flight. You really never know when a road will be closed due to an accident or weather, and I don't advise people to be across island from the airport, especially when you have no need to be. But beyond that, what a tiring day!

One nice thing to do on a final day is to enjoy one of the lovely resorts as a day visitor by lunching or dining there. Those parking lots are safe enough, and that way you will still have energy when it comes time to deal with the airport.

All the lava info is in the new 2012 lava viewing topic by lavaguyd, and if you follow the links in the top post, you can keep yourself current. Last I heard, the flow had ceased again. When are you coming? The lava situation changes abruptly.

I like the lush side of the island. You can also do two day trips, one to Hilo and one to VNP, but your time here is short. My first trip was 15 days, so it was easy to make two day trips, but you have less than half that, and could very easily spend the whole time enjoying the west side and a bit of Hamakua (as far as Waipi'o/Honoka'a).

It's up to you what you want to sacrifice. Do you care enough about seeing the crater and lava tube and old flow to give up something else? Ditto with Hilo, are waterfalls, botanical gardens and old Hawai'i type town of the plantation days your thing,. or do you prefer swimming and snorkeling (or whatever it is you like best)?

Covina, California
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2. Re: First Big Island trip 7 days should we go to Volcano?

My problem is I want to do everything, as I have been dreaming of this trip forever. But maybe just a drive to see some "old flow" (is there some we can view from afar, maybe without having to drive all the way to the park?) The last day, thats a good idea, maybe we can buy the Hilton passes and just hang there. Is there another resort you can recommmend for the day? Perhaps one in Kona close to the airport. I think we will probably do the all-day drive to Volcano and all the sights along the way, and then back. I also read somewhere that someone circled the island in a day, ending up back in Kohala at night. We could possibly do that in the middle of our trip, maybe on Sunday, when we've had a chance to totally hang out, and still have another couple days till we leave.

Hawaii
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3. Re: First Big Island trip 7 days should we go to Volcano?

Oh, you can see old flow all over the island. Go to the petroglyph trail just north of the Fairmont right in your resort -- and the Mauna Lani is surrounded by lava flow.

What I meant about VNP by old was to look at past (but relatively recent) flows instead of a fresh "right now" eruption. Trust me, you will see more than enough lava on the island, you will see it right off coming out of the airport -- or would if it weren't dark.

A circle trip is a long day that wouldn't give you much time at the VNP itself. Just go over there by Hwy 19 and maybe take the Saddle Road back. Your kids are going to hate being in the car going around tight switchbacks down on Hwy 11 -- well, most kids would.

The Hilton program is for a family of 4 only, and if you are going during Spring Break, they may not offer it. I was thinking of the Mauna Kea, I guess, or hang in Waikoloa Beach, just stay in the resort areas and avoid parking at Hapuna (public), Waialea, Kua Bay with car full of luggage.

It is only about 30 minutes to the airport from Waikoloa, and the only resort closer is the Four Seasons, where everything is very very expensive.

You may be uncomfortable if you all go swimming and get sandy after you no longer have access to a shower. Most people would book a room for the last day with a flight that late, especially with kids. I mean, it is an important part of your vacation, that entire day. Should I assume you were unable to get a late checkout at the Point? I mean, there is no reason for condos to do it, as they give away a day of income if they don't clean it that day, but I guess some are willing.

It is tough for a family of 5 to pick up a cheap hotel room, because the max occupancy for a hotel room is 4 people. The Hilton is known for standing on the 4 person max rule.

Anyhow, whatever you decide to do, try to relax, in the end it is not a big deal if you do this or the other thing. What matters is enjoying yourself in Hawai'i wherever you are and whatever you choose to do (or not do).

Covina, California
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4. Re: First Big Island trip 7 days should we go to Volcano?

True, all, thanks K. I did think about booking a room in Kona just for us to have that last day. I have looked on all the sites and will continue to troll them. Once I find a cheapie I'll book it "just in case". I am so excited can hardly wait.

Hawaii
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5. Re: First Big Island trip 7 days should we go to Volcano?

A room in Kona would be a good solution, especially as you are not staying there the rest of your trip. :) You would have all sorts of choices what to do..

I tend to tell people not to worry about planning that last day. The fact is, by the time it comes around, you will have your trip behind you and you will know what you regret leaving undone, what you still want to do most, and maybe you will even have found places that you MUST go back to one last time.

Whatever you plan for that day, chances are good you won't adhere to the schedule you made in advance. You've got to leave yourself some time that you go with the flow or you will make yourself crazy and your family too.

I know, right now you are having a blast planning because right now, that's what you can do, and mentally, you want to fill in the blanks with pictures.

But as someone who is just answering questions, I can't help but say that the last day will take care of itself, and if you have a noon checkout, it's going to only be a half day.

Actually I am not so sure I would pay over a hundred dollars for that. I would have said it was worth it not to pack up early, to extend at the condo, but honestly, as you have to clear out, you don't need much from another place other than if you go hiking or swimming you are going to want a shower, and the beach showers are not much. But hey, you're only flying back to California, not some long long flight to Canada or the east coast.

Maybe just take a last swim in the morning, clean up, and then do some souvenir shopping or something like that on the final afternoon.

Edited: 06 January 2012, 14:18
Big Island, Hawaii
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6. Re: First Big Island trip 7 days should we go to Volcano?

I would have no problem keeping the luggage in the locked trunk and hanging at a beach and showering there on your last day. Kukio Bay is lovely and the showers there are fine and even warm some of the time. It's a gated entry with basically zero petty theft, so you don't have to worry about your car. I routinely go to the beach and/or and use the public facilities to shower and change before going on to work or dinner. if you enter Kikaua Point (from the Kukio resort side) it has showers and bathrooms, a really nice calm lagoon and pretty little beach with lots of tidepools and from there you can also walk about a half mile from one side of Kukio Bay to the other (Four Seasons side), with wetlands and fishponds in between, lots of turtles. Take a picnic, enjoy the fantastic bird and whale watching. It's only about 8 minutes to the airport.

Edited: 06 January 2012, 14:51
Hawaii
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7. Re: First Big Island trip 7 days should we go to Volcano?

Yes, those are good choices. I ran out of steam for listing all the possibilities.

My first trip ever to the Big Island, we hung out at Kuki'o before our flight home. :)

There was no Four Seasons hotel at that point, but the boardwalk was there and the display of the canoe.

But anyway, if you have a 10:30 flight, you are not going from beach straight to airport, so it doesn't matter if the beach is proximate to KOA. I imagine you'll be having dinner first.

Covina, California
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8. Re: First Big Island trip 7 days should we go to Volcano?

Well, my solution presented itself in a kicking deal I saw on one of the sites, Keauhou Beach hotel for cheap(the one next to Kahalu'u) , so I extended our vaca one day, leaving on the next nights' red eye, and booked the 2 final days on the island there. So, even though we won't be staying the second night, it was worth it for me to have us relax in a room until we have to leave for the airport for our 10:30pm flight. I agree about "overplanning", I know it. Once we get there, the trip will create itself. I still have my must-see's, but I am flexible. Thank you so much for the "moral support"!! It looks pretty close to get to the airport from Keauhou--how long would you say it would take if we are on the road at 7pm on a Wednesday?

Hawaii
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9. Re: First Big Island trip 7 days should we go to Volcano?

Maybe 20 minutes?

Good for you, that sounds like a fine plan. You can use that time to explore Kailua and points just south, coffee towns, etc..

Note: the road into the airport has a very low speed limit and is a speed trap enforced by the airport police. It is downhill and your car will want to go faster than the limit. Do exactly the speed limit there, as it is no fun to get a ticket on your way out of Hawai'i!

10. Re: First Big Island trip 7 days should we go to Volcano?

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