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Trip to the Volcano

VANCOUVER
Level Contributor
290 posts
4 reviews
Trip to the Volcano

For the road trip what should we not miss and where should we eat? We will probably need a place for breakfast lunch and dinner. We are driving from Mauna Lani and on the 19 to 11 route. We are planning on leaving early around 7 am and home hopefully around 7 pm, give or take a few hours.

Big Island, Hawaii
Level Contributor
31,163 posts
1. Re: Trip to the Volcano

Well, that's a long day. i would take food with me and eat along the way for breakfast and lunch and eat dinner back at the hotel. I would do Waipio valley (overlook or tour) on another day, and just head straight down the Hamakua Coast. If you stop at the usual spots; Akaka Falls, Laupahoehoe, the botanical gardens, Hilo, Rainbow Falls, it would take you about 5 hours. That gets you to the Park around noon, just barely enough time to do the fairly minimum four hours, then leave by 4pm. I would come back on the Saddle, no stops except some nice photo ops, be back for dinner.

I know lots of people do them but I don't like these day trips. It's one thing if you have been to VNP many times but as a one time thing you'll be rushing to get things in and rushing the sites on the way there and back. A night, even double booked allows you to explore more leisurely on the way there and back, and gives you the Park lava action at night. But I know, lots of people do day trips.

VANCOUVER
Level Contributor
290 posts
4 reviews
2. Re: Trip to the Volcano

Is there a good place for breakfast in Honomu? What about a Deli in Hilo to get a lunch to go? I think we will drive straight to the Volcano and then back up the Hamakua Coast with dinner in Waimea. That way we can stop and see what time will allow us. What do you think about that?

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
15,673 posts
312 reviews
3. Re: Trip to the Volcano

We do this day trip every year. I suggest considering eating bkfst before you go, even just coffee fruit and rolls, and taking lunch, or at least not making B and L events of the day. We often go the north route to VNP and the south route back to Mauna Lani, stipping for snack and biobreak at Punaluu Bake Shop and dinner in KailuaKona or Keauhou. Stopping for bkfst and lunch as events eats up too much VNP time for us :-)

LA
Level Contributor
11,479 posts
1 review
4. Re: Trip to the Volcano

I agree. I eat breakfast early, stop at the grocery in Waimea to pick up some snacks, head on over to HVNP, may be stop in Hilo for some goodies, plate lunch, then head on back to the hotel.

No time for leisurely dining if you are going to do a day trip and see much of the park. Of course, I dawdle everywhere I can in the park and visit the Volcano Art Gallery, too. I never have enough time on a day trip to spend any time brownsing around Hilo or dining there.

VANCOUVER
Level Contributor
290 posts
4 reviews
5. Re: Trip to the Volcano

When you say South route back do you mean Saddle road or all the way around the South end back?

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
15,673 posts
312 reviews
6. Re: Trip to the Volcano

All the way around. Get to see Kau, S Kona. Interesting contrast to Hamakua and that way we go thru Kailua-Kona.

Big Island, Hawaii
Level Contributor
31,163 posts
7. Re: Trip to the Volcano

I disagree with Honu about going all the way around. If you've been to the Park multiple times it's one thing, but as first (and possibly only) timers you'll want to spend all the time you can in VNP and not have to leave early to make the very long drive back via the southern route, which frankly I think is the least interesting scenery-wise, especially if it's vogged in. I would take the Saddle either there or back (make sure you get a car rental through a company that doesn't prohibit it), which has very cool scenery and as noted above is shorter, and then Hamakua there or back. If you want to just get to VNP first as you mention, which I like, take the Saddle. Then see how the day goes. If you don't have enough time to see Hamakua sights, you can always do those as a separate day trip later, or just get an overview driving back and return for more in depth later. Just be sure to get back to Waimea by dark, it's not a good idea to be on any of the cross islands roads after dark if you can help it. Dinner in Waimea is a good plan, Merriman's is excellent.

Oklahoma City...
Level Contributor
2,260 posts
3 reviews
8. Re: Trip to the Volcano

You can buy pre-made sandwiches at the Volcano Inn. They are OK as packaged sandwiches go. There are picnic tables outside and drinks and snacks availble.

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
15,673 posts
312 reviews
9. Re: Trip to the Volcano

I am not in a position to recommend saddle road since we have never driven it. I was responding to what I thought was asked, how we go when we do not return via Waimea.

I know Saddle is improved but am unsure about rain, fog, etc. So I leave that recommendation to others and just share what we do. We might try it some morning to go to VNP, guess it saves a whopping 30 minutes...BUT we have seen the saddle by air a few times and frankly we enjoy the Naalehu route and the bake shop and dinner in Keauhou or Kailua-Kona with that route. When we plan dinner in Kohala, we return the north way.

Hawaii
Level Contributor
41,172 posts
4 reviews
10. Re: Trip to the Volcano

I would recommend it to you on a clear day, Honu. You can pretty much tell by looking up at Mauna Kea from Hilo side whether it is socked in. There is a fog belt, but it doesn't last too long, five minutes or less, and it's on a new section of road. There can also be fog over Waiki'i Ranch up to Pohakuloa.

I find the Saddle very striking. To be able to look up at Mauna Kea so close, in clear air, to see all the formations, the wildflowers, the clouds up there. If not this trip, maybe in 2014 when the bypass is in.

I don't drive the Saddle to save time. I just get sick of all the winding around on Hwy 19 but then I drive it a lot and want some variety. 11 is not an option for me, way far out of my way.

Of course, the Bake Shop may be an allure. I am curious, do they sell products there that they don't put in stores?

FYI for readers, the CostULess in Hilo sells Mamane Bakery and Punalu'u Bake Shop products nice and fresh, a good selection, delivered daily. Mamane makes a really good sourdough and farmer's bread, and banana bread among other things.