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.

Arriving at ITO at night

Arlington, Virginia
posts: 73
reviews: 21
Arriving at ITO at night

I've read the threads about how dangerous it is to drive at night. However, what am I to do if my flight from the mainland doesn't arrive until after dark? Am I safe to drive to a nearby area like Hawaiian Paradise Park (not crossing the island or going up to Volcano), or do I have to stay right in Hilo that night? I haven't booked anything yet, so nothing set in stone.

Big Island, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Island of Hawaii
posts: 15,236
reviews: 69
1. Re: Arriving at ITO at night

It's fine to drive to Volcano Village (you honestly couldn't pay me to stay in HPP these days). It's dark and there's weather, but it's only 35-40 minutes from the airport on a nice stretch of wide highway.

I really would stick to staying in Hilo or Volcano. Much of Puna is crime ridden and really hard to find at night for first timers.

Hilo, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
posts: 29,201
reviews: 4
2. Re: Arriving at ITO at night

If it's your first time on the island, finding a rental in HPP could be tough (agree with Shea). The nice rentals are all 4-5 miles down up and down narrow private roads with very dicey shoulder (no safe shoulder).

As an example, my DIL flipped their Forerunner end over end after just barely getting a wheel off the side and in the middle of the day. She missed a telephone pole by less than 6 inches and ended up hanging upside down in a gully. The dirt was so soft and muddy that she couldn't wrestle the vehicle back onto the road.

Also, people speed really insanely on those roads. The residents are constantly moaning about how scared they are, but the rental owners never mention the road situation in the subdivision.

There are no streetlights and there are no reflectors on the HPP arteries, just darkness out in the woods.

Stick to driving the main arteries. It is also safe enough to go north of Hilo (up to Pepe'ekeo anyway). Pauka'a (Honoli'i) for example, has oceanfront rentals, and it's only two miles north of the Wailuku River bridge.

Arlington, Virginia
posts: 73
reviews: 21
3. Re: Arriving at ITO at night

Thanks for the help! I'm not tied to HPP, I had just found what looked like some nice rentals there. My main focus for this jaunt is VNP. I'm only spending 2-3 nights on the Big Island. I'm a little worried I'll feel too isolated up in Volcano.

Big Island, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Island of Hawaii
posts: 15,236
reviews: 69
4. Re: Arriving at ITO at night

If you're getting in at night the first night, and only have 2-3 nights total, you'll be very busy just exploring VNP for one or two days, so I don't think you'll feel isolated. Not much time with one or two full days to do much else anyway except maybe, with two days, heading up the Hamakua Coast a ways to see Akaka Falls and environs.

Hilo, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
posts: 29,201
reviews: 4
5. Re: Arriving at ITO at night

HPP is more isolated than Volcano, but Hilo might be better for you, especially given your arrival time.

I wouldn't particularly enjoy driving anywhere out of Hilo after a night arrival. The weather certainly can be funky, could be rain squalls and poor visibility. Finding your lodgings in Hilo is enough on your plate.

Arlington, Virginia
posts: 73
reviews: 21
6. Re: Arriving at ITO at night

We seem to have differing opinions on driving to Volcano at night. I appreciate all comments. Have any other visitors out there done it and care to report back? Thanks!

Canada
posts: 7,067
reviews: 24
7. Re: Arriving at ITO at night

I would make plans for a Hilo stay upon arrival from the East coast Mainland.

Fatigue, unfamiliarity with the roads....combined with the poor visibility often seen in the frequent rainy conditions in the area would tip the scales for me to stay in Hilo on arrival.

Safe Travels

CA
posts: 402
reviews: 51
8. Re: Arriving at ITO at night

I spent a week in an ocean front rental in Hawaiian Beaches (next development south of HPP) earlier this month. I put about 1065 miles on my rental, including driving back to the house multiple nights. I personally had no issues with night time driving. However it was definitely very dark -- especially the couple of nights there was precipitation. Perhaps I was lucky, but I had no incidents with crazy or bad drivers during my week.

That having been said, I've done a lot of driving all over the US and foreign countries, including thousands of miles in big motorhomes.

So, a lot depends on whether you are an experience and confident driver. If you are, I don't think you will have any trouble.

I am planning to post a rather detailed trip report (it's over due from my original plan), but work and life have been crazy busy since my return.

The one thing I will say is I will never rent an ocean front house unless it's on a calm beach. The constant crashing of the waves and the resultant salt spray got old. Sure it was beautiful, but not being able to see out windows or not wanting to sit outside due to the spray sort of ruined the romance of the ocean front house. And did I mention it was loud; on the windiest nights it sounded like thunder at times.

We had a great time, and I actually even liked the Pahoa area as it served as a good base for the activities we did.

Edited: 12:54 am, February 22, 2013
Big Island, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Island of Hawaii
posts: 15,236
reviews: 69
9. Re: Arriving at ITO at night

"So, a lot depends on whether you are an experience and confident driver."

These kinds of comments bug me. While I don't think driving from Hilo to Volcano is a big deal, I do have a lot of respect for the issues involved in driving in general on the Big Island, and that is BECAUSE I am an experienced and confident driver. I've been through M school. I drive a sports car. I've put 200,000 miles on my cars on this island alone, and have driven in dozens of other countries. I've also had friends and family injured and killed in accidents here, and like all residents, nearly daily see accidents of all types. It is indeed a big problem when visitors come here with the attitude that they're experienced and confident drivers unlike the people giving cautionary advice, so they can ignore us. Let me be clear that at least as far as I'm concerned, that's not the case.

Hilo, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
posts: 29,201
reviews: 4
10. Re: Arriving at ITO at night

I give my advice based on the potential road conditions, not the best or even moderate conditions. Once you book your flight, you're stuck with whatever you get that night. Storm blows up, too bad. The highway tonight is horrible.

aafflyer, with all due respect to visitors, you shouldn't assume that the people who complain about the drivers and the conditions are less experienced. The people who move to Puna are generally some of the tougher people you will meet and have very diverse backgrounds from around the world.

Yet they repeatedly say the stuff they encounter in Puna is worse than anything they've encountered anywhere. So yes, you were lucky.