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Kona to VNP to Hilo to Kona...crazy?

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posts: 68
reviews: 44
Kona to VNP to Hilo to Kona...crazy?

I'll be on the Big Island in December, staying in Kona, and wanted to visit VNP. My thought was to drive the southern route to VNP, then to Hilo, and back along the Saddle Road. Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated!

35 replies to this topic
posts: 1,776
reviews: 36
31. Re: Kona to VNP to Hilo to Kona...crazy?

Regardless of any differences in perspective about the night driving issue, if I could make one plea to visitors who drive at night on the rural roads of our island, it would be: if you are going below the speed limit because you are unfamiliar with the road and feeling tentative, and you have a car behind you (or 2 or 3 or 10!), PULL OVER!

This is not unique to Hawaii, of course, but it's something I've never understood. Many years ago I lived in a rural area of Northern California that was also heavily visited by tourists. When driving at night, tourists would almost never pull over - it's like they're afraid if they do so, they'll be swallowed up by the monsters that lie in wait on the sides of the road.

Last night coming home from the canoe races in Hilo, we came up behind tourists two different times, both times driving 10-15 miles below the limit, riding their brakes, and refusing to pull over to let others by, even though there were plenty of chances. It's just totally rude behavior. It creates dangerous situations because then drivers are forced to pass you in situations that may not be safe.

OK, rant over. Obviously, this is one of my pet peeves :-)

Honokaa, Hawaii
posts: 392
reviews: 2
32. Re: Kona to VNP to Hilo to Kona...crazy?

You have a fair point. But on the other hand, the kids driving Hondas with fart pipes right on my rear bumper tend to make me go slower and slower...

Big Island, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Island of Hawaii
posts: 16,983
reviews: 68
33. Re: Kona to VNP to Hilo to Kona...crazy?

Huh. I get like ten PMs a day thanking me for being here. Guess you're way behind in the manufactured PM count, Clint.

I agree konagirl that if you read the forum daily the same repeated advice probably comes across different than for people who aren't regulars. You didn't offend me, I just think you misstated/overstated your point. When it comes to this issue, I personally would rather err on the side of caution. If someone doesn't make a night drive because of the advice here, it's not like it will ruin their vacation. On the other hand, doing it certainly could!

There plenty of room and opportunity here for disagreement. We're all on equal footing, just expressing our opinions, free to agree or not.

Rocklin ,CA
posts: 3
reviews: 12
34. Re: Kona to VNP to Hilo to Kona...crazy?

Just returned from the Big Island on 6/12. . We took HWY 200 (Saddle Road) from Waikaloa to Hilo and it was just a curvy. From Hilo, we took Hwy 11 to VNP.

We just drove the route the from VNP to Kona via the HWY 11 during the afternoon time. I can tell you that as you near Kona, it gets very windy so drive carefully. I'm not sure I would try driving this in the dark. It's all paved roads but still need to be alert with some tight turns Both a challenge if you do it at night.

We elected not to stay until dark to watch the volcano glow because there wasn't much lava activity. You should check the VNP websites for recent activities.

Kansas City
posts: 2
reviews: 19
35. Re: Kona to VNP to Hilo to Kona...crazy?

We are on the Big Island now and literally just did this drive - in one day. We didn't leave until 9:30a and just got back at 9:30p. We also stopped at every conceivable stop along the way. Our plan was to just go with it - we'd go as far as we wanted, stopping at all the places we wanted to see and taking our time. Initially, we thought we might return the same way we came out after the south pointe, but then just decided to go on. We got to spend about an hour in VNP, which is obviously not even close to enough time (we have plans to return later this week, so we were just stopping by to get a sneak-peek). The main negative was that we ended up driving Saddle Road at night - which I would probably not recommend. It's absolutely doable, but you can't see anything and probably isn't the safest. It only took us about 2 hrs. to drive back. If I could do anything different, I probably would have left Kona at 7a and made sure we were on the road home by 6p. The other option (and probably the best option) would be to spend the night in Volcano - that way you could spend some time at VNP and actually get to the see the glow at night. It was a long day, but amazing and worth it!

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