Any advice would be definitely appreciated...
My wife and kids (boys..11 and 14) will be on the Big Island for a week (staying in Waikoloa). We would like to spend a day experiencing Volcanos on the Big Island.
We have considered the following ways to approach this:
1. Doing the Bike Tour down Kilauea
2. Doing a self-driven tour to Volcano National Park (VNP).
3. Doing the Circle of Fire plus Waterfalls Helicopter tour out of Hilo.
4. Any combination of the above?
I'm leaning toward the following itinerary..
- Leave Waikoloa at 6 or 7 a.m to Hilo via HI-19 through Waimea.
- Arrive in Hilo no later than 9:00 a.m .
- Take 10:00 a.m. 45-minute helicopter tour (Circle of Fire plus Waterfalls) out of Hilo..
- Leave Hilo at 11:00 a.m. (45 minutes to VNP / lunch)
- Arrive at VNP around 12:00 p.m.
- Self tour VNP for about 3-4 hours (depart by 4:00 p.m.) (recommendations on must sees welcomed/Is this enough time to be worth it?).
- Depart VNP no later than 4:00 p.m. Drive back to Waikoloa via HI-11 (with a couple interesting stops along the way.. i.e. waterfalls, photo ops, short hikes, black sand)
- Arrive back on Waikoloa around 8 p.m.
We would like to get back to Waikoloa no later than 8 p.m. as we have an early tour the following day. I understand that doing this over a 2-day span in recommended, however we will need to make this a day trip.
We are thinking alternately about just doing the bike tour, but I'm concerned with the length/duration (5 hours), and whether it's cool/fun enough to make it the focus of the day. My boys ride bikes all the time.. but have never been on a helicopter (nor have my wife and I).. How much of the volcano do you experience on this bike tour?
Drive Time/Night Driving:
With my itinerary, we will be basically looping the island with an estimated drive time upwards of 6 hours (am I correct). I'll have to decide if this is worth it, however, some of this drive may end up being at night (coming back to Waikoloa via HI 11 from VNP). Should night driving this route be of concern?
Any feedback/suggestions/recommendations on this day trip and the best/safest route to do it would be greatly appreciated? Thanks in advance :-)Edited: 3:51 pm, June 25, 2010