Dear TA community,
I have been studying our itinerary for our 17-day trip late Jan thru early Feb. We will be on the BI for 11 days. Our base is at Kohala
Judging by the forecast on accuweather.com, I am betting on good weather on the east side 1/29-1/30 and have booked a 6 hour afternoon lava hiking tour on 1/29.
After researching on the BI forum, I have formed two proposals and I'd like your input which one would work out better
Option 1. Start out early (6AM) from Kohala, drive thru and visit the south point (those trees), the punalu'u beach (turtles!), arrive at VNP at noon. Spend 2hr in VNP, start driving to Kalapana where the tour starts. Upon completion of tour, drive back to VNP to spend the night, tour the park more next day till noon time. Drive up to Hilo (visit farmer's market as it'd be Wednesday), drive back to Kohala thru Saddle. Total amount time we will be spending in VNP ~7hr. We will cover the other Hilo sites (the falls, the tropical botanical garden in a separate day trip)
Option 2: Start out early (6AM) from Kohala, drive to VNP thru Saddle and arrive around 9AM. Spend 5hr in VNP, start driving to Kalapana where the tour starts. Upon completion of tour, drive to Hilo to spend the night, do the Hilo sites (farmer's market, banyan drive, akaka, scenic drive, botanical garden), return to Kohala thru Belt HWY
It sorts of boils down to how many hours does it take to tour VNP? Since we will be doing a 6-hour hiking tour, we don't feel like hiking extensively in the park. Would like to visit the Jaggar museum, Thurston lava tube, drive the chain of crater rd, and see the other pieces that doesn't require too much hiking/effort
And two other questions: Is the farmers' market in Hilo better than the one in Kona (we love fruits and exotic food); Other than Punalu'u beach, where else do we have a good chance seeing turtles?
Appreciate in advance for your input!