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Hilo/VNP question

Brooklyn, New York
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Hilo/VNP question

Hello! We're flying into Hilo, landing around 3:30 PM and will be renting a car. Considering the time, I'm thinking of spending 1 night in Hilo, then staying closer to the volcanoes for the next 2 nights. We have some flexibility these first 3 nights, so does this combination make sense? Or is it too much to schlep from one hotel to another? We have a 7-year old, so I imagine he will enjoy the volcanoes. We head over to Kona for 5 days to explore that side of the island.

And then my next question is, which hotels in these area for a family of 3? We don't need to go very cheap but still, I'd like to be on some budget.

Thanks in advance!

Island of Hawaii...
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1. Re: Hilo/VNP question

You do have time to get to Volcano that day.

OTOH, it will be very late by your body clock, and staying in Hilo would allow you to explore there without making a day trip down from Volcano.

The hotels in Hilo are poor and I prefer B&B or rental. There is a suite option at Orchid Tree B&B, which is a good location if you want to visit Akaka Falls and/or the botanical gardens north of Hilo.

Of the hotel choices, Castle Hilo Hawaiian is the only one people regularly recommend. There is also Dolphin Bay which is a motel. HH is close to the airport and a no brainer to find, and on the plus side it is next to Liliuʻokalani Gardens and is oceanfront. Has not been renovated for a long time, if ever. Do check the reviews.

Orchid Tree has stellar reviews and it is oceanfront as well and Hilo Bay sunrises.

I would suggest you look at the Top Question on where to stay east side, which is the second one down, as that should orient you to the options.

Nanaimo, Canada
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2. Re: Hilo/VNP question

I was wondering if you are flying into Hilo right from New York, or are you spending time on another island first. If you are arriving from New York, you will indeed be tired after a long flight, so staying in Hilo may be the best idea.

But if you are already on "Hawaii" time, the drive to Volcano would be a great idea. You may want to do some shopping for groceries and snacks before heading to Volcano though.

Island of Hawaii...
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3. Re: Hilo/VNP question

If it is Mon-Fri, that time of day will have rush hour traffic out of Hilo that can be very slow. You did not say what month you are coming, so I donʻt know whether it would be getting towards dark by the time you head out, if you shop. If it is summer there is plenty of time.

Brooklyn, New York
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4. Re: Hilo/VNP question

Thanks for the help! We're going in August, and not direct from NY but from Seattle, where we will be for a few days. We won't be completely jet-lagged, but we do have a few hours to connect via Honolulu, and we are landing on a Tuesday.

I've tried to read some of the existing discussion threads--there are many! But with our son I think we want to spring for a stay in Volcano House. I haven't yet read a B&B that is good for an energetic boy. I'm just starting to read more about Hilo activities and what we may want to do there. I think a 45-minute drive is manageable, but I really don't know...

Nanaimo, Canada
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5. Re: Hilo/VNP question

Keep in mind that any rush hour in Hilo will be nothing compared to New York, or even Seattle for that matter. But if you opt to drive to Volcano, rather than staying in Hilo for the first night, it would be an advantage to get there before dark. Just so you can find the place easier!

When it is dark out there, it is really dark! Our vacation rental was in the thick of the forest, and super quiet. We enjoyed it, but after visiting the park to see the glow in the evening, you do want to remember where "home" is!

Houston, TX
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6. Re: Hilo/VNP question

The Castle Hilo Hawaiian is just across the street from the gardens, which would be a great place for everyone, especially your little one, to stretch their legs and enjoy the scenery. You can also walk across the bridge (make sure you stop in the middle and look down for the fish) to Coconut Island, another great place to burn up some energy. If you get a bay view room, you can look out from the balcony and watch kayakers, stand up paddlers, and the occasional boat on the water. We had a good stay there recently--room was very clean, people were friendly and we enjoyed breaking our journey before heading on to VNP the next day.

7. Re: Hilo/VNP question

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Nanaimo, Canada
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8. Re: Hilo/VNP question

Post #4, landing on a Tuesday.

Island of Hawaii...
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9. Re: Hilo/VNP question

Bfc, sorry, I did miss your post.

There are many neat places to stay in Volcano. Volcano House has not gotten much praise for its so called renovation. The prices seem to be far out of line with comparable offerings. Volcanic fumes are not good for children, so I would not stay that close to the crater with a seven year old. Volcano Village gives you enough distance. Your decision of course, but I feel I should explain that. Volcano Village Lodge might be available in the same price range, and it is generally considered tops.

The view of the crater glow is best at the Jaggar Museum overlook, and that is open 24/7, so you can easily visit it as much as you like. I donʻt see the particular advantage to staying inside the park, when there are better lodgings five minutes away. Itʻs not like you would walk to any attractions in the park from Volcano House.

Hawaiian hosts are very good with keiki (children) and very tolerant of them. Many B&Bʻs here are not the "quiet adults" type of place they are on the mainland. Hosts also let you be and interact lightly if that is your preference. Some B&B listings are actually collections of individual cabins.

The problem with B&Bʻs for families is more that most rooms donʻt have an extra bed. (Orchid Tree does, in one of their two offerings.)

As far as the drive goes, as you are coming in August you could leave Hilo by 6 PM and still see when you get there.

I would probably avoid the main rush hour, which starts about 4 PM and continues until the 5 PM folks clear out, by perhaps a quick spin in the park that was mentioned and a stop for groceries. Groceries are very limited in Volcano, and overpriced. That would give you some decompression time.

Our traffic here is not freeway traffic or urban, but it is complicated by the number of drivers who donʻt know how to behave in traffic and first timers who donʻt know the road interacting with some locals who expect everyone to read their minds. You do need to be alert on that road. All sorts of unexpected things can and do happen, in my experience with it. If you feel like you can be reasonably alert after your travel, and you long to get to Volcano, then by all means go for it.

Brooklyn, New York
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10. Re: Hilo/VNP question

Thanks again! I booked one night in Hilo--didn't want to chance rush hour and will probably want a good meal that night--then two nights at Volcano Village Lodge. They had one more room available for us, and it looks great. Thanks for that rec!

Now on to the fun part of drafting an itinerary, and I've already seen lots of older posts on that.