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Will spend 5 days in Hilo in August, what to do?

San Diego...
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Will spend 5 days in Hilo in August, what to do?

We are a family of 4 with 2 teenage boys. This will be our first time to the Big Island. We will fly in and out of Hilo, so I am thinking to spend 5 days in Hilo, drive to Kona, stay for another 5 days and drive back to catch the flight. I booked the Dolphin Bay, because we usually spend all day out exploring, and only come back to shower and sleep, and I also like rooms with kitchen, so we can prepare simple meals if needed. For us, VNP is a must, but is it worth of spending 2 days? I also would love to visit the farmer's market on Wed/Sat. Any other must-see in/around Hilo area? Also, what is the best route to drive to Kona? We want to take a more scenic and leisure route to Kona (if there's any), but a direct way back to catch the flight on time (it leaves 9 at night). Any suggestion is appreciated.

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1. Re: Will spend 5 days in Hilo in August, what to do?

While I loved our stay in Hilo, if your focus is going to be VNP, I would stay at least 2 nights up in Volcano so you aren't driving back and forth - you would get to enjoy the park lots more. I found that out and next time will stay in Volcano at least for a night or two. What other activities does your family enjoy? I loved the botanical garden and visiting the falls, but not sure how much teens would enjoy that. :)

Big Island, Hawaii
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2. Re: Will spend 5 days in Hilo in August, what to do?

I'm confused. Why on east would you fly into and out of Hilo? You should fly out of Kona as trying to drive from Kona to Hilo to catch a flight doesn't make sense, IMO.

Also, with ten days (nine nights) I'd spend only 2-3 nights on the east side, and I'd stay in Volcano in August. Dolphin Bay has no a/c. August will be miserable in Hilo, IMO, while Volcano will be much more pleasant. VNP needs at least two days, and you can cover the other Hilo area attractions in two days.

You will also want to spend August on the west side on the Kohala Coast instead of Kona, which will be brutally hot. If you are staying in Kailua Kona, ensure you are oceanfront or have a/c.

Edited: 7:26 pm, June 08, 2012
San Diego...
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3. Re: Will spend 5 days in Hilo in August, what to do?

First, thanks for the replies!

@SheaG: Because round trip to/from Hilo are the only free tickets that we can get.

@Coalminer: if my boys have a choice, they will stay inside and watch ESPN all day! BTW, we would love to visit Denali one day.

So, what if we stay at Hilo for 2/3 nights, 2 nights in Volcano, and then 5 days in Kona (we booked a condo in Kailua Kona), any other suggestions for our itineraries?

Big Island, Hawaii
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4. Re: Will spend 5 days in Hilo in August, what to do?

What kind of things do you like to do? I still think it's too many days on the east side but part of it depends on your interests.

Big Island, Hawaii
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5. Re: Will spend 5 days in Hilo in August, what to do?

I would consider staying your arrival night in Hilo, coming over to the west side for six-seven nights, then go to Volcano for one-two nights and then you can fly out from Hilo leaving from Volcano.

San Diego...
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6. Re: Will spend 5 days in Hilo in August, what to do?

That's a good suggestion! I need to find place available to stay in Volcano though. Any suggestions?

We would like to see the culture and nature of the Big Island, what makes it unique and different from all the other islands. We like to hike and drive around, experience local food. Any local farmer's market to check out?

Island of Hawaii...
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7. Re: Will spend 5 days in Hilo in August, what to do?

Did you know there is a TA page on what to do in Hilo?

tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g60583-Activitie…

Also if you type

what to do in Hilo

into a search bar, you will get all sorts of results of lists already compiled, with links and photos, lots of good stuff.

Weather-wise,

August is a hot humid month at sea level, although Hilo is more pleasant than Kailua Kona. Staying at elevation such as Volcano would serve you well. The area on the north side of the Wailuku where Dolphin Bay is my least favorite part of Hilo. It's pretty much a slum with some dicey apartment buildings, EXCEPT the DB is a block or two above the bad parts and has attractive landscaping for a motel, and I know the hosts are very well liked by guests. But I still don't care for the area, so I'm lukewarm about DB. At least Banyan Drive has some cool stuff right around it and is on the water, even though the hotels are crap.

For that many days, I would get a rental house to have that kitchen, but it looks like you might be changing anyway. Speaking of cooking, the Hilo area is one part of the island where you can find a lot of affordable food (which you can't in Volcano), so it would not be the place I would cook. There is so much take out or affordable budget eating. Now in Kohala, that's where meals will get you and a kitchen is so valuable.

I do not think you will enjoy the heat of a stove in a motel room, in August, in a room without A/C. I can barely handle the heat from my stove, but at least I have a house and the kitchen isn't the living area. A microwave and frig are certainly useful to have.

I think you are missing out on Kohala. The drive up there from Kailua is hot and boring, and the best swimming is all up there.

As for routes, there are no "leisurely" routes per se. You can certainly take time to do them with many stops, but slow driving is an absolute no-no on any of the three cross island routes. There are only 3 ways to get across, and there are too many people with things to do for it to be polite to drive at "sightseeing" speed.

That's unfortunate ... I wish there were an alt route just to putt-putt along. However, a lot of the road will have speed limit of 45 mph in places, and 55 mph is top legal speed, so it's not like a freeway.

Hamakua is the greenest and prettiest. (19)

Hwy 11 (south) is dry and less scenic but more closely connects Volcano and Kailua-Kona.

Saddle Road is the fastest, but although the crown of the road is fast and straight, going up and down is tortuous winding curves.

None of them are any fun to drive at night, so get over there earlier.

Also, never count on the road having no problems when your flight is at stake. That is the one time you can't afford to sit for an hour if there is a traffic accident. Any accident will typically close the road, and there are limited parts of the roads where there are side roads for detouring traffic, so usually everyone just sits there and waits. Leave by mid-day your last day.

You asked if VNP is good for two days -- it certainly could be.

Also recommend the Puna coastal drive and Kalapana.

There is way more than 10 days worth of stuff to do on the island, but because it is August, I highly advise planning a lot of time where you can get in the water and cool off, plus the ocean is so nice this time of year -- and the ocean stuff is all west side for the best choices.

Big Island, Hawaii
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8. Re: Will spend 5 days in Hilo in August, what to do?

There are many options in Volcano, from vacation rentals to inns. I like Volcano Village Lodge but cruise vrbo for the many other choices.

You can drive the Hamakua (north) route from Hilo to the west side and then drive to Volcano via the southern route so you can cover that ground.

Island of Hawaii...
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9. Re: Will spend 5 days in Hilo in August, what to do?

type Big Island Farmers Market into a web search and you'll find a page that lists all of them ...

Sorry to repeat saying to run searches, but the fact is that you can answer so many questions by doing that. Where we are better than just a search is after you peruse your options, and ask "which is better?" -- we can offer insight and other local knowledge.

The Hilo market is huge on Wed and Sat, but there is a permanent smaller version of the market every day. I never go to the big market any more, too much hassle with all the people. If I want produce, I go on the off days when there is parking and it's not a big circus.

San Diego...
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10. Re: Will spend 5 days in Hilo in August, what to do?

Thanks for all your suggestions. This is the first time I join the forum and have learned a lot. When I did the hotel search, DB is the #1 in Hilo and from some tourism websites it looks like Hilo has a lot to offer for 5 days; that's why my initial plan was to split 10 days between east and west sides of the island. Looks like I need to do more research. Thanks again!