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Drive from Hilo to Kona on Sunday

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Lake Arrowhead, CA
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Drive from Hilo to Kona on Sunday

We are traveling Hilo to Kona on Sunday the 22nd. Will we encounter any difficulty resulting from the earthquake if we travel on the 19 amd 240 roads?

Palm Springs...
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1. Re: Drive from Hilo to Kona on Sunday

there will be a few detours but no big problem just give yourself extra time.... I give it 3.5 to 4 hours

Island of Hawaii...
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2. Re: Drive from Hilo to Kona on Sunday

I'm not familiar with a 240, where is it? (sorry).

The drive from Hilo to Kona is often slowed by one thing or another; there's usually some road work, quake or no quake. I don't think it will be any worse than usual, and Sundays are good days to drive because fewer commuters and less trucking, plus they don't do roadwork on Sundays. Just allow about half a day, or all day if you plan to sightsee much.

sydney Australia
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3. Re: Drive from Hilo to Kona on Sunday

ok i have a question along the lines of kona to hilo.

in a previous post i said we were trying to save some money. originally because of the long drive i was going to book us a tour to the volcanos. but we will have a hire car, and we could drive ourselves. we are not staying a night near the volcanos but coming back the same day.

i read a road trip site which said kona to volcanos was 2 hours 40 minutes. is that via the south road? as we cannot go ove the saddle road with a normal car, correct?

so my plan was drive the same way over and back because it is long enough, we are staying a little south of kona town. leave around 8 to 8.30 am, arrive around 11- 11.30 am giving us some time to stop and look at the black beaches, spend around 5 hours at the volcano, even staying until just after sunset if it seems safe for the road back, then planning to get back to the hotel tired but full of good memories by around 9pm or so . is that sensible or even feasible?

Island of Hawaii...
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4. Re: Drive from Hilo to Kona on Sunday

springqueen, even if the saddle road were a better road you would have to go almost to Waimea to pick it up ... you are better off going to the south if staying south of kona. You don't say what you mean by south of Kona -- Keauhou or Captain Cook area? Big difference.

Anyway, no it's not great to drive back in the dark if you can help it ... you can, but it's not fun. It's very dark; there are no towns, no lights for a long way. I've done it but I would have preferred we were driving in daylight.

Can't remember how long a drive it is but I don't think more than 2 hours ... start early in the morning, don't plan to do much at Punalu'u other than get out of car, look around, take some photos, It's not a good swimming beach anyway.

Pack some food or get something in volcano village to eat before start home ... nothing on the road is open til you get back to Captain Cook area. You could have dinner there if you wanted.

If you're used to driving on the other side of the road, then I would even more recommend you not drive this after dark.

Island of Hawaii...
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5. Re: Drive from Hilo to Kona on Sunday

We went to Hilo going South on Saturday and came back North on Sunday. The only major problem is at Paaulio where there is a detour and just one lane open because of a partially collapsed bridge. There were some areas where I was very uncomfortable driving though. There are some huge cracks exposed in the mountain sides and they look like they could give in anytime. The huge boulders alongside the roads are a chilling reminder of the enormous power of the earthquake.

Island of Hawaii...
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6. Re: Drive from Hilo to Kona on Sunday

TT, just how uncomfortable were you?

If you have time to day, where were the big cracks? Near Paauillo or other places?

All my friends and family who've been back and forth since the quake have used the Saddle Road, so this is first I've heard, but I have family coming over 19 tomorrow morning.

Curious, how long was it to drive the southern route?

Scotland, UK
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7. Re: Drive from Hilo to Kona on Sunday

TT - was it the north route that made you feel uncomfortable? I couldn't work it from your post. Thanks.

Hilo, Hawaii
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8. Re: Drive from Hilo to Kona on Sunday

We've had friends and family driving to Hilo from Kona, going through Waimea with no problems from the earthquake. The detour at Pa`auilo was minor--just 2 blocks they said, and at the place where there was already roadwork happening before the quake, so no big deal.

Island of Hawaii...
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9. Re: Drive from Hilo to Kona on Sunday

The area around the goulches are pretty scary if you look around and up. I guess if you look at the road only then you will be OK. The road going South doesn't show much damage. I can't give you a time frame because we stopped at several places to look at properties and we stopped for lunch too. Even though they did lots of road work on Saddle Road, I don't recommend it to anyone not familiar with it. I have seen way to many accidents there during the years.

Island of Hawaii...
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10. Re: Drive from Hilo to Kona on Sunday

Thanks TT! Well, it doesn't surprise me about the gulches. My 3 least favorite parts of that drive. In fact I measure that drive by getting through the gulches like getting over 3 humps. Here's hoping nothing major comes down, but I could see it. They have rock slides during heavy rains even before the quake.

I'm with TT about the Saddle. The Saddle Road is a dangerously graded and banked substandard road with no services to help you if you get in trouble, and I would not recommend it as a cross-island road for a visitor.

When I say my family drives it, these are drivers who have memorized every curve and who have spent decades driving substandard backcountry rural roads. And they drive pickup trucks. So unless you have experience driving bad rural roads, please don't think of the Saddle Road as your alternate route. People drive insanely on that road, as TT said, it's a great place to have an accident and ruin your whole vacation. Plus it is so bumpy with potholes from Mauna Kea to above Waikoloa, it could hardly be called a pleasant drive.