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kona trip itinerary, help needed

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Clovis, California
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kona trip itinerary, help needed

I am flying into Kona (from 7 days in Oahu) on 9/26/13 at 1pm and leaving from Kona 9/29/13 in the am, my flights and rental car are a done deal all out of Kona. RIght now I am looking at driving from the airport to VNP and staying at Volcano House Hotel for 1 night (3 hour drive) putting us here at 5. Checking out VNP in the am and driving around the rest of the island to Hilton Waikoloa Village for some R&R. We would now like to add Mauna Kea Tour to our trip.

I am now wondering how long will it take to do some of the basic tours at VNP and drive to Waikola Village? should I drive the entire circle of the island? or just head back the way we came?

Suggestions of how to best plan this short 2.5 day trip would be awesome and very appreciated.

Big Island, Hawaii
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11. Re: kona trip itinerary, help needed

I third Western's "View". :-)

NJ
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12. Re: kona trip itinerary, help needed

Skip Volcano House - totally overpriced. $400 a night. The place is however open 24 hours and the bottom is kept dimmed at night with wall to wall windows for perfect crater glow viewing.

Clovis, California
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13. Re: kona trip itinerary, help needed

Just curious about Mauna Kea... So we pay $200 and don't get to star gaze? What do we do when we get up to the summit ?

My domestic flight is leaving Kona headed to LAX for connecting flight ..... Also I am getting my

Car rental out of Kona for free using airline miles and they don't allow Hilo pick up with Kona return.

Also I have cancelled Hilton and booked at Marriott in kona ... Also booked 2 nights free with air/hotel miles ;)

Big Island, Hawaii
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14. Re: kona trip itinerary, help needed

I don't think switching to the Courtyard Marriott in Kailua Kona is an upgrade. It's an entirely mediocre hotel in the noisy pier area (which has quite a bit of drug activity) in a voggy, run down town. At least at the Hilton you don't have to drive an hour to get to the beach district.

The Mauna Kea summit closes just after sunset. The observatories at the summit are not open to the public. The tours watch the sunset from the summit then head down to the VIS for stargazing from their telescopes.

"Free", whether a hotel or car rental, is only a good deal if it works for what you want to see. If it's hours from your must dos, or you're spending the equivalent of a night's stay at a better hotel in gas, or you have to skip doing something because your hotel isn't anywhere near what you want to do, then that's not such a good deal, free or not.

ON, Canada
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15. Re: kona trip itinerary, help needed

We drove to the Mauna Kea VIS on our own and participated in the star gazing program ... they have several telescopes set up, and it was an excellent program, but none of the tours stop there on the way down. My understanding is that the private tours have their own telescope, and stop along the road after descending from the summit, to do some stargazing.

However, driving on your own means only going as far as the VIS and not the summit, unless you rent from Harper's, and even then, you'd want to be knowledgeable about what the road conditions are like between the VIS and summit, and symptoms that you might experience from altitude sickness. A tour sounds like your best option, but it's a lot of time to spend at this in such a short visit.

Island of Hawaii...
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16. Re: kona trip itinerary, help needed

The tours use their own portable scopes because free VIS scopes are not to be used by commercial operations. The tours can stop on the way down wherever conditions are good. There is more light pollution at the VIS than on the summit road. The tours can also set up their own scopes at the VIS off to one side.

People love the stargazing from both options, but it's important to understand that the telescopes are nothing like the world class ones in the observatories, nor are they up in the pristine thin air at the summit.

People know that Mauna Kea has some of the best observations of the sky on the planet, and some expect that is what they can see if they go to the summit, but not so. The telescopes at the summit don't even have eyepieces for looking with the human eye.

Edited: 6:34 am, September 06, 2013
17. Re: kona trip itinerary, help needed

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