Commute from Kailua Kona to Hilo - doable?

Old Mar 3rd, 2014, 11:50 PM
  #1  
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Commute from Kailua Kona to Hilo - doable?

I need to be in Hilo for 2 days but would prefer to stay in the Kona side. I think car rental companies now allow driving their car on the saddle road. I am thinking of just commuting from my hotel in the Kona side to Hilo for 2 days. Or fly into Kona spend one night there and commute to Hilo spend one night there and drop off the rental car in Hilo and catch my inter island flight back to Honolulu from Hilo. I'm going to the Big Island for business and will be by myself.

Is this a crazy idea? I haven't driven along the saddle road but I'm guessing that it will be around 2 hour drive from Kona to Hilo.
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Old Mar 4th, 2014, 12:40 AM
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Saddle road also known as route 200 has improved greatly. It takes approximately 2 hours to drive from Kona to Hilo. It takes you through Mauna Kea and also can get quite foggy in the mountains. Be warned though, the speed limit drops from 55 to 45 unexpectedly and cops will be around. Also near Hilo, the road gets windy for a few miles. Also be careful for animals onside of the road. Too bad the drive isn't really scenic.
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Old Mar 4th, 2014, 05:45 AM
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It's doable, but yes it is a crazy idea.

You want to stay on the Kona side...but with a 4 hour round trip commute how much time are you actually going to be there? And awake? The way I'm reading your plan is to get up early, drive to Hilo and spend all day there, then drive back to Kona (twice). You won't have much daylight left to do anything, so basically you'll eat dinner and go to bed in Kona.

I would think any advantage to staying in Kona would be overwhelmed by the disadvantage of commuting 4 hours each day.
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Old Mar 4th, 2014, 07:06 AM
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The new Daniel K. Inouye Highway now connects Mamalahoa Hwy (190) to Saddle Road (200) in a different spot, closer to Kona, making the trip much faster.
BUT: the Hilo side is beautiful, with lots to do in the hours you'll have free (instead of driving), including nice beaches, caves (Kaumana Cave in Hilo is great; the free zoo has beautiful landscaping and a white tiger), waterfalls (both in town, and drive up the highway to beautiful Akaka), interesting parks (check out Lava Tree State Park if you have a little extra time; Laupahoehoe Point park and monument is stunningly scenic); and of course, there's a volcano! Why bother commuting to the dry/hot/beach side when you won't have much time to enjoy?
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Old Mar 4th, 2014, 08:01 AM
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Thanks for all your input. I'm going to Hilo for business so I'm not really planning to do any sightseeing. The main reason why I'm trying to stay in the Kona side is based solely on the accommodations. I can't find a hotel or B and B, for that matter, that I would like to stay at. I prefer the accommodations in Kona.

But yes, I agree with all of your advice above - it is not a great idea to do that much driving. I would probably be exhausted by the time I reach Hilo to be productive. I guess I will have to stay in Hilo for a couple of days. Any nice hotels in Hilo you can recommend? I have to stay within around $300/night.
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Old Mar 4th, 2014, 12:47 PM
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Your best bet in Hilo is the Castle Hilo on the bay. There's a dearth of lodging in the area, but the Castle is 3 star and reviews are good. If you wanted to commute from Volcano, there are B&Bs, but Castle is in a nice area, close to everything, with excellent views.
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Old Mar 4th, 2014, 12:48 PM
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http://www.castleresorts.com/Home/ac...Fa9cMgodQAYAOg
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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 10:59 AM
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Sylvia, thanks for the link. I looked at this hotel before but their nightly rate is way over my limit of $300/nt. im surprised that their pricing is like the 4 star hotels on the Kona side, even if they're the nicest hotel on the Hilo side. I don't want to stay at B and Bs as much as possible. I know there are some that are really nice. It's just a personal preference and the fact that I will also be a solo business traveler I this trip.
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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 02:00 PM
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Are you looking at the same place? It's usually under $200!
For example, "internet rate" of $158...
http://www.castleresorts.com/home/reservations?step=2
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Old Mar 8th, 2014, 07:33 AM
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Sylvia, thanks a billion for pointing it out. Apparently, I was looking at a different hotel. I ended up booking a room here for under $200 per nite. I will come back here after my trip to post comments on the property. I'm so glad I now have a hotel to stay in - not too many choices in Hilo.

Thank you so very much again Sylvia.
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Old Mar 8th, 2014, 08:16 AM
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So glad you found something adequate (hopefully) in your budget! Even if you can't wander far from your meetings to sightsee, don't forget to check out Banyon Drive and the Japanese Gardens right there (Liliʻuokalani Park). You are also close to a terrific restaurant, Hilo Bay Cafe (123 Lihiwai Street).
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Old Mar 8th, 2014, 08:59 AM
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takemewithu, we stayed at the castle resorts which is the Hilo Hawaiian. We arrived in Hilo with no reservations and choose this hotel as it looked the very best of any there. Ask for a water view. It was a nice room with a balcony. Be sure to check out the Banyan trees planted out front of the hotel by famous people, Babe Ruth, Roosevelt, etc...their names are on the trees.
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Old Mar 8th, 2014, 04:00 PM
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Regarding the SADDLE ROAD -- is it drive-able at night? We arrive in Kona at night and need to head directly to Hilo. Last info I saw was that the Saddle Road was not paved all the way and that it was not recommended for driving at night.

Any recent info or first-hand knowledge would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Mar 8th, 2014, 06:11 PM
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http://www.hiloliving.com/DrivingSaddleRoad.html

We stayed at a great condo in Hilo. Highly recommend it:

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/231062
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 08:10 AM
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As of December 2013 (my last drive on it), Route 200 (Saddle Road) is in fine shape; turn onto Daniel K. Inouye Highway (from mile marker 14 on Mamalahoa Hwy).
There aren't streetlights, but it is all paved. Take your time, and you'll be fine.
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 12:42 PM
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I drove Saddle Road in Fall 2013, and would not do it at night if I could help it. I've heard that The Shipman House in Hilo is excellent. They have rooms for less than $300 per night.
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 01:30 PM
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Because of the condition of the road and no lights, and after an 8 hour flight, I guess we'll just take the northern route to be safe.

Thanks
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 02:53 PM
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The road is in excellent condition?! I would far rather drive that than the narrow (also dark) part of the Belt from Waimea to the coast. If you were looking at the website above (with one-lane bridges, etc.), you were looking at the wrong part of the highway.
Also, remember that because of the observatories, lights are fewer anywhere (and different (sodium, producing a different colored light).
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 02:57 PM
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BTW, I agree with others that it would be far better to stay overnight somewhere near Kona and just get up very early for the drive to Hilo: unfamiliar roads, few lights on any of them, tired driver, not a good combination.
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 04:11 PM
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I am confused - are there 2 different posters asking about
this ??
Regardless, just because you can doesn't always mean you should - driving on unfamiliar roads that are unlit/dimly lit and really have drops offs [northern route] or rolling surfaces[Saddle Road] especially after a long flight or commuting to work [this is where I am confused about how many posters are asking] isn't a smart idea. Sure you can - but ask how many would - that's a better question.

Let's see if I can get a local to reply.
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