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Hawaii, Big Island, Kona to Hilo Day Trip?

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Oct 4th, 2011, 09:09 PM
  #1
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Hawaii, Big Island, Kona to Hilo Day Trip?

A friend is going to be staying in Kona next week, for two days (3 nights). She was thinking about driving across to Hilo, on one of those days. I'm wondering if that an easy round trip in one day, and can you take a rental car across the Saddle Road? Would really appreciate any insights to pass along.
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Oct 5th, 2011, 06:02 AM
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The two routes (-the Saddle Road (highway 200) or the Mamalahoa Highway(highway 19)-from Kailua-Kona to Hilo are approximately the same distance and take about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. I think the highway 19 is the more scenic drive. And she could stop at the Waipio Valley overlook west of Honoka'a, Laupahoehoe Point, Akaka Point (plus get a malasada at Tex Drive In in Honoka'a)on the way to Hilo. Either will take about 2 1/2 hrs each way. So it is certainly doable in a day. She could go to Hilo by one route and come back by another. What does she want to do/see in Hilo or is she just looking for a destination to do a day trip? When we took the Saddle Road last year--the west end was very rough and narrow and the east end was undergoing construction to level and straighten the road out (a good thing). She should check with her car rental company whether they officially allow driving on the Saddle Road. Some do, some don't. And I certainly would not drive it a night.

If she wants a suggestion for another nice day-trip drive from Kailua-town. I would suggest driving north on highway 19 then taking highway 270 from Kawaihae to Hawi--it's a lovely drive along the ocean and Hawi is a nice little town with shops and restaurants--either Bamboo http://www.bamboorestaurant.info/ or Sushi Rock http://sushirockrestaurant.net/good for lunch. She could drive to the end of highway 270 to the Pololu Valley overlook--great view down the coast. Then return to via highway 250 (turn left in the middle of Hawi) over Kohala Mt to just west of Waimea--then highway 19 back to Kailua.
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Oct 5th, 2011, 11:08 PM
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Thank you for the excellent driving and eating suggestions! I passed them along, and they were greatly appreciated. (I'm not sure of the reason for wanting to drive to Hilo. They have the extra days tacked onto the beginning of a biking tour of the island. Perhaps they don't ride to the wet side!)
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Oct 6th, 2011, 04:54 AM
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Oops just re-read my message and that's Akaka Falls--not point.
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Oct 6th, 2011, 03:30 PM
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bookmarking!
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Oct 10th, 2011, 12:04 PM
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Free zoo in Hilo! and we went all the way around the island in one day starting from Kona at about 7am, south to the Volcano, around the other side, back up to Honoka'a (had to go back to Tex!!) and then home in the evening, although it did get dark before we made it back to condo. We have never tried the saddle road due to the rental car restrictions.
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Oct 10th, 2011, 05:39 PM
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Yikes, oregonmom, that's quite a full day's drive! Bet you saw some lovely scenery though.
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Oct 10th, 2011, 06:25 PM
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The Big Island is a BIG island. If she only has three nights (two days), she'll be driving long distances with very little to see in between. If she's going to the other side, she should stop by the Volcano National Park. On Wednesdays and Saturdays there is a wonderful farmer's market in HIlo, but it would be best if she got an early start from Kona. I'd pass on the Saddle Road, which can be treacherous when it rains and in the dark.
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