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Question re: Volcano National Park - tour in a day?

Question re: Volcano National Park - tour in a day?

Mar 23rd, 2004, 05:10 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 55
Question re: Volcano National Park - tour in a day?

My dh and I are going to the Big Island this weekend. We'll be there for 6 days and would like to visit the VNP. We are staying at the Hilton Waikoloa Village and wanted to drive to the VNP as a day trip (I know it's approx. 2 1/2 hours away).

My understanding is that it could take up to 3 days to see everything at VNP; however, I was wondering if anyone had any advice on how to maximize time to see as much as possible in a day trip. We do not plan on staying in Hilo but will be returning to the Kona side the same day.
TravelerIVLife is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 05:39 AM
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The first time we went to VNP we made a day trip from the Hilton. It can be done by concentrating on the area up near the visitor's center (there is plenty to do!) and skipping a trip down to the coast. It is a long hike out to see any actual flows (if they can be seen) and I can't imagine being able to do that all in one day. We did circle the island on that trip rather than repeating the shorter course, and that allowed for some great scenery and stops also.

If money is no object, you might consider a helicopter ride over the flows (if these are actually being allowed - sorry I don't know).
HappyLC is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 05:58 AM
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This morning the NPS says seeing lava is a low probability thing - if you do the 1 1/2 mile walk from the bottom of the Chain of Craters road you "might see lava venting in the distance on a clear day." See http://www.nps.gov/havo/visitor/lava.htm

I would certainly ask locally before commiting to more than one day on the wet side; otherwise make it a day trip, do the various drives and loops around the main craters and visitor center (fascinating by itself) and if you want more, then drive to the Hilo airport on the way back and arrange a chopper (or, cheaper and IMO equally satisfying) a fixed-wing flight over the volcano area as a way to get a bigger picture more efficiently.
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 11:31 AM
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TravelerIVLife is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 05:51 PM
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check the lava flow reports. If the lava is flowing and visible, or if there's a plume where it goes into the sea, skip the visitors center and go see it. There's no where else relatively safe where you can see a live volcano.
crys is offline  
Mar 24th, 2004, 06:19 AM
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Three days to see VNP? That seems a bit much to me unless you are doing some serious hiking. We spent two days on the Hilo side of the island back in October. The first day (really half a day as we arrived from Oahu) we took a helicopter tour and went to the Mac nut factory. We spent the entire second day at VNP, did some short hikes, and saw most everything. The lava flow at that time required a 2+ miles one-way hike over rough terrain so we opted not to do it. One full day was fine. If you are intent on seeing the lava close-up and it requires a good hike, then another 1/2 day (or more) may be in order. We drove to Kona the next morning.

My suggestion is to spend at least one night on the Hilo side. Trying to see VNP in a day trip seems excessive to me with 5 hours of travel time from Kona. If you do go for a day trip, I would ignore the visitor's center and drive immediately to the coast. One of the off-shoots off Chain of Craters Rd goes towards the coast, in the opposite direction of where Chain of Craters ends (sorry can't recall the name of the road). The view of the coast from there is excellent and you may have the area to yourself as we did. We got there somewhat before sunset and it was beautiful.
MileKing is offline  
Mar 24th, 2004, 06:58 AM
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Be sure to see the Thurston Lava tube
cyberUK is offline  
Mar 24th, 2004, 08:15 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 155
Having only done day trips to VNP, I would say one day is enough. I've done the volcano three times and have only spent a day. I will say that we didn't hike down to see the flow, but had stopped at the black sand beach, where we could see the steam coming off the ocean where the lava was flowing into the ocean. That too depends on where it is now flowing.

I would think a helicopter trip would be a good way to see lava flow.

We also did the Thurston Lava tube and the visitors center.

Have a good time, I love the Big Island.
SEW is offline  
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