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Mauna Kea, where to stay?

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#1 Chris Boar

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 05:26 PM

So looks like I will be able to visit Hawaii next March. Just wondered which side of the island to stay on to visit, in Hilo, or on the west side of the island.

Thanks.

#2 johntrob

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 08:19 PM


We stayed in Hilo for one week at the B&B listed below. Great place, highly recommend it. Nice people.

Orchid Tree B&B
6 Makakai Place
Hilo, Hawaii 96720

Then we stayed in the Hilton Waikoloa Village in Kona.

Kona has a lot of tours that leave from the hotel, very convienient. We took the Mauna Kea tour from the hotel. Nice.

Hilo is tropical, lots of rain, Kona is dry, almost semi arid.

John

#3 Binary Star

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 01:21 AM

I can vouch for the Orchid Tree B&B as well, we stayed there in May of this year and it was very comfortable. We were only on the Big Island for a couple days, just long enough to go to Mauna Kea, so we never made it to the Kona side. All the nice resorts are on the Kona side, there really isn't much in the way of accommodations in Hilo.

#4 johntrob

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 09:47 PM

B&B's are the best deal on the Hilo side. There is a listing service for them. Just google Hilo B&B and you will get an idea. It is less crowded on the Hilo side, but depending on the season, more rainy as well. Both sides are enjoyable in their own way.

#5 ensign

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 01:01 PM

I found the Kona side to be more scenic, more going on. Might be a tad pricey, though. Excellent snorkeling at Kahaluu Beach Park. The Hilo side seemed to me to be more run down.

#6 molniyabeer

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 10:24 AM

Just be prepared for some long drive times! Hawaii is a lot bigger than it seems and the roads are often 2-lane, winding, and 35 mph...

I stayed on the Kona side on a trip a couple months ago. It took a couple hours to get up to Mauna Kea from our hotel. The road up to the summit was fine past the visitor center, graded and easily passible for a passenger car (although we did have AWD).

If you want to see volcano stuff (Kiluea and maybe try hiking out to see flowing lava) then I'd stay on the Hilo side due to shorter drives. If you want to swim, Kona is the best as the Hilo side has almost no beaches at all (very rocky cliffs).

#7 TopherTheME

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 10:32 AM

Kona is the nicer side of the island but its a lot more expensive. Expect to pay double compare to Hilo. If I had my choice I would stay in Kona just because its much nicer and theres a lot going on. Although as stated above, Hilo is much closer to Mauna Kea and the Volcano National Park, but the town is a bit of a pit.

Dress very warm for Mauna Kea it gets cold. A lot of people say you should only go to the summit if you have 4WD but theres people that drive up there in Camero's. You'll be fine taking an SUV or truck up there and even a car with AWD. Just make sure you know what overdrive is so you down toast the brakes on the way down.

#8 Chris Boar

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 02:25 PM

Thanks folks. We've ended up booking a condo just north of Kona. Could be a long drive to volcanos park

#9 csrlice12

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 02:37 PM

Are you taking a portable scope with you. Some nice viewing in Hawaii....

#10 Bill Weir

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 02:54 PM

Could be a long drive to volcanos park


Not really, like Victoria to Comox. You just turn that trip into part of a day trip around the island.

Bill

#11 Chris Boar

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 03:52 PM

Hoping to take my AT65EDQ, need to buy a cheap mount for it.

Wondering whether to do the Tour, or DIY up the mountain? We weren't planning on bringing thick coats/gloves etc, which you get on the tour....?


Thanks Bill on the trip advice. I live in Nanaimo btw.

#12 rookie

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 11:44 PM

Hoping to take my AT65EDQ, need to buy a cheap mount for it.

Wondering whether to do the Tour, or DIY up the mountain? We weren't planning on bringing thick coats/gloves etc, which you get on the tour....?
Thanks Bill on the trip advice. I live in Nanaimo btw.

The mountain is cold year round, and the wind can howl. You need warm coats and gloves at an alpine elevation of +14,000 feet. I brought a warm hat from home. It will be difficult to find a rental car that allows you to go off the main roads. Most have a policy that forbids it, though I was told people do it nearly every day. If you break down on Mauna Kea in a rental, have an accident or flat tires on the rough Saddle Road between Kona and Hilo, it could go badly for you. You would need or should have a 4 wheel drive vehicle for that trip too.

We took the tour. They fed and clothed us, taught us about the island and culture and brought 11" SCT's along for observing after dark. Considering the service, time, gas, effort and supplies, it was well worth the cost. I would love to do it again. I brought along 10x42 binoculars. It was a great investment on the mountain and for the rest of the trip.

#13 ensign

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 10:54 AM

Hoping to take my AT65EDQ, need to buy a cheap mount for it.

Wondering whether to do the Tour, or DIY up the mountain? We weren't planning on bringing thick coats/gloves etc, which you get on the tour....?


It's probably better to observe from the Visitor's Center at 9300 feet. They offer free stargazing programs and the conditions are somewhat more habitable. My rental car company, Alamo, didn't have any issue with me driving up there (I asked). Here's a link:

http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis/

#14 csrlice12

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 12:52 PM

It's Hawaii, does it matter??? Anywhere's except maybe the main city(ies). Find a nice stretch of deserted beach...and have at it.... I also recommend Kauai, near the Napoli coast, very beautiful, very dark.

#15 hm insulators

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:47 PM

Seeing as how you live in a rather rainy spot, Chris, if you want to enjoy more sunshine, the Kona side of the island is where you definitely want to go. Hilo gets LOTS of rain! (Which is why most of the large resorts, top-of-the-line golf courses and such on the Big Island are on the Kona side, which gets so little rain it's almost a desert!)

Also, look in the user list for erik. He lives on the Big Island and even has his own observatory there (a few years ago, he took us through its construction in the "Observatories" forum). PM him and see if he might want to meet you, if you'd be interested.

#16 sg6

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 09:40 AM

What's the problem?
Visit the observatories at night, sleep on a beach during the day. :roflmao: :roflmao:

#17 Chris Boar

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 12:28 PM

We've booked accomodation just north of Kona, so looking forward to watching sunset's etc. Apparently about a 2.5 hr drive to the summit from where we are.






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