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Old 12-15-2012, 06:35 PM   #1
hmcfall711
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Aulani Excursion to the Big Island? Volcanos!

We just booked our July trip to Aulani. We are looking into the Outter Island excursion to the Big Island for the Volcanos National Park trip. I've looked but cannot seem to find and info about this other than what is on the site.

Has anyone gone?
Any tips?
Photos?
Suggestions?
Details of the trip would be appreciated.

This is DH only request for the trip so I'd like to find out as much as possible.

TIA
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Old 12-16-2012, 01:53 PM   #2
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I haven't heard of a Disney sponsored trip to Volcanoes. We are spending the week after our Aulani stay on the Big Island just so our son can see the volcanoes. It was his biggest wish to do on the trip, and since the Big Island of Hawaii is our favorite anyway, we accommodated him by renting a condo for a week in Kona. If there is a day trip there from Oahu, it's going to be a long day. First an interisland flight there and back takes up time, and the transportation from either Kona or Hilo airports is another large chunk of time. Since Volcanoes National Park is only accessed from the East and West, you have only those two choices to get there. Of course, you COULD take a helicopter flight over the volcano once you get there too. That is a LOT of fun, but on the pricey side if you have a large group.
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Old 12-16-2012, 02:21 PM   #3
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Ditto Diane's advice.

The Big Island is our favorite Island and it will be time consuming and expensive to do just a day trip to the Volcanoes. If you don't wanna spend a whole week, just fly into Hilo and stay a few nights so you can just do Volcanoes National Park. There are lots of trails (one into the crater which is more rainforest-y and one into the actual lava fields which is amazing). There's definitely enough to do for 2 days. Inter-island flights are not very expensive and Hilo hotels are not that expensive. It is much more worth it to fly there and to either do an extended trip on the Kohala Coast/Waikoloa area (we prefer that over Kona) or to just stay in Hilo for the Volcanoes.
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Old 12-17-2012, 07:37 AM   #4
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We have done it both ways...the first time we did a day trip from Oahu - but that was back before 9/11 and all of the security measures. Back then you could basically just show up at the airport an hour before an inter-island flight & just hop on it. It was also significantly cheaper back then - you could get a round trip flight between the islands for $90 or less.

When we did the day trip we went really early, flew into the Hilo side, rented a car, drove up to Akaka Falls for some sightseeing then drove (full speed) down to the Black Sand Beach at the southern end of the island and then drove back up to the airport and took a helicopter tour in the afternoon over the active volcano vent. It was an AMAZING day but a REAL PUSH with only minutes to spend anywhere we went. We almost ran through Akaka Falls park and we had our bathing suits on under our clothes so we went swimming with the sea turtles at the Black Sand Beach - but we only had like 30 minutes to spend there. We barely had time to grab some lunch.

The second time we went to the Big Island we opted to spend 3 nights there since it's so big and there's so much to see. We stayed on the Kona side and still barely had time to do everything we wanted to do. We still didn't have time to do a walking tour of Volcanos National Park. We DID do another helicopter tour over the island. This time we did a 2 hour one that crossed the island from the Kona side, flew over the volanco and also the northern coast with the coastal cliffs, valleys and waterfalls - pricey as heck but so amazing. A helicopter tour is definitely a great way to see the islands.

We always try to go for at least 9 or 10 days and we island hop when we go to Hawaii and spend nights on more than 1 island. It's way too far to go to not visit more than 1 island. I would recommend spending a few nights on another island rather than day-tripping. There is just too much to see and the flights are higher priced now than what I want to spend for a day-trip.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:36 PM   #5
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Gray Line Sightseeing does day trips to the Big Island from Oahu. I don't think they will pick you up from Aulani but if you can get to the airport that would work. It is an all day tour which includes the cost of flights to/from Honolulu. We have used them on other islands for "island tours." On one of our tours on Kauai a couple flew in from Oahu and we picked them up at the airport. Gray Line will then provide the tour service once you reach the Big Island.

A good option if you don't want to spend any extra time on the Big Island and just want to see the volcanos.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:55 PM   #6
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Well, I haven't done it from Aulani. But last time I went to Oahu with my sister, I swore I wasn't going home until I've seen the volcanoes

So, I booked a trip from Honolulu to Hilo (which is nearer the park). Stayed at the lodge inside with an amazing Crater view. Found a couple who served as my guide (I found their brochure at the airport

They went with me to where the lavas were (coz they're in different places at different times and not all of them are inside the park) and I basically got to define my itinerary. This was more of a photo trip though. Their cost was the same as a helicopter tour - and I got them for a whole day!

My return flight was from Kona so I was able to do the scenic drive and stop at multiple places, Black Sands, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.

I have photos but they're in FB. Let me see if they're in my smugmug account as well.
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Old 12-21-2012, 07:49 PM   #7
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Sorry to be so late getting back.

Thanks everyone for your input.

There is an excursion that you book through Disney, it doesn't pick you up at Aulani. You drive to the airport and leave from there with the group. I think it is actually contracted through Pleasant Holiday travel. (most of the Disney booked excurstions are)

I was hoping that someone had gone on their actual itenerary and I was wondering about the quality of the tour.

We have done excursions throught Disney on the cruise line and found them to be top quality and although they were more expensive than what we could have booked on our own they were well worth the extra money because the service and the guides were the best around.

I was also hoping that someone had pictures from that specific tour.

The tour leaves about 8am and returns about 10pm, any suggestions on what time to leave Aulani to get to the airport at 8am? I know that it is only about 30min to the airport but I have also read that rush hour is crazy and can back up for hours. Should we plan to leave the resort about 6am?
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hmcfall711 View Post
The tour leaves about 8am and returns about 10pm, any suggestions on what time to leave Aulani to get to the airport at 8am? I know that it is only about 30min to the airport but I have also read that rush hour is crazy and can back up for hours. Should we plan to leave the resort about 6am?
Just from the trip reports I have read, I might leave even earlier. Remember, you will still need to check in and go through security. I would think more in the 5 or 5:30am timeframe instead.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anal Annie View Post
We have done it both ways...the first time we did a day trip from Oahu - but that was back before 9/11 and all of the security measures. Back then you could basically just show up at the airport an hour before an inter-island flight & just hop on it. It was also significantly cheaper back then - you could get a round trip flight between the islands for $90 or less.

When we did the day trip we went really early, flew into the Hilo side, rented a car, drove up to Akaka Falls for some sightseeing then drove (full speed) down to the Black Sand Beach at the southern end of the island and then drove back up to the airport and took a helicopter tour in the afternoon over the active volcano vent. It was an AMAZING day but a REAL PUSH with only minutes to spend anywhere we went. We almost ran through Akaka Falls park and we had our bathing suits on under our clothes so we went swimming with the sea turtles at the Black Sand Beach - but we only had like 30 minutes to spend there. We barely had time to grab some lunch.

The second time we went to the Big Island we opted to spend 3 nights there since it's so big and there's so much to see. We stayed on the Kona side and still barely had time to do everything we wanted to do. We still didn't have time to do a walking tour of Volcanos National Park. We DID do another helicopter tour over the island. This time we did a 2 hour one that crossed the island from the Kona side, flew over the volanco and also the northern coast with the coastal cliffs, valleys and waterfalls - pricey as heck but so amazing. A helicopter tour is definitely a great way to see the islands.

We always try to go for at least 9 or 10 days and we island hop when we go to Hawaii and spend nights on more than 1 island. It's way too far to go to not visit more than 1 island. I would recommend spending a few nights on another island rather than day-tripping. There is just too much to see and the flights are higher priced now than what I want to spend for a day-trip.
Sorry to hijack this thread a bit. But we are going to Hawaii in May. We are hitting the Big Island for 4 nights before flying back for 8 nights at Aulani. I am really interested in the 2 hour helicopter ride you took. Did you use Blue Hawaiin? We are staying at the Fairmont Orchid in the Kohala area. So this helicopter excursion seems right up our alley, since it leaves from that side of the island. I really wonder if doing this ride will satisfy our desire to see the volcanos. We will only have 3 actual days to tour the island and I don't want to move at break neck speed. Any suggestions on the must sees on the Big Island? I know DH absolutely insists we do a zipline excursion. So I have a half day of that already covered. But the rest of the time is currently open. Thanks for any input.
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
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We are staying at the Fairmont Orchid in the Kohala area. So this helicopter excursion seems right up our alley, since it leaves from that side of the island.
I haven't gone on the helicopter ride but we stayed at the Fairmont and I believe Blue Hawaiian is directly on the right hand side of the intersection where you would make a left to turn into the Fairmont complex.

BTW, their spa services are very good! Make sure you leave some time for that and Brown's Beach House has an early pre-fixe menu that's perfect for sunset viewing (which is amazing from the restaurant) and the early menu is like, half the price of their regular entree items.

If you have time, stop by the Four Seasons resort for a drink. Turtles nest on their beach, it's so easy to spot 3 or 4 of them near Sunset sitting right there. We were married right on the lawn there and it's so lovely.

It's far, but try and stop by Merriman's (not the one in the strip mall). It's great: http://www.merrimanshawaii.com/

Here are some pics:

(lava pic taken from trail)



(sunset from brown's beach house)



(fish from merriman's)



(turtle on beach)

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Old 12-23-2012, 11:29 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hmcfall711 View Post
Sorry to be so late getting back.

Thanks everyone for your input.

There is an excursion that you book through Disney, it doesn't pick you up at Aulani. You drive to the airport and leave from there with the group. I think it is actually contracted through Pleasant Holiday travel. (most of the Disney booked excurstions are)

I was hoping that someone had gone on their actual itenerary and I was wondering about the quality of the tour.

We have done excursions throught Disney on the cruise line and found them to be top quality and although they were more expensive than what we could have booked on our own they were well worth the extra money because the service and the guides were the best around.

I was also hoping that someone had pictures from that specific tour.

The tour leaves about 8am and returns about 10pm, any suggestions on what time to leave Aulani to get to the airport at 8am? I know that it is only about 30min to the airport but I have also read that rush hour is crazy and can back up for hours. Should we plan to leave the resort about 6am?
It might be easier to call Aulani's concierge desk and just ask which tour operator they use, and look up reviews that way.
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Old 12-23-2012, 05:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eva View Post
Sorry to hijack this thread a bit. But we are going to Hawaii in May. We are hitting the Big Island for 4 nights before flying back for 8 nights at Aulani. I am really interested in the 2 hour helicopter ride you took. Did you use Blue Hawaiin? We are staying at the Fairmont Orchid in the Kohala area. So this helicopter excursion seems right up our alley, since it leaves from that side of the island. I really wonder if doing this ride will satisfy our desire to see the volcanos. We will only have 3 actual days to tour the island and I don't want to move at break neck speed. Any suggestions on the must sees on the Big Island? I know DH absolutely insists we do a zipline excursion. So I have a half day of that already covered. But the rest of the time is currently open. Thanks for any input.
Hi - yes, we used Blue Hawaiian from Waikoloa and yes, I would use them again. While I would love to walk right up next to the lava sometime like lilpooh did our time was short as we only spent 3 nights on that island which was 1 day less than what you have. It really is a big island and it really does take a long time to see it all. We stayed in Keahou just south of Kona and had some AMAZING off-shore snorkeling down there BTW. Also a factor on that trip was that our DS was 9 at the time and we thought the helicopter tour would be the best bet for him at that age. We thought his attention span would be better than if we spent the entire day driving over and back plus we got to see other things we wouldn't have seen otherwise (like the interesting terrain, the valleys, waterfalls & coastline). I mean what 9 yr old boy wouldn't love to fly OVER an active volcano, right?! It is NOT a cheap way to go though and remember that what you see is dependent on the weather that day AND the state of the volcano that day. We got lucky and got to see down inside the active vent. The entire trip was amazing.

























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