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Big Island/Maui National Park trip - itinerary help needed

Detroit, Michigan
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166 posts
8 reviews
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Big Island/Maui National Park trip - itinerary help needed
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Hi all,

Planning a trip to the Big Island and Maui in mid-April for my family of four (two teens). Our main purpose of the trip is to visit Hawaii Volcanoes NP and Halakala NP, so our plans revolve around those two parks. We're primarily interested in seeing the natural beauty of the islands, hiking, snorkeling/diving, etc.

We plan to bring everything we need for tent camping and renting a mini van. We've previously done a couple 2-3 week trips by plane to the Pacific Northwest and California/Nevada, so we've got a whole system. We like to move around a lot and really maximize the limited time we have.

After doing a lot of digging here, I have come up with an itinerary. Hoping for some feedback, especially attractions we can see along the way.

Sat. 4/9 - Fly from Detroit to KOA (Kona, Hawaii); Get hotel near airport for the night since it'll be dark by the time we get the luggage and car.

Sun. 4/10 - Drive to Namakanipaio Campground at HVNP along the northern route. Possibly hit Waipio Valley on the way. Hiking at HVNP.

Mon. 4/11 - Hiking & Exploring HVNP. Camping again at Namakanipaio.

Tues. 4/12 - Drive to Ho'okena Beach Park via southern route. Stop at Black Sand Beach. Camping at Ho'okena.

Wed. 4/13 - Return van and fly out of KOA to OGG (Kahului, Maui). Get new van and drive to Kipahulu area of Haleakala NP. Camp at Kipahulu if it's open. I need a backup plan for this night, since we don't know if the NPS will reopen Kipahulu by April. Any other camping or hotels on that side of the island we should look at?

Thurs. 4/14 - Kipahulu hikes. Drive to Hosmer Grove Campground in summit district. Camp for one night. Do some hiking.

Fri. 4/15 - Sunrise at the summit (reserve 60 days out). Drive to Makena Beach and other beaches on west side. Drive to Camp Olowalu for camping two nights.

Sat. 4/16 - Diving / snorkeling trip with Maui Dive Shop. Camp 2nd night at Olowalu.

Sun. 4/17 - Drive around the north end of the island. Any things we should look for here? Fly out of OGG at around 9:00pm.

Mon. 4/18 - Arrive home in late afternoon

Appreciate any feedback, especially regarding our camping locations.

Also, I'm wondering if we can drive from Kipahulu to Hosmer Grove west along the southern coast. Google says it saves an hour over retracing our route along the Road to Hana. However, the NPS map I have says "narrow rough unpaved road" for maybe 15 miles along the southern coast. Google Street View makes it look narrow, but paved.

Thanks so much!

4 replies to this topic
Minneapolis, MN
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496 posts
18 reviews
31 helpful votes
1. Re: Big Island/Maui National Park trip - itinerary help needed
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Did you choose Kona airport over Hilo airport so you could do the full circle around the island? Otherwise Hilo airport is closer to HVNP.

A lot of your campgrounds are in cooler temperatures at higher elevations. I might add or shift a few days to sea level if possible if you want to enjoy Hawaii weather.

Otherwise I am jealous and it sounds like an awesome trip!

Ontario, Canada
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2,632 posts
25 reviews
33 helpful votes
2. Re: Big Island/Maui National Park trip - itinerary help needed
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Double check if the conditions for the Maui rental will allow you to drive that section of road… it would void any insurance if not.

Kapaa, Hawaii
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3 reviews
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3. Re: Big Island/Maui National Park trip - itinerary help needed
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No you don't want to drive the route south from the Hana area back. It saves 20 minutes maximum and is prohibited by all the major rental car companies. The road is as described. Very narrow, and isolated no cell service. The weather can still be iffy in April so make sure you bring as much rain gear as possible.

You might want to have a look at the cabins in Waianapanapa State Park. There is one hotel in the Hana area and it's a luxury hotel.

Makena Beach is in south Maui, not west Maui!!

Where are you describing as "north Maui?"

Detroit, Michigan
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166 posts
8 reviews
7 helpful votes
4. Re: Big Island/Maui National Park trip - itinerary help needed
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We chose Kona over Hilo so we could fly Delta directly there from LA. My wife's organizing the flights, and that's what she told me. :)

Appreciate the other advice on roads, etc.

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