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My wife and I arived in Hilo and Kona via the Celebrity Century. Hilo and Kona were two of the stops on our fifteen day Hawaiian cruise for my 40th birthday. Hilo was a port and not a tender so we were able to walk right off the ship and begin our tour of the area. Kona was a tender port so we were shuttled to the pier in smaller boats.
Updated Mar 26, 2013
They say that little Oahu is just 1/6 to 1/7 the size of the Big Island here. They also say that all the rest of the Hawaiian Islands could fit inside the space taken up by the Big Island here. They aren't kidding. You clearly need wheels if you plan on seeing anything beyond your hotel room on Hawaii. Roads are paved of course and in pretty decent condition, but there will be occasions you need to motor across a single-lane stretch of something which is halfway btwn a road and a newly-dried slab of lava, bumps and ripples and all, and you will then thank your stars that you went ahead and got the Jeep.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
This is a must because there are very looonnnnggg stretches of highway before you can get from one place to another. If fact, I don't remember even seeing one bus and maybe a few taxis. Once you land at the Kona airport, there are rent-a-car shuttles that will take you over to the rent-a-car offices.
If you can swing it, renting a convertible is a blast! There are lots of drawbacks though. If you have luggage in the trunk, you won't be able to put the top down unless your luggage is in the back seat. But, the weather is perfect for using a convertible on the Big Island!
Written Sep 30, 2010
There are only two ways to get to the Big Island, by air and by sea.
If you’re looking for great views, black sand, less touristy and an almost untouched place then you’ll spend a great vacation staying on the Hilo side. But if you’re more interested in commercialized, touristy, and full of resorts, restaurants, and bars place then Kona is a place for you. Please, don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great place to spend a vacation and there’s plenty to see and explore.
Whatever side of the island you choose to stay at, you can always cover the whole island driving around it and exploring many attractions and points of interest. After all it is only about 300 miles. Just remember to have full tank of gas, so you don’t find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere without a drop of fuel, gas stations are quite rare on the island.
Before writing all this, I should have mentioned one very important thing, if you’re visiting the Big Island you’ll definitely need to rent a car because public transport is a castle in the sky :)
There are plenty of car rental agencies, all conveniently located at the airport. Make your booking in advance, when we arrived to the Island we were told to be lucky, because a day before they had no cars available!
Written Feb 22, 2009
If you want to go to many places that are not very easy to get to then get a 4x4. This is a must have that we did not have. If you get stuck in a rental car in a place you should not go, the rental car company will charge you much extra if they figure it out and their is damage to the car and not to mention the tow truck will charge you a ton of money and look at you and laugh. Some places that we tried to go we found the road had been washed out or their were big boulders in the middle of the road so we could not make it and these were roads that cars went down before. Un maintained roads can chage due to weather so at one time you might beable to make it in a car and another time you may need a 4x4. Regardless there is at least going to be a few places you can not get to if you do not have a 4x4. A 4x4 will make it much quicker, because if you car will not make it you have to park and walk which can be time consuming.
You can also take a paid tour but thats going to cost when if you would of just got a 4x4 it would of been free.
One thing to watch out for wheater it be a car or 4x4 is the condition when you go to pick up the car. Our first car they tried to give us had the hub caps falling off, stunk really bad and had dog hair in it and the second one they gave us was not much better. These cars are horrible but they do the job. Just check out the car extensively as you can tell that people tried to take these things off road. All the rental cars are in the same condition.
You can take a shuttle from the airport to the rental shops which is free.
Updated Nov 20, 2008
If you do not have a real 4WD car and do not want to walk down to the Waipi'o valley/beach you can take a shuttle.
It is leaving from the Waipio Valley Artworks in Kukuihaele on the Old scenic drive to Waipio Valley. (Route 19 to Honokaa then route 240, 0.5 mi before the lookout). The shuttle leaves daily except Sunday at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm. The round trip will take about 2 hours.
It is 50$ a person.
Written Jul 4, 2008
Phone: 808 775 7121
Chances are that you've looked at a map of the Big Island and thought: Hmmm...the Saddle Road looks like a short and scenic way to get from Hilo to the Kona side (or vice-versa). And it can be. Cutting through the lava-strewn saddle between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, it is definitely the shortest path between Hilo and Waimea. On the sunny morning I drove it, I caught a view of snow-covered Mauna Kea, dotted with observatories, as it played hide-and-seek through the clouds. The barren landscape was pocked with cinder cones and Mauna Loa rose boldly to my left. It was a great drive!
However, exercise caution. First and foremost, realize that most rent-a-car companies FORBID you to drive on the Saddle Road. If you damage your car there, you should lie about it unless the vehicle's undriveable or requires a police report -- then you're screwed and your insurance will probably be void. The one company that I know of that allows this, Harper's, is expensive but worth it if you want to drive this road (or head to the peak of Mauna Kea). The Saddle Road is windy and narrow in spots, and the blankets of fog that settle on it are so thick that you cannot see two median reflectors in front of you (I know -- this is what I experienced in the afternoon return trip). And locals recommend staying off it after dark -- and there's no scenary then any way.
Written Jan 4, 2008
We had a rental car that was big enough for all 6 of us to ride in during our 2 week visit. Even though we stayed with family that live there we still had our own car so we could go out & explore on our own.
The best ride I had there? Around town & down the highway on the back of my brother-in-law's Harley. It was beautiful - and there isn't a helmet law so I threw caution to the wind, hopped on the back & had the best ride ever.
Written Nov 24, 2007
If you're going to go see any of the really cool sites, you have to have 4WD. Now, they'll tell you that you're still not supposed to go off of 'marked' roads, but I swear I never saw anyone from the rental companies on those trails checking for their cars.
Written Nov 30, 2006
Inter-island flights - There are plenty of flights between Oahu and the other islands which run at various times each day. The main airlines are Hawaiian and Aloha with some smaller runs being handled by Island Air and Air Molokai.
Rental Cars : We hired a car for the time we were there which was the best way for us to explore the Island.
Alamo Rent-A-Car . 1-800-GO-ALAMO
Dollar Rent A Car . 1-800-800-3665
Updated Sep 4, 2006
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