Travel n Tour

Hawaii – How to Get To, And Get Around On, The Big Island

16 Mins read

The Big Island of Hawaii’s splendor is legendary. It has the maximum diverse landscape on the planet; however, it can be as difficult to discover as it’s far captivating. From the icy heights of snow-included volcanoes to steamy jungles and tropical seashores, flowing fields of lava, flower choked canyons, and wide-open tropical grassland, its surroundings are unsurpassed. By and massive, the quality of your experience to the Big Island will rely upon how a good deal of it you pick to look and how you place approximately coming across your own Big Island adventures. Below are some thoughts on the options for getting to Hawaii and for buying around Hawaii after you are right here.

Another key to the pleasure of your time at the Big Island has to do with the spirit of aloha. Through and massive, the people you meet in Hawaii tend to be greater openness and friendly-brief to help or befriend than somewhere else. This is the subculture of “Aloha.” When you meet nearby residents, whether or not to invite for directions and advice or to rent services or just in casual conversation, treat them with appreciation, humor, and openness-return their spirit of aloha, and you’ll locate your journey and yourself, deeply enriched for it.


In Hawaii, your smile is your passport.

Getting To Hawaii

The standing comic story amongst Hawaii residents whilst handling the time, inconvenience, and problem of visiting the mainland is: “This was once a lot less difficult earlier than the bridge blew down”! Of route, there never was a bridge spanning 2500 miles among the Big Island and mainland USA, but the humor tends to underline the dedication, planning, and time it takes to journey to and from Hawaii.

Flying to Hawaii: Certainly, the most commonplace, fastest, and least highly-priced (notice I did not say “cheaper”) manner to get to Hawaii is to fly. Many important US and worldwide companies fly to Honolulu on Oahu. Several nearby and international carriers provide flights from there to all of the different Hawaiian Islands, including the Big Island. Kona’s airport is the best one on the Big Island, with direct flight connections to the US Mainland, Canada, Japan, and Australia. Despite styling itself as “Hilo International Airport,” flights to and from Hilo ONLY hook up with other Hawaiian islands.

Although each airport has comparable centers and offerings, including onsite condo automobile corporations and entry to public transportation, shuttlgetting, and taxis, it makes a big distinction to the traveler they land. By far, the sizable majority of visitors to the Big Island stay in both Kona or the Kohala Resorts that are all on the west side of the island and are among 20 to 45 mins from the Kona airport. If you are staying in Hilo, it’s nice to fly in there; however, Hilo doesn’t have the lodge facilities, pleasant seashores, and excellent weather of the Kona side, and few tourists prefer to stay there anymore. Many human beings booked into inns at the west facet mistakenly take flights into Hilo, because of the deceptive airport name, unaware (or even misinformed by using ignorant but well-meaning tour sellers) that they now, at the cease of an exhausting day of journey and inside the fading twilight of the early tropical sundown, face a drive of just about 3 hours, across high mountains and on slender, winding, unexpected roads to get to their lodge. They just higher desire it doesn’t begin raining, too.


So-know where you are staying, fly into the perfect airport.

Whether you’re flying immediately into Kona or flying to Honolulu and getting a connecting flight to Kona or Hilo, you want to make certain to reserve a seat so that you see as much of the remarkable scenery as you can. Since ninety% of the flight is the over open ocean (which isn’t as riveting as one might anticipate), you need to wring the most enjoyment out of these quantities of your flight which does feature scenery. If you are first preventing in Honolulu, sitting on the port, (left) aspect of the plane for this leg of your experience affords the nice views as the aircraft screams in beyond Koko Head and over the pinnacle of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach, turns around at once over Pearl Harbor and settles into land at Honolulu International Airport. Sitting on the starboard side is not as incredible. However, it offers views of Moloka’i and Maui islands, in addition to perspectives of Pearl Harbor, the Wai’anae, and Ko’olau Mountains of O’ahu, and downtown Honolulu just before touchdown.

Flying into Hilo from O’ahu, one also desires to take a seat at the port facet of the aircraft. The flight route crosses over the islands of Moloka’i and Maui, skims alongside the gap margin of Hawaii Island, supplying a rich, fascinating panoply of soaring sea cliffs, jungle canyons, and volcanic mountains jaw-losing waterfalls, and crashing surf alongside the coast. Flying into Kona both immediately or from Honolulu isn’t any less wonderfully scenic than flying into Hilo, but one desires to be at the starboard aspect. This gives the tourist wonderful views of the islands of Maui, Molokini, Lana’i, and Kaho’olawe, as well as notable perspectives of the Big Island, Kohala Mountain, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, and, on clear days, Mauna Loa as the jet cruises in over the Kohala Coast, making land proper over Maka, went Beach and on to Kona International Airport at Keahole.

Cruise Ships and Cargo Ships: Numerous cruise ship traces ply the waters of the Hawaiian Archipelago, however of those that service the Big Island, maximum require passengers to ebook for an entire cruise, which means that although you may make one or stops on Hawaii, you’ll handiest continue to be in port for an afternoon, overnight at maximum, earlier than cruising on. Generally, you can not arrive on one ship, disembark for life, and capture some other ship out.

Of growing popularity, but is cruising to Hawaii on cargo ships-less expensive than a cruise line. With a completely open and adjustable itinerary, that is a top-notch alternative to flying. It is both more luxurious and more time-consuming (common sailing is 3 days from Los Angeles to Honolulu, and instances are variable for getting from there to the Big Island) than flying. However, it is restful, peaceful, and specific. Cargo ships provide spacious passenger cabins and, even as not the floating feed-lots that cruise ships tend to resemble, the meals on cargo ships are first-rate and ample. Perhaps the most important drawback of driving cargo ships to the Big Island is that at the east aspect they dock in, let us say, the less desirable part of Hilo; on the west, they dock at Kawaihae, midway among Kailua Kona and the lodges of the Kohala coast-in different words, out inside the middle of nowhere. Both land many miles from hotels and automobile rental businesses. However, both docking centers are serviced with the aid of taxis and public transportation; if you plan, it ought to present no trouble.

Getting Around Hawaii

Shuttles/Taxis/Limos/Tours: Taxis, of direction, carrier each Big Island airports, the metropolitan areas, and all of the hotels. The taxis, at the same time as now not reasonably priced, aren’t as usurious as one may worry, and the drivers commonly are knowledgeable, pleasant, HONEST. Clearly, great-it is that entire Aloha element. Taxi drivers are happy to reply to your questions, even the stupid ones you are a type of shy to invite; they will freely supply recommendations approximately what to do and notice and wherein to eat and typically try to be as helpful as feasible. However, many talk in pidgin English that may be almost impenetrable to the rookies’ ear. Don’t be shy approximately respectfully asking him to copy himself, and again if necessary-he, hears that on almost every fare he contains. Ask him to jot down down area names, eating place names, and such-many Hawaiian phrases do not observe all like the manner he’s pronouncing them. You’ll need to study the phrases on maps and symptoms or be capable of asking every other person later.

Both Kona and Hilo airports are serviced using point-to-factor shuttles and limos, whose prices are certainly quite reasonable and simply much less highly-priced than the taxis. The drawback right here is that there will be many human beings aboard going to many various destinations-so it takes a bit longer than a taxi. Many of the bigger accommodations offer a loose limo provider to and from the airport, and a few may even set up to have your condo automobile expecting you on-belongings while you arrive at the airport…Test whilst you make reservations. If to be had, this is the least personable, however fastest, simplest, and least highly-priced manner to get for your lodgings.

Some boutique tours supplied using Hostels and the smaller excursion companies will even pick you up at the airport at the beginning of their excursions if your arrival time is convenient to the excursion schedule; as a result, the cost of getting into your motel is absorbed into the fee of the tour. This option is well worth searching into if you are not making plans to hire a vehicle at some point in your stay. Tipping excursexcursions, limo, and trip drivers aren’t always recommended; it is their important sales supply. Remember to go back to the aloha they showed you.

Rental Cars and Driving Tips: Although a few people favor no longer hire automobiles throughout their life, counting on tours and public transportation to get around, you have to endure in mind that there’s a reason they call it “The Big Island.” Distances between attractions may be lengthy; public transportation schedules aren’t always convenient, and, face it, it’s just plenty freer, less complicated, and more unbiased to have your very own wheels. Be positive to research the online booking corporations earlier than you arrive-often. Exceptional deals bundling airfare, room, and car apartment may be observed, mainly inside the slack seasons.


There are two styles of vehicle condominium agencies at the Big Island. The essential, international car condominium corporations are to be had on belongings at both airports, giving the traveler a wide selection of company deals and specials-particularly flight-room-car combination deals–as well as a diverse palate of to be had automobiles. The other option, regularly tons less pricey, mainly for long-term rentals, are the off-assets condo agencies. These oldsters may not commonly choose you up at the airport, so you need to make your way to their in-city offices; however, the choice of cars and fees is usually wider. If you are under 21, the apartment corporations won’t hire you. If you are between 21 and 24, they will upload a surcharge, and fees are usually wider than twenty-five dollars a day on the pinnacle of the normal day-by-day charge.

The first question the traveler has to solve for themselves is what kind of automobile they may need simultaneously at the Big Island. Some apartment organizations focus on luxury and unusual motors–Mercedes, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, and such. Others offer Volkswagen Campers and RVs. Many people arrive and determine they want to flash across the island in a Mustang or Camaro convertible-which might be extremely good and amusing. However, they offer no safety on your non-public objects, and they critically restrict the kinds of roads you can power on, further to nearly making certain solar and windburn. If you’re coming to discover the island, you ought to do not forget to go to the greater price of renting a four-wheel power car-both a jeep or an enclosed SUV. Much of the mountain u. S. A. And the various extra thrilling beaches and canyons require 4 wheel drive. I propose an enclosed SUV so that you do now not need to shout to be heard, as you do in a jeep, and have some more protection from the factors and thieves.

Briefly referred to above, RVs and Volkswagen Campers are top-notch ways to look at the island and obviate the need for a pricey resort. However, RVs are not unusual in Hawaii. There are no RV parks; out of doors of the cities of Hilo and Kona, there is nowhere to drain the waste tanks, so you have to make sure to apply public centers as plenty as possible. But you can park and camp free truly anywhere, even though maximum campgrounds will fee a camping price for an RV, even in case you are camping in the car parking zone.

Motorcycles and scooters can be rented in each Kona and Hilo and are a amusing way to see the island, till it rains, which takes place. It is likewise difficult to travel with any amount of bags on a motorbike. You will note a burgeoning fraction of the nearby populace zipping approximately town on scooters (regionally and incorrectly, called “mopeds”). For bikes with engine sizes smaller than 50cc, no bike license and no coverage are necessary. The “moped” magnificence vehicle has the same license and road guidelines as a bicycle, so it isn’t always sudden to see them zip alongside the roadside, passing cars stuck in visitors, or pop up and run down the sidewalk. If you hire a moped in Hawaii, please don’t pressure them the way the locals do; it simply isn’t safe. I use a moped almost solely to get around Kailua Town where I stay-do now not journey your scooter the way you spot me trip mine.

The price of gas in Hawaii is even worse than you’ve been caused agree with, so when selecting a apartment vehicle, bear this in thoughts. Costco in Kona has absolutely the most inexpensive gasoline on the island (and it is available, near the airport); the fuel station off the Akoni Pule Highway in Kohala close to mile marker 76 has the most inexpensive gas in Kohala, and the Chevron Station at the Airport flip-off in Hilo has the most inexpensive fuel in East Hawaii. Remember that the Big Island is largely rural-gasoline stations, particularly inside some distance north and on the south aspect of the Island, may not mparticularlyary hours or even stay with their published schedule, especially if the surf is up the fishing is ideal. In a wellknown outdoor city schedule, especially Hilo, gasoline is tough to find after approximately 6 inside the night. I individually do not ever let my fuel tank get more than half of empty, ever, just for this very motive. Certainly, you must in no way let it get greater than 1/2 empty while at the south aspect of the Island; you need to make a point to fill up earlier than overdue afternoon when you have the danger, truly earlier than you go into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (you may stay longer and use more gasoline than you planned due to the fact, accept as true with me, it is the coolest area, ever) and earlier than crossing the Saddle Road.

Driving times between sights on the Big Island are longer than you may anticipate, given the real mileage between points of the hobby. This is in component due to the fact a lot of the “motorway” system is composed of winding, narrow, -lane blacktop with a velocity limit of 35 miles an hour. Another cause drives take longer than anticipated because you will want to pull over and appearance, stop and discover, take a while, and enjoy. As the bumper sticky label says: “Slow down, Brah-dis ain’t da mainland!” On this notice, many neighborhood citizens will bypass on hills and blind corners, even into oncoming visitors; they realize the road, you don’t-do not follow their lead. Trying to drive just like the local’s force is like jumping into the ocean and looking to surf as they surf; it isn’t always a vivid idea. Local custom is to eschew the use of turn indicators and horn; that is, any other custom you should not emulate.

The police on the Big Island are well-educated, serious specialists. However, most cruise around in their non-public cars (with a blue light on Pinnacle) and may be very tough to identify (a Ford Mustang or Toyota Rav4 with a mild bar? It happens…). They are mainly serious approximately under the influence of alcohol drivers, velocity limits, and baby restraints/seal belts. Aloha, appreciation, and honesty go a long way towards making any interactions with the Hawaii County Police greater high-quality. This isn’t Louisiana or a few Third World banana republic-do no longer even think about imparting a bribe if you are stopped with the aid of a Hawaii County Police Officer. On the topic of police, it’s miles nearby custom to flash your brights at on-coming site visitors if there is a cop behind you. Participate in this at your own discretion, but that is the purpose of all the ones people are flashing at you.

There are feral goats and sheep (feral donkeys alongside the highway in Kohala!), wild pigs, feral cats, and puppies that gift using dangers, particularly at night. Fruit such as mango, avocado, and guava frequently fall, en masse, into the street and produce a slimy risk, especially to bikes. In the city, watch for cyclists, pedestrians and skateboarders (take a look at out the ones men skateboarding to the seashore with their surfboards beneath their arms!). Kailua-Kona is the proud home to the Iron Man World Championship Triathlon, and lots of runners and cyclists fully utilize and carefully guard their rights of way; smile, wave, and yield, OK? You came to have fun: loosen up. The Big Island is also Big Sky united states of America…Using east into the dawn or west into the sunset is painful and dangerous; attempt to devise your day to keep away from this.

Do not depart valuables on your vehicle, no longer even the trunk. Ever. The locals are pleasant, but-but some are frisky, and excessive cost gadgets will evaporate from your car with alarming alacrity. Consider any spot frequented by way of visitors to be at risk for theft, even if you most effective are going a hundred ft from your vehicle.

Many roads, intersections, and attractions are poorly marked, and what signs exist are in Hawaiian, that’s hard to read, harder to don’t forget precisely the call of the region you’re trying to find. When you ask for instructions, have the man or woman write down the name of the vicinity. Many citizens are within the addiction of giving directions in terms of landmarks that imply not anything to you (“Remember in which Uncle Kealia had the fruit stand 20 years ago? You want to head simply throughout Aunty Tutu’s pig farm from there to in which the coconut grove was…”) so have them display you on a map. Be sure they begin by way of stating where you’re, proper now. Respect, humor, and aloha will help get you wherein you are going.

Along those traces, many vacationers bring their GPS from home to assist navigate-make certain to download the maps for Hawaii before you come; a few manufacturers of GPS do not offer Hawaii coverage. A few of the apartment car businesses have GPS devices for lease at reasonable charges. However, the great answer is the oldsters at Tour Guide Hawaii (808.557.0051; http://www.Tourguidehawaii.Com) who provide a hand-held laptop with an onboard GPS at very affordable condo fees. They have filled into this device over 600 factors of hobby (did you listen that? 600!) of leisure, cultural and ancient significance.

They have produced a short audio/video presentation for every website online, telling you all about it, the history and subculture, what to carry, what to do whilst there; they actually have the public restrooms listed! These shows play as you method the points of hobby or may be looked for at any time or area. Thus, the device can be used to preview all of the websites around the island inside the comfort of your inn room, pre-plan trips or to get facts and turn by turn navigation on the road. Combining modern-day era and old-fashioned story-telling, the unbelievably clean to apply, fabulous informative, and terrifically a laugh Tour Guide Self-Guided GPS Tours are a notable good deal and an amazing way to peer Hawaii. They are actually offering a pared-down model (forty-five of the top sites in the restroomsfabulouss downloadable to iPhone and iPod.

Commercial Tours: Whether or not you rent a car, commercial excursions offer a ways-rate manner to get oriented to the island and listen to a piece approximately the records and about the way of life of our home. Tours come in all sizes and description, from the taxi motive force, which makes it up on the fly as he’s taking you to dinner to customized taxi tours lasting half off to a full day to specialized van tours and big, full-day, spherical the island excursions in big motor coaches. There are bus excursions to the summit of Mauna Kea, tours through the coffee u. S. A. Of Kona, excursions to see the volcano, historic tours-excursions of all lengths, and protecting just about whatever and the whole thing you want to look. Some tours consist of meals-one even takes you to a real, working ranch for a barbecue! Then there are the noticeably specialized tours: fixed-wing and helicopter excursions of the island, whale, and dolphin watching excursions, snorkel tours, sundown cruise tours, organized bicycle tours, powered cling-glider tours, tours of Kailua Bay in a submarine or even boat excursions to see the lava flowing into the sea. Although they can be fairly spendy, most are absolutely worth the fee. Be certain to keep around for the proper excursion at the proper fee to suit your hobbies.

Bicycle Rental: There are numerous places wherein you may rent bikes at the Big Island-and it is very first-class to spend the day pedaling through Hilo and Kailua-Kona. However, issues of climate (hot solar, torrential downpour!), the long distances among factors of interest, and the ever-gift, tremendous volcanoes (assume: “HILLS!”) avoid this as a major approach to exploration, besides for the maximum avid motorbike tourer.

Public Transportation: The Hawaii County-run Hele-on Bus travels most of the Island and makes pretty top time-the coolest news right here is that driving the bus is free…The terrible news is that it’s far scheduled to get people between the massive accommodations in Kona and Kohala and the small towns all across the island in which they live. As such, the bus timetable might not be handy for the traveler nor conducive to exploration. However, it’s very available if you need to move someplace and spend the day there. Be positive you recognize the bus agenda, but, like many locations, simplest is serviced two times an afternoon with the aid of a bus (one in-bound and one out-sure trip according to day). InIfou omit your gogo-backside and need to locate a trade way lower back on your hotel; you’ll speedy analyze why they name this “The Big Island”!

Walking and Hitch-trekking: Two phrases here: BIG ISLAND. It is possible to hike across the Big Island (I’ve done it both west-to-east and south-to-north; heck, in 2008, a wheelchair athlete rolled his wheelchair from sea-degree in Hilo 37 miles and 13,800 ft in elevation as much as the summit of Mauna Kea-did you trap the part approximately “wheel chair athlete”?), however the long distances, rural nature (it’s an impracticably long manner among places to get food, water and to camp) and intense sun make this an epic journey, now not a restful sight-seeing holiday. Both Hilo and Kailua Town are secure and safe to stroll around; however, attending to beaches, waterfalls, and other hobbies is difficult strolling.

Until recently, hitch-trekking became a not unusual and first-rate manner to get across the island-in case you have been a neighborhood. Everyone both knew you, or you’re a; however, you were a vacationer, your speci,alty made hobbyist becomes very secure, as well. Although probable just as secure nowadays, with the explosion of mainlanders shifting to our island (who may be reluctant to offer rides), I note a pointy decline inside the wide variety of hitch-hikers on the roads now. Hitch-trekking is a prison from the roadside, so long as you aren’t in the street, supplying a danger to yourself or an impediment to visitors. If you hitch-hike, use your judgment, be domestic earlier than sunset, and refuse to ride with drunks or folks of questionable man or woman or cleanliness. Do no longer journey inside the backs of choose-up vans.

So-armed with these statistics, you’re now better prepared to evaluate your alternatives for exploring the particular and sundry landscapes, experiences, and delights of Hawaii-your adventures are limited best with the aid of your creativeness. Remember that mindset in Hawaii is critical to the first-rate of your holiday-the spirit of Aloha is pervasive. When irritated, lonely, harassed, annoyed, tired, or bored, bear in mind what I said: “In Hawaii, your smile is your passport.”

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Travel maven. Twitter trailblazer. Explorer. Thinker. Certified problem solver. Tv buff. Subtly charming entrepreneur. Avid alcohol fan. Food enthusiast. Managed a small team training race cars with no outside help. Garnered an industry award while donating sheep with no outside help. Spent several years supervising the production of fatback in Orlando, FL. Gifted in deploying wool in Suffolk, NY. Spent childhood managing shaving cream in Ocean City, NJ. Won several awards for buying and selling soap scum in Libya.
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