ROAD TRIP! Not to this place, but driving Hawaii once you’re there. The Big Island of Hawaii is a place that one would need to fly. But once you arrive in paradise there are a few basic driving tips you should know.
Gas is ridiculously expensive in Hawaii. Hawaii is known for having the most expensive gas in the USA. Some people even consider shipping fuel over to the island (well, maybe not THAT expensive)! Some gas stations add a service surcharge, and your bill can be $20 higher than the pump indicates. Keep an eye out. The cheapest gas on the entire island is at Costco. Although you need to be a member to take advantage of the price, the membership fee may well be worth the price.
As in most states, seat belts and child restraints are required by law and in Hawaii, they are serious about enforcement. Police use their unmarked personal vehicles on the island so you won’t see them coming and they will cite you for a violation. Play it safe for you and your wallet and buckle up.
On Hawaiian highways, speed limits change frequently. Be careful, sometimes the signs are hidden behind the lush foliage. If you have GPS that can keep you informed of the speed limit, check it and check it often.
While enjoying Hawaii’s pristine beaches and lush waterfalls, be sure to take your valuables with you. In many parts of Hawaii, teenagers pass the time by breaking into cars, especially at Hapuna Beach and the waterfalls near Hilo. Don’t be gullible to think your valuables are safe in the trunk. People can break in faster than you can use your key.
You can drive around the Big Island in a day. Schedule 12 hours if you want to visit some of the sightseeing attractions you’ll pass along the way. When driving to the south side of the Island, be sure to stop by Punalu’u Bake Shop in the town of Na’alehu. It is “The Southernmost Bakery in the U.S.A.” and is a great place to stop for a delicious treat. Another beach in the area worth a visit is the Punalu’u Black Sands Beach where you can see green sea turtles sunbathing and posing for pictures. Don’t miss the Volcano National Park when driving the perimeter of the island; it is a must-see. Entry to the park is $10 per vehicle, and the pass is good for a week. The Thurston Lava Tube, inside the park, is a fun place to visit as you walk through the naturally lit and formed tunnel. It offers many Kodak moments. Say, “cheese!”
On the west side of the island, near Kona, there are several beaches to choose from depending if you want to snorkel, swim or just sunbathe. I would give the Mauna Kea Beach a “10 out of 10” rating. It has a natural linear reef on the left side where one could do some good snorkeling. The waves are relatively calm making for a good swimming beach. The ¼ mile long beach offers many places to sunbathe or just sit in the shade to enjoy a little family or friend time. There are limited parking spaces and it is monitored by a guard station as you turn off the highway. Be prepared to arrive early to increase your chances to visit this beach.
There are so many gorgeous sights to see around the island. It may take you a week of driving to see them all! This island has 11 of the 13 world climates that you can cruise through from the Rain Forest on the North side to the desert on the Northwest side. Even snow skiing can be experienced in the center of the island! Remember to watch the speed limit and don’t leave your valuables in your vehicle. Enjoy your road trip around the Big Island of Hawaii!