Big Island: Getting Around

Getting around the Big Island of Hawaii is easy -- in fact, there are so many options, the only difficult part is choosing which one suits your client best.

All of the major car rental companies -- Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, National and Harper Car & Truck Rentals -- operate on the Big Island. Inter-island air service is operated by Aloha Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, and American Hawaii Cruises calls at the Big Island.

Around-the-island public buses connect Kona with Hilo ($5.45 each way). The Alii Shuttle bus runs daily from the Keauhou Resort to the village of Kailua-Kona at 45-minute intervals each way from 7:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fares are $2 one way or $5 for a day pass. In addition, the Keauhou Shuttle runs a free on-call service from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily to any location within the Keauhou Resort. Within the Hilo area, the Hilo Sampan Company operates small open-air buses from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Fares are $2 one-way or $7 for a daily unlimited pass. Fares are subject to change.

For suggestions on getting around the island while enjoying the sights, agents can order the following informative driving tour map-guides available from the Big Island chapter of the HVCB:

  • Hawaii's Big Island. Driving Tour includes suggested driving trips of the Kohala Coast, with its beaches, resort hotels and championship golf courses; the Kona Coast, where the world-famous Kona coffee is produced; the Waimea-Kohala region, the heart of the Big Island's paniolo (cowboy) country; Ka Lae, the southernmost tip of the U.S., with ruins of the oldest Hawaiian settlement; Hilo-Puna, the gateway to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and Hamakua, once the heart of the island's booming sugar producing industry. The guide also offers suggested one-, two- and three-day driving excursions.
  • Hilo-Hamakua Heritage Coast Driving Tour is a 45-mile trip through picturesque villages, former mill towns and historic plantation districts -- a "must" for visitors who want to get a better understanding of the island's history and heritage. The route includes Hilo, with its delightful turn-of-the-century architecture; Akaka Falls; the plantation town of Honomu, now a charming village with shops and art galleries; the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens; Laupahoehoe Town and its Train Museum; the former plantation community of Paauilo; Kalopa State Park, with native flora and fauna, and Honokaa Town, the gateway to the Waipio Valley.
  • Kona Coffee Driving Tour includes detailed maps and lists of the more than 40 sites associated with the production, processing and sale of Kona coffee. Drivers can, for example, enjoy a tour and tastings of organic coffee at Pele Plantations in Honaunau; take an espresso break at Kona Jacks Last Coffee Stop in Kealia; purchase sublime coffees to take (or ship) home at the Coffee Shack on Highway II; observe the workings of an original-style working coffee farm at Old Hawaiian Coffee on the Malalahoa Highway, and shop for Kona coffee -- as well as other Hawaiian products -- at Hilo Hattie's, in Kailua-Kona. The brochure provides a glossary of coffee terms for the uninitiated. TIP: From Nov. 7 to 14, Kailua-Kona will be the setting of the annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.
  • Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Hilo includes descriptions of 18 landmark buildings and other sights along with a sightseeing map. Attractions include the Art Deco-style Palace Theater, built in 1925 by the son of the last Royal Governor of the Island of Hawaii; the Taishoji Soto Mission, established by Zen Buddhists in 1913; the S.H. Kress Company Building, which opened in 1932 and now houses a four-plex movie theater, and Kalakaua Park, dominated by the statue of King Kalakaua.
  • Comments
    JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI