4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

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fortfun
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4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by fortfun » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:10 am

Sandtrap or others,
Taking the family to the Big Island in January. The guide book recommends 4wd. 4wd is much more expensive and I'm not sure my Sapphire or Capital One card will cover them like a 2wd. So, are they necessary/recommended by those who have traveled there? We'd like to hit the snorkeling by Captain Cooks memorial, Green Sand beach, etc.
Thanks!

open_circuit
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by open_circuit » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:15 am

I was there a couple years ago. For captain cook bay, we chartered a snorkeling tour and they took us on a boat from Kailua-Kona. The tour was great and the bay was full of spinner dolphins the day we were there.

At the green sand beaches (South point, right?) there are tons of locals with 4WD who will drive you out there for a small cash exchange. It is a very tough drive and I wouldn't attempt it in a 2WD rental. We walked (we're young), but probably should have taken the for-hire 4WD rides instead. Everywhere else on the island, we had no need for anything beyond our economy 2WD rental car.

dowse
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by dowse » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:24 am

Just recently returned from our third trip to HI and the Big Island. We stayed with conventional rental cars all 3 times, although on this last trip, we did upgrade to a small SUV. Let me say that I would not even take a risk with a rental 4-wheel drive for that "road" to the Green Sand Beach. You can safely get to the parking area with any vehicle, but then you have a flat, but arduous 2-mi. hike over somewhat rough terrain to get there. The vehicles that the locals use to ferry people there for a fee are pretty beat up with little value at risk. The one place we have been where a 4WD would have been nice is at the Waipo Lookout. There is a one-lane road going down to the valley floor that is for 4WD only. Rental 4WD vehicles would probably be ok there.

livesoft
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by livesoft » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:25 am

Everywhere I went was paved nicely.
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fortfun
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by fortfun » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:32 am

open_circuit wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:15 am
I was there a couple years ago. For captain cook bay, we chartered a snorkeling tour and they took us on a boat from Kailua-Kona. The tour was great and the bay was full of spinner dolphins the day we were there.

At the green sand beaches (South point, right?) there are tons of locals with 4WD who will drive you out there for a small cash exchange. It is a very tough drive and I wouldn't attempt it in a 2WD rental. We walked (we're young), but probably should have taken the for-hire 4WD rides instead. Everywhere else on the island, we had no need for anything beyond our economy 2WD rental car.
Thanks opencircuit. May I ask how much the snorkeling tour was, if you remember? Yes, South point. Green sand beach worth the trouble?
Thanks!

open_circuit
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by open_circuit » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:37 am

fortfun wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:32 am
open_circuit wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:15 am
I was there a couple years ago. For captain cook bay, we chartered a snorkeling tour and they took us on a boat from Kailua-Kona. The tour was great and the bay was full of spinner dolphins the day we were there.

At the green sand beaches (South point, right?) there are tons of locals with 4WD who will drive you out there for a small cash exchange. It is a very tough drive and I wouldn't attempt it in a 2WD rental. We walked (we're young), but probably should have taken the for-hire 4WD rides instead. Everywhere else on the island, we had no need for anything beyond our economy 2WD rental car.
Thanks opencircuit. May I ask how much the snorkeling tour was, if you remember? Yes, South point. Green sand beach worth the trouble?
Thanks!
Snorkelling -- I really don't remember how much the tour cost, but can look it up later. It was one of our favorite adventures on the trip. If I remember well, the tour first took us to Two-step (Honaunau Bay), then back up to Captain Cook bay.

We also wished we had spent more time at Volcano national park. We did not spend enough time exploring the park, and enjoyed volcano village.

Regarding green sand beach, my wife enjoyed it. I think we should have taken the 4WD rides to really enjoy the outing more, because it was quite hot and a long walk out there. I did like the black sand beach (Punalu‘U Beach) quite a bit.
Last edited by open_circuit on Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:43 am, edited 2 times in total.

dowse
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by dowse » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:38 am

By the way, for snorkeling, I highly recommend Waialea Bay. It is an often overlooked state beach near Hapuna Beach. It is our favorite beach in the world. Great for snorkeling and an ideal spot for watching sunsets. It is also a very family-friendly beach. There are also some great spots along Puako Beach Drive at a number of public access pathways, some with parking areas.

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Sandtrap
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:49 am

fortfun wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:10 am
Sandtrap or others,
Taking the family to the Big Island in January. The guide book recommends 4wd. 4wd is much more expensive and I'm not sure my Sapphire or Capital One card will cover them like a 2wd. So, are they necessary/recommended by those who have traveled there? We'd like to hit the snorkeling by Captain Cooks memorial, Green Sand beach, etc.
Thanks!
If you rent a 4wd you will go where the 4wd will get stuck unless you are very experienced with 4wd and also know where the deep soft sand is on the beaches of Hawaii. I have gotten my lifted 4wd, with lockers, stuck in deep sand. There are areas where the sand is so soft it will suck up any vehicle. You will get down to the axles in a heartbeat. And once the differential is sitting on the sand which only takes 8-10" of "sink", it's game over. The locals do indeed know where to go and where not to go with their 4wd and when they are having "fund" also have buddies to pull them out. You don't.
I suggest rent a 2wd. I will do fine on dirt and gravel and forest roads and off highway. Just stay off the sand in general. Every island is like this.
However, I did have a 4 door Jeep Rubicon with tires made for sand and deep stuff and it is an absolute blast. . . though still got stuck in deep deep sand. :shock:

Lock your car, take your valuables with you when parking. Avoid the "super local" areas that look like the same areas you might avoid in the mainland.

PS: when snorkeling or swimming, do not touch "anything". Coral is razor sharp and coral cuts get infected easily, fish can have barbs or stingers or poison, other things will thorn and sting you, do not pick up shells in the ocean as some will sting you, rockfish, etc.

Have fun on the Big Island. It's my favorite one. Also have family there.
Kona is the deep sea fishing capital of the world it seems. Fresh fish there at the restaurants and stores is the best most "ono" ever. Cooked, or raw, or "poki" or sashimi style.. . of course. . . with fresh poi. :D

Hawaii No Ka Oi
j

Carson
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by Carson » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:03 am

DH is an experienced Wrangler driver. We rented a 2-door wrangler when we spent a week on the big island. We primarily rented it so we could go to Mauna Kea - 4WD wasn't needed because of the road conditions on the way up, it's because you would just burn brakes on a regular vehicle on the way down. The 'new' saddle road is totally fine for driving.

We rode on some rough back roads that were pretty awful and I don't know how well a regular rental would have handled it. We did it to access some hikes. Additionally, we did some offroading on the coast, but more on rocks, not sand. I was a nervous wreck and just got out of the car to walk and let DH have his fun, LOL. So I say stick with Sandtrap's advice, unless you actually want to be in a sand trap :)
30-something personal finance enthusiast, just get getting started on this whole portfolio thing.

p0nyboy
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by p0nyboy » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:07 am

No reason to rent a 4x4 on the big island. Like others said...park at the parking area by the green sand beach and either walk the rest of the way or pay a local. Even if you drive to the top of the keck observatory...no need for a 4x4.

Also...if you're staying in kona and have a costco membership...fuel up there. Gas was round $0.50 to $0.60 cheaper than any other station.

As far as snorkeling tours...skip them...they always suck. You can walk down to captain cooks to snorkel. You can park right at 2 step to snorkel (our favorite spot to snorkel.) Not only is it free but you can snorkel at your own pace...get out of the water...eat/relax and get back in. You're not on time constraints like a snorkel tour. We're headed back to the big island aug 2018...been to different island 6x now in the past 12 years (every other year...big island by far our favorite.) On our honeymoon we did a snorkel tour...that was the first/last for us. No reason to in hawaii.

fortfun
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by fortfun » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:19 am

p0nyboy wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:07 am
No reason to rent a 4x4 on the big island. Like others said...park at the parking area by the green sand beach and either walk the rest of the way or pay a local. Even if you drive to the top of the keck observatory...no need for a 4x4.

Also...if you're staying in kona and have a costco membership...fuel up there. Gas was round $0.50 to $0.60 cheaper than any other station.

As far as snorkeling tours...skip them...they always suck. You can walk down to captain cooks to snorkel. You can park right at 2 step to snorkel (our favorite spot to snorkel.) Not only is it free but you can snorkel at your own pace...get out of the water...eat/relax and get back in. You're not on time constraints like a snorkel tour. We're headed back to the big island aug 2018...been to different island 6x now in the past 12 years (every other year...big island by far our favorite.) On our honeymoon we did a snorkel tour...that was the first/last for us. No reason to in hawaii.
Thanks Ponyboy. Favorite things to do on big island? In Kona for first 6 nights and then volcano for 3 nights. Thanks.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:47 am

We rented an SUV so we can be higher up and see better, glad we did. It was an upsell though. We took one of those boat tours to Captain Cook and snorkeling there was one of the best experience. I got lost swimming there and got close to the rock, lost control, and accidentally touch one of those pointed sea urchins(maybe), it was a few days of pain for me. One of the few hazards of travelling. Lol
But the boat tour got us close to see some larva from the volcanoes, made us glad we skipped the helicopter tour. Too much smog and we would not have good view. Boat tour was a better alternative.
But definitely the best fish and chips we had in Hawaii.

open_circuit
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by open_circuit » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:14 pm

DrGoogle2017 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:47 am
We rented an SUV so we can be higher up and see better, glad we did. It was an upsell though. We took one of those boat tours to Captain Cook and snorkeling there was one of the best experience. I got lost swimming there and got close to the rock, lost control, and accidentally touch one of those pointed sea urchins(maybe), it was a few days of pain for me. One of the few hazards of travelling. Lol
But the boat tour got us close to see some larva from the volcanoes, made us glad we skipped the helicopter tour. Too much smog and we would not have good view. Boat tour was a better alternative.
But definitely the best fish and chips we had in Hawaii.
We took a helicopter tour from Hilo over the active lava flows and cauldron / vent. It was really great, since we didn't have extra days hiking in the park. We did not encounter smog on our trip. Definitely got to see stuff from the helicopter that we would never have seen otherwise. Our boat tour was nowhere near the active lava flows when we were there. Of course these things change constantly on top of a very active volcano.

WildBill
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by WildBill » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:19 pm

Howdy

It will be useful if you decide to go up to see the observatories on Mauna Kea, due to high potential for ice and snow on upper roads.

W B
"Through chances various, through all vicissitudes, we make our way." Virgil, The Aeneid

p0nyboy
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by p0nyboy » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:25 pm

fortfun wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:19 am
p0nyboy wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:07 am
No reason to rent a 4x4 on the big island. Like others said...park at the parking area by the green sand beach and either walk the rest of the way or pay a local. Even if you drive to the top of the keck observatory...no need for a 4x4.

Also...if you're staying in kona and have a costco membership...fuel up there. Gas was round $0.50 to $0.60 cheaper than any other station.

As far as snorkeling tours...skip them...they always suck. You can walk down to captain cooks to snorkel. You can park right at 2 step to snorkel (our favorite spot to snorkel.) Not only is it free but you can snorkel at your own pace...get out of the water...eat/relax and get back in. You're not on time constraints like a snorkel tour. We're headed back to the big island aug 2018...been to different island 6x now in the past 12 years (every other year...big island by far our favorite.) On our honeymoon we did a snorkel tour...that was the first/last for us. No reason to in hawaii.
Thanks Ponyboy. Favorite things to do on big island? In Kona for first 6 nights and then volcano for 3 nights. Thanks.
Well hopefully you like coffee. If so you can stop at a bunch of kona coffee plantations. Free samples galore. Kona Joes isnt the best coffee but has the best views. Nice place to grab breakfast and a coffee.

Snorkel at 2 step...get there semi early (before 9am.) Plenty of street parking...parking is tight right down at the water. Or if you have a national park pass you can park in the large parking lot and walk over...we did that our first year...every year after we just parked on the street. When you get in the water head right...you can also scuba there..its safe.

Captain cook...we kayaked here early morning. Like 7am. Rented a kayak the night before since no one is open that early. You can keep them for 24 hours. Dolphins are always here. We got to snorkel with them on our own...it was awesome being 20 feet away and hearing them communicate to each other. You can also check out the fish...just hang onto the kayak...or start early and hike down to the captain cook monument and jump in/snorkel.

South point is alright if you're down there. Its the southernmost part in the united states. Make sure to jump off the cliff...theres a sketchy ladder you can climb back to the top on...everyone does it. Decent bakery along the way...get some malasadas.

Bunch of waterfalls to check out...rainbow falls is nice...akaka falls is cool (hilo side.)

Check out the keck observatory. Drive to the very very top...you have to go before sunset...when it gets dark you have to drive down to where the visitor center is. Its like 35 degrees at the top so bring proper attire. Air is also thin...just walking around makes you light headed. I prefer to head there around 9pm...when most of the tourists are gone but telescopes are still set up to look through. Check the lunar cycle when you go...hopefully its near a new moon. You can see the milky way with your bare eyes instead of camera trickery. Most people have never seen that many stars at once and very few have seen the milky way like that. The island uses special lights to prevent light pollution. Its incredible...sad part is its above us every night we just cant see it unless you're in a dark zone.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_ ... awaii.html

When you hit up the volcano park here and rent a bike...its 4 miles to the end. Once parked lock it up and head up the lava field away from the ocean (right side.) This is where you'll find lava flowing that you can get up close to. You'll have to hike for 45 min or so...look for groups of people hovering around a spot...that means theres molten lava. Id do this in a day too...good to be back near your bikes when it gets dark...then walk down to the ocean and you can see lava flowing into the water. You'll be at a distance but its still cool. Bring massive amounts of water...cant stress this enough.

dowse
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by dowse » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:19 pm

Definitely plan a trip to the summit of Kilauea in the NP at night. The park is open 24x7, and you can just drive right up to the Jaggar Musuem, where there is an outdoor viewing area which overlooks the caldera. It glows at night due to steam reflecting the molten lava pool below. Very interesting to see. Bring a flashlight!

investor997
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by investor997 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:02 pm

open_circuit wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:14 pm
We took a helicopter tour from Hilo over the active lava flows and cauldron / vent. It was really great, since we didn't have extra days hiking in the park. We did not encounter smog on our trip. Definitely got to see stuff from the helicopter that we would never have seen otherwise. Our boat tour was nowhere near the active lava flows when we were there. Of course these things change constantly on top of a very active volcano.
Getting off topic but here's a tip on helicopter tours: Blue Hawaiian Helicopters has a couple different options: a volcanoes tour, a north coast/canyons/waterfalls tour, or a "Big Island Spectacular" that combines both. If you're not interested in spending the $ for the big tour, skip the volcanoes and go for the north coast/waterfalls option. Let me put it to you this way: When flying over Kilauea, the pilots can't go less than about 500 feet off the ground. At best, all you'll see is a distant orange glow and some steam. It was cool, but it wasn't as memorable as I'd hoped. With the canyons, however, you're literally looking right out the window at a waterfall that drops the better part of 1,000 feet. They were so close it seemed like I could reach out and touch them. And I'm not gonna lie - there was some pucker factor. There was a lady on my flight in the back seat who had to reach for the "comfort bag". I'll never forget that flight. It was awesome.

investor997
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by investor997 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:12 pm

When I was on the Big Island, I rented a Ford Escape (2WD). Maybe a little higher ground clearance than the average car but no offroading capability whatsoever.

I took it on a dirt road on the northernmost tip of the island. It's only about a mile long and goes from the Upolu Airport to the Mo'okini Heiau. The blue guidebook said this road could vary from basically nothing at all to huge chunky rocks and lots of mud depending on the weather. When I drove it it was dry and easily passable, except for a couple spots where I had to put the car slightly up on the embankment to clear some taller rocks. Not really a big deal, but it started to rain on our way back and I was a little nervous about getting out of there before everything turned to slick, red mud. In that sense, a proper 4x4 like a Wrangler would have been nice.

I never made it to South Point or the green sand beach.

heyyou
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by heyyou » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:00 pm

Been to BI for a couple of weeks per year, each year for the last decade. Doesn't the Big Island Revealed guide book address the lack of need for a 4WD on BI? I haven't looked. Study the book thoroughly to get a sense of any sites that are not on paved roads. As mentioned above, the tours feel over-priced but first-time visitors could take some of them once, expecting to return again on your own, if you liked that particular site.

Past the 2WD parking lot, on the entrenched 2 mile tracks to Green Sand Beach, with a rented 4WD, I ripped the sidewall on a tire, on lava protruding from the sand. Before and since then, we have paid the locals for a ride there. Consider renting a somewhat small 2WD, just to have more ground clearance when you meet someone speeding on narrow roads, a few of them are quite narrow but paved, similar to lower speed farm to market roads in agricultural areas. Edit: Upolo Airport is one of them, and we met a speeder on one of the few curves on that road.

You do need low range on a 4WD vehicle to drive in and out on the 25 degree slope of the road to Wapio Beach below the overlook, on your first BI visit, or just hike there if you are already a hiker. These days, in our sixties, we prefer the shorter hike to the smaller, quieter, almost no locals, black sand beach, below the lookout at Pololuu. Consider going to Pololuu first and hiking down to the beach, then visit Wapio lookout to evaluate whether you want to go to Wapio Beach on a different day. Take bug spray with you to both places.

While getting the bug spray at WalMart on your first day, scout their Hawaii souvenirs and "slippahs" (flip flop sandals), for better, different sandal selection than on the mainland WMs. Wait until your last day to buy the souvenirs to avoid having to store them during your trip. WM sells the same, name brand macadamia nuts at better prices than the identical bags being sold at the mac'nut farms. Get lots of exercise to compensate for the chocolate/coconut covered mac'nuts.

dowse
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by dowse » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:15 pm

heyyou wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:00 pm
Been to BI for a couple of weeks per year, each year for the last decade. Doesn't the Big Island Revealed guide book address the lack of need for a 4WD on BI? I haven't looked. Study the book thoroughly to get a sense of any sites that are not on paved roads. As mentioned above, the tours feel over-priced but first-time visitors could take some of them once, expecting to return again on your own, if you liked that particular site.

Past the 2WD parking lot, on the entrenched 2 mile tracks to Green Sand Beach, with a rented 4WD, I ripped the sidewall on a tire, on lava protruding from the sand. Before and since then, we have paid the locals for a ride there. Consider renting a somewhat small 2WD, just to have more ground clearance when you meet someone speeding on narrow roads, a few of them are quite narrow but paved, similar to lower speed farm to market roads in agricultural areas. Edit: Upolo Airport is one of them, and we met a speeder on one of the few curves on that road.

You do need low range on a 4WD vehicle to drive in and out on the 25 degree slope of the road to Wapio Beach below the overlook, on your first BI visit, or just hike there if you are already a hiker. These days, in our sixties, we prefer the shorter hike to the smaller, quieter, almost no locals, black sand beach, below the lookout at Pololuu. Consider going to Pololuu first and hiking down to the beach, then visit Wapio lookout to evaluate whether you want to go to Wapio Beach on a different day. Take bug spray with you to both places.

While getting the bug spray at WalMart on your first day, scout their Hawaii souvenirs and "slippahs" (flip flop sandals), for better, different sandal selection than on the mainland WMs. Wait until your last day to buy the souvenirs to avoid having to store them during your trip. WM sells the same, name brand macadamia nuts at better prices than the identical bags being sold at the mac'nut farms. Get lots of exercise to compensate for the chocolate/coconut covered mac'nuts.
I'll also chime on on shopping at Walmart. Best place to get souvenirs and some supplies. Also, there is an amazing view from one side of their parking lot. Unlike any Walmart I've ever seen. Also, there is a Safeway supermarket next door. One thing we do as we accumulate souvenirs is to pack some of them into flat rate boxes at a local post office and ship them home. Same rates as anywhere else in the US.

IMO
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by IMO » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:16 pm

Been a long time since we had been to big island.

There is mention of the green sand beach that we did go and see. We had standard car that worked everywhere else we were on big island, and had parked and walked down to that beach. It was a long walk if I remember correctly, and some locals gave us a ride in the back of their pick-up for which we thankfully accepted.

Not to derail the thread on that beach, but next to it was there was this amazing amount of plastic trash on the shores. Was disheartening, but apparently currents bring the trash there. Is that trash still there, or did/do they have some regular clean-up of that trash?

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whodidntante
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by whodidntante » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:32 pm

I rented an off road vehicle but it depends on your plans. And nothing is really an off road vehicle in the sense that a Jeep Wrangler is.

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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by TexasMu » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:36 pm

Check out the manta rays at the Sheraton in Kona. They come out at night to feed. The Sheraton has big lights and you can see them easily in the ocean.

Back on topic - I spent a week there in 2016 and had a minivan - $300 from dollar. Only came across a couple of instances where it was 4wd only. The other 99% of the time , minivan was fine.

Enjoy your trip, I'm jealous :sharebeer

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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by peterinjapan » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:09 pm

I was on Big Island with my son, rented a super powerful Toyota 4x4 to drive up Mauna Kea, which is an experience I totally recommended. We had a ton of rain the next day, roads washed out all over, and used the 4x4 to get over that too.

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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by peterinjapan » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:10 pm

Also, Kona is much nicer than Hilo. Hilo is the commercial city, nothing much over there, but Kona was lovely. The weather is somehow always nice there.

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Watty
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by Watty » Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:04 am

Be sure to read the rental agreement. They usually specify that you cannot take the vehicle off of paved roads. If you cannot take the rental off road then there is little need for 4WD.

Among other problems if you take then off a paved road and are in an accident then your insurance may not cover you since you had violated the terms of the rental agreement. In addition to possibly having to pay for the car if you wreck it you might not have any liability coverage if someone is hurt.

There may be 4WD rentals that allow you to take the car off of paved roads but you should still check if your insurance will cover that since somewhere in the 20 pages of fine print there may be an exclusion for that.

heyyou
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by heyyou » Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:34 pm

Before going, inquire about your current car insurance covering your driving of a rental car, then you can ignore the up-sell of the extra insurance.
I second the suggestion that the gas at the Kona Costco is the cheapest on the whole island, and not just by pennies per gallon.

boglesmind
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Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by boglesmind » Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:17 am

investor997 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:02 pm
open_circuit wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:14 pm
We took a helicopter tour from Hilo over the active lava flows and cauldron / vent. It was really great, since we didn't have extra days hiking in the park. We did not encounter smog on our trip. Definitely got to see stuff from the helicopter that we would never have seen otherwise. Our boat tour was nowhere near the active lava flows when we were there. Of course these things change constantly on top of a very active volcano.
Getting off topic but here's a tip on helicopter tours: Blue Hawaiian Helicopters has a couple different options: a volcanoes tour, a north coast/canyons/waterfalls tour, or a "Big Island Spectacular" that combines both. If you're not interested in spending the $ for the big tour, skip the volcanoes and go for the north coast/waterfalls option. Let me put it to you this way: When flying over Kilauea, the pilots can't go less than about 500 feet off the ground. At best, all you'll see is a distant orange glow and some steam. It was cool, but it wasn't as memorable as I'd hoped. With the canyons, however, you're literally looking right out the window at a waterfall that drops the better part of 1,000 feet. They were so close it seemed like I could reach out and touch them. And I'm not gonna lie - there was some pucker factor. There was a lady on my flight in the back seat who had to reach for the "comfort bag". I'll never forget that flight. It was awesome.
I second the waterfalls helicopter tour - prefer this to the volcanoes tour. Similarly, avoid Atlantis sub-marine tour from Kona. I've seen sharks and other sea animals up close at places like Monterrey Bay Aquarium and the submarine trip was just "meh". If you are into coffee, don't miss the Greenwell coffee plantation on the Kona side. It's free and you get to taste excellent Kona coffee and get a nice tour and great view. You can see Akaka falls, rainbow falls and Tropical Botanical garden on the Hilo side in one day if you start early, say 8 AM from Kona. We enjoyed fresh coconut water, sugarcane, rambutan, lichi, pineapple and passion fruit in a farmers market on the way up to Akaka falls. If you are in Hilo, don't miss Sweet Dreams Hawaii Cacao & Coffee Bistro. Ron makes excellent fresh cappuccinos and espressos and gives out free samples of dark chocolate made right there in the shop. Everyone in our group agreed that they tasted the best coffee ever and were glad to have skipped the many Starbucks on the way. Just a very happy customer, no other interest :-). We ended up buying roasted Hawaii Coffee beans from him far cheaper than what coffee plantations and other shops charge. You'd want to go back again and again to Big Island and so take it easy and not try to do too many things in one trip (unless you are staying for 2+ weeks)!

Boglesmind

NJdad6
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:51 am

Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by NJdad6 » Sat Dec 09, 2017 8:56 am

Was there in August. We drove all over the island and never had the need for a 4wd. A few beaches there was a lot and we walked to the beach. We enjoyed the walk and never wished we had a car to drive us. Coffee farm had a dirt road but still easy with a sedan.

Many of the locals have 4wd. I never saw so many Toyota pickups and 4 Runners in one place.

NJdad6
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:51 am

Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by NJdad6 » Sat Dec 09, 2017 8:59 am

boglesmind wrote:
Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:17 am
investor997 wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:02 pm
open_circuit wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:14 pm
We took a helicopter tour from Hilo over the active lava flows and cauldron / vent. It was really great, since we didn't have extra days hiking in the park. We did not encounter smog on our trip. Definitely got to see stuff from the helicopter that we would never have seen otherwise. Our boat tour was nowhere near the active lava flows when we were there. Of course these things change constantly on top of a very active volcano.
Getting off topic but here's a tip on helicopter tours: Blue Hawaiian Helicopters has a couple different options: a volcanoes tour, a north coast/canyons/waterfalls tour, or a "Big Island Spectacular" that combines both. If you're not interested in spending the $ for the big tour, skip the volcanoes and go for the north coast/waterfalls option. Let me put it to you this way: When flying over Kilauea, the pilots can't go less than about 500 feet off the ground. At best, all you'll see is a distant orange glow and some steam. It was cool, but it wasn't as memorable as I'd hoped. With the canyons, however, you're literally looking right out the window at a waterfall that drops the better part of 1,000 feet. They were so close it seemed like I could reach out and touch them. And I'm not gonna lie - there was some pucker factor. There was a lady on my flight in the back seat who had to reach for the "comfort bag". I'll never forget that flight. It was awesome.
I second the waterfalls helicopter tour - prefer this to the volcanoes tour. Similarly, avoid Atlantis sub-marine tour from Kona. I've seen sharks and other sea animals up close at places like Monterrey Bay Aquarium and the submarine trip was just "meh". If you are into coffee, don't miss the Greenwell coffee plantation on the Kona side. It's free and you get to taste excellent Kona coffee and get a nice tour and great view. You can see Akaka falls, rainbow falls and Tropical Botanical garden on the Hilo side in one day if you start early, say 8 AM from Kona. We enjoyed fresh coconut water, sugarcane, rambutan, lichi, pineapple and passion fruit in a farmers market on the way up to Akaka falls. If you are in Hilo, don't miss Sweet Dreams Hawaii Cacao & Coffee Bistro. Ron makes excellent fresh cappuccinos and espressos and gives out free samples of dark chocolate made right there in the shop. Everyone in our group agreed that they tasted the best coffee ever and were glad to have skipped the many Starbucks on the way. Just a very happy customer, no other interest :-). We ended up buying roasted Hawaii Coffee beans from him far cheaper than what coffee plantations and other shops charge. You'd want to go back again and again to Big Island and so take it easy and not try to do too many things in one trip (unless you are staying for 2+ weeks)!

Boglesmind
+1 on Greenwell. Brought Coffe back and just ordered more. Expensive ($38/lb) but worth it for a weekend treat. They have amazing chocolate covered coffee beans. Really cool place with very nice people working there.

2comma
Posts: 1047
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by 2comma » Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:19 pm

Not sure what type 4WD you can rent there but all new off-roaders eventually learn it's an efficient way to get stuck in desolate places so be careful if you do rent one. We used to joke "it's not a tank" then I met someone who worked in Army transportation and they get tanks stuck too. They had something called the "tanktriever". My farmer friend was telling me how he'd get the tractor stuck so they'd use the bigger tractor to save it. Once he got the big tractor stuck, so he used the bulldozer to save it. I asked what he'd do if he got that stuck, "we'd wait for spring to end".
If I am stupid I will pay.

Puakinekine
Posts: 829
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 9:18 pm

Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by Puakinekine » Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:10 pm

This is a but off topic, but nonetheless, I just want to give a warning that since the end of November we have already lost 3 visitors in drowning deaths. All of these deaths were a result of people going in or near the water when they should not have. Just because you read about something in a guide book, it does not necessarily mean it is a good or remotely safe thing to do, especially with children.

On topic, IMHO you don't need a 4-wheel drive.

Mudpuppy
Posts: 5468
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:26 am
Location: Sunny California

Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by Mudpuppy » Sun Dec 10, 2017 12:30 am

Watty wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:04 am
Be sure to read the rental agreement. They usually specify that you cannot take the vehicle off of paved roads. If you cannot take the rental off road then there is little need for 4WD.

Among other problems if you take then off a paved road and are in an accident then your insurance may not cover you since you had violated the terms of the rental agreement. In addition to possibly having to pay for the car if you wreck it you might not have any liability coverage if someone is hurt.

There may be 4WD rentals that allow you to take the car off of paved roads but you should still check if your insurance will cover that since somewhere in the 20 pages of fine print there may be an exclusion for that.
This advice pretty much sums up why it's not really worth the extra money to rent a 4WD vehicle. Why spend the extra money to rent a 4WD vehicle when the rental agreement and insurance coverage won't let you use it any differently than a 2WD vehicle? Use that money for another experience, like another paid tour, instead.

flyingaway
Posts: 1516
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:19 am

Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by flyingaway » Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:04 pm

We were there for days with a regular minivan and did not have any issue. We drove around the island and stopped in many places.

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Peter Foley
Posts: 4096
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 10:34 am
Location: Lake Wobegon

Re: 4WD necessary/recommended on Big Island, HI

Post by Peter Foley » Sun Dec 10, 2017 9:37 pm

Captain Cook:

pOneyboy wrote
Captain cook...we kayaked here early morning. Like 7am. Rented a kayak the night before since no one is open that early. You can keep them for 24 hours. Dolphins are always here. We got to snorkel with them on our own...it was awesome being 20 feet away and hearing them communicate to each other. You can also check out the fish...just hang onto the kayak...or start early and hike down to the captain cook monument and jump in/snorkel.
We rented a kayak mid morning and paddled across the bay. It was a great way to snorkel and explore the area. You might check the tour boat times and try to avoid the times that they might be there. Some areas were a little more crowed then, but there was always a lot a open space to move around and explore.

As to 4WD. We went all the way to South Point in a regular car with no issues. We did not go to the green sand beach.

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