The Big Island's biking trails and road routes range from easy to moderate coastal rides to rugged backcountry wilderness treks that challenge the most serious cyclists. You can soak up the island's storied scenic vistas and varied geography—from tropical rain forest to rolling ranch country, from high-country mountain meadows to dry lava deserts. It's dry, windy, and hot on Kona's and Kohala's coastal trails and cool, wet, and muddy in the upcountry Waimea and Volcano areas, as well as in lower Puna. There are long distances between towns, few bike lanes, narrow single-lane highways, and scanty services in the Kau, Puna, South Kona, and Kohala Coast areas, so plan accordingly for weather, water, food, and lodging before setting out.
Hawaii Cycling Club. This nonprofit club has tons of information on biking the Big Island. www.hawaiicyclingclub.com.
Kulani Trails. This has been called the best ride in the state—if you really want to get gnarly. The technically demanding ride, which passes majestic eucalyptus trees, is for advanced cyclists. To reach the trailhead from the intersection of Highway 11 and Highway 19, take Highway 19 south about 4 miles, turn right on Stainback Highway, continue 2½ miles, turn right at the Waiakea Arboretum, and park near the gate. A permit is required, available from the Department of Land and Natural Resources at Kawili Street and Kilauea Avenue in Hilo. Stainback Hwy., Hilo, HI, 96720.
Old Puna Trail. A 10½-mile ride through the subtropical jungle in Puna, this trail leads into one of the island's most isolated areas. It starts on a cinder road, which becomes a four-wheel-drive trail. If it's rained recently, you'll have to deal with puddles—the first few of which you'll gingerly avoid until you give in and go barreling through the rest for the sheer fun of it. This is a great ride for all abilities and takes about 90 minutes. To get to the traihead from Highway 130, take Kaloli Road to Beach Road. Ride at your own risk; this is not a maintained trail. At this writing, active lava flows were approaching Lower Puna and access to this trail may not be available in the future. Kaloli Rd. at Hwy. 130, Pahoa, HI, 96778.
Equipment and Tours
There are several rental shops in Kailua-Kona and a couple in Waimea and Hilo. Many resorts rent bicycles that can be used around the properties. Most outfitters can provide a bicycle rack for your car, and all offer reduced rates for rentals longer than one day.
BikeVolcano.com. This outfitter leads three- or five-hour bike rides through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, mostly downhill, that take in fantastic sights, from rain forests to craters. The three-hour tour costs $110, five hours $135. There's also a spectacular seven-hour sunset tour that goes to the active lava flows (volcano depending). Equipment, support van, and food are included. Pick up locations in Hilo and Volcano (and Kona by request). Kilauea General Store, 19-3972 Old Volcano Rd., Volcano, HI, 96785. 808/934–9199 or 888/934–9199. www.bikevolcano.com.
Bike Works. This outfitter caters to cyclists of all skill levels with tours for moderate to advanced riders and rentals of deluxe road bikes, full-suspension mountain bikes, and high-end triathlon bikes. Rentals start at $40 a day. Hale Hana Center, 74-5583 Luhia St., Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740. 808/326–2453. www.bikeworkskona.com.
Cycle Station. This shop, with exceptionally nice proprietors, has a variety of high-quality bikes for rent, from mountain, to hybrids, to triathlon models. Rentals run from $20 to $75 per day and can be delivered to your hotel. The shop can also coordinate event shipping and set you up with islandwide tours. 73-4976 Kamanu St., Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740. 808/327–0087. www.konabikerentals.com.
Hawaiian Pedals. For those who prefer comfort over speed, Hawaiian Pedals rents three-speed cruisers and 21-speed hybrids starting at $25 per day. Kona Inn Shopping Village, 75-5744 Alii Dr., Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740. 808/329–2294. www.hawaiianpedals.com.
Mid Pacific Wheels. This downtown shop carries a full line of bikes and accessories and rents mountain bikes for exploring the Hilo area starting at $30 per day. The staff provides expert advice on where to go and what to see and do on a self-guided tour. 1133C Manono St., Hilo, HI, 96720. 808/935–6211. www.midpacificwheelsllc.com.
Velisimo Cycling Destinations. Geared to cyclists of varying abilities, two- to five-hour tours range from challenging 3,500-foot climbs up Kohala Mountain to downhill-only rides. They start at $125 per person. 73-5619 Kauhola St., Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740. 808/327–0087 or 800/219–2324. www.cyclekona.com.