Type of rental car in Hawaii BI

Old Mar 21st, 2007, 04:24 PM
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Type of rental car in Hawaii BI


We are wondering what type of car should we rent in Big Island. We don't plan
on driving to the summit of Mauna Kea. Do we
need a 4WD to get to the Mauna Kea visitor center? Someone in a previous post wrote that if you rent a standard car then you need to sing a form declaring that you will not drive the car to the Mauna Kea area becaue it is an unpaved road. Is that true?

Is there anything else way may "lose" (besides Mauna kea) if we take a standard car, like beaches or other attractions?
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 06:09 PM
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Hawaii is currently building a bypass of the worst part of Saddle Road (near the army training base). It won't be completed until later this year or 2008. In the meantime, most car rental contracts still prohibit driving on this road.

With that said, lots of tourists ignore their contracts and drive it anyway. The western part of the existing road is the worst. Very bumpy, mostly unpaved, with large traction grooves on either side, and you may find yourself stuck behind a convoy of army tanks going 5 MPH (it's happened to us more than once).

But once you're past this bad part, the road up to the visitor center is actually extremely good, completely paved and very smooth. Just watch for cows in the road.

If you opt for a 2WD rental, aside from Mauna Kea Summit you'll "lose" two main attractions: the trail at South Point which leads to the Green Sand Beach, which can be hiked instead, and the access road to Waipio Valley. Some tourists, when they see this access road decide to hike down, even if they have a 4WD. It's only 3/8 mile or so, but incredibly steep.

You'll also "lose" several other trails around the island which are much less frequently visited, such as the access trail on Mauna Loa.
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 07:16 PM
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That's good to hear about the bypass on the Saddle Road.
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 07:17 PM
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I meant that it's good the bypass is being built.
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 09:03 PM
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Most tourists don't seem interested in Mookini Heiau or Kamehameha I's birth place (a short distance apart from each other), but I thought I'd throw it in anyway as a destination that you need a 4wd for. You can walk it, but it's about 2 miles (each way) from the main road so a 4wd is easier.

Mookini is one of the most sacred sites in Hawaii, and Kamehameha the Great's birth was a prophecy come true, so the area has a lot of historical significance. However, it is very stark and I think most people wouldn't have a lot of interest in it. Just thought I'd add it to the "4wd" list in case anyone was interested.

Edited to add: the heiau and birth place are near Hawi.
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