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Consolidated "Renting cars on the Big Island" thread

Consolidated "Renting cars on the Big Island" thread

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Old Aug 10, 02, 12:17 am
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Consolidated "Renting cars on the Big Island" thread

We can't decide between a big SUV (we don't want a wrangler ragtop) ad a regular car so have booked both - I'd love to hear pros and cons of each from folks who have traveled to the big island. We don't have much expereience needing or driving SUV's but are there a lot of places that are inaccessible without one??

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Old Aug 10, 02, 6:19 am
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Here is part of my trip report from the big island from last month........

Our ventures away from the Hilton included the best hidden beach on the island. The Waipi'o Valley
lookout is a view you must not miss and if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle and rock steady nerves you
can descend the steepest one lane road you have ever seen (appx 1000 ft drop in a very short time),
traverse a pot hole filled road and arrive at the most beautiful black sand beach. Look up and see
waterfalls coming out of the side of the mountains and descending 400 feet down to the ocean. There
were campsites down there but we had the beach almost to ourselves. I could easily spend the whole
day there!. We continued our voyage towards Hilo with a stop to see Akaka Falls. We arrived at
Volcanoes National Park ($10 entry fee) to witness mother nature at her finest. The view from the crater
edge is amazing and the Thursten Lava Tube is a must stop. The highlight came when we took the
drive down Chain of Craters Road to see the product of a active volcano....LAVA. You could actually walk
out on the cooled lava flow to witness fresh 2000 degree molten rock oozing from the ground! You
could get within feet of it if you could stand the heat. It was also pouring out into the ocean with plumes
of steam and boiling salt water ( I would say this was one of the highlights).

We also trekked out to find the GREEN beach at South Point Again do not attempt this without a 4-
wheel drive! It is a 6 mile trip down the bumpiest road to arrive at a green/black sand beach and a
great tide pool. Don't and I repeat don't venture off to find the larger beach. The road through the lava
was the hardest I have ever traversed ( getting stuck several times) and it is just a larger version of the
first beach!

enjoy,

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Old Aug 10, 02, 10:20 am
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We were there in July....had a conventional car. I would consider a 4-wheel drive if I were to go again. However, the only place I might have gone - that I didn't go this time - would be the green sand beach.

We saw Waipio also via the shuttle van that took us to horseback riding.

Best advice....get the book, Hawaii: The Big Island Revealed. It is very specific on what attractions need a 4-wheel drive.
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Old Aug 10, 02, 11:01 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Watchful:


Best advice....get the book, Hawaii: The Big Island Revealed. It is very specific on what attractions need a 4-wheel drive.
</font>
THANKS!

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Old Aug 10, 02, 8:30 pm
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squeakr: We visit the Big Island at least yearly and always rent an SUV. In addition to being able to go to the Waipio Valley and the Green Sand beach (tips to driving there are look for the lava road immediately to the right of the gate to bypass the gate, then stick to the roads furthest inland or you will get stuck in spots - the higher roads are very easy to pass), we've used it to go up to the star gazing parties near the observatories (this and the green sand beach are against the rental contracts, but we've never let that stop us). You can also take a 4WD all the way up to the observatories.

The biggest reason we find for renting ones is that the best beaches are down lava roads. There's a good one (actually three, depending on how far you're willing to walk once you drive to the end) around mile markers 90/91 and another just south of the airport. Basically just look off the highway for the lava roads and there are bound to be pristine, empty beaches at the end.

A couple of words of caution ... renting an SUV does not guarantee you a 4WD and frequently SUVs in Hawaii come complete with some sort of little cockroaches. Just buy some bug spray or a bug bomb and it's really no big deal. Save your receipt and the rental agency will reimburse you.
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Old Aug 12, 02, 9:27 am
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We're making a trip to the Big Island next month. I booked a convertable months ago using the B999 $25 a day rate via Avis. A friend recently came back from Kona and loved driving the convertable Camaro.

I like the idea of the 4WD but can't make any changes to my ressie without losing the great rate (Avis fixed me up but made sure to tell me no changes would be permitted). I'm a little disappointed that we won't be able to drive to the peak of the dormant volcano but there's always next time.
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Old Aug 15, 02, 2:45 pm
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BobCharlap what is this about a second green sand beach? I visited the first one which is at the cove described in the travel book I purchased. Is there a second beach that is even more secluded?

Thanks for the information.
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Old Aug 15, 02, 4:20 pm
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There is another green sand beach in that general area - although I don't know if it's the one referred to above. The other I know about is about 10 miles further on the highway off Road to the Sea near Hawaiian Ocean View Estates. It's about 7 miles down this road to the other green sand beach.
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Old Aug 16, 02, 8:34 am
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CoutinPlaces,

Yes there is another Green beach near (as the crow flies) the first but next to impossible to reach!

We made this foolish attempt with our 4-wheel drive and got stuck several times in the lava road to get there. Once we arrived at the start of the beach we gave up and did not make the final trek to the end. We did see some campers at the other end but it was just a larger version of the first beach.

The road is very poorly marked ( mostly a little white arrow spray painted on a rock from time to time) and in our opinion not worth the aggrivation!

A great line in the tour book we wre using states" do not attempt this drive unless you have the phone number of a good tow truck! The towing company's first question to you will be.....do you own your home? because this will be VERY expensive to tow you out!"

Well that's my 0.02 worth! Enjoy your trip.

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Old Aug 19, 02, 9:15 am
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I wound up with a DARK blue Taurus from Hertz this past April. Besides needing a power boost, it was fine for what we wanted to do. The only two things I can remember needing an SUV for was the Waipio valley and the obvervatories. Otherwise, we were fine with a sedan.

One point about the observatory road...and the reason the rental companies don't want you going there in a non-SUV: the air is so think up there at 13K feet that the cooling effect of the air on your cars brakes is greatly diminished. So when your coming down the road from the top and your brakes overheat and fail, you'll know why! The 4WD vehicles can use their gears to keep the car speed under control, which is why they are recommended.
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Old Aug 20, 02, 8:36 am
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Be sure that the rental car agency gives you a 4-wheel drive when you request one. Several times (about half the time) I have requested 4-wheel drive only to walk out and find a Jeep Cherokee (or similar SUV) that is actually 2-wheel drive. Once when not paying much attention, I even drove off the lot before realizing that I had a 2-wheel drive version. This has happened with several different companies. I understand from several people that most SUV's in rental car inventories on the Big Island are not actually 4-wheel drive. I have even been told by my TA of a couple of companies that disingage the 4-wheel drive on their vehicles and placing a notice to that effect on the gear shift. This is to discourage us from taking them places the car agencies don't want us to take them. In fact, if you read the fine print, in most cases, you are not to take any rental car off a paved road. But I'll never tell.....
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Old Aug 21, 02, 2:15 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by rockdoc:
In fact, if you read the fine print, in most cases, you are not to take any rental car off a paved road. But I'll never tell.....</font>
On the Big Island, I once took a rental car off-road to what I remember was the Kona Coast State Park. It seemed like miles of sharp lava and barely a single lane road. When I finally got back with no punctured tires, I swore off from off-road adventures!
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Old Aug 21, 02, 11:05 am
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No matter which vehicle you get, keep all you bag zipped up, there seems to be a cockroach problem in the last few rentals I had from Avis on the Big Island.
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Old Feb 22, 05, 9:07 am
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Updated Big Island car rental/4wd info?

Hi,
I posted this in the hertz forum but I think i might get more of a response from the Hawaii experts here.
There are a couple of sites on the internet (e.g. Fodors, and http://www.alohacottages.net/Mauna_Kea_Observatory.htm) who say that several major rental car companies no longer prohibit driving a 4wd vehicle on saddle road on the Big Island. I was wondering if anyone in this forum had updated info on whether that was accurate, or not, and if it is, which rental companies it applies to?
I know there are a bunch of threads on driving the road with or without car rental permission, as well as off-road driving in general, but I was wondering whether there's been any change in the policies recently as these web sites suggest?
Also, are there any major companies that guarantee a 4wd vehicle on rental? I've read in some threads that not all of the jeeps are 4wd on the big island, but none seems to answer the question of which companies are the most reliable in actually giving you a 4wd.

(Sorry if this has been answered before...I did my best to search with the google interface but apologies if I missed something)
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Old Apr 17, 06, 12:45 pm
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Is a Compact Rental Car on the Big Island Good Enough?

This is probably a silly question, but having never been to the Big Island, will a compact rental car make it up and around the island? I guess any car will be able to do it, I am just wondering if we need something with more horses to handle the hill grades.

We are planning on staying in Hilo and we want to see some lava flow at night (if they're flowin'). Not sure if we're going to go all the way up to the summit (s), but we'll probably try to do some sort of circle island tour.

Am I concerned over nothing?
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