Aug 262013
Our baby-to-be gets a free ride, but do YOU need to rent a car?

Our baby-to-got a free ride in Hawaii, but do YOU need to rent a car?

So you’re headed to Hawaii and want to save some money. “Hey,” you may suggest, “maybe we can save cash for more Mai Tais if we simply don’t rent a car!” But… hold your seahorses, buster, and listen up.

Rental Car Man to the rescue!

Rental Car Man to the rescue!

You see, the Big Island of Hawaii is comprised of vastly differing nooks and crannies, each of which is nearly impenetrable without a car. And public transport? Not gonna happen. Check out all the parts of the island you will be ignorant of without your own wheels…

A great Kona sunset we couldn't have reached from Hilo without a car.

A great Kona sunset we couldn’t have reached from Hilo without a car.

On the section of Hawaii’s Big Island by Kona (site of our epic Hawaii Babymoon) you will find the “Sunny Side of the Island.” Rain is rare, hotels kiss the beaches, and tourists flock. Sure, you COULD just stay in one hotel in Kona with an airport shuttle and walk to restaurants around it, but you’d miss out on awesome other sections of the island.

How crazy are these "Lava Trees" near Hilo?

How crazy are these “Lava Trees” near Hilo?

For example, the middle of the Big Island consists of VOLCANOS! In addition to Hawaii Volcanoes State Park, we delighted in (caution: dramatic name coming) Lava Tree State Park. No, unfortunately these trees do not spew orange molten rock, but they look a-maaaazing.

Leaping for joy during a rare moment of sun in Hilo, Hawaii.

A boy leaping into the ocean during a rare moment of sun in Hilo, Hawaii.

Once you pass the volcano section of the Big Island, you reach the Hilo area, otherwise known as the “Rainy Side of the Island.” It mists or rains constantly in Hilo, making it one of the wettest places on Earth, but also causing lush greenery and jungle-licious-ness. The lovely waterfall in the first photo of this article is a result of all this sky water. The waterfall is also only accessible via a rutted 15- minute drive up a mountain, making us glad for our car!

These Hawaii trees are wild...

These Hawaii trees are wild…

Bottom line: You miss out on a world of opportunities on Hawaii’s Big Island unless you rent a car and explore! Now, what other places on Earth would YOU point out as mandatory car zones?

Our shiny silver car was generously provided by but all opinions, Lava Tree ogling, and pregnant belly squeezing are my own.Β 


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  24 Responses to “Do You Need to Rent a Car in Hawaii? Photos of Why…”

  1. I’m loving how you guys pose. <3

  2. What a beautiful sunset! One of these days I’ll make it to Hawaii…

    Places you need a car to travel: most of the USA haha! You can’t get around most of this country (apart from major cities) without a car (or flying to your destination and then renting a car). A few years ago I took a trip out to southern Utah to visit Zion National Park//Bryce Canyon/Death Valley (in CA) with my parents. We had to use a rental car to get around because there was no way we would have seen any of those places without one! I’m sure there are group tours but they don’t necessarily go everywhere you’d like to go.

  3. By having a car in a vacantion you can explore the non tourists populated areas and find really relaxing places and areas which are not invaded with tourism related activites. Useful article and great pictures!

  4. Couldn’t agree more – when you go to Hawaii, you need a car.

  5. Love renting a car and having full freedom when traveling! And this place looks like you can’t enjoy it any other way.

    you look great by the way πŸ™‚ Pregnancy does you wonders!

  6. Unfortunately I’ve never been to the Hawaii but renting a car or a scooter perhaps sounds like a great idea if you really want to reach some remote areas that otherwise you’d miss. Smart move!

  7. Whoa. That photo of the lava trees is gorgeous!!!

  8. You definitely need a car on the Big Island, but you don’t need a Cadillac, which is what my husband and I were given on a trip a while back, despite our protests.

  9. Lillie,your post will help a lot of people whoever wants to go Hawii.Thanks for sharing.gabi

  10. Yep. I agree. You definitely need a car in Hawaii. I’ve been to Maui about 6 times. If I hadn’t rented a car I would have missed a lot of scenery and great places. I typically get automatic (with air of course) although I can drive a stick. Lots of people get convertibles, but I think they’re easier to break into. Just saying.

  11. Yeah, I think a car is a very smart idea in Hawai’i, especially the Big Island, Maui and Kauai. There is simply too much too see! You can do alright without a car in Honolulu if you just want to kick it on the beach and shop, but you would miss amazing things like the Oahu’s North Shore. One island were you don’t need a car – Lana’i.

  12. Hi Lillie. I went to Maui and we had a car and it was definitely a good choice. A few years later, I went to Kauai and did not rent one, big mistake! Fun photos.

  13. Totally agree with you! I have only been to Oahu and I am sure we would have done better with a car (for the days we were outside Waikiki). Sighseeing tours are expensive, restrictive (due to time) and you risk ending with a boring guide (yes, it happened to us). We used public transportation to get to Pearl Harbor and even though it was effective, it took forever to get there. Next, time we will get our own wheels. Now, I am talking about Oahu, imagine how necessary.a car is in a bigger island like Hawaii. With a car you can stop every time you see somehting interesting.

  14. Wow, pics of my home town, thanks for sharing, looks great with your beautiful images, thanks for sharing.

  15. Wow! These images really are jungle-icious! I love having the freedom to explore at will whenever possible and can see why Kona might be a perfect place to get wonderfully lost in persuit of decadent “nooks and crannies”! Thank you for the fantastic suggestions!

  16. Totally agree that Hawaii must be explored by car — so many beautiful places to see. I’d say that Ireland is a mandatory car zone even though it can be a little scary navigating those winding, narrow roads and watching out for all the sheep!

  17. We always rent a car because of my disabilities. But it also allows you to get out of the tourist areas and explore. What a great time you had!

    • We did have a great time! I’d argue there are some areas (my dear Boston, for one) where you can get a perfect experience without a car. But certainly there are many you can’t.

  18. Gorgeous! My boyfriend and I did the same on our first trip to the Canary Islands – we wouldn’t have seen half of what we did without the car! While I love riding public transportation in new places, now that I drive stick, I have a feeling that car rental is the way I’ll be going.

    Oh, and you’re adorable pregnant!

    • Thanks! Yes, islands are deceptive because you think they’re going to be all small and accessible with buses and taxis, but many are really not. Congrats on learning stick!

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