Car Rental

Renting a car is a necessity on the Big Island. There are nearly 500 miles of sealed roads on this island, and plenty of high-profile attractions scattered across an area bigger than that of all the other Hawaiian islands combined.

Car rental Big Island Hawaii is available on both sides of the island, but most of the locally owned agencies are located around Kailua-Kona. These include standard car rental agencies, but the list goes on to include specialty firms that rent out RVs, camper vans, motorcycles and luxury cars.

One important consideration is the need for a 4WD vehicle. Only a few agencies offer these, so the price is comparatively high, but having a 4WD vehicle opens up some high-profile corners of the island that are otherwise unavailable to standard vehicles. These include the summit of Mauna Kea and the remote beaches of Waipio Valley or Green Sands Beach. Dozens of other “secret” beaches on the Big Island are only accessible with 4WD.

Standard rentals are highly affordable due to thick competition, but there are a few caveats. When scanning your Big Island map, you’ll notice a convenient shortcut between Kailua-Kona and Hilo and passing between the peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. This is the “Saddle Road”, and driving on it is a breach of contract for most rental agencies. This route doesn’t actually save drivers any time, and it’s only worth driving on if you’re heading up Mauna Kea.

Finally, gas prices are high across the Big Island but especially on the Kona side. On this side of the island, the only real discounts are at the Costco (members only) near Kona Airport.