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How Long Does It Take to Drive Around the Big Island Hawaii

How Long Does It Take to Drive Around the Big Island Hawaii?

Hawaii’s Big Island, also known as the Island of Hawaii, is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands and offers a diverse range of landscapes and attractions for visitors to explore. One popular way to experience the island’s beauty is by taking a road trip around its perimeter. However, many travelers are unsure about how long it takes to drive around the Big Island and what to expect along the way. In this article, we will answer these questions and provide a guide to help you plan your journey.

The Big Island’s circumference is approximately 300 miles, making it possible to drive around the entire island in one day. However, this would require a non-stop drive without any stops or detours. In reality, most travelers prefer to take their time and enjoy the numerous attractions along the way, making the journey last anywhere from two to seven days, depending on their pace and interests.

To give you a better idea of the time it takes to drive around the Big Island, we can break it down into different sections:

1. Kona Coast: Starting from Kailua-Kona, the western side of the island, driving along the scenic Kona Coast takes about 2-3 hours. This stretch offers beautiful beaches, lava fields, and the chance to see historical sites like the Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park.

2. South Point: Continuing from the Kona Coast, driving to South Point, the southernmost point of the United States, takes about 1-2 hours. This area is known for its rugged beauty, green sand beach, and the iconic Papakōlea Green Sand Beach.

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3. Hilo: From South Point to Hilo, on the eastern side of the island, the drive takes approximately 2-3 hours. Hilo is the largest city on the Big Island and offers attractions such as the Rainbow Falls, Akaka Falls State Park, and the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo.

4. Hamakua Coast: Driving from Hilo along the scenic Hamakua Coast to Waipi’o Valley takes about 1-2 hours. This lush region is known for its waterfalls, botanical gardens, and stunning coastal views.

5. Waimea: From Waipi’o Valley to Waimea, located in the uplands of the Big Island, the drive takes about 1 hour. Waimea offers a glimpse into the island’s ranching heritage, with rolling green pastures and paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) culture.

6. Kohala Coast: The final leg of the journey, from Waimea to Kailua-Kona along the Kohala Coast, takes approximately 1-2 hours. This area is famous for its luxury resorts, pristine beaches, and historical sites like the Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site.


1. Can I drive around the Big Island in a day?
Yes, it is possible to drive around the entire Big Island in a day without stopping. However, it is recommended to take your time and explore the various attractions along the way.

2. How many days do I need to drive around the Big Island?
To fully experience the Big Island’s beauty and attractions, it is recommended to spend at least 3-7 days driving around the island. This allows for ample time to explore each region and enjoy the diverse landscapes.

3. What are some must-see attractions on the Big Island?
Some must-see attractions on the Big Island include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Kea Summit, Waipi’o Valley, Akaka Falls State Park, and the Kona Coffee Belt.

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4. Are there any challenging roads or conditions to be aware of?
While most of the roads on the Big Island are well-maintained, there are a few areas with challenging conditions, such as the Saddle Road between Hilo and Waimea. It is advisable to check weather and road conditions before embarking on your journey.

5. Can I rent a car to drive around the Big Island?
Yes, there are numerous car rental agencies on the Big Island, including at the major airports. Renting a car is the most convenient way to explore the island at your own pace.

In conclusion, driving around the Big Island of Hawaii offers a unique opportunity to explore its diverse landscapes and attractions. The time it takes to complete the journey depends on your pace and interests, but most travelers prefer to spend several days to fully enjoy the island’s beauty. Whether you choose to drive the entire circumference in one day or take your time exploring each region, the Big Island will undoubtedly leave you with unforgettable memories of its natural wonders and cultural heritage.

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