How Long Does It Take to Drive Around the Big Island of Hawaii?
The Big Island of Hawaii is a place of wonder and beauty, offering breathtaking landscapes, unique wildlife, and a rich cultural heritage. One of the best ways to explore this island is by taking a road trip around its circumference, allowing you to experience the diverse scenery and attractions it has to offer. However, before embarking on this adventure, it’s essential to plan your journey and consider the time it takes to drive around the Big Island.
The Big Island, also known as Hawaii Island, is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands, spanning approximately 4,028 square miles. It has a well-maintained highway, Hawaii Route 11, also known as the Hawaii Belt Road or Mamalahoa Highway, which encircles the island. This road provides access to most major attractions and scenic spots, allowing you to explore the island at your own pace.
So, how long does it take to drive around the Big Island? The answer depends on several factors, including the number of stops you plan to make, traffic conditions, and your preferred pace. On average, it takes about 6 to 8 hours to drive the entire circumference, covering approximately 250 miles. However, this estimate does not include time spent at various attractions or taking detours to explore different regions.
To fully appreciate the beauty of the Big Island, it is recommended to allow at least 3 to 5 days for your road trip. This will give you ample time to explore its diverse landscapes, including lush rainforests, arid lava fields, stunning coastlines, and the active volcano, Kilauea. Additionally, it allows for flexibility, enabling you to immerse yourself in the local culture, indulge in delicious cuisine, and partake in outdoor activities such as hiking, snorkeling, or visiting historical sites.
Q: Can I drive around the Big Island in one day?
A: While it is technically possible to drive around the Big Island in one day, it is not recommended. The island’s diverse landscapes and numerous attractions deserve more time for exploration. Rushing through the journey would mean missing out on the unique experiences and natural wonders that make the Big Island so special.
Q: Are there any accommodations along the way?
A: Yes, there are plenty of accommodations available along the route. The towns of Kailua-Kona, Hilo, and Waimea offer a variety of hotels, resorts, vacation rentals, and bed and breakfasts. Additionally, there are campgrounds and state parks where you can set up camp if you prefer a more adventurous experience.
Q: Are there any detours or side trips worth taking?
A: Absolutely! The Big Island offers several detours and side trips that are worth exploring. The Hamakua Coast, located north of Hilo, is known for its scenic beauty, waterfalls, and lush valleys. The Waipio Valley, accessible by a steep road, is a breathtaking destination that offers stunning views and hiking opportunities. The South Point area, the southernmost point of the United States, is also worth a visit for its unique geological features and cliff diving.
Q: What are the traffic conditions like?
A: Traffic on the Big Island is generally light, especially outside of the main towns. However, during peak tourist seasons or special events, traffic can increase, particularly in popular areas such as Volcanoes National Park or Akaka Falls State Park. It is advisable to plan your journey accordingly and allow extra time for potential delays.
Q: Can I rent a car for my road trip?
A: Yes, rental cars are readily available on the Big Island. Major car rental companies have branches at both Hilo and Kona airports. It is advisable to book your rental car in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to ensure availability.
In conclusion, driving around the Big Island of Hawaii is an incredible adventure that allows you to witness the island’s diverse beauty and immerse yourself in its rich culture. While the entire journey can be completed in a day, it is highly recommended to allocate at least 3 to 5 days to truly appreciate all the wonders this island has to offer. Take your time, explore the detours, and create memories that will last a lifetime.