Hawaii - The Big Island Travel Guide

USA  #1 in Best Honeymoon Destinations in the USA
Credit

Courtesy of Sean Davey / Aurora Photos/Getty Images

Getting Around Hawaii - The Big Island

The best way to get around Hawaii's Big Island is by car. The island is simply too large to affordably and conveniently navigate without one. You can pick up a rental car at either the Kona International Airport (KOA) or the Hilo International Airport (ITO), or if you want to let go of some serious cash, you could take a taxi from the terminal to your hotel. Once near your lodging, you might be able to get around town on the island bus system, just keep in mind that its schedule is not always convenient for tourists. 

Many travelers who visit the Big Island have a connecting flight from O'ahu's Honolulu International Airport (HNL), from which you'll fly into Hilo airport on the eastern side. Kona airport near the west side will probably be more convenient if you're staying by the Kona or Kohala coast.

Car

You'll find a set of wheels is practically a necessity on the Big Island. As you can see from the map on our top attractions page, the best sites are spread out along all the coasts. And the bus service, though available, does not make regular stops at tourist sites. You can rent a car at either airport and through some of the hotels. Splurge for four-wheel drive – you'll be thankful you did on the roughest roads – and keep in mind some rental agencies will want you to avoid Saddle Road, a narrow, winding shortcut that takes you from Kona to Hilo.

Taxi

Taxis are expensive on Hawaii's Big Island, even by tourist standards. In fact, the meter starts at $3. Coincidentally, flagging one doesn't seem to be that much of an option, anyway. The best spot to find them is around the airports; otherwise, your hotel will assist you in calling for one. However, the ride-hailing service Uber also operates on Big Island.

Bus

You might find the bus is a frugal option if you don't want to venture too far from your hotel. Still, some bus routes are only serviced Monday through Friday. The bus rate is $2 (cash only), but there's a $1 fee for large bags. Kids ages 4 and younger ride for free. 

Helicopter

Helicopter tours are a great way to see the sights; but this is obviously an extravagant splurge and not a viable means of transportation. Many people like to look out over the island's active volcanoes (ask to head to Kilauea, in the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park), but valley tours through the Kohala or Hamakua coasts are also pretty scenic. 

You might find the bus is a frugal option if you don't want to venture too far from your hotel. Still, some bus routes are only serviced Monday through Friday. The bus rate is $2 (cash only), but there's a $1 fee for large bags. Kids ages four and under ride for free.  

 

Hele-On Bus

Explore More of Hawaii - The Big Island

Recommended

The World's 30 Best Places to Visit in 2019-20

Using reader input and expert analysis, U.S. News identified the latest can't-miss vacations.

Tilly PeckerJune 25, 2019

The 16 Best San Diego Tours

Take advantage of the adventures this coastal city has to offer with a guided trip.

Lyn MettlerJune 24, 2019

12 Top Napa Valley Wineries to Visit

Set your sights on these can't-miss wineries during your next visit to California's wine country.

Lyn MettlerJune 24, 2019

The 6 Best Denver Brewery Tours

Discover the buzz about Denver's craft beer scene with these tours.

Holly JohnsonJune 21, 2019

The 10 Best Charleston Walking Tours

Experience true southern hospitality as you explore Charleston on one of these strolls.

Claire LawtonJune 20, 2019

The 15 Best Charleston Tours

See everything this historic South Carolina city has to offer on one of these guided excursions.

John RodwanJune 19, 2019

The 5 Best Kauai Helicopter Tours

See the Garden Island's far-reaching beauty from the air.

Holly JohnsonJune 14, 2019

The 6 Best Las Vegas Helicopter Tours

Get a thrilling look at the lights and sights of Sin City and its surroundings with one of these tours.

Holly JohnsonJune 13, 2019

20 Road Trip Essentials for Your Vacation

These road trip must-haves can help you save money, travel more comfortably and ensure you stay safe on the open road.

Holly JohnsonJune 13, 2019

13 Top Charlottesville Wineries to Visit

Sip a glass of Virginia's signature viognier as the sun sets over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Gwen PratesiJune 12, 2019