A Hawaiian road trip might sound strange because it’s the only state surrounded by the ocean. But there’s plenty of sights to see in Hawaii apart from its well-known beaches.
If you’re going to enjoy a Hawaiian vacation, why not enjoy it by going on a Hawaii road trip? And, if you think shipping a car to Hawaii is complex, think again! You can even ship a car from California to Hawaii easily. Besides, road tripping is just more fun and easier if you’re using your car. It saves you money in the long run too.
I’ll be making a list of places you can drive to. Although I put some of the best places to visit in Hawaii into the mix, there are a lot of locations that are tucked away from tourist traps. You’ll get to see and experience the real Hawaii — all while in your car!
Where to go on your Hawaii road trip
North Shore Oahu
You can take a drive from the city to windward Oahu. You only need to drive 60 miles through the highways. There’s not much area to cover so it’s enjoyable to take your time with each place you visit.
You also won’t get bored with the scenery on this Hawaii road trip. Expect to see the blue coastline, lush botanical ranges, and a plethora of mountain ranges along the way. Get to know a little history of the islands at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie.
The further north you go, the more activities you can do. You can go horseback riding in Kualoa Ranch and explore the best restaurants on the island. You can also stop at Turtle Bay to fish before you head back. There are so many things to do and explore. You’ll never run out of exciting activities.
Also called Hawaii State Highway 200, the Saddle Road was built in 1942 by the military to be used as a shortcut so that they can travel easily from one side of Big Island to the other. Back then, it’s considered one of the world’s most dangerous roads. Nowadays, the road is safe and well-maintained, but it’s thrilling to travel it knowing how much history and beauty it holds. On this Hawaii road trip, you’ll reach up to 6,765ft elevation at Humuula Saddle.
Waimea is for true history buffs who want to know more about the island’s past and culture. Everything here is like a blast from the past. You can check out the King Kamehameha statue’s original version in this area. If you enjoy ranches, take a stop at Kahua Ranch. You can visit the Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site here too. It was built in 1790 under Kamehameha The Great’s orders. Waimea is popular for so many things. From its crisp nights and clear skies to its rolling hills and white sand beaches, it’s definitely a must-visit during your Hawaii road trip.
Hilo is full of scenic views and wonders. You’ll never get tired of seeing majestic coasts, mountains, and forests. There are also many waterfalls around the area that you can check out. If you want to try something different, you can go to the Laupahoehoe Train Museum to learn more about Hawaiian railways. If you want to experience riding a horse while on tour, head to Waipio Ridge Stables. If you get hungry try Café 100 too. Hilo is a little paradise for sure.
The Road to Hana
The Road to Hana is the most famous Hawaiian road trip ever known. The whole route is only 52 miles, but you’ll pass through 54 bridges and around 600 hundred curves. All this with the beautiful and rugged terrains of Hana.
Depending on how fast you’ll be driving, the whole route can be completed in three to five hours. There’s a lot of breathtaking views along the way. Make sure to make a few stops and enjoy their famous waterfalls, botanical gardens, and volcanic coastlines. And make sure you bring your camera as there are so many beautiful sceneries to capture and relive.
If you prefer mountains and greenery to beaches and sands, then try taking the route to Upcountry Maui. You’ll enjoy lush vineyards, lavender gardens, and even a couple of distilleries along the way. You can also visit Haleakala Crater, Ulupalakua Ranch Store, Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, Upcountry Farmers Market, Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center, Kula Botanical Garden, Haleakala National Park, and more.
What do you need before you hit the road?
I know it’s exciting to hit the road and explore as soon as you get to Hawaii. But before you head out, make sure you have everything you need. The weather in Hawaii is different. There are times the west side is raining while the other side is not. There’s also the elevation – Hawaii is a mountainous region so expect to go up and down the road a lot.
This is what you need on your Hawaii road trip:
- Comfortable shoes
- Extra set of clothes
- Umbrella or Raincoat
- Driver’s licence
- Registration (just in case)
If you’re planning to go hiking on one of their trails, make sure that you have a hiking map with you.
You can visit this website for a list of maps that you can download for your Hawaii road trip.
How to ship car to Hawaii?
If you’re moving to the island, shipping car to Hawaii is recommended. This helps you travel easily across the island.
The cost of shipping a car to Hawaii isn’t as expensive as you think. You’ll have many options to choose from to lower your prices. For example, Car Shipping Hawaii has a port-to-port service so you won’t have to worry about the transfers. Talk to an agent first and let them know what you need. This helps you avoid paying more than you should and enjoy your Hawaii road trip more.
The Hawaiian road trip is a unique and refreshing experience that anyone can enjoy. If you’re planning to stay in Hawaii for a long time, have your car shipped to help you move around with comfort. And don’t forget to have fun all the way!
Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe, creator of unique free travel guides, local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.
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