A Great Overnight Trip on the Big Island

Hawaii’s Big Island is one of the best destinations in the state, if only because it tends to attract the less rowdy tourist crowds. There are plenty of things to do on the island of Hawaii, and one way to take in some of the most important is a trip across the island, from Kona to Hilo. It’s a six hour drive, so you’ll want to stay overnight, but here is what you can expect.

  • Varying landscapes: You will be amazed at just how many ecosystems can be contained on one island, all formed by two volcanoes. The Kona side is dry, and lava rock is the norm on the sides of the road here. As you take Saddle Road, you’ll notice things get a lot drier, with semi-arid conditions. On the descent, you’re suddenly in tropical rain forest. The volcanoes loom in the distance and you find yourself in the rainiest spot in the whole USA.
  • A great city: Hilo is friendly, upbeat, and not nearly as expensive as other spots in the state. You’ll also find many of the people friendlier; they’re just happy you came in out of the rain.
  • Not a lot of company: We don’t know whether most people fly or boat into Hilo. What we do know is that not a lot of them drive. The roads are virtually empty for most of the trip!
  • Lots of animals: You will see a lot of animals on the drive, most of them not indigenous. It’s kind of fun to play spot the wild goat or pig, and wild turkeys are often seen as well. If you’re really lucky, you might catch sight of Hawaii’s national bird, the nene, although they are said to be quite rare.
  • National Parks: There are at least two big state attractions on the Hilo side of the island. Both the Tsunami Center and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, in which Mauna Loa and Kilauea are located, are well worth the trip. Try visiting one on the day you get there, and the other on the day you head back.