Minnesota Farmer

Driving in Hawaii
March 22, 2010, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Hawaii, Minnesota, travel

Here on the mainland we get very used to driving everywhere, and why not.  We have roads everywhere.  That is not the case in Hawaii.

First you have to realize that Hawaii is mostly mountains.  Much of what is not near vertical is near the ocean shore or in a valley.  Even the newer in geologic time Big Island, which is not eroded into the deep valleys, has its challenges.  What few roads there are only go straight for a short time.  To find a road you can actually go over 45 mph on for very long is hard to do.  We spent a long time driving at speeds of around 30, then would get a brief spirt of 55, then slow down for another curve.

Hawaii does have an Interstate Highway System, that does not go to any other state, on Oahu.  Even in the heavily populated Honolulu area that Interstate is not very big.  Their roads are prone to being very busy.  It seems every one wants to go somewhere on the few roads they do have.

A question I get is how are the gas prices.  The answer is high.  When we were in Hawaii the gas prices were running 40 to 50 cents higher in Honolulu than in Minnesota, and 90 cents to a $1 higher on the Big Island.  However visitors renting cars would really never have to buy gas if they are only there for a few days.  We drove three days hard on the Big Island and only put in a few gallons to get back to the rental place.  Three and a half days driving on Oahu only brought the gas level down to one quarter tank.

Roads are basically in decent condition.  With no freeze thaw cycle there is less to destroy the roads.  The base is good and roads were all in good condition.  Many of them outside of the tourist areas are a bit narrow, but all are scenic.

Hawaiian Graffiti

Hawaiian Graffiti on the Big Island was interesting.  In areas of lava flows the lava is just graded smooth and asphalt is laid over the top.  On any slope facing the road was graffiti written in white coral on the black lava.  People would carry buckets full of coral from the beach to write with.  It was all natural, and all reusable.  It is mostly to be found north of the Kehole-Kone Airport on the west side of the Big Island.

The most populated islands have a paved ring road around them with up to four roads crossing the interior.  Where these paved roads go is dependent on valleys and population.  A few like the Pali highway cross the interior through a tunnel.  The Pali overlook is worth the stop. Unpaved roads are not to be travelled lightly.  Many are private roads and they can be steep and dangerous.

The small size of the roads means that large trucks are few.  Most goods seem to travel to a sea port and then by smaller trucks to their destination.  In Honolulu there are a lot of bicycles, motorcycles and scooters.  These are all popular due to the price of fuel as is hitch hiking.

Don’t expect to drive fast in the islands, there is too much to see and do.  Take your time and explore.  Get out of the tourist areas of the coast and you will find so much more to Hawaii than sand and sea.

End of the road at Ka Lae, the southern most part of the U.S.



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