Scenic Drives Around Hawaii’s Big Island – Explained

Most people know Hawaii for its stunning beaches and lush rainforests, but few know about the incredible beauty of the Big Island. This lush island has towering mountains, crystal-clear waterfalls, and rolling valleys that are simply breathtaking. When it comes to island-hopping, few states can compare it to Hawaii. Blessed with lush rainforests, turquoise waters, and spectacular volcanoes, the Big Island is a paradise that’s hard to resist.

While there are many amazing scenic drives around the island, we’ve highlighted seven of the most popular routes for road trippers. Whether you want to explore the gorgeous valleys and coastline of Waimea or take a detour to see the lava flows of Mauna Loa, these drives will make your trip unforgettable. So pack your sandals and prepare for a driving trip around Hawaii’s Big Island.

Scenic Drives Around Hawaii’s Big Island

How Long Does It Take To Drive Around The Big Island Of Hawaii?

How Long Does It Take To Drive Around The Big Island Of Hawaii

Hawaii is a beautiful island; driving around it is a great way to see the different attractions and landscapes. The island is big, and it can take about 8 hours to drive around. The best way to see the island is by driving in circles – this will give you a 360-degree view of the island. Make sure to stop at Waialua Bay – it’s famous for its white sand beaches and crystal clear water.

You can take the scenic route, or you can take the direct route. Whichever route you choose, it’s a great way to see all the highlights and attractions this beautiful island offers. One of the most popular routes is the Hana Highway, which runs through Waimea Valley and Hilo.

This route offers stunning views of Mount Ka’ala and Kilauea Volcano and landscapes rich in flora and fauna. You can also stop off at famous tourist spots like Waialae Falls or Rainbow Falls on your way around.

7 Scenic Drives Around Hawaii’s Big Island Road Trip

Scenic Drives Around Hawaii's Big Island Road Trip

Road trips are the perfect way to explore new places and get to know a destination better. If you’re planning a road trip around Hawaii’s Big Island, explore the many scenic drives available. Some of the best includes drives through beautiful tropical forests, rolling hills, and rugged mountains.

Stopping at any of the local beaches or lookout points on the way will ensure you get breathtaking views. Make sure to download a free app for offline map viewing to keep track of your location while on your road trip.

 1.Mauna Loa Road Scenic Drive (Volcano Village)

Mauna Loa Road Scenic Drive (Volcano Village)

If you’re looking for a scenic drive that will take your breath away, the Mauna Loa Road is the way to go. The road winds through lush green fields and past picturesque farms before joining up with the Hualalai Valley Road, which takes you up to Halema’uma’u Crater and lava flows from Mount Kilauea Volcano.

For something completely different, try driving up Hualalai Valley Road – this scenic route offers great views of Halema’uma’u Crater and other volcanoes in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

2.Kapoho Kalapana Road Scenic Drive (Puna, Close To Hilo)

Kapoho Kalapana Road Scenic Drive (Puna, Close To Hilo)

If you’re in the mood for a scenic drive through lush valleys and volcanoes, Kapoho Kalapana road should be at the top of your list. This winding road leads you past secluded sugar plantations and lush valleys, making it one of the most popular drives in Hawaii.

Preparing for some steep inclines is advised, as this route can be tricky to navigate if your car needs to be better. Nevertheless, make sure to take it all in – this drive is worth a visit.

3.Pepe’ekeo (Onomea) Scenic Drive (Hilo)

Pepe'ekeo (Onomea) Scenic Drive (Hilo)

If you are visiting Hawaii’s Big Island, the Pepe’ekeo (Onomea) scenic drive is a must-do. It offers beautiful views of the Waianae Mountains and the Kona Coast, as well as some quaint villages and coffee plantations. The drive is about 90 minutes long and takes you through some amazing scenery – be sure to bring your camera.

4.Chain Of Craters Road (Volcano Village)

Chain Of Craters Road (Volcano Village)

The Chain of Craters road is worth considering if you’re ever on the Big Island of Hawaii and want to take a scenic drive. It’s a long, winding road that takes you past some beautiful lava formations, making it an epic sight for any car enthusiast. However, be warned: this route is not for the faint-hearted. The views are stunning, and driving at high speeds can be challenging. Make sure to stop by Volcano Village on your way – it’s well worth the visit.

5.Coffee Country (South Kona) Scenic Drive

Coffee Country (South Kona) Scenic Drive

Suppose you’re looking for a scenic drive that will take your breath away. Head to South Kona. Start your journey by taking the Waialeale Coffee Company scenic drive and explore the fertile valleys of Kaua’i before arriving in Waimea Canyon. Drive through the Hana Highway, one of Hawaii’s most popular tourist destinations, before returning home via Hanalei Bay. Check out Wailuku Valley for some world-renowned wineries on your way back.

6.Mauna Kea Observatory

Mauna Kea Observatory

Mauna Kea Observatory is one of the most popular destinations on Hawaii’s Big Island. It offers stunning views of the island and the Pacific Ocean and some of the best telescopes in the world. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a hike to the summit. Mauna Kea Observatory is one of the world’s most famous observatories, and its location is on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Every day, astronomers worldwide use Mauna Kea Observatory to study everything from planets to galaxies. And, with its clear skies and isolation from urban interference, it’s one of the best places to research.

7.Waipio Valley Lookout

Waipio Valley Lookout

If you’re looking for a scenic drive that is not too long, Waipio Valley Lookout should be your first choice. With its beautiful views of the valley and volcano, it’s no wonder thousands of tourists have visited this lookout over the years.

Be sure to take note of road conditions before departing, as there are many turns and bumps in the road. Additionally, ensure your car is in good condition, as climbing up to the lookout can be tiring. Refer to look out number 7 on Hawaii Route 129 when getting close so that you don’t get lost along the way.

How Many Miles Is It Around The Big Island Of Hawaii?

How Many Miles Is It Around The Big Island Of Hawaii

There are actually three big islands in Hawaii – Oahu (the main island), Kaua’i, and Moloka’i. The total distance around the Big Island of Hawaii is approximately 248 miles or 396 kilometers. This means that it would take approximately 11 hours to drive around the island.

One way to make the drive more enjoyable is to take advantage of the many scenic routes that crisscross the island. You can also explore some of the smaller islands by taking ferries or water taxis. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, try out one of Hawaii’s famous windsurfing spots.

If you’re interested in visiting the Big Island of Hawaii, a scenic drive is a way to go. There are many roads that wind their way around this island, and each offers its own unique sights and sounds. Make sure to take note of all the photo stops along the way – they will make your trip that much more special.

What Do I Pack For A Hawaii Road Trip?

When planning your road trip to Hawaii, make sure you take the time to think about what you’ll need. You want to avoid ending up stranded with any clothes or gear when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Take note of scenic drives that will be worth visiting, and pack enough food and drinks for the entire journey. Not to mention, make sure you’re prepared for tropical rainstorms as well – they can occur at any time.

And last but not least, know that unpredictable Hawaiian weather is always a possibility, so be prepared with all of your emergency supplies in case anything goes wrong. If you’re planning a road trip to Hawaii, here are a few essentials you’ll need:

  •  A driver’s license and vehicle registration from your home state
  •  Your passport
  •  Insurance for the car and yourself
  •  All the required paperwork for the destination, such as proof of residency or parking permits
  •  A map of the area
  •  A compass or GPS unit
  •  Cooler with food and drinks, plus a variety of snacks and bottled water

Where To Stay On The Big Island

Where To Stay On The Big Island

There are a lot of great places to stay on the Big Island, but one of the best is at Waikoloa Beach Resort. This resort has plenty of amenities for visitors, including an Olympic-sized pool, a spa, a tennis court, and much more. In addition to all this, it’s also located in one of the most picturesque areas on the island – meaning that you’ll always have plenty to do.

If you are looking for a hassle-free and relaxing vacation, the Big Island is definitely the place to be. From backpacker hostels to luxurious resorts, there are plenty of options available. Top destinations include Waimea Canyon and Hilo Bay.

While planning your trip, make sure to take advantage of the island’s scenic drives – like Waimea Canyon Road or Mauna Loa Drive – that will leave you awe-struck with their amazing views! And remember all the fun activities waiting for you in this tropical paradise.


After reading this blog, you will learn about the different scenic drives around the big island of Hawaii. You will also know about the different times it takes to drive around the island and the various scenic drives available. Overall, driving around Hawaii’s Big Island is a great experience. The roads are well-maintained, and the scenery is beautiful.

If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation, then this is the perfect place to go. However, be aware that there are some dangerous areas on the island – make sure you keep your eyes open while you’re driving.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take To Drive Around The Big Island Of Hawaii?

It takes around 8 hours to drive around the Big Island of Hawaii. The island is the largest and youngest of the Hawaiian Islands and has a total area of 377 square miles, making it slightly larger than New York State. However, some roads may take longer to traverse because of the hilly terrain.

How Far Is It To Drive Around Big Island?

Driving around the Big island is a great way to explore the different areas of the island. The distances are shorter than you may think, with most of the drives taking at most two hours. Some routes that you can take are the Hana Highway and Na Pali Coast Road. Make sure to go during off-peak times so that you can avoid traffic jams.

Do You Need 4WD On Big Island, Hawaii?

No, you do not need 4WD on Big Island Hawaii. You will be able to enjoy scenic drives by taking regular cars or even minibusses. The best time to visit Big Island Hawaii is during the dry season, as this is when the roads are less slippery, and there’s no rain.

How Many Days On Big Island Is Enough?

If you are looking for a scenic drive that is short enough, aim for 7 days. This will give you plenty of chances to explore all the different places on the Big Island in just seven days- from Hilo to Waimea Valley to Haleakala National Park. You’ll get plenty of chances to see beautiful landscapes and wildlife as well as enjoy great food and drinks while on your trip.

What Are The Best Driving Roads On The Big Island Of Hawaii?

There are a few of the best driving roads on the Big Island that you should take when visiting. The Hana Highway, which connects Kohala and eastern Hawaii, is one drive to consider. It’s a scenic road with great views of the volcanoes and valleys along the way.

Michael C. Herrera

I’m a travel blogger with a focus on safety. I’ve been to all seven continents, and I love sharing my tips for staying safe while traveling. I also have a lot of experience with travel hacking and finding the best deals on airfare and hotels. My blog features reviews of restaurants, hotels, and attractions around the world.

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