Hilo, Hawaii

Ronald Epstein
Let me begin by saying the two best Islands on this trip were the Big Island of Hawaii as well as Maui. We found the experiences here to be the most enjoyable. The biggest tip I can give all of you is to opt to rent a car on these two islands rather than do the overly priced excursions. Sure, the excursions are great for convenience as well as getting background information on all the sights -- but they are just terribly overpriced when you consider the profit that RCCL is making on them. Rent a car. Furthermore, arrange it in advance. Most importantly -- DO NOT use Budget car rental. We had an awful experience with them after they promised we would be picked up by a Van to the rental facility on Hilo and then told on the day we arrived that no such service was available. We used ALAMO. We also van pickups for NATIONAL, DOLLAR and AVIS and HERTZ. An economy car cost us $35 (plus another approx. $20 for prepaid gas + $10 taxes) for the day. We had a blast driving around the Island and found EVERYTHING that the excursions were attending. Furthermore, the roads in HILO and KONA (Route #19) are so very easy to drive on. Traffic is minimal and often you feel like you own the road. What to do? When in HILO be sure to visit the Volcano National Park and take a walk through the Lava Tunnel and then on to the Kilauea volcano. Now, I'll admit we took the EXCURSION and were not disappointed. You really do need to hear the history of this area so the excursion is your best bet. However during our day in KONA we rented a car from Alamo and then headed SOUTH on Route #19 to the other side of the Island. A 2-hour drive on Route #19 will bring you to the Akaka Falls State Park gorgeous waterfalls that you MUST see! It's a really nice walk to take and the view is outstanding. Best of all, it's FREE just like most everything on the Islands as they are all State or National parks. As I stated, this is a great 2-hour drive from Kona airport car rental. Stay on Route #19 and you can't get lost. The drive around the winding roadways of the three major gulches are worth the trip alone.             

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