Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Big Island Scenic Drives
A road trip is one of the best ways to explore Big Island, Hawaii! The roads here are long and winding, with lush rainforests, beautiful beaches, and towering volcanoes awaiting around every curve. From diverse terrain to picturesque views, here are some of the very best Big Island scenic drives to add to your itinerary. Be sure to request access to our complimentary Big Island Vacation Guide for more great recommendations about things to see and do along the way!
Here Are the Best Big Island Scenic Drives
Mauna Loa Scenic Drive
How would you like to take a drive along the world’s largest volcano? This 34-mile round-trip drive will take you to Mauna Loa, the most massive volcano on Earth! The narrow, twisting road begins at Saddle Road and winds all the way up to the observatory. The drive will take you through lush forests, around colorful vegetation, and past lava flows. The road ends at the 11,141-foot elevation point, offering incredible views stretching as far as the eye can see. Make sure to bring your camera! You’ll find several photographic opportunities along the way.
Chain of Craters Road
Located at 5 Hawaii Volcano National Park, a drive along Chain of Craters Road is sure to be an experience you will never forget! The 18.8-mile one-way drive will take you past lava flows and many must-see viewing areas. Make sure to stop at the Lua Manu Crater, which was formed hundreds of years ago from lava draining below the Earth’s surface. Then, check out the Pauahi Crater, Mauna Ulu, and the beautiful Kealakomo Overlook. Near the end of the road, you will pass by the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs, which have been used in religious Hawaiian ceremonies for more than 500 years. If you have time, you can even take a stroll along this 1.5-mile lava walk and view the petroglyph images up close. Finally, end your journey at the Holei Sea Arch and enjoy breathtaking views of the ocean.
Hilo to Kona North Route
When it comes to scenic drives in Hawaii, Hilo to Kona North should absolutely be on your bucket list! This drive takes approximately three hours, so this is a perfect option for a day trip. The northern route winds through Waimea and the undisturbed Hamakua Coast, offering spectacular vistas of the ocean, deep valleys, and thundering waterfalls. Take your time and enjoy the ride. Then, make sure to stop and visit Akaka Falls. It is by far one of the prettiest Big Island hikes!
Four Mile Scenic Drive
Just as the name suggests, the Four Mile Scenic Drive offers a picturesque glimpse into Hawaii off the beaten path. Located north of Hilo off of Highway 19, this road is of the most beautiful Big Island scenic drives. Also named Old Mamalahoa Highway, it curves past bubbling streams, historic bridges, jungles, and Onomea Bay. If you have time, make sure to stop and explore the nearby Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden or Donkey Trail Hike!
How Long Does It Take to Drive Around the Big Island?
Many of our guests ask how long driving on the Big Island takes. The answer really depends on which route you choose. For example, if you take Highway 11 on Big Island South, the drive will be close to three hours. However, if you are traveling north on Big Island via Highway 19, it’s closer to a two-hour journey. Make sure to keep a Big Island map in your car to help plan out your drive.
Book Your Stay With Private Homes Hawaii
After a wonderful day exploring the best of Hawaii, end your journey at one of our luxurious Big Island vacation rentals! From intimate villas to spacious oceanfront homes, Private Homes Hawaii is sure to have the perfect lodging option for your stay. Each of our accommodations is near all of the best Big Island scenic drives, restaurants, and area attractions. With stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, Maluhia Hale at Hualalai would be an excellent option for your stay. No detail has been overlooked in this incredible home, which is privately situated on the 9th hole of Hualalai’s Jack Nicklaus golf course. Cook a delicious meal in your chef’s dream kitchen, take a dip in the heated infinity pool, or take advantage of the Four Seasons Hualalai Resort amenities. The possibilities are endless!
Are you ready to start planning your trip to Big Island? Browse all available properties and book your stay today! We can’t wait to welcome you to paradise.