What’s Hawaii’s most scenic drive? Mauna Kea Saddle Road on Big Island of Hawai’i

30 01 2010

Hawai’i Nui means Great Hawai’i. The Hawaiian Islands are a great place to visit, from the Garden Island of Kaua’i to the Big Island of Hawai’i. This is the eighth post in a series of opinion pieces on the question, “What makes Hilo worth a special trip?”

Reason #8. Experience the most spectacular drive in Hawai’i, the journey from Hilo to Kailua-Kona over the Saddle Road.

It’s so important to enjoy life’s journey. In Hawai’i, we celebrate holo holo time, or journeys of exploration. Here is some inside scoop on what we consider one of the most adventurous journeys you can take.

While on the Big Island of Hawai’i, don’t miss the opportunity to take one of the most scenic drives in the world, the round trip from Kona to Hilo. In the morning, take the makai route, next to the ocean. In the evening, take the mauka route, over the Saddle Road, to see the sun set.

Time was, the Saddle Road was one of the most dangerous stretches of highway in the country. It has been improved significantly over the last few years. It’s not going to shake your car to pieces, like in the old days.

Getting a traffic ticket is probably the biggest danger in driving today’s Saddle Road.  Hawaii police use unmarked cars.  And the policemen are hunters.  They have a level of stealth that mainland people will find surprising.  If you are a lead foot, you will end up supporting the State of Hawaii to the tune of $140 or so before you know it.  So take my advice and JUST DON’T SPEED.

Even for local residents, the Saddle Road is still a thrill.

The mountain looks a little different every time because of the weather or the time of day. And every time I make that drive, there’s always a moment when the sheer beauty of the landscape gives me the chicken skin.

Beginning the descent down Mauna Kea, you can sometimes see the sun setting through a fog.

As you descend the mountain, the view of the sunset changes with your viewing angle and the atmospheric conditions.

Closer to sea level, you might see a spectacular double sunset effect like this one

Enjoy your visit to the Big Island of Hawai’i. We hope you will make time to visit the fairest little city in the Pacific.

Spectacular cloud formation seen from the Saddle Road on the Big Island of Hawai’i

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