By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Kona?

Do you need a car in Kona > Should you rent a car in Kona USA > Kona ( KOA )

Do you need a car in Kona? Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

The vast majority of tourist resorts on Hawaii Island (aka Big Island) are around Kona, rather than near the administrative centre of Hilo, and Kona is also where the majority of flights to Big Island arrive.

Why should you rent a car in Kona?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Kona?

Kona Car hire summary

Overall drive rating



Cheapest rate for one week




How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?





Free parking score

Total 252 - of which 69 have free parking. [full notes - parking]



  • Big Island, big roads – a hire car gives you the freedom to explore without being tied to a tour schedule.
  • Very poor public transport (transit buses).
  • Buses are easier to use if starting in Hilo, rather than Kona.

Why not? Visiting Kona without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Kona public transport quick facts

Train score



Water travel score


Overall public transport score


Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)


  • Despite the spectacular scenery, there is only really one circuit around the island.
  • A rental car could be an expensive option if it is only used for 1-2 days.
  • Plenty of guided tours are available, especially for Volcanoes National Park.

Big Island Hawaii Buses

The bus system on Hawaii Island is the sort of setup that is going to take any visitor a little bit of time to get used to, because routes are divided into different sectors in a circular pattern around the island. This means that longer journeys might need to be broken down into several different stages, rather than the more conventional pattern of major bus routes between cities being fed by more local routes. The buses are organised in a way that makes it possible, for example, to visit Volcanoes National Park in a day trip from Hilo, but not from Kona.

Naturally, it’s also possible to visit Volcanoes National Park as part of some sort of organised trip, but as with any such service, you will be travelling on their terms not yours. Yet of course there’s far more to Hawaii Island than just its most famous attraction, and again, even though this “big” island only has a relatively small number of roads, you can still cover some serious distance in a day, so a rental car is the best way to do it justice.

Given that the main resorts in Kona tend to be reasonably close to the airport, you might want to consider renting a car for a short period, perhaps a day or two, and then using local buses and taxis in resort.

Do you need a car in Kona? Yes!


Car rental in - Kona Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Kona?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.

Is it worth hiring a car in Kona?

Based on value for money

Should you rent a car in Kona?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Kona if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?


Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Kona if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?


What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Kona if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?



Final score:


Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Would you hire a car in Kona?

Have you driven in Kona? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Kona?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
Category: USA

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