Four 4WD Off-Road Locations: Big Island of Hawaii
The Jeep Wrangler is a popular and very practical vehicle for any of the Hawaiian islands, including the Big Island. With the top off, drivers can enjoy the year-round beautiful weather and easily take their surfboards in and out of the car. The Wrangler’s four-wheel-drive also makes it a safe choice when driving on Big Island’s rainy coast, Hilo. But most importantly, the Wrangler’s four-wheel-drive is an essential feature to be able to explore the stunning views, nature and geography of Big Island from top to bottom.
Here are four locations in Hawaii you can only get to with four-wheel-drive — just don’t tell the locals we’re telling Haoles about them!
Mauna Kea is a 14,000 ft. dormant volcano located near the center of the Big Island. Due to its height, the summit of Mauna Kea is a very sacred place to native Hawaiians and it is also an amazing location for star-gazing. Located near the top of the volcano is Mauna Kea Science Reserve, one of the world’s best astronomical viewing observatories that is equipped with 13 high-powered telescopes. Located above the clouds and on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the observatory has very little light pollution, both of which make the observatory one of the world’s best places for viewing and photographing the night sky. The visitor center, located at 9,200 feet, is open 365-days a year and is accessible with 2-wheel drive vehicles, but visiting the summit requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle due to steep roads and the icy, winter-like conditions.
Green Sands Beach
Green Sands Beach is a must-do when visiting the Big Island because it is gorgeous and it is one of the most unique beaches in the world, but it is one of the lesser known locations. Yes, the beach literally has green sand, and it is a beach located in a cove, which gives the beach a fun and big wave break. In contrast to the green sands, the beach’s waters are a brilliant, bright turquoise.
Getting to Green Sands can be tricky because there is no road, the route is only a maze of roughly-carved out trenches. Though there aren’t organized tours of the area, there are a couple trucks located around South Point that charge a fee to take visitors to and from the beach. Hiking to the beach is possible but be prepared — it is 2.5 miles each way.
Close to Green Sands Beach is South Point, the southernmost point of the United States. The views of the water are beautiful and there is a 50’ cliff jump called, End of the World. Do it!
Does the photo above look familiar? Scenes of Jurassic Park were filmed at Waipio Valley. Beautiful views of Waipio Valley can be seen from the scenic viewing point, but making the journey into the valley really adds to the experience. Those who make the drive down to the valley get a view of all of the valley’s many waterfalls and can get to the valley’s remote rocky beach. There are several roads along the road are very steep and some are only wide-enough for one car, so it is very important for driver’s be aware of oncoming traffic. Those who hike, need to be ready for a challenging journey back to the top.
Mauna Loa is another volcano on Hawaii and based on mass and volume, it is widely considered the biggest volcano on the planet. There is another observatory, the Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO), located at the summit of Mauna Loa. The MLO is a research facility that has been continuously monitoring and collecting data related to atmospheric change ‘50’s. The undisturbed air, remote location, and minimal influences of vegetation and human activity make it ideal for monitoring constituents in the atmosphere that can cause climate change. Whether hiking or driving to the top of Mauna Loa, visitors need to use caution as they are both challenging.
Photo credit and copyright: Steve Yancar
Want to read up on more locations and states where you can have a great off-road experience. Check out the other articles we have written for our monthly series! If you go off-roading, don’t forget to tell your #MyJeepStory with Jeep and with us!
Four 4WD Off-Road Locations: North Carolina
Four 4WD Off-Road Locations: Utah
Four 4WD Off-Road Locations: Arizona
Four 4WD Off-Road Locations: Costa Rica
Four 4WD Off-Road Locations: Southern California
Four 4WD Off-Road Locations: Colorado, Part 1
Four 4WD Off-Road Locations: Colorado, Part 2