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Rainbow Car Rentals

Big Island Hawaii Car Rentals

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The Most Affordable Car Rental Agency on The Big Island of Hawaii

Rainbow Car Rentals is located on The Big Island of Hawaii. Our car rental agency offers the best prices out of all the companies on the island. To find out why — read this blog post!

The Most Competitive Prices on The Big Island

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First, Rainbow Car Rentals is a competitive car rental agency. We will give you the best rates on The Big Island of Hawaii. But we don’t only offer just affordable rates, we offer a Low-Cost Guarantee too.

If you get a car rental quote from another company on the island — we’ll beat it. Plus, we will also give you a 5% discount on top of the competitor’s price. You won’t find a more affordable car rental agency anywhere else.

Listed below are the weekly rates. Be sure to check our About page for up-to-date pricing and updates.

Economy Cars

$280 – $525 per week

Basic Cars

$330 – $525 per week

Vans

$380 – $700 per week

Moreover, we offer daily and monthly rates as well. The longer you plan to stay on the island and rent a vehicle, the more affordable the rates get. So, if you’re visiting long-term, talk to us about renting by the month for a great deal.

We also have car insurance available to you for $25 per day, so you know you’ll be safe!

Reasonable Drop Off and Pick Up Delivery Fees

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Second, Rainbow Car Rentals is a unique car rental agency. Unlike many other businesses, we offer to deliver your rental vehicle. We’ll go straight to where you are on the island for a very reasonable price.

This service will save you a lot of time and effort getting the rental vehicle and also taking it back to the office in Hilo. Listed below are the delivery fees.

Kona Drop Off

$75

Kona Drop Off and Pick Up

$150

So, don’t worry about getting your rental vehicle in Hilo if you’re flying into Kona Side. Simply reserve your dates via our online form and select your Drop Off and Pick Up preferences. We will handle the rest.

If you have any questions about our Drop Off and Pick Up service, be free to inquire by emailing us at reservations@carinhawaii.com

Same Rates for Everyone

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Third, Rainbow Car Rentals is a fair car rental agency. We will treat you like family. At our business, all of our customers are respected the same. Whether you are a local or a tourist, you are sure to get the same prices and the same service.

In the end, our business has extremely competitive prices, great service options, and good loyal business ethics. So, what are you waiting for? Plan your trip to visit The Big Island of Hawaii! Next, book your rental vehicle from Rainbow Car Rentals online for your special trip.

If you live on the island, be free to give us a call to schedule an appointment at the Hilo office or book online for your special journey too.

We look forward to seeing you soon. Aloha!

Contact Us Today

Phone

1-808-430-1711

Email

reservations@carinhawaii.com

Office (Appointment Only)

159 Kekuanaoa Street

Hilo, Hawaii 96720

What To Do When It’s Raining With Rainbow Car Rentals At Your Service

It rains a lot on The Big Island of Hawaii, so take your vehicle from our car rental services to these places in Kailua-Kona to stay protected from the rain and to have fun.

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Rainbow Car Rentals is a car rental service that wants you to have fun when the weather isn’t sunny. Here are five outdoorsy things that you can do with your car rental when you’re on The Big Island of Hawaii and it’s raining.

  1. Kanaloa Octopus Farm

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Address: 73-970 Makako Bay Dr. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740

Phone Number: 808-747-6895

Website: www.kanaloaoctopus.com

Kanaloa Octopus Farm also known as the “Cephalopod Aquaculture Research Center” is a state-of-the-art facility. The staff there are researching green biotechnologies to produce aquatic food in sustainable ways. Simply put, the team there is focused on sustainability in the aquatic farming of marine animals. To learn more in person, book a tour with them online via their website linked above. They have three tours per day that last one hour each.

  1. Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm

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Address: 73-4388 Ilikai Place Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740

Phone Number: 808-329-6840

Website: www.seahorse.com

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm offers Seahorse Tours of their aqua-farm that is “inspiring ocean awareness by saving endangered species.” This popular activity has been recognized for over two decades for its excellence. On the tour, you’ll get to hold a seahorse and learn from naturalists and biologists who have completed professional training in ocean conservation. Visit their website to book a tour as well as donate to the Seahorse Hawaii Foundation.

  1. The Vanillerie

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Address: 73-4301 Laui Street Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740

Phone Number: 808-331-8535

Website: www.thevanillerie.com

The Vanillerie is a small hand-grown vanilla farm. The owners, Guy and Jeannie Cellier, invite everyone to “taste, tour, and treasure” their beautiful space and offerings. On the tour, you’ll see the vanilla plants as well as their beautiful retail section. In the store, you can purchase vanilla-infused beauty and food products. Indulge in the wonderful aromatic experience that the vanilla bean provides. Visit their website to book a tour today!

  1. Coffee Farms

coffee plants

Coffee Farms are an excellent option when it comes to doing something in the rain. Many plantations have tours that include tastings on the land where the coffee beans grow. This magical experience can happen at one farm or you can book visits to multiple farms — depending on how much you love coffee. Check out this blog post to see a “BIG LIST OF KONA COFFEE TOURS AND TASTINGS ON THE BIG ISLAND”.

  1. Mokuaikaua Church

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Mokuaikaua Church (circa 1820) Kailua-Kona” by brewbooks is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Address: 75-5713 Alii Drive Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740

Phone Numbers:

  • Office: 808-329-0655

  • Sunday Worship Info: 808-329-1589

Website: www.mokuaikaua.com

Mokuaikaua Church is Hawaii’s first Christian Church that was opened in the 19th century or in 1820 exactly. The congregation is the birthplace of Christianity on the island. Visit the building on Sundays at 9 AM or 11 AM in their open-air activity center. Further, the organization contributes to the “economic health of Kailua-Kona” and has many service programs to benefit the locals and more. You can help to preserve Mokuaikaua by donating here.

Map It Out

Yes, there are many beautiful beaches and forests on The Big Island of Hawaii, but there are also many awesome places to visit too. In this blog post, you learned about five places to check out in Kailua-Kona with your favorite car rental services from Rainbow Car Rentals. When you have a safe vehicle to travel in, your journey in Hawaii will be a breeze. We want that for you. And we hope you have great adventures. Aloha.

Contact Us Today

Phone

1-808-430-1711

Email

reservations@carinhawaii.com

Office (Appointment Only)

159 Kekuanaoa Street

Hilo, Hawaii 96720

Citations

  1. https://www.hotels.com/go/usa/things-to-do-rains-hawaii-big-island

Your Rental Car Hire’s Favorite Local Hawaiian Restaurants in Hilo

Visit three excellent local Hawaiian eateries in Hilo with your favorite local rental car hire — Rainbow Car Rentals.

Google Reviews in this blog post were captured on February 18, 2021.

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Hawaiian Style Cafe Hilo

4.5 out of 2,485 Google reviews

Hawaiian Style Cafe in Hilo is a classic spot to dine at. The local joint offers amazing starters like kalua pork nachos — regular and BBQ. Other offerings include favorites like kalua cabbage, poi, lomi, and saimin. What’s great is that they have a very affordable Keiki (kids) Menu as well. This restaurant is comfy and casual, so drop by and dine-in when you’re in Hilo-Town. The flavors are truly authentic and savory.

Cafe 100

4.3 out of 1,614 Google reviews

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Image from https://cafe100.com/the-loco-moco/

  • Hours: Monday to Friday 7 AM – 7 PM

  • Phone Number: (808) 935-8683

  • Address: 969 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, Hawaii 96720

  • Services: Take-Out, Some tables outside

  • Website: https://cafe100.com/

Cafe 100 has been cooking for a long time. The establishment has been open since 1946. There you will find the most original loco mocos. So, a loco moco is a traditional rice dish. It is topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg, and gravy. They offer more than 30 varieties of them there. It’s the most home-style and comfortable local restaurant on the island. Visit this location for an old-school tastebud satisfying experience

Kuhio Grille – Home of the Famous 1 lb. Laulau

4.4 out of 828 Google reviews

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  • Hours: Daily 9 AM – 7:30 PM

  • Phone Number: (808) 959-2336

  • Address: 80 Pauahi St, Hilo, Hawaii 96720

  • Services: Dine-In, Curbside Pickup, No-Contact Delivery

  • Website: https://www.kuhiogrille.com/

Kuhio Grille is a well-known establishment because of its Famous One Pound Laulau as well as its Japanese roots. There is a location on The Big Island of Hawaii in Hilo and on The Island of Honolulu. That’s how good it is. Enjoy dishes like tempura and udon alongside local Hawaiian cuisine. Other offerings include Breakfast Combos, fried rice, in-house hotcakes, and more. Plus, they have unique dessert offerings that change with the times.

Visit Local Restaurants with Car Hire Services from Rainbow Car Rentals

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At Rainbow Car Rentals, we want our customers to know where the best local spots to eat are. We’ve listed three of the top places to eat in Hilo-Town in this blog post. Luckily, our company has an office in Hilo. So, if you pick up your rental vehicle at our office, it would be a great time to visit one of these excellent local restaurants. Since our car hire services are for visitors and locals alike — we’re sure everyone will enjoy the tasty cuisine of the well-established eateries mentioned above. Aloha.

Contact Us Today

Phone

808-430-1711

Office (Appointment Only)

159 Kekuanaoa Street

Hilo, Hawaii 96720

The Best Beaches to Visit in Hilo on The Big Island of Hawaii

Take your booked rental car from Rainbow Car Rentals to visit these awesome beaches in Hilo. We have license for rental!

Google Reviews in this blog post were captured on November 12, 2021.

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When you’re in the process of booking a rental car for your trip to visit The Big Island of Hawaii, come to Rainbow Car Rentals. We are the most affordable local car rental and we have a license for rental!

After booking your rental car and getting to the island, make sure that you visit these beaches in Hilo, Hawaii. Our office is located in the heart of Hilo-town, so you have quick access to all of these beautiful oceanfront spots.

Below you will find a list of the best beaches in Hilo, Hawaii starting with the top rated one on Google. Mahalo.

Carlsmith Beach Park

  • Google Rating: 4.7 out of 1.630 Google reviews

  • Hours: 7 AM to 8 PM

  • Address: 1815 Kalanianaole St, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

  • Activities: swim, snorkel, sea turtle-watch, picnic

The Carlsmith Beach Park has beautiful shallow waters where you can catch sight of sea turtles swimming. Enter the waters in the area with easy stone stairs and arm rails. The beach does not have big waves. They are mellow. This tropical area is a place to see. So, take your best rental car to this beach during your trip!

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Wai’olena Beach Park

  • Google Rating: 4.7 out of 100 Google reviews

  • Hours: 6 AM to 8:30 PM

  • Address: Kalanianaole St, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

  • Activities: walk, run, swim, sea turtle-watch, picnic (tables)

The Wai’olena Beach Park is a quiet beach area with more walking grounds compared to other beaches in the area. There are also picnic tables to enjoy a meal with a group of friends. Swim in the shallow waters and visit the sea turtles as well. Don’t forget to visit this park after booking your rental car.

Keaukaha Beach Park

  • Google Rating: 4.7 out of 323 Google reviews

  • Hours: 6 AM to 9 PM

  • Address: 27 Apapane Rd, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

  • Activities: walk, run, swim, sea-turtle watch, picnic (blanket)

The Keaukaha Beach Park is a perfect place to bring children, toys, and a blanket for a picnic. There are large grassy fields alongside the shoreline. Hang out in the sun and lounge in the grass all day. Remember, we have license for rental. Book your rental car today!

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Richardson Ocean Park

  • Google Rating: 4.6 out of 1.690 Google reviews

  • Hours: 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM

  • Address: 2355 Kalanianaole St, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

  • Activities: swim, snorkel, sea-turtle watch, picnic, hammock

The Richardson Ocean Park is a well-known spot for snorkeling. The area has different levels of waters to swim in, so it’s great location to bring kids or adults. The black sand beach provides lovely soft tides to enjoy the waters. Plus, there are grassy field and palm trees to relax and pitch a hammock. This spot is an easy visit from Rainbow Car Rental’s office in Hilo.

Onekahakaha Beach Park

  • Google Rating: 4.6 out of 975 Google reviews

  • Hours: 7 AM to 9 PM

  • Address: 74 Onekahakaha Rd, Hilo, HI 96720, United States

  • Activities: swim, kayak, outdoor play equipment, explore tide pools, sea turtle-watch, picnic (tables)

The Onekahakaha Beach Park has large swimming areas and a life guard station. Walk along the sidewalk and find many different tide pools to explore. Search for interesting sea creatures and find turtles as well. Be sure to pack a lunch and enjoy some shade. After you pick up you best rental car ever, go and enjoy this beach park.

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“Coconut Island” by Hitchster is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Coconut Island

  • Google Rating: 4.5 out of 64 Google reviews

  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

  • Address: 77 Keliipio Pl, Hilo HI 96720

  • Activities: swim, jump off dive towers, outdoor play equipment, picnic (tables & blankets)

Coconut Island is a very fun secluded area. It’s the perfect place to stop and hangout when you’re in Hilo. Take a quick jump off of one of the two diving platforms into the water. Enjoy the grassy fields. And don’t forget to stroll the Lili’uokalani Japanese Gardens when you’re there! This area has easy parking for your best rental car from Rainbow Car Rentals.

This list does not include all of the amazing beaches that you can visit in Hilo, Hawaii. However, they are the best rated. We hope that you have a chance to visit them all.

Before you come to Hawaii, book your best rental car from us — Rainbow Car Rentals. We have the most affordable prices. So come and drive the streets like a local and explore. Aloha.

Why Rainbow Car Rentals is the Best Local Car Hire on The Big Island

Rainbow Car Rentals provides the best rental car service in Hawaii. Get the greatest local car hire rates on the island. We have availability!!

Local Rental Car Rates for Tourists

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Rainbow Car Rentals on The Big Island provides the best prices for everyone — locals and tourists. If you live on the island, you will get the best deals. If you are visiting from another place, you will get the best deals.

The reason why we are the best local car hire on The Big Island of Hawaii is that we offer a Low-Price Guarantee. If you receive a direct quote from a car rental company that is more affordable than our costs, we will match it, and offer 5% off on top of it!

Moreover, we have weekly and long-term rates available. So, if you are looking to visit the island for more than two weeks — we can cover you. The longer you plan to stay the more affordable the rates get. Schedule a reservation today!

We Have Availability!!

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Throughout the year we have availability. However, make sure to call as soon as possible during the peak seasons. We try our best to make sure that we have vehicles for everyone. It is always recommended to give us a call to chat about what we have available for you on the lot.

Another reason why we are the best rental car company in Hawaii is that we have a diverse selection of vehicles. Rainbow Car Rentals has vans, 4×4’s, and older and newer cars available for you to rent.

Plus, our cars are economical, so you won’t have to worry about sticking out like a sore thumb while you’re traveling on the island. Give yourself a local style when you drive the cars that we offer. And as always, our vehicles are extremely safe.

Unbeatable Service

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As the best local car hire company, we strive to have the finest service around. We offer to deliver and pick up your rental vehicle, even as far as Kona from Hilo with a reasonable fee. Right after you land on the island, we can have your car ready for you.

Not only do we offer delivery and pick-up, but we also provide car insurance if you don’t have any. It’s extremely affordable. It is highly suggested that you have personal insurance to cover you, but we understand that sometimes that isn’t available. So, ask us how to get you covered!

We want you to have fun during your travels around the island. Whether you are a local or a tourist, you deserve to experience the magic of Aloha in Hawaii. Breathe the fresh air and know that we have your back with safety, reliability, and comfort.

Finally, we have availability!! If you need a vehicle — contact us. We are the best local car hire service. We understand the challenges of going through big companies when it comes to getting your needs met. Support local businesses instead, so that we can treat you like family.

Easy Navigation to Five Must Visit Destinations from Our Office in Hilo

Tour five top attractions on the Big Island with the best local car hire service — Rainbow Car Rentals. We have an office in Hilo!

After you pick up your rental car from our office in Hilo, you’ll have to visit the beautiful outdoor spots around town. However, there are many other attractions aside from the lovely beaches, waterfalls, and forests.

Here are five top attractions around the northeastern side of the Big Island. Explore these destinations with the best local car hire service. To start our list…

  1. ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

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“‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai’i – Hilo” by brewbooks is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

This destination is a part of the University of Hawaii at Hilo. It’s located on nine acres of the campus’s Science and Technology Park. The headquarters conducts extraordinary astronomical research on top of the dormant volcano, Maunakea.

Moreover, the exhibition center combines astronomy with native Hawaiian culture. Out of all the information shared it also includes the natural history of the volcano. At the center, organizations help to teach the community’s kindergarten to 12th graders. Locals and visitors can dive into the education on the scientific growth of the island and universe too.

The drive to the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center from our office in Hilo is only six minutes. Be sure to make arrangements by visiting their website for tickets beforehand.

  1. Scenic Drive On The Hamakua Coast

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“Hamakua Coast, Hawaii” by stevecadman is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The scenic Hamakua Coast is worth a day-long road trip. Start your morning in Downtown Hilo near our office where you can pick up your rental car. Afterward, make your way up the coast to catch sights of marvelous outdoor landscapes. Starting just north of Hilo, you will be able to find breathtaking scenery.

Greet Hawaii’s gorgeous waterfalls, beaches, forests, and farms. Tour the exotic plants at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden or World Botanical Gardens. Stop and visit small towns such as the Historic Honokaa Town for a deeply local experience. Breathe in the tropical air and Aloha. Then finally, end your journeys at the Waipio Valley Lookout draped in rich Hawaiian culture and history.

Driving the Hamakua Coast is a noteworthy experience. It’s one of the main reasons to reserve a rental car.

  1. Downtown Hilo

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“Aloha & Welcome to downtown Hilo” by daveynin is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Near to where we have an office in Hilo, Hawaii’s largest small town welcomes you. Scattered with local gift shops, the most popular Hilo Farmers Market, and many eateries — this area will be a highlight of your stay. Find your Aloha attire and souvenirs. Visit museums and elegant art galleries. Tour the produce-packed tables at the farmers market.

All your visitor essentials get made whole in Downtown Hilo. It’s the essential place to buy postcards and locally crafted gifts for family and friends. After walking around the town, stop by a restaurant to grab fresh cuisine. Enjoy fruity drinks such as a smoothie held in a pineapple. Or cool off with a locally brewed beer on tap. Don’t forget to try out the local style dishes and desserts too.

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“Downtown Hilo (DSC_4514)” by thtbln is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

  1. Farmers Markets

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“Hilo farmer’s market” by Randy Stewart is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Hours:

    • Daily from 7 AM to 3 PM

    • Big Market: Wednesdays & Saturdays

  • Admission: Free

  • Address: Corner of Kamehameha Ave. and Mamo St. Hilo, HI 96720

There are about seven farmers markets near Downtown Hilo. The most popular one is the Hilo Farmers Market. Surprisingly, it turns into an even bigger market on Wednesdays and Saturdays known as “Big Market.” More vendors come to sell goods on those days, which is a sight to see.

At the market, you’ll find produce such as various strains of delicious bananas and mangos. Of course, you’ll have the essentials such as lettuce, tomatoes, and avocados. But might you try the longan, jackfruit, papaya, and other exotics for a true taste of Hawaii? Plus, there are a bunch of unique veggies to select from too.

Not only will you find fruits and vegetables, but vendors prepare awesome specialty food items too. Prepare yourself for delicate seafood delights, coconut desserts, fruit jellies, and more. Further, artwork and flowers are available to purchase as well. If you are staying on this side of the island, the Hilo Farmers Market is definitely a place to stop by more than once.

We have our office in Hilo, so you can cruise over to the market after you pick up your car to grab some food. It’s only four minutes away!

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“Hilo Farmer’s Market” by brewbooks is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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“0709C02 Farmer’s Market” by syntheticaperture is licensed under CC BY 2.0

  1. Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm & Factory

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“Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm and Factory” by ohsarahrose is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Finally, our last destination is the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm & Factory. Sadly, this spot is temporarily closed during COVID-19. When it reopens you will be able to tour its facilities. Until then, you can find the company’s classic chocolate-covered macadamia nuts all around the Big Island.

Visit their website for more information on their product offerings.

Map Of Our Top Five Destinations In Hilo

Click the words above to view a map of all the destinations listed in this blog post.

Before you arrive in Hawaii, make sure to reserve a rental car from us so you can visit these places. You are also welcome to visit us in person, as we have an office in Downtown Hilo.

When you’re exploring the island, remember to pack water and a light rain jacket or umbrella. Then take a drive in Hilo and most definitely along the coast. Visit cool sites. At Rainbow Car Rentals, we want you to have a good time.

Advice from a past visitor client on Hawaii Car Rentals

Hawaii Car Rental

Hawaii is the 50th state of the United States of America, is widely known as an Island holiday paradise. This status has been built on the state’s amazing islands, panoramic beaches as well as all sort of activities on offers for tourists and guests. Some of the important things to see on the islands in Hawaii are The Big Island, Hilo, Pahoa, Kona and Volcano. Hawaii not just pulls visitors from the rest of the American states but from all corners of the world. Hawaiian vacations are also very popular because of the easy availability of Hawaii car rentals in the state.

What are the Benefits of Car Renting in Hawaii?

The guided tourist and guide tours are somewhat hectic. Because these are package tours, you’ll be shown only chosen places and also for a small span of time. You can shun away from this when you rent a car of your own. You could take a map of the interesting places and visit them one by one at your own pace.

What are the Kinds of Cars Available in Hawaii?

Hawaii car rentals providers have many kinds of cars that range from the ordinary ones to the luxurious models. Visiting a place abundant in natural beauty it can annoying and incomplete with no proper car. You can select from luxury sedans, sports car, SUVs as well as prowlers.

Book Hawaii Car Rentals in Advance

It’s always advisable and preferable to book a Hawaii car rental service in advance. This avoids any confusion after reaching the place. When you have planned to rent a car after reaching this place, it could be annoying and troublesome. Because it will be a new place for you, it will take you time to look for trustworthy and reliable car Rental Company. Hawaii is a hot tourist destination. It’s always packed with tourists. A lot of guests and visitors want to enjoy the place in rented cars. High demands of these during the peak times reduce supply. Visitors who make the booking ahead of time are provided first preference. Booking ahead of time is also cost efficient. If you want to book a car then and there, the car rental company may charge some addition amount. So, in order to avoid these issues, you have to book in advance.

Where to Hire Car in Hawaii?

There are lots of hire rental companies that offer this kind of service, but http://www.rainbowcarrentals.com is the best one. Their aim is to give personalized service for a cheap rate for a Hawaii car rental. Customer service staff are available all the time to answer your queries and help with the issues you might encounter whether it concerns car rental accommodations or general information. Visitors can contact this company through live chat or through calling customer hotline number at 808 936 6347_.

Rainbow Car Rentals is one of the best car rental company in Hawaii that offer a very reasonable rate. There are wide selections of car to choose from. Whats more, they also offer discounts when you book in advance.



Why You Need a Car Rental When you Vacation on Big Island, Hawaii

There are many places in the world you can travel without needing a rental car to get you around. In some of these places, you can easily hop into a nearby rickshaw, tuk-tuk, jeepney, tram, or light-rail to bring you to your destination. However, the Big Island is not one of these places. Public transportation is not widespread, and taxis and Uber are expensive compared to the price of renting a car.

If you are planning to see the sites of the island, a rental car is a must! The Big Island is really a BIG island, and takes around 5 hours to drive around the island, and different attraction sites can be at a far distance from one another.

So, what kind of rental car is the best? Should you rent a 4×4? 

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The short answer is no. You can get by just fine with a regular economy car. A 4×4 would allow you to drive down to Green Sand Beach, Wai’pio valley, and the top of Mauna Kea, however, most rental car companies do not allow their cars to be taken on these roads, and if you get caught, can get fined heavily. You can park at the head of the trail to Green Sand Beach and hike in to the beach (around 2 miles). You can book a sunset or sunrise tour to visit the top of Mauna Kea (15k feet!). You can also hike down into Wai’pio Valley. However, 4×4’s are convenient for driving down to beaches and into little dirt road pullouts along the shore.

One thing to consider, for the more adventurous, is the possibility of renting a van and then camping out of it instead of staying in a hotel room. There are plenty of spots to car camp on the Big Island and you can shower and use the facilities at beach park restrooms. CarinHawaii.com and Rainbowcarrentals.com can rent out camping gear along with a van rental.

Why You Should Check out Puna on your Big Island Hawaii Trip

7 Reasons To Check Out Puna on your Big Island, Hawaii Vacation

Puna Coastline
Puna Coastline

The following blog post is a guest post from Megan Chingari over at her travel blog wanderfullylost.com.

When people visit the Big Island, they typically spend most of their time in Kona, where all the swanky resorts and powdery-white sand beaches are. There’s certainly nothing wrong with getting fancy and kicking back in luxury if that’s your style, but, if you’re the type of person who wants to experience some of the “real”  Hawaii on your Big Island vacation, you must check out Puna! I can understand why Puna (which is a large district located in the south-eastern side of the island) is hastily overlooked by many tourists who don’t know any better: There are no white sand beaches or hotels, no major touristy attractions. So, what is there to do or see? Why should you go there? Well, let me tell you my 7 favorite activities in Puna!

1. The drive down Red Road. This 15 mile road is one of the most scenic roads on the island. The road follows along the shoreline, at times snaking through thick jungle where you can find giant mango, coconut, native hala, and noni trees. You will have many opportunities to enjoy scenic overlooks and places to explore (like Mackenzie beach park, which has lava tubes and steam vents), and it is also the route to lots of other key attractions. It was when I was driving on this road for my very first time, watching the sun reflecting off of the rolling waves, when I spontaneously decided I would be moving to the Big Island. This drive does that to people!

The Red Road begins where highway 132 meets highway 137 (AKA the four corners). Coming from Pahoa, take highway 132 until you reach the Four Corners intersection, then take a right. You are now on the official “Red Road” drive.

Red Road (photo credit punacoast.hubpages.com)
Red Road (photo credit punacoast.hubpages.com)
Native Hala Trees (AKA Tourist Pineapple, because tourists frequently mistake the weird fruits that grow on them as pineapples)
Native Hala Trees (AKA Tourist Pineapple, because tourists frequently mistake the weird fruits that grow on them as pineapples)
  • 2. Kehena Black Sand Beach!  Striking black sand, steep jungle cliffs draped with ancient-looking vines,  possibilities of swimming with friendly dolphins, and oh yeah– all the naked hippies, combine to make Kehena a beach like none other. Every Sunday, Kehena beach transforms into a party and drum circle. If you’re into it, I suggest getting butt naked and dancing in the center of the drum circle. It’s really fun. Not really into the “hippie scene?” That’s okay, you can just observe the action, or, come on a weekday when there are less people. Swimming at Kehena can be a bit sketchy, so please be a strong swimmer if you decide to go in. There have been deaths almost every year of people who swim out too far and then get pulled away by the current and drown. Friendly dolphins are known to come close to the shore, so it is possible to swim with them.

mikes 

  • 3. Ahalanui Hot Pond. Ahh, the hot pond. My favoritePuna has the only natural hot springs in all of Hawaii, and while there are several smaller hot springs to soak in nearby, this one is the best. It’s right on the shore, so you can enjoy the ocean vibes while swimming in the warm water of the hot pond. Often, curious little fish will come nibble at you (it doesn’t hurt, just tickles). Want to know a secret? The best time to come to the hot pond is at night, preferably when it’s a full moon. It’s technically closed at night…but, well, that doesn’t deter locals from enjoying it then.  At night its less crowded and it’s just awesome in general to be swimming in a warm, relaxing pool with the moonlight bouncing off the waves and palm trees.  Don’t tell anyone  I told you ;).

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  • 4. Uncle Robert’s Night Market. Located at the end of the Red Road on Hawaiian Homeland property, Uncle Robert’s night market is the happenin’ place to be on a Wednesday night. Arrive before it gets dark and take a stroll on the lava field trail to the black sand beach. At the market, you’ll find a tempting array of local foods, live music, a kava bar, and, naturally, a welcome center for space aliens (really). Get euphoric on some kava and talk story with the new friends you will be sure to meet. This market is a favorite activity for locals, and those lucky tourists who stumble upon it will certainly regard it as one of the highlights of their Big Island trip. Every Wednesday night starting around 5pm.
Uncle Robert's Night Market (Hawaii Tribune Herald photo credit)
Uncle Robert’s Night Market (Hawaii Tribune Herald photo credit)
  • 5. Maku’u Farmer’s Market. While the Hilo Farmer’s Market was recently ranked the #1 best farmer’s market in the U.S., locals know that Maku’u Farmer’s Market is even better.  It’s less touristy than Hilo Farmer’s Market and has a wider variety of vendors. It’s a big social event for the community. You can find all sorts of interesting local-made crafts, affordable tropical produce, and delicious food options. I highly recommend trying the green papaya salad from the small stand near the stage. As a green papaya salad connoisseur, I can attest that they sell the best green papaya salad in existence. If you’re feeling adventurous, stop by the smoothie stand and treat yourself to a Durian smoothie (smelliest fruit in the world). When: Sundays from 7am-2pm. Where: Right off Highway 130, several miles north of Pahoa. You can’t miss it.
    Maku'u Market (photo credit noelmarala.com)
    Maku’u Market (photo credit noelmarala.com)
  • 6. Snorkeling at Kapoho Tidepools  Kapoho tidepools is one of the best snorkeling spots in all of Hawaii. You will see hundreds of tropical reef fish and impressive coral formations. Often, snorkelers can spot giant sea turtles or eels. Bring a beach chair or towel to sit on, because the shore is lava and kind of uncomfortable to sit on.
Kapoho Tide pools from above (Photo credit Pahoaonline.com)
  • 7. Pahoa!  Pahoa is an eclectic little town full of colorful characters (such as the “chicken man”, who is always riding his bike around with his pet chickens on the handlebars) and great restaurants. In 2014, it  almost  won the title of “Coolest Small Town in the U.S.A.” from Budget Travels. Just recently, Pahoa made international news as a lava flow crept dangerously close, threatening to destroy the town and block access to the rest of the island. After months of stressful uncertainty, the lava decided to stop just several hundreds of feet from the town’s main shopping center (whewWell, it did take out one house and a road). Driving down Pahoa Village Road, you will notice some of the power line poles wrapped in gravel and cement. This was an experiment done in anticipation of the impending lava in an attempt protect the town’s power grid. I recommend having dinner at either Kaleo’s or Ning’s Thai (both in downtown). Kaleo’s serves excellent island fusion-type cuisine (the Kalbi ribs and coconut shrimp are my favorite!). Ning’s is a great option if you are in the mood for some Thai food (try the pineapple curry). For breakfast/coffee, check out the Tin Shack Bakery, or Black Rock Cafe.
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The Chicken Man of Pahoa

Downtown Pahoa

Anticipating the lava
Anticipating the lava
Smoke rising from fire caused by the Lava flow, behind Malama Market in Pahoa
Smoke rising from fire caused by the Lava flow, behind Malama Market in Pahoa

These are my favorite things about Puna. Did I leave anything out (I totally did! These are just my top seven! There’s a lot more to do, such as Lava Tree Park, Pohoiki, Mermaid Ponds, Shipman Beach hike, Green Lake, and the giant arch)

Tips:

  •   Where to stay?  There are no hotels in Puna, but there are many vacation rentals and some hostels. Check out airbnb.com. or flipkey.com.
  • If you only have one day to spend in Puna, I would suggest going on either a Wednesday or  a Sunday, so you can hit up either the Maku’u or Uncle Robert’s markets.
  • Be aware that there are not gas stations in lower Puna besides the three in Pahoa. Before heading to the Red Road, make sure you have enough gas.
  • Don’t lather yourself in sunscreen and then go swimming in the hot pond or tide pools. Sunscreen kills coral and is dangerous to ocean life. Plus, no one wants to swim around in smelly, oily sunscreen floating on the surface.
  • If you buy salad greens from the market, make sure to wash them well and check them thoroughly for slugs. Rat-lungworm parasite is found on the slime of slugs and can be deadly.
  • It rains a lot on this side of the island. Just go with it, and bring an umbrella or rain gear if you don’t want to get wet.
  • Bring sturdy shoes for walking over old lava flows or rocky shorelines.
  • Enjoy yourself! Go with the flow!

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