"The Saddle Road" Island Tours Tip by diver-x
Island Tours, Kailua-Kona: 10 reviews and 14 photos
Your rental car company will tell you that your insurance is void if you take your car on the Saddle Road. As our guidebook told us, this regulation is completely outdated. There is no reason that you shouldn't be able to drive the Saddle Road. It's completely paved and they're working to improve it and widen it even more at this writing. There are a couple of oddly banked curves, but nothing to really worry about. And you certainly don't need 4 wheel drive. Any car can make the trip.
Why would you want to drive the Saddle Road? There is some really great scenery! Driving from Kailua-Kona, you'll see Mauna Kea on your left and Mauna Loa on your right. The Saddle Road rides the "saddle" between the two giants. And if you want to go to the top of Mauna Kea where the observatories are then you have to use the Saddle Road to get to the Summit Road. Also there is a great lava tube off this road, which is a really fun adventure getting to and exploring it.
Yes, we took our rental car, flouting our contract. We had no problems whatsoever and didn't see any potential problems on the road. We also took the car up Mauna Kea Summit Road. We did have 4 wheel drive and I would recommend it for the summit only for the drive down because of the lower gears available. You need to be in very low gear driving down the mountain so you don't wear your breaks out. You can take a 2 wheel drive car on the summit road up to the rest station at 9000 feet with no problems.
Directions: The Saddle Road begins on the Kailua-Kona side of the island near Waimea on Rt 190 and heads toward the Hilo side of the island.
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