There are public transportation, shuttle services and taxi on the Big Island; however the best way to explore the island is to rent a car.
Bus and shuttle are available in most towns. The Big Island's public transportation, Hele-On, runs the main route between Hilo and Kailua-Kona once a day in each direction, and several routes to Volcano, Pahoa and Waikoloa two or three times a day. Fares range from $2.25 -- $5.35 each way depending on the route.
The Speedi Shuttle in Kailua Kona runs from the airport to most major hotel on the Kona Coast. Fares range from $15 to $62 depending on the distance of the hotels. A taxi ride will cost about $12 to $15 more than shuttle service.
Kailua Kona also has the Ali’i Shuttle. This shuttle only services the Ali’i Drive in Kailua Kona. Fare is $2 each way.
If you'd like to kick back and leave all the worries to someone else, hook up with a tour group. The tour group we saw more often on the island is Robert's Hawaii Tours.
If you decided to drive, make sure to fill your car up before driving a long distance. The gas stations are fairly far apart. Gasoline price is much higher in Hawaii than on the mainland. A gallon of regular unleaded was about $2.23 on the Kona Coast and $2.12 in Hilo early July. The roads are in good condition and rarely congested. The main roads are generally two-lane, narrow with no shoulder. If you are lost, don’t be alarmed (unless you are low on gas) keep on driving and you will eventually find civilization again. Do not hesitate to stop and ask for help, the Kamaaina (local) are friendly and always happy to help. The maps found in the Big Island activities magazines are good driving sources.
Distance/Driving Time between destinations:
· Kona International Airport is about 9 miles north of Kailua-Kona;, 35-minute drive from the northern Kona Coast; 20 minutes from Keauhou; and 10 minutes from Kailua-Kona. The only available route is Hwy 19.
· Hilo International Airport is about two miles from the major hotels on Banyan Drive.
· Kona to Hilo via Hwy 11 (southern route) is about 2.75 hours (125 miles)
· Kona to Hilo via Hwy 19 (northern route through Waimea and down the Hamakua Coast) is about 2 hours (100 miles). The alternate choice is Hwy 190 from Kona to Hilo; this route is about 30 minutes less driving then via Hwy 19.
· Kona to Volcanoes National Park via Hwy 11 is about 2 hours
· Hilo to Volcanoes National Park, via Hwy 11, is bout 45 minutes to 1 hour