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Exploring the Outer Islands

Hawaii's Outer Islands include the Big Island, Maui, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe.  Those most suited to tourism are the Big Island, Maui and Kauai.  Niihau and Kahoolawe are closed to the public.

Getting Around

A number of hostels operate cheap tours of their island’s popular natural sites and attractions. Public transport outside Oahu is limited and unreliable. You may want to consider car rental, hostel shuttles and tours.

Hawaii (Big Island)  
There are two major airports on the Big Island. Hilo Airport, 3 miles from downtown Hilo, and Keahole Airport, 9 miles north of Kailua-Kona. There is no public transport or shuttle service from either airport. Taxi and car rental are available. However, the hostels do offer pick-ups for free or a nominal charge.
Hele-On-Bus (Big Island)   Bus service a few times a day, Mon to Sat, in Kailua-Kona and Hilo. Free.

Kahului Airport is 4 miles from Wailuku, 20 miles from Lahaina. Shuttles and taxis to Lahaina and Wailuku are available.

Lihue Airport is 2 miles from Lihue, 8 miles from Kapaa. Hostel pick-up available for small fee.
Kauai Bus   Services most of the Kauai coast from Kekaha to Hanalei. Costs $1.50. (808) 241-6410

Vehicle Rentals   A great way to see Hawaii, whether you want a scenic cruise, a 4WD adventure or just to get around. Ask your hostel for special deals with local rental companies. In Waikiki, get there early in the morning to get the best prices and availability. Pick up the free Drive magazine for driving maps.
Harpers Trucks & Rentals   456 Kalanianiole Street., Hilo Big Island (808) 969-1478

Hostel Locations on the Outer Islands

Maui   Wailuku & Lahaina
Kauai   Kapaa
Big Island   Hilo, Volcano, Kailua-Kona, Kurtistown

Money Saving Tips

Pick up discount coupon books available for tours, transport and food

Adventure Activities

Plenty of opportunities for adventure activities exist on the Outer Islands, including: Hiking, Zodiac boat rides, sky diving, surfing, diving, horseback riding, helicopter rides, wind surfing, jet skiing, etc.

UFO Adventures  
Parasail, whale and dolphin watching. Big Island, Kauai, Oahu, Maui. (808) 876-7777

The Big Island

The Big Island is home to America’s only active volcanoes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Big Island is also famous for its Kona Coffee and beautiful black to white sand beaches. The Visitor Bureau is located at 250 Keawe St., Hilo (808) 961-5797 and 65-1158 Mamalahoa Hwy, Suite 27B, Kamuela, HI (808) 885-1655

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Located 30 miles from Hilo and 95 miles from Kailua-Kona. The volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa, are both active with Kilauea churning out over 100,000 cubic yards of lava per day. The Big Island is still growing! Not to be missed. Kilauea’s summit reaches 4,000 feet, so be prepared for unpredictable weather conditions. Call (808) 985-6000 for weather forecasts. The park is open 24 hrs, year round. The Kilauea Visitor Center is open 7:45am to 5pm daily. A 7 day permit costs $10/car or $5/person. Eruption updates can be obtained by calling the main number. (808) 985-6000.  Without getting in a helicopter, the best view of the lava flow is at the end of Chain of Craters Road, ideally after sunset. There are plenty of hiking and walking trails. The Kilauea Iki Trail crosses the Kilauea Iki Crater, where sulfur smoke rises from the crater floor and ends at the Thurston Lava Tube parking area. From there you can hike to the Thurston lava tube.
Arnott’s Hiking Adventures   Hiking tours of Volcanoes Nat’l Park/Big Island. (808) 969-7097
Kipuka Tours   4WD tours of waterfalls, caves and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. (808) 961-5082

Kona Coffee Country
Brought to the Big Island in 1829 by a missionary, Kona coffee is now world renown. The coffee growing region stretches for 25 miles along the Kona coast, starting just south of Kailua-Kona. Make sure you buy 100% Kona coffee for the true Kona experience. A blend only requires 10% Kona coffee beans.
Greenwell Coffee Farm   Free tours of coffee farm and processing. Kealakekua (808) 323-2295

South Point (Ka Lae)  
This is the southern most point of the US. Take South Point Rd. to the parking lot. Enjoy the view or jump into the water from the rocks.

Waipio Valley
A lush green valley great for hiking and sightseeing. You can hike to the Waipio lookout, across the floor of the valley and to the black sand of Waipio Beach.

Ocean Safaris - Half day kayak/snorkel safaris of lagoons and sea caves. (808) 326-4699
Mauna Kea Summit Adventures - Sunset/stargazing eco-tours. (808) 322-2366


The Maui Visitors Bureau is located in Wailuku at 1727 Wili Pa Loop. (808) 244-3530

Haleakala Crater
Largest dormant volcano in the world at just over 10,000 ft and 38 miles to the summit. 1.5 hour drive from Wailuku. A 7 day park permit is $10/car. The Park Headquarters are located a mile past the entrance at an elevation of 7,000 ft and open daily. The Haleakala Visitor Center is near the summit at 9,745 ft. At the summit, enjoy spectacular views of Maui and other Hawaiian Islands. Try a mountain bike tour down the Haleakala Crater and through the countryside.
Polynesian Hospitality Maui   Offers sunrise tours of Haleakala. (808) 524-2868
Haleakala Bike Co.   (808) 575-9575

Capt. Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watching - Year-round whale watching tours. (888) 942-5376
Ultimate Rafting - Rafting eco-tours, snorkeling, whale watching. (808) 667-5678


The Visitors Bureau is located at 4334 Rice St. (808) 245-3971.

Na Pali Valley & Coast
15 mile stretch of coast with waterfalls and rugged cliffs climbing as high as 4,000 feet. Hiking is available but can be very strenuous. Try the Kalalau Trail, an all day, 11 mile hike which provides views of the Na Pali Coast, waterfalls and ancient Hawaiian ruins. Camping is also available with permits. Great place to finally splurge for that helicopter ride.
South Sea Tours   Offer tours of waterfalls and the Na Pali coast, including helicopter rides. (808) 245-2222

Kilauea Point Nat’l Wildlife Refuge
Thousands of bird and animal species - dolphins, seals, sea birds. Open daily, 10am to 4pm. Costs $5. (808) 828-0384

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