RE: Hilo to Hana
Just as an FYI: The Big Island is THE most underrated island in the Hawaiian chain.
There are flights from Hilo to Hana on small private carriers. Here's one I found:
The two most beautiful places I've seen on any of the five Hawaiian Islands I've explored are located at the very north shore of the Big Island. They are Waipi`o and Pololu Valleys. Although these two valleys are on the north shore and not located too far apart, you have a good drive around Mauna Kohala to see them both since the road does not cross on the ocean-side here. It's kind of like Kaua`i in that respect...just not quite as bad.
If you rent a 4WD SUV, you can drive down into Waipi`o Valley (I highly recommend it). The hike across the valley floor and up the opposing valley wall offers views that are spectacular! And, it is definitely the trail less travelled! Very few visitors will make the time or take the effort to even drive down into the valley...much less hike up the opposing valley wall. Be warned: you MUST have a 4WD to drive down! Otherwise, just enjoy the view from the Lookout (like most everybody else). If you like, there is a tour company that can give you a ride located here: http://www.topofwaipio.com/
Although we did not use their 4WD tours to access the valley, we did do their horseback ride to the top of Waipi`o. It was simply amazing.
The hike down to the blacksand beach at Pololu is spectacular as well. On our first time down here, we had the whole beach to ourselves.
The greensand beach is located at the very tip of the south end of the island...logically called South Point. If you drive from Hilo to to South Point, it is about 80 miles one way to get to the access road, then about another 12 miles to the beach. And many car rental companies forbid you to use their cars on that access road...it's specifically mentioned in the contracts we have had. So if you go and get into car trouble, do not call the rental company for help.
To really help you understand what I mean about the Big Island being underrated as a travel destination, I suggest you pick up the latest edition of "The Big Island Revealed" by Wizard Publications (www.wizardpub.com). Start reading about all the glorious places to see and you will soon realize that this island has more to offer than you have time to see.
I hope you have a great trip!
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