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Rental cars on BI - saddle road and HPP

South Pole
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Rental cars on BI - saddle road and HPP

Hello-

We'll be on the Big Island for only 2 days (3 nights) in mid-April, and probably spending most of our time at VNP. We're looking at a VRBO listing in HPP. I see that some of the roads there are not paved, does this void the rental car contract?

Also, I'd like to do the Saddle road. Does anyone know which rental companies allow it? I'm looking at one of the big ones - Alamo, Enterprise, Budget, etc.

Thanks!

Island of Hawaii...
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1. Re: Rental cars on BI - saddle road and HPP

echolynch is our resident expert who tries to keep up to date on what the companies allow. I have read this question many times and never heard a definitive answer on allowing the Saddle -- perhaps because policies change.

HPP, that's an interesting question, because the cinder roads in HPP are not bad roads; they are level and not going to cause damage to the car other than lots of red dust. You should call the local number of your rental company and ask. Ask to talk to the manager, not just a desk clerk.

HPP has four paved roads that traverse mauka to makai, but there is only one mostly paved road going laterally, and that is Beach Road. Practically speaking, the only real risk you run of trouble on Kaloli Pt is car vandalism, unlike on the Saddle where the risk of car trouble or an accident is significant.

I cannot see why the rental agencies would care about HPP but one thing you can be sure of with these agencies -- no matter how much they joke about the off road deal when they rent it to you, if you have to file a claim it will not be the easygoing desk people but the insurance claims folks that you're dealing with, and their job is to save their company money -- which means enforcing any and all fine print that you agreed to in the contract.

You are right to be thinking cautiously about this, and I encourage you to get the straight scoop from the agency.

Big Island, Hawaii
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2. Re: Rental cars on BI - saddle road and HPP

My understanding is that none of the major rental car companies allow their rentals to traverse Saddle Road. In addition, since you're only going to be on the BI for two days, are planning to stay in HPP and want to spend most of your time at VNP, there would be no reason for you to drive the Saddle. It's way out of the way and kind of pointless.

Kansas City
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3. Re: Rental cars on BI - saddle road and HPP

I can only relate my experience. We stayed in a home on Paradise Ali on the coast and the road getting to this rental was asphalt and okay with Thrifty, who we rented through.

If you are spending most of you time at VNP, stay there. I don't recommend staying HPP if you want to spend most of your time in VNP, look at some of the wonderful rentals there. Pick one in the rainforest area, so peaceful and beautiful.

Why do you want to "do" Saddle Road?

Lexington, South...
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4. Re: Rental cars on BI - saddle road and HPP

I believe Alamo permits driving on the Hilo portion of the Saddle.

There was a thread a few weeks ago we discussed this in detail, including Harper's. You might want to take a look (some of it has nothing to do with rentals, but these specific posts do:

tripadvisor.com/…10267289

South Pole
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5. Re: Rental cars on BI - saddle road and HPP

Thanks for the info. JCD - I missed that topic despite lots of reading. I'll check it out.

I am interested in the road, even if it is out of the way, because I like to drive. I enjoyed the road to Hana immensely, even though I have seen some discouraging words about it, as I have about the Saddle road. Also liked Pikes Peak, etc. So I have some experience with mountain roads.

The place in HPP I am considering only due to price - trying to be frugal. Also see a place in Volcano which is reasonable as well, and may consider that. What is the problem with vandalism on Kaloli Pt? It looks pretty sparsely populated...

Washington DC...
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6. Re: Rental cars on BI - saddle road and HPP

I admire you for being prudent and checking out the rental car situation in advance. Especially if you are being financially prudent, it would blow your money saved if you had to pay for damages w/o insuarance or take a hit on your home car insuarance rate if that actually covered the damage.

Maybe you could call the rental companies on-island aand ask, also asking for a website or fax of the rental contract if they say it is "OK." Double check the fine print.

Island of Hawaii...
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7. Re: Rental cars on BI - saddle road and HPP

KK, while your reasoning is logical, as far as the rent-a-car companies are concerned "off the paved road" includes the cinder roads of HPP as well as any unpaved roads of all the other subdivisions. (Info is from my neighbor who works for one of the rent-a-car companies.)

Island of Hawaii...
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8. Re: Rental cars on BI - saddle road and HPP

>>>What is the problem with vandalism on Kaloli Pt? It looks pretty sparsely populated...

probably no problem if your car is parked inside a gate.

HPP is a subdivision where the parts near the ocean are getting built with high end housing, but the subdivision has long had a problem with theft, with a certain element on the lookout for "pickings."

I don't say this to worry you. Just be vigilant the way you would be at home. Don't leave your car at any trailheads there; there is always broken glass on the ground at those. This is NOT a dangerous area and I would not have personal safety fears; it's all about property crime.

The Saddle Road isn't hard to drive for a good driver; the problem is in sharing a road where people drive down the center line because the outer halves of the lanes are full of big potholes.

There are a lot of hills where you can't see the oncoming and there are STUPID drivers who don't know better than to pull back into the lane when they go over a rise, believe it or not.

It's a very badly engineered road; it wasn't what you would call engineered or built to be for general use, unlike the Hana Highway. This is the stretch between Mauna Kea turnoff and Waikoloa. One of these years it will all be new highway, but not yet. It's definitely better than it used to be though.

Island of Hawaii...
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9. Re: Rental cars on BI - saddle road and HPP

>>KK, while your reasoning is logical, as far as the rent-a-car companies are concerned "off the paved road" includes the cinder roads of HPP as well as any unpaved roads of all the other subdivisions.

Thanks TT, I thought that might be the case, because the HPP roads certainly meet the definition of unpaved.

mrob, did the asphalt road go all the way to your place on Ala Kai? I seem to remember it ending at Beach and Paradise. (Beach Rd is paved between Paradise and Kaloli)

Kansas City
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10. Re: Rental cars on BI - saddle road and HPP

I knew renting in Puna, heck even Hilo area was to come under question on TA. I was happy to learn my rental was paved (what we in the midwest call asphalt) and seemed to be a very safe oceanfront neighborhood. I wonder about the intrusion families around our rental might feel. Hopefully, they respect others as much as I respect them.