The Big Island of Hawaii is a great place to ride a bike. Warm weather and breathtaking scenery make seeing the Big Island by bicycle an event to remember. Here are a few popular routes.
Kailua Kona to Hawi- 50 miles one way This is the route of the Hawaii Ironman World Championship. There’s a good riding shoulder the entire way and whales to watch December through March. The section from the Waikoloa to Hawi can be windy. The Hwy from Kona to Kawaihae is notorious for flats from wire fragments off steel belted tires. These wires can be hard to find and remove. Some riders carry tweezers to help with removal.
NEW: Mamalahoa Bypass to Honaunau Post Office (38-mile roundtrip, 3,000' vertical) Starts from Kona Aquatic Center, uses Ali'i Drive to reach Keauhou, where you turn right at top of hill (instead of entering shopping center) and continue south as name changes from Ali'i Dr. to Mamalahoa Bypass. Series of climbs takes you to 1300' at end of Bypass (new signaled intersection). Turn right and drop down Napoopoo Road to stop sign at three-way intersection. Go straight on Middle Keei Road (instead of going right on Napoopoo) until next stop sign, turn right on Painted Church Road. At end of road, turn left and climb Keala O Keawe Road 1 mile to Honaunau Post Office, just before top of road on the left. Return same way (or for added mileage and climbing, drop all the way down into valley instead of turning right back onto Painted Church Road, then cross valley on Puuhonua Rd. and climb up Napoopoo Road from north end of valley).
Old Mamalahoa Hwy to Waipio Valley (20 miles one way) The easy way to find this ride for the first time is to drive to Tex Drive Inn on Hwy 19 in Honoka’a. Tex has good safe parking and excellent hot malasadas. Across Hwy 19 from Tex is the Old Mamaloa Hwy. A 4 mile 1,000’ climb takes you to rolling uplands with views of Mauna Kea and the Kohala Mts. Follow the Old Mamaloa Hwy another 6 miles to Mud Lane at it’s junction with Hwy 19. Return to Tex and go downhill into Honoka’a and follow Hwy 240 for 9 miles to the breathtaking Waipio Valley Overlook. This could be the best ride on the Big Island!
Kohala Mt. Road-13.7 miles, 2,960’ el. gain to SummitPick up the Kohala Mt. Rd. (Hwy 250) across from Island Short Stop on the Akoni Pule Hwy in Kapa’au. It climbs steadily with grades from 3% to 11% to the summit at an elevation of 3,500’. Great views and wonderful scenery and a fast downhill return ride! There is no shoulder on this ride, and it can be windy and wet. A bike mirror is helpful on the downhill run. Traffic is lightest Sunday mornings.
Kohala Mt. Road Loop Ride-50 miles, 4,500’ el gain. A great scenic climb and screaming downhill, start in Kawaihae, ride the Akoni Pule Hwy (Hwy 250) past Hawi to the Island Short Stop in Kapa’au. Kohala Mt. Rd. begins across the Hwy and climbs steadily with grades from 3% to 11% for 14 miles to the summit at an elevation of 3,500’. Descent 6 miles and 1,000’ to Waimea/Kamuela. Turn right on Kawiahae Rd (Hwy 19) and ride downhill 10 miles and 2,500’ back to Kawaihae. There is no shoulder on the Kohala Mt. Rd. and it can be windy and wet. The Kawaihae Rd Hwy 19 is heavily trafficked with little shoulder. This ride is safest on a Sunday morning.
Interval Hill Climb in Kona. Hulikoa Drive from Kona Mountain Coffee in the small Kohanaike Shopping Center to the top of the 1.1 mile hill is a good road for hill climb intervals. It is a dead end road with little traffic. The grade is 3% to 12% and elevation gain 325'.
1,000’ Hill Climb in Kona. Hina Lani St (aka the Costco Rd) is a solid climb with a safe riding shoulder most of the way. The grade varies from 3% to 12%. It is 2 miles and 500’ el. gain to the water storage tank, 3 miles and 900’ to Anini St. (the first intersection), and 3.5 miles and 1,000’ to the top at Mamalahoa Hwy.
3,100’ Hill Climb in Kona. Kaloko Drive is a serious climb on a mostly quiet road but some handling skills and compact chainrings are highly recommended. Starting just 2,000’ north of the top of the Hina Lani climb (above), the grade averages over 9% and kicks up to over 20% in places. It is 6.5 miles and 3100’ el. gain if you take the left turn at the intersection at the top and continue up until the road ends just below the antennas. (After the first curve try Hao St. as a challenging alternative, crossing Kaloko once then rejoining it when the two cross again; this is depicted on map.)