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Old 09-17-2012, 03:09 AM
 
Location: Hilo, not Key West, despite what lying stalkers post
1,392 posts, read 1,379,715 times
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After reading so many posts about mythical rental car company contracts banning people from driving on Saddle Road, I feel compelled to share our experience from today.

We started the trek from Hilo driving my used 2WD car with anticipation and butterflies in our stomachs. Spouse wanted to drive it, so I got to really see all of the crazily beautiful terrain while he kept his eyes on the road.

OK, we drove through some clouds/fog, and there are some twists and turns, but geez...what a BEAUTIFUL road, paved flat as glass all except for the last 5-ish miles before Kona and even those were nicer than the nicest USVI roads we're used to. A little bumpy and gravelly but nothing dangerous.

Bottom line, it has apparently been modernized a lot in recent times. We probably will never drive it at night, due to its lack of facilities, but it's a beautiful, smooth road with reflectors embedded in it.

We rented a car our first week on Big Island and they didn't tell us not to drive on Saddle Road. Not that we asked, but it was not mentioned.

I don't doubt that until recently, perhaps this route was scary as heck, but I'm posting this to state that as of September 16, 2012, it's a pretty typical rural mountain route with smooth-as-glass pavement.

It was comforting to see the modern call boxes along the road as well.

It's not for everyone, if you don't like clouds/fog, remoteness, and twisties, you may want to skip it but if you've successfully driven N. Carolina/Tennessee/etc., Saddle Road is a piece o' cake.

Last edited by HiloDiver; 09-17-2012 at 03:23 AM..
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Old 09-17-2012, 02:05 PM
 
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It is not a myth. The fact is rental car companies have prohibited travel on Saddle Road! FACT!!!!!!!

However, that roas has been undergoing MAJOR improvements for years. From the 2 lane (really only one as the road shoulders have crumbled in may paces to only 1 lane, if that) to the potholes that swallows mini-vans, the road WAS a heaping mess to the untrained and un famiiar tourist and newcommers.

If reading a post from 10+ years ago, yep rental car companies said No Saddle Road. Even 5 years ago, many restricted travel ony to the hilo to the look out road. The restrictions moved with the construction.

Today, I don;t think any have any prohabitions because of the improvements, but that doesn;t mean it was a myth. It was a fact for a long time.
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Old 09-17-2012, 02:11 PM
 
Location: Hilo, not Key West, despite what lying stalkers post
1,392 posts, read 1,379,715 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PacificFlights View Post
It is not a myth. The fact is rental car companies have prohibited travel on Saddle Road! FACT!!!!!!!
I didn't say they never prohibited it. I never said the road never sucked. However, people are still currently telling others that rental cars are prohibited. I am not reading old posts, I've been reading current ones. We rented from Budget and from Avis last month and they did not prohibit it. The reason for my post is to update information since people are still handing out old info.
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Old 09-17-2012, 02:19 PM
 
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But it's still not a MYTH!!!!!!!!!!!

There was no "mythical" rental car contract ban, it was a FACT!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 09-17-2012, 02:24 PM
 
Location: Volcano
12,766 posts, read 10,814,722 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiloDiver View Post
After reading so many posts about mythical rental car company contracts banning people from driving on Saddle Road, I feel compelled to share our experience from today.
Fact is, the car rental restrictions on using Saddle Road were only dropped about a year ago. And they were in place for so long that they're still embedded deeply in lots of people's minds and mentioned in many blogs and websites.

And to that point, I was checking a car rental aggregation site only a couple of weeks ago to see if I could sniff out any special bargains for visiting friends, and was surprised to see the Saddle Road prohibition language still being quoted in their terms and conditions. I have no doubt that if my friends booked through that site the actual car rental company contract terms would prevail, but it was still odd to see it in print after so long.

Anyway, yes the main stretch is much more wonderful now, and the projects to realign the approaches from both ends will make it even nicer.

Last edited by OpenD; 09-17-2012 at 02:39 PM..
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Old 09-17-2012, 04:54 PM
 
Location: Hilo, not Key West, despite what lying stalkers post
1,392 posts, read 1,379,715 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenD View Post
And they were in place for so long that they're still embedded deeply in lots of people's minds and mentioned in many blogs and websites.
Exactly. Which is why I shared current information.
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:04 PM
 
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It's also possible that the car rental companies are changing at a different rate. One company might have already taken the restriction off, and a different company might not have considered the change in the road, yet.

It sure sounds like it is well worth taking the drive.
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:42 PM
 
Location: Hilo, not Key West, despite what lying stalkers post
1,392 posts, read 1,379,715 times
Reputation: 658
It's really possible that they haven't caught up with making changes on their websites.

It sure is worth taking the drive, it was breathtaking! Spouse drove very carefully, but a friend of ours says he drives the whole thing doing about 75 MPH and makes it in an hour. Now that's just NUTS!!!!!

The day before, we took the mountain road route, 250, from Waimea to Hawi. It was a LOT scarier!!! But also incredibly beautiful.

We are enjoying our day trips exploring Big Island. What a totally wild, beautiful place. WOW!
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Old 09-17-2012, 07:52 PM
 
4,919 posts, read 10,661,719 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oregonwoodsmoke View Post
It's also possible that the car rental companies are changing at a different rate. One company might have already taken the restriction off, and a different company might not have considered the change in the road, yet.

It sure sounds like it is well worth taking the drive.
It's a fantastic driveespecially when weather conditions allows for unobstructed sight as you head down from the mountains towards hilo. It's a trip worth taking just for the ability to essentialy go from the lush rain forest, up to the mars surface and back to the desert.

The reson many rentals may still have the saddle road restrictin is for 4 reasons.
1. Until the entire lenght iscompleted paved and offciial, they just leave the restrictuon in place. Years ago when only the east end was completed, restrictions were lifted and they still had the bad mishaps along the west end that prompted some to bring back the restrictions
2. Some have to consider the "services" on Saddle road. With the enw road its not that bad but getting a tow truck up to you can be expensive. So some continue the restrictions because they don;t want to deal with the cost of coming and getting you.
3. You have some maniac that drive saddle road and many tourist turn into maniac when they drive it.
4. they have not updated the info they have posted somewhere even though its no longer the practice.
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Old 09-17-2012, 10:15 PM
 
1,730 posts, read 1,531,957 times
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It is easy enough for a customer who is renting a car on the Big Island to ask the representative at the counter if they are allowed to utilize Saddle Road. And the info could also be obtained ahead of time with a phone call to the Hilo/Kona rental station, in case a renter needs to "shop around" before arriving.

"Posts about mythical rental car company contracts" would more accurately be "posts with outdated car rental contract info". As PacificFlights pointed out, the postings about restrictions were not based on "myth".


Yes, the road is greatly improved. Last time I traveled it, the Waikoloa end was still somewhat of a beater though, and I don't know if they've fixed it (even temp) yet. I do know someone who recently got a speeding ticket on the tempting-to-speed fancy smooth straight section. (Not me!)
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