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Saddle Road

Oregon
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332 posts
87 reviews
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Saddle Road

In all my previous trips to the Big Island, I've been advised to not drive the Saddle Road, or even "forbidden" by rental car companies to do so. Now I'm hearing that it has been improved and it's OK to drive. Would appreciate some up-to-date info on this. We Have a basic little rental car, and would definitely only be driving during daylight hours.

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
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36,669 posts
4 reviews
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1. Re: Saddle Road

You can drive the Saddle in any car. The only question is whether your rental agency allows you to drive it. You need to talk to their local number and get that answer, in writing is best. Latest news is it still varies from company to company.

It has been hugely improved. There is still an old section between Pohakuloa and Hwy 190, but even it has been resurfaced and has had some gravel fill to make the shoulder less treacherous. Just pay attention in that part, especially in the yield right of way situations.

The greatest danger now may be the speed traps. Cops are giving out $130 and up tickets to those who drive fast on the new section (which is really easy to do!).

San Carlos...
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1,530 posts
8 reviews
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2. Re: Saddle Road

We drove it last year and it was just fine. The first few miles have a few blind spots where there are humps in the road so take your time. Once you get on the improved area it might be the best highway on the island now.... I highly recommend going west to east in the morning hours and coming back up the Hamakua coast and through Waimea. Beautiful scenery everywhere.

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
36,669 posts
4 reviews
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3. Re: Saddle Road

Interesting. I much prefer Hamakua going east because there is so much more ocean view than the other direction, and it is downhill from Waimea all the way.

I prefer the Saddle going west. The roller coaster part isn't as severe and one can avoid that long descent of curves into Hilo. I'd rather drive up that portion than down.

Also, Hamakua has better light in the morning. I don't care for driving it late afternoon and arriving in foggy dusk on the way up from Honoka'a -- even though the sun is still up on the west side and on the Saddle.