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Aloha!

Joe here.  I thought I'd talk about rental car options in Kona a bit. 

I often see visitors on social media asking about car rental agencies in Kona, and Hawaii. Which rental car agencies are the best, the cheapest, etc. 

I thought I'd post some more common questions and things we see often to try and help you decide.

Disclaimer- I happen to like our service at Big Island Jeep Rental so I'm a little biased here ;)

Some common questions about car rental agencies -

Question- How far away is the resort from the car rental agencies? 

Answer- most "resorts" in Kona are actually at Waikaloa Beach area about 45 minutes north of the airport. We get calls and reservations all the time from folks staying at Hilton and other resorts in Waikaloa asking to change their reservations to pickup when they land as they had not realized the Waikaloa beach area is so far away. Imagine taking a $80 cab ride to your resort and then back to pickup your car the next day?!

 

Question- Do we need a rental car when we arrive at the Kona airport?

Answer- Yes, I'd say so. How much is your time worth while on vacation? We say grab your rental car when you arrive so you can wake up and do your thing in the morning. 

Question- How long are the waits at the Kona airport rental agencies?

Answer- Well, depends on who you ask, what time of year, what time of day, which agency, etc. 

I have heard stories about waiting in line for hours at some places. Kids screaming, no food, drinks, etc. I have also hear folks in and out in no time. Your mileage may vary. Some folks can roll right in, grab a car and go. While other have told us they spent 30 mins waiting for a shuttle, only to find another line at the on-airport corporate agencies (avis, budget, thrifty, enterprise, etc)

I decided to check for myself and follow a random on-airport shuttle to Avis. You can check that video here: How long is that shuttle ride at KOA airport

Question- Do rental car agencies sell out and overbook?

Answer- YES! they do! We hear from employees at the corp compmanies say they overbook by 20% just in case of cancellations. Who cancels a trip to hawaii?! not 20% of folks, that's fer sure.  

Question - Are there discounts available for rental cars in kona?

Answer-Yes there are but we don't like the discount sites. Just today, a lady at the Kona airport said she booked a car and when she showed up, they didn't have her car.

In this case, she booked a car at a big corp company in Waikaloa and the company there closed at 2PM and she had to cab  back to the KOA airport. 

Now in this case, this wasn't the fault of employee but the fault of the discount website that took her booking - we see this all the time. If it's a great deal, it's indeed too good to be true. Always book direct when you can. 

Question- Is peer to peer and private rentals a good option for a rental car in Hawaii?

Answer- My opinions are mixed with this.  Mostly because delivering cars at the airport is illegal. (yes, that's correct)

We do absolutely support local and refer folks to the peer to peer platforms all the time. The catch here is that if you get caught getting a peer sharing car at Kona airport, it's a hefty fine and penalty, Best to meet the person off airport if going that route

I can say I am an expert in this field as I was the top Turo host in the state until I got slapped with some tickets for dropping off at the airport. I thought I was allowed to since Turo lists KOA as a pickup location

While peer to peer car sharing is a pretty good option for some folks, do check your insurance coverages to see if it is allowed or not covered. .. and check the fine print to see if you have to clean the car yourself before you return.  

The popular peer sharing service does not let you take vehicles off pavement.

Question- Which is the best rental car agency in Kona?

Answer- BigIslandJeepRental.com of course! Here's why:

5 star rated for 7 years in a row now. source: Big Island Jeep Rental Google Reviews

Cool custom Jeeps and rental cars

We are just 5 minutes across the street from the airport , so no crazy airport concession fees and taxes. We are a fully licensed rental car agency. 

From start to finish, you can be off the plane and in your car or jeep full of pre-loaded beach gear (free BTW) and headed to the beach while other folks are still waiting for a shuttle at the airport. 

And did I mention we LOVE helping folks out with their trips? Beaches, hikes, restaurants, etc. we are your little island guides to help you with what we can while you are visiting us. 

Aloha and Mahalo,

-Joe

Joe Webster is a blog writer, Kona resident, local rental car agency owner, Jeep expert, and vacation travel guide in a Kailua-Kona Hawaii with 7 years of experience in the field

Car rentals in kona- some basic info questions and answers and tips

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