Having grown up in a day and age when taking candy or rides from strangers was a huge no-no, hitch hiking never showed up on our radar as a way to get anywhere.
Since we’ve started to network in travel circles though, we are discovering that hitch hiking in Hawaii on the Big Island provides for relatively easy (and inexpensive) passage, and most certainly some interesting stories. I remember meeting a fellow who hitch hiked from the USA to South America, and like many others, he said that he wouldn’t trade the experience in for the world but in the same breath he wouldn’t recommend anybody else try it!
So when we arrived in Hawaii and were told by friends that hitch hiking is not only commonly accepted but one of the few viable ways to get around for somebody who doesn’t have a car (and believe it or not there are many people out here who fall into that category), we figured we’d have to dip our toes in this new world.
This post was originally published in 2007. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
Having ridden our bikes a mile out to the highway and stashed (and locked) them in the trees off the road another half a mile down the road, we crept out of the bushes when no cars were coming and started walking. When traffic came our way we stuck our thumbs out and smiled hopefully. The second vehicle to come by stopped for us! We jumped into the back of the pick-up truck, and our first hitch hiking adventure into Pahoa was a success.
Our second outing was just as successful, and although we had to walk a few miles first and accept two different rides (because the first wasn’t going far enough), we made it home in one piece.
On other occasions we weren’t as lucky. We have been known to walk for miles, finally catch a ride part of the way, and walk for miles looking for another ride to take us further. One day we missed the afternoon chores because it took us over two hours to return home from Pahoa (from which a direct trip should only take about half an hour door to door). The trick we have learned is to allow extra time to get anywhere when hitch hiking, because you never know when the right ride or no ride at all will come along.
We’ve met some really interesting individuals, including traveling Canadians, many people from Alaska, farm-steaders who have been here since the 60’s, and surfing Mexicans. (It seems that 90% of the people here in Hawaii come from somewhere else.) But some of the best rides we’ve caught have been from people with pick-up trucks, where we can climb in the back and ride freely with the wind in our hair, we don’t have to bother with small talk, and we can enjoy the towering trees through Lava Tree State Monument Park.
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