Hilo Airport Car Rental

Hilo International Airport Background…

In 1927 Hawaii, which wasn’t yet a state, authorized a twenty-five thousand dollar landing strip to be paved in Hilo. The area was cleared by inmates of a nearby prison and by 1929 regularly scheduled inter-island flights began flying to and from the airstrip. The airport ran smoothly with little to no expansions or improvements until 1937, then half a million dollars worth of expansions occurred from 1937 to 1942. After Pearl Harbor was bombed, all airports in Hawaii were taken over by the United States military as the territory came under martial law and Hilo Airport became General Lyman Field.

The airport was given back to the Hawaiian Territory in 1946. A new terminal was built in 1952, marking a new age of expansion for the airport. In 1958 the airport expanded its runway to enable overseas flights and by 1971 Boeing 747s were running regular international trans-Pacific flights. Today the airport services over one million passengers and is considered one of the top five major Hawaiian airports.

Hilo International Airport Car Rentals…

There are seven on-site car rental agencies and two off-site companies that can be reached via free shuttle services. The seven on-site companies are Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, and Thrifty. The two off-site agencies are Enterprise and Harper’s, a local rental company on the island. The on-site car rental counters can be found right across the street from the Baggage Claim area of the main terminal. Just as you walk out of the terminal, the open-air car rental counters will be the first thing that you see.  Vehicles are situated just behind them – within a few meters.

Enterprise car and Harpers Car and Truck Rental offer off-site locations as well.  But considering the distance between the airport and each of these companies, we’re not sure that marginal cost savings would be worth the effort.  In almost every case, we would recommend one of the on-site car rental companies.

Hilo Airport Car Rental Counters Outside.....
Source: Google Street View
Airport to Hilo Downtown Directions…

Hilo International Airport is located on the largest of all the Hawaiian Islands. You’re essentially in Hilo once you land at the airport, but to make it official you’ll want to exit the airport via Airport Dr, turn right onto Kanoelehua Ave, follow the road around until you can make a left onto Pauahi St, turn right onto Kilauea Ave, and then left onto Hualalai St. The island is full of forest reserves that make up large chunks of the land. State roads and highways basically circle the entire island and cut through the middle to allow quick access across. There are tons of small towns around the island, although most people visit to feel the serene calm atmosphere that Hawaii is famous for.

You’ll have to take Country Road 11/Kanoelehua Ave to get back to the airport eventually. While coming from the North, or Bayfront Highway, the best gas station options exist there.  Don’t wait until you get really close to the airport, as the only option is going past the airport and then reversing back.  Multiple gas stations are sitting on Bayfront (sometimes referred to as Kamehameha Ave).  If you’re coming in from the South, there is a Minit Stop gas station just before getting to the airport road.

Either way, the actual returning of the vehicle cuoldn’t be simpler.  Simply follow the signs back to the car rental surface park in front of the terminal.  Little blue signs will direct you to the exact left-hand turn into the rental car parking area – just before getting to the terminal.  It is very, very simple.

Hilo main street

Other Airport Amenities…

The airport doesn’t have much in the way of restaurants or retail shops, but it makes up for it by providing you with the Hawaiian experience your after. Many of the restaurants that are available serve local Hawaiian cuisine. Unfortunately, the airport is not very up-to-date and doesn’t offer any kind of Wi-Fi service. However, since 2006 it has been undergoing a ten year modernization plan and a lot of changes have been made. In the next four years the airport will likely be outfitted with a Wi-Fi service of some kind; whether or not it’s free remains to be seen.

Other Car Rental Options at Hilo International Airport…

Islands can be a little odd to navigate and embarrassing to get lost around. It can be extra frustrating when your lost too because you’ll end up passing the same location dozens of times and notice that you’re not going anywhere fast. Get a GPS system with your vehicle in order to have an easier time getting around the island and so you don’t end up confused by any road construction detour routes that may be taking place during your stay.
Source: Hilo Airport

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