However and sadly, you would be missing out on so much that this island has to offer - from pristine rain forests, to lava deserts to world-class beaches, to snow covered mountains, an active volcano, dazzling sunsets...and the list goes on and on. My point being, rent a car and get out there to experience it.
I am of the firm belief that doing out of the ordinary things, makes extraordinary happen!
In the 5 days that we spent on the island, we crisscrossed every major road or freeway, from one end to the other, from the north to the south or east to west. And keep in mind that there are humongous volcanoes and tall tall mountains that force you to circle-around in order to get from point to point. Yes, so distances are huge and as most of the roads are single lane, the commute times are long. When did that ever stop us though?
In fact, one of the prettiest and surprising drives ended up happening by chance (when we missed a turn) and oh what a pleasant drive it was. Probably one of my favorites. Its the Akoni Pule highway (#270) north of Kawaihae and towards the sleepy town of Hawi. For one its past all the extravagant and manicured mega-resort area where ensconced in the desolate sea of lava and scrub, multi-million dollar resorts dot the coastline offering the luxury and amenities that have made this region famous.
This is probably the most overlooked and driest part of the island as it falls in the rain shadow area of the Kohala mountain. We hardly came across cars on the road or people at the pull outs! Although the coastline here is mostly rocky and unprotected with few beaches to swim in, its beauty lies in its ruggedness. The land is harsh and the winds here are unforgiving...but that is exactly what makes the drive unforgettable. A cute little hidden park with exceptional clear waters is Kapa'a Beach park. Its one place where you could take out a permit to camp overnight. If quiet and solitude is what you seek, then this is one place that answers your call.
The end of the highway leads to the scenic Polulu Valley lookout. This outstanding vista displays the raw, untamed side of the Big Island. 400 feet below is the Polulu valley beach accessed via a 20-30 minute trail on uneven terrain (good walking shoes needed here). The view's of the valley are much nicer half way down the trail.
We saw some backpackers climbing their way up after having spent the night on the beach below! Polulu connects to Waipio via 7 valleys along the Kohala mountain! However, you have to drive around the mountain to get to Waipio on the other side. Read more on Waipio Valley here. My suggestion would be to take the beautiful Kohala Mountain Road (#250) towards Waimea and then head east on the Mamalahoa Highway (#19) towards Honoka'a. Enjoy the drive!