Four wheeling in Hawaii is a thrilling land adventure and a terrific way to see rare, native, and distinctive aspects of the islands. While the journey is bound to be exhilarating, it's important to make it uneventful by managing the challenges of off-roading.
Before getting on the road, make sure you know the way a 4WD works. Use the transfer case lever or the four wheel drive push button on the dashboard. Make sure, too, to return to regular mode when back on paved roads.
Know before you go and get information about the tides. Ideally, a safe beach drive is three hours before or after low tide. Stay alert and drive slowly at first. It is important to stay attentive while on a joy ride. The smallest detail, such as wrapping fingers tightly around the steering wheel can affect the front wheels - the steering wheel can actually be sensitive to the pressure and as the steering wheel spins, its speed can hurt fingers and thumbs.
Know where the spare tire and jack are located as well as the dimensions of the 4WD so you have an idea to get through some areas.
Driving on the beach is certain to be an experience, but before venturing onto the sand, keep in mind that in four wheeling, it's all about the tires and wheels. The bigger the tires and rims, the better the chances for stability. Lighter cars and trucks will perform better. Tires of lesser quality can actually be noisy.
While the opposite applies to driving on paved roads, it is critical to lower tire pressure. Check with a gauge and make sure not to let loose too much air. As a rule, 4WD truck tires are steady at 18 psi, but use this as a guideline, and make sure to re-inflate when the four wheeling fun is over. Avoiding ruts while four wheeling can be challenging so, if possible, drive with just one tire in the rut and the other outside of it for better control of the path.
Periodically, keep an eye on all the features on the dashboard, especially the temperature gauge. Balance is key for keeping the transmission running properly. Try to drive proactively - looking ahead for obstacles and surprises. Try to be prepared for what's around the bend!
Driving to avoid a rollover requires patience, attention, and discipline, so when driving on hills, stay on route and try not to turn diagonally or at an angle. Never turn around on a hill; instead, reverse and drive slowly back in that direction.
While driving on the sand, stay in low gear so any correction is quicker and easier than when in high gear. Also, once you're in a rut of any kind, slow down, stop and reverse slowly. Still, getting stuck beyond small incidences can require patience and staying calm. Start by clearing sand from the tires. It may take more than that and a shovel may not be readily available, so call a tow company to take you to a main (paved) road before contacting the rental company.
Driving in water areas along the beach seems cool and almost movie-like, but it can be unsafe. Water and electric car parts don't mix.
If you get stuck and cannot find a cell phone signal to reach the towing company, leave a note, prominently displayed, explaining the direction you're walking and the date and time.
Mud on the tires is an inevitability. When washing off the mud, wait until the car has completely cooled, preferably in the shade. Hose or spray thoroughly and then make sure to check the 4WD for any spots that were overlooked and check for damage.
It seems like a lot of information to consider, but a little preparation and knowledge can make the trip memorable, for the right reasons. Four wheeling is fun on the islands and you'll undoubtedly see places less traveled by most tourists, so it's definitely worth the trip.
Be sure to check the low rates available through SummitPacific on Car Rentals in Hawaii