Travel Q&A

Hiking Hawaii

By Scott Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 25, 2007

Q. My partner and I are planning a trip to Hawaii this spring and are looking to find group overnight hikes. Do you have any recommendations?

Ira Tattelman, Washington

A. Well, let's see, there's Kelly Harrison's company on the Big Island, Plenty Pupule Adventure Sports (, 808-990-6699), which conducts moonlight treks by appointment. Then again, "plenty pupule" translates as "plenty crazy," which made us wonder if that's what you needed to be in order to go hiking in the dark in Hawaii. Not to worry, says Harrison, unless you're a pupule procrastinator.

"There are some pretty spectacular places to go, but you can't book them at the last minute," he says. Harrison takes hikers and kayakers alike on voyages through the Big Island's Waimanu Valley and dependably spectacular waterfalls and beaches. For some, the can't-miss attraction is Kilauea inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. "Many companies offer interpretive day hikes," says Jessica Ferracane, spokeswoman for the Big Island Visitors Bureau and a big fan of tours by former park ranger and native Hawaiian Warren Costa (, 808-982-7575).

Sunset treks to the summit of Mauna Kea are another great idea (several companies offer them), as is stargazing alongside some of the world's premier astronomical observatories.

Your task would be so much easier if other Hawaiian islands were trail-challenged, but alas. "For an overnight hike, nothing beats the famous Kalalau Trail on Kauai's majestic Na Pali Coast," contends Emele Freiberg, who represents the Kauai Visitors Bureau. The entire island is a trekking paradise, but this 11-mile trail is hiking's Holy Grail, a dramatic cliff walk that virtually demands an overnight stay. You'll need a permit for parts of the hike and to camp overnight along the trail, but by all accounts Kalalau deserves all the popularity it enjoys. The local chapter of the Sierra Club ( is one good source of info on hikes after sundown.

Wait, we're running out of space and haven't even mentioned Maui? Waimoku Falls and Haleakala? Maybe you want to rent a cabin in a volcanic crater and -- beeeep. Time's up, sorry.

We want to rent a car sometime between January and April and drive down the Pacific Coast from San Diego to Guadalajara. Can we do a one-way rental? How safe is driving?

Molly Roberts, Silver Spring

Not only can't you do a one-way rental, you can't do a round trip either. Some rental car agencies do allow U.S.-Mexico driving, but they have restrictions on how far you can go into Mexico. Hertz (800-654-3001,, for instance, will allow you to drive up to 25 miles into Mexico if you purchase Mexican liability auto insurance ($27-$32 a day) or 250 miles into the country with a higher premium ($37-$42 a day), but no farther. Be advised that without Mexican insurance you may well end up in jail if you have an accident in Mexico.

And if you decide to rent a car across the border, there are safety issues to contend with throughout the country. Carol Wheeler, an editor at Mexico Connect, an online magazine (, urges common sense: "Carry a map [Guia Roji is excellent] and a cellphone." Also: "Keep the car door locked." Also: "I don't recommend she make the long drive alone." Also: "Never, ever drive at night." Furthermore, roads can be in very poor condition and dotted with potholes.

Geez. Does this trip have anything to recommend it? Oh, also: "The weather is generally glorious at that time of year," Wheeler says.

Send queries by e-mail ( or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company