hidden hawaii

2020-3-2 | Chevy New Roads Magazine

Discovering Hidden Hawaii

The Colorado ZR2 is the perfect truck for exploring beyond the Big Island’s tourist hot spots.

Residents of the island of Hawaii are welcoming to guests. But ask about the best out-of-the-way attractions, and they clam right up. “Well, we don’t want to tell the tourists about those places,” says one local. They’re right to be cautious of visitors overrunning lesser-known spots. After all, this island, the largest in the state, is home to more than 200,000 full-time residents but welcomed an incredible 1.7 million tourists in 2018.

 

Of course, many Hawaiian tourists stick near the Kona district on the western coast, where warm, sunny weather is almost guaranteed. They follow the same well-trodden paths, from airport to hotel, from beach to helicopter tour, from zip line to guided snorkeling tour. And there’s nothing wrong with vacationing this way. Yet for the curious traveler willing to look a little closer, seemingly undiscovered adventures are all over this island.

 

Turn off the highway and you’ll stumble on places without gift shops or crowds: practically deserted beaches, untouched waterfalls, and even caves that testify to the island’s volcanic origins. Turns out, you can see parts of Hawaii that most people won’t get to visit. It just takes a bit of planning and searching.

 

Step one of that plan is driving a capable vehicle ready for adventure, like the Chevy Colorado ZR2. Impressively capable off-road, it allows the adventurous to explore farther. And it’s equally adept on the main roads between your destinations.

The Details Matter

Colorado ZR2

3.6L V6

ENGINE

308

HORSEPOWER

275 LB.-FT.

OF TORQUE

Tough, capable suspension
Colorado ZR2’s suspension is raised for additional ground clearance, ideal for covering rough terrain off-road.

Untouched Beaches

Begin your day on the island’s southern edge at Punaluu Beach, just off the Mamalahoa Highway (also known as Hawaii Belt Road) between the small villages of Naalehu and Pahala. Arrive before dawn to see a planetarium’s worth of constellations in the night sky, as there’s little light pollution in this less-populated part of Hawaii. As the sun rises over the ocean, the orange glow reveals that this beach is unlike most.

 

Punaluu’s black sand is composed of tiny fragments of igneous rocks. Like so much of this island, the beach’s origins are volcanic: When hot lava reaches the ocean, it cools rapidly and forms this black sand. Coarser than normal beach sand, it feels almost like thick salt in your hands—and it’s a little rough on bare skin, so wear sandals. As the black sand warms, green sea turtles make their way up the shore to sun themselves. They’re endangered and protected by law, so keep 30 feet away at all times.

 

Whether you’re traipsing across the sand on foot or watching the waves crash from the bed of the Colorado, stopping at this beach feels like discovering something new. Though most tourists will stick to the small paved parking lot, more adventurous explorers can point their truck down the unkempt trails between clumps of beach naupaka plants. Driving over the rocks that dot the path toward the shore requires the Colorado ZR2’s impressive ground clearance and approach angles—to say nothing of the component-protecting skid plates. For those who just can’t bear to leave at the end of the day, tent camping near the beach is allowed by permit.

Kaumana Caves
Part of a 25-mile-long network of lava tubes, the caves are the result of an 1881 lava flow from Mauna Loa.

Going Deeper

Some of Hawaii’s hidden treasures are beneath the ground. Take Kaumana Caves, for instance, about a 10-minute drive outside the east-coast town of Hilo. It would be easy to breeze past without ever knowing to stop, especially if you didn’t turn off the main road. But on an otherwise unassuming street that snakes past houses and an elementary school, pull off at the side of the road to venture inside caves that remind you Hawaii owes its existence to volcanic activity. Just watch out for the wild roosters that have taken up residence nearby, and listen for the singsong mating call of tiny coqui frogs.


Kaumana Caves are part of a network of lava tubes, formed when the outside of a lava flow cools and solidifies but the interior remains hot, with lava still flowing through. When the roofs of those tubes collapse, creating what’s called a skylight, they allow access into a subterranean world.


Today this opening to Kaumana Caves feels rugged and untouched: There are no guided tours, no signposts—just a steep staircase down to the cave floor. Inside you’ll see otherworldly rock formations, glimmering metallic highlights, and hardy plant life clinging to the cave roof. Of course, this is a rugged adventure, so be sure to bring a headlamp or a real flashlight, as well as sturdy footwear for the uneven, rocky floor.

 

A Road with a View

It’s called the Big Island for a reason: It’s larger than the state of Delaware. So, traversing this island can take time. The most direct route from east to west is Saddle Road, also called Hawaii Route 200, and it’s along here that the Colorado’s dual nature really proves its worth. Just as the ZR2’s suspension delivers impressive rough-terrain performance, it also offers surprising comfort and handling capability on Saddle Road’s sweeping bends and elevation changes.

Beach bum
The Big Island’s beaches tend to be rockier than the sandy beaches of other vacation destinations—a result of its volcanic nature—so sometimes a hammock is a comfier choice than lying directly on the ground.

The road climbs steadily as you head out of Hilo, peaking at just over 6,600 feet. The terrain turns rockier and drier as you near the 13,678-foot Mauna Loa and 13,803-foot Mauna Kea volcanoes; Saddle Road runs between them, making for epic views when the weather is clear. For a few miles the land on either side of the road is covered in seemingly unending fields of black rock that resulted from lava flows when these volcanoes erupted.

 

Eventually Saddle Road splits off to the north, heading toward the town of Waimea. Here, again, lush fields with grazing cattle line the roadway, but look beyond the fields and you’ll get tremendous views of the coastline below. A less-traveled section, this stretch of the road has more frequent twists, turns, dips, and crests—quite the treat for the driver. The Colorado ZR2’s standard 3.6-liter V6 engine provides great power for climbs, with its eight-speed automatic transmission readily shifting to just the right gear.

 

Built in the 1940s, Saddle Road was a twisty, somewhat treacherous route. Then a huge construction project in the 2000s modernized the road, with gentler elevation changes and turns as well as wider shoulders. Still, be prepared before you set off: There is almost nowhere to pull over on the road, and no gas stations along the way. The weather can also change at a moment’s notice, with frequent fog and rainstorms. That’s a big reason why the speed limits are typically only 55 to 60 miles per hour (watch for unmarked police cars ready to ticket speeding tourists).

FIELD NOTES

A Beach Away from the Crowds

Bring the day’s adventures to a close by catching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. For unobstructed views, pick a lesser-known spot on the west coast, such as Puako Beach. It’s north of the tourist-heavy Kailua-Kona and Waikola, and is much quieter than those towns’ beaches. Head down a two-lane road from the busy Mamalahoa Highway and past a church, a small general store, and some beachfront properties to find small access paths that allow for walking or driving right up to the rocky coastline.

 

Puako Beach’s parking areas require a vehicle capable of some tougher driving: Witness the locals in trucks and SUVs traverse the sand and many exposed rocks—some of them even park right on top of rocks, suspensions twisted to the extreme. Thankfully, the Colorado ZR2 comes with off-road tires and a chassis that offers more clearance to drive over small rocks. The payoff for making this journey is a gorgeous, secluded beach with shallow, clear waters that are ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving. Or just stay on the beach and string a hammock between trees to watch the sunset paint the sky orange and red.

 

An Island of Adventures

Of course, a single day or even a full week isn’t enough time to see all this island has to offer. The Big Island has an astonishing amount of diversity, with varied landscapes and climates everywhere you drive. It’s the sort of place where it’s easy to feel like you’re discovering new territory. And it’s easier to access all those places when you’ve got a vehicle as well rounded and capable as the Chevy Colorado ZR2.

STORY: JAKE HOLMES / PHOTOGRAPHY: JUSTIN WIRTALLA / DRONE PHOTOGRAPHY: BAYLY BUCK

  • 41 mm more factory-installed lift on Crew Cab models, 48 mm on Extended Cab models.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.

  • With rear seats folded. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution

  • EPA-estimated 29 MPG city/39 highway with 5-speed manual transmission and 30 MPG city/38 highway with available Continuously Variable Transmission

  • EPA estimated with 3.6L V6 engine.

  • Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • EPA estimated with 3.6L V6 engine.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Apple and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires compatible iPhone and data plan rates apply. Apple CarPlay is a trademark of Apple Inc. Siri, iPhone and iTunes are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

  • Always use seat belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner's Manual for more information.

     

  • EPA-estimated MPG city/highway: Sonic Sedan with 6-speed manual transmission 27/38; with 6-speed automatic transmission 26/34; Sonic Hatchback with 6-speed manual transmission 26/35; with 6-speed automatic transmission 26/34.

  • Always use seat belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See your vehicle Owner’s Manual for more information.

  • Connected Services include navigation services and Remote Access Plan, and 1 month/3 GB of 4G LTE data (whichever comes first) from vehicle delivery date. Services are subject to User Terms and limitations. Certain services require working electrical system, cell service and GPS signals. OnStar links to emergency services. Visit onstar.com for more details.

  • Model year 2018 and newer vehicles include: 1 month of OnStar Safety & Security Plan and 1 month of Chevrolet Connected Services which include navigation services, Remote Access Plan and 1 month or 3 gigabytes of 4G LTE data (whichever comes first) from vehicle delivery date. Services are subject to user terms and limitations. Visit onstar.com for more details. Data plans offered by AT&T. Availability subject to change.

  • Connected Services include navigation services and Remote Access Plan, and 1 month/3 GB of 4G LTE data (whichever comes first) from vehicle delivery date. Data plan offered by AT&T. Services subject to user terms and limitations. Certain services require working electrical system, cell service, and GPS signal. OnStar links to emergency services.  Visit onstar.com for more details.

  • If you decide to continue service after your trial, the subscription plan you choose will automatically renew thereafter and you will be charged according to your chosen payment method at then-current rates. Fees and taxes apply. To cancel you must call SiriusXM at 1-866-635-2349. See SiriusXM Customer Agreement for complete terms at siriusxm.com. All fees and programming subject to change. Sirius, XM, SiriusXM and all related marks and logos are trademarks of Sirius XM Radio Inc.

  • EPA estimate for Sonic with available 6-speed automatic transmission.

  • With rear seats folded. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • EPA-estimated 238-mile EV range. Your actual range may vary based on several factors including temperature, terrain, and driving technique.

  • EPA-estimated 238-mile EV range. Your actual range may vary based on several factors including temperature, terrain, and conditions.

  • Read your vehicle owner's manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Read your vehicle owner's manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • EPA-estimated 53-mile range based on 106 MPGe combined city/highway (electric); 367-mile extended range based on 42 MPG combined city/highway (gas). Your actual range may vary based on several factors, including temperature, terrain and driving technique.

  • Visit my.chevrolet.com/learn for vehicle and smartphone compatibility.

  • Available late 2018.

  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Requires available Performance Exhaust or Z51 Performance Package.

  • Requires available Performance Exhaust or Z51 Performance Package.

  • If you decide to continue service after your trial, your selected subscription plan will automatically renew thereafter. You will be charged at then-current rates. Fees and taxes apply. To cancel you must call SiriusXM at 1-866-635-2349. See SiriusXM Customer Agreement for complete terms at siriusxm.com. All fees and programming subject to change. ©2018 Sirius XM Radio Inc. All rights reserved.

  • Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • EPA-estimated 28 City/39 Hwy MPG

  • With second row seats folded flat. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.

  • Read the vehicles Owner’s Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Does not detect people or items. Always check rear seat before exiting.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Google, and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires the Android Auto app on Google Play and an Android compatible smartphone running Android (TM) 5.0 Lollipop or higher. Data plan rates apply. Android Auto is a trademark of Google LLC.

  • Service varies with conditions and location. Requires active service plan and paid AT&T Data plan. See onstar.com for details and limitations.

  • Premier shown seats seven. Standard on L, LS. Available on LT.

  • EPA-estimated with available 3.6L engine (FWD).

  • With second and third row seats folded flat. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • Read the vehicle owner's manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • The system wirelessly charges one mobile device. Some devices require an adaptor or back cover. To check for phone or other device compatibility, visit my.chevrolet.com/learn for details.

  • With rear seats folded. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • With 5.3L EcoTec 3 engine. EPA-estimated MPG city/highway: Suburban 2WD 15/22, 4WD14/21.

  • Based on GM Large SUV segment. With 5.3L EcoTec 3 engine. EPA-estimated MPG city/highway: Tahoe 2WD 15/22, 4WD 15/21.

  • With second and third row seats folded flat. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • Available on all trims and standard on RS and Premier including 3.6L V6 engine.

  • Requires AWD model. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices. Map Coverage available in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.

  • Dependability based on longevity: 1987–July 2017 full-size pickup registrations.

  • Model year 2018 and newer vehicles include: 1 month of OnStar Safety & Security Plan and 1 month of Chevrolet Connected Services which include navigation services, Remote Access Plan, and 1 month or 3 gigabytes of 4G LTE data (whichever comes first) from vehicle delivery date. Services are subject to user terms and limitations. Visit onstar.com for more details. Data plans offered by AT&T. Availability subject to change.

  • Requires Silverado 3500 HD Crew Cab 2WD DRW with fifth-wheel hitch and available Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8 engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • With available Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8.

  • Read the vehicles Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Google, and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires the Android Auto app on Google Play and an Android compatible smartphone running Android(TM) 5.0 Lollipop or higher. Data plan rates apply. Android Auto is a trademark of Google LLC.

     

  • 308 horsepower with available 3.6L V6 engine.

  • Colorado 2WD with available Duramax 2.8L Turbo-Diesel 4-cylinder engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner's Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • 308 horsepower with standard 3.6L V6 engine.

  • Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner's Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Read the vehicles Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Always use seat belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner’s Manual for more information.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Apple and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires compatible iPhone and data plan rates apply. Apple CarPlay is a trademark of Apple Inc. Siri, iPhone and iTunes are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Always use seat belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See your vehicle Owner’s Manual for more information.

  • Connected services include navigation services and Remote Access Plan. Services subject to Terms and limitations. Certain services require working electrical system, cell reception, and GPS signal. OnStar links to emergency services.  See onstar.com for details. Availability subject to change.

  • Connected services include navigation services and Remote Access Plan. Services subject to Terms and limitations. Certain services require working electrical system, cell reception, and GPS signal. OnStar links to emergency services.  See onstar.com for details. Availability subject to change.

  • EPA-estimated MPG city/highway: Sonic Sedan with 6-speed manual transmission 27/38; with 6-speed automatic transmission 26/34; Sonic Hatchback with 6-speed manual transmission 26/35; with 6-speed automatic transmission 26/34.

  • Your actual range may vary based on several factors, including temperature, terrain, battery age, and how you use and maintain your vehicle.

  • Read your vehicle Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.

  • Certain features require a SiriusXM subscription and the Chevrolet Connected Access plan. See siriusxm.com and onstar.com for details and limitations.

  • Do not use summer-only tires in winter conditions, as it would adversely affect vehicle safety, performance and durability. Use only GM-approved tire and wheel combinations. Unapproved combinations may change the vehicle’s performance characteristics. For important tire and wheel information, go to my.chevrolet.com/learnAbout/chevrolettires or see your dealer.

  • Premier shown seats seven. Standard on L, LS. Available on LT.

  • Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Standard on all trims:  Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking, Following Distance Indicator, Intellibeam Headlamps. Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Always use seat belts and child restraints.  Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint.  See the Owner's Manual for more information.

  • Read the vehicles Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment 3 System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Read the vehicles Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • On LS models with available front-row split-bench seat.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Read the Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity to some devices.

  • Read the Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Read the Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Park Assist and Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert. Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Requires AWD and 3.6L engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Standard on Extended Cab and 2WD Crew Cab Short Box models.

  • Standard on 2WD Crew Cab Long Box and 4WD Crew Cab models.

  • Available on Extended Cab models

  • Available on Crew Cab models

  • Read the vehicle owner's manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Equipment from independent suppliers is not covered by the GM New Vehicle Limited Warranty. GM is not responsible for the safety or quality of independent supplier alterations.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Go to my.chevrolet.com/learnAbout/bluetooth to find out which phones are compatible with the vehicle. Full Bluetooth feature functionality varies by device, model and software version.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Apple and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires compatible iPhone and data plan rates apply. Apple CarPlay is a trademark of Apple Inc. Siri, iPhone and Apple Music are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Google and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires the Android Auto app on Google Play and an Android compatible smartphone running Android™ 5.0 or higher. Data plan rates apply. Android Auto is a trademark of Google LLC.

  • Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.

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