Open Air Jeeps Are Awesome….Except When They’re Not

When our friends found out we were going to Hawaii, they all said, “You HAVE to rent a Jeep!”  Indeed, Hawaii has a surplus of rugged Jeep Wranglers for your renting pleasure, but before you subscribe to the open-air Jeep fantasy, I need to let you in on the reality.

Do you like power windows?  Air conditioning?  Power locks? Shocks? Air conditioning?  How about not getting rained on? Do you like that?  Then, don’t rent a Jeep.

Now, I’m not a car snob – I don’t even own a car – but, when you’re renting a vehicle on vacation, those simple pleasures can make the difference between not even thinking about your mode of transportation (preferred) to locking 3 out of 4 doors when you have your dad’s borrowed GPS stuck to the dashboard (oops).

But let’s talk about rain, because that was the main reason our rented Jeep became the bane of our Maui existence.  When we planned the trip, we had visions of open-air Jeep-ing through the mountains and along the coastline.  Exhibit A:

From an actual car rental not as awesome as it looks.

But, we didn’t actually think about the unzipping/tucking/pulling/folding part of the Jeep. Do any city folk know how to make their Jeep a top-down dream in 1-2-3 steps? Not that I know of.  While driving along the climate-surprise Road to Hana, the best we could do was to unzip the sides flaps and as soon as we figured that out, some random clouds rolled in and the rain started.  So we pulled over and zipped everything back up.  Then the sun came out and it was 90 degrees in the Jeep within 5 minutes.  So we rolled the windows down and then up, based upon whether it was raining, sunny or windy. Despite our climate control issues, the scenery in Maui usually made us forget that we hated that Jeep:

Clouds...and rain.

Wait, now it's sunny! Roll the windows down!

Oh crap. Look at those clouds around the corner.


When we got to Kauai, we switched our rental car to something with all the options – A/C, power windows and locks, the works!  It felt like quite a treat after 5 days in a bumpy hotbox.  However, we noticed hundreds of other Jeeps driving around the island – most with their tops and sides all zipped up, likely fresh from a drive through the rain in the mountains.  Amateurs!

Just a tip – you’ll read in some guidebooks that you need 4X4 to navigate the Road to Hana or drive all the way around Maui – not true.  The road is bumpy, but most of it is paved and fairly well-traveled.


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2 Responses to “Open Air Jeeps Are Awesome….Except When They’re Not”

  1. T Bombs Says:

    hahaaa. This was quite informative. Too bad they dont have AC despite the manual labor required. I always wanted a WRANGLER all throughout high school. guess i didnt miss too much 🙂

  2. Kauai Revealed…or not « Ordinary Life, Extraordinary Travels Says:

    […] That one was definitely out of our league, so one day while exploring the island we attempted to find something that was more suitable to our minimal hiking experience (we live in the urban jungle of NYC). The Kauai Revealed book talked about a nice trail that led to the famous Wailua Falls of Fantasy Island fame, but it was supposedly unmarked and therefore unknown to most tourists (and discouraged by officials).  All we had to do was count 100 meters backwards from the guardrail by the falls and there would be an unmarked but well-traveled opening.  After a bit of searching, we found the spot that would seem most obvious, mainly identified by – what else – an open air Jeep. […]

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