Is UBER a Worthwhile Alternative To a Taxi, In Kona?

The name UBER has some taxi drivers all over the world shaking in their boots. The Kona market is no exception. Viewed as a threat by some, UBER entered the Kona transportation market as a lower cost, ride-share option for customers, one year ago.

In March of 2017 UBER began offering its service on Hawai’i Island.  Having informational meetings in Hilo as well as Kona, their search was on to find drivers to fill the anticipated demand.   They seemed to be successful in their recruitment efforts, as evidenced by the fact that there ARE UBER drivers!
UBER vs. Taxi

I have a few friends that are UBER drivers, and I’m constantly asking them about the process and their experience(s).  The responses are varied.  Some really enjoy it.  Some like and dislike aspects of it.  And there are those that hate that they are driving for UBER.  The ones that enjoy driving for UBER speak of how cool many of the UBER users are.  They also appreciate the fact that there is a great deal of freedom associated with making the additional income.  The ones that have mixed reviews also speak of the interesting customers they pick up, however, they’re not too fond of the compensation scheme.   The ones that did not like the UBER driver experience state that in addition to the low pay, “…you have to be tethered to your phone and if you’re not quick enough on accepting an assignment you could lose it.”  I gather, it’s a great side gig for some but not so great for others.  The most pleased with the service has been, by far,  the frugal traveler.

At the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole, you may see people walking up Airport road, in the direction of Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, dragging along their luggage.  After seeing this more and more, thinking it’s not too safe, I decided to stop and ask a couple why they were walking up the road.  They told me that they are heading to the highway to wait for their UBER ride. I remember thinking “Wow! UBER must be offering  quite the deal, for people to want to walk that half a mile with their stuff and risk being struck by a car.”  I get it. You gotta do what you gotta do.  As of today, the airport does not allow UBER drivers to pick up customers from the airport.  Taking a walk up the hill has been their solution, thus far.

For the passengers, as I see it, here are the pros and cons.
Pros:

  • Lower costs transportation
  • Cash-free transactions
  • A network of regular people (This could be “good” or “bad”)

Cons:

  • No airport pickup,
  • Prices are not state regulated,
  • Not always available,
  • Dependent on access to mobile signal (a challenge for some areas of the Big Island)

Things change.  Industries change.  As in all business, innovations that will keep your service or product relevant is a must for survival.  The creators of UBER have done just that.  They have taken a general need- transportation, and with the aid of some software technology and  “regular” people and their vehicles, and reimagined how a person could get from point A to point B in a cost-effective manner.  I think it was a  bold and creative innovation, but far from the panacea of taxi alternative transportation.

Instead of taxi drivers thinking how can they stop UBER, they should be coming together to think of innovative ways to make their service more appealing to potential customers.  This business of moving people from one place to the next is not complex.  What differentiates one driving service from the next is price, reliability, and quality of service.  Taxi drivers will not be able to compete with UBER in the area of costs but they CAN compete in the area of reliability and quality of service and that is where the customers will sort themselves out.  Some will focus solely on price point, and go with UBER while others will consider convenience and reliability and go with a reputable taxi service.  This is not to say that UBER drivers are not reliable or do not provide quality service, I am suggesting that the seasoned professionals that have been state-regulated should have a leg up in the department of quality of service.  They should, anyway.  What has been your experience with UBER and Taxis on the Kona-Kohala Coast?

Diving from cliff in Keauhou Bay!

Kayaking, Snorkeling, Cliff Jumping, and Cave Exploration in One Adventure!

People are always asking me about things to do, while in Kona. I always answer with the same response. “It all depends on what you are interested in doing.” There’s an incredible gamut of activities in Kona and the Kohala Coast. For the leisurely types, you could participate in wine tasting, visit a coffee farm,  or tropical plant nursery… But for those that are seeking more of an adrenalin rush, there are things like zip lining, helicopter tours, and parasailing. A really cool physical activity is kayaking!

I recommend Ocean Safaris Kayak Adventure. They pack a lot into this 4-hour outing.

Paddle Kona Waters
Paddling Kona’s clear, pristine waters.

Keauhou Bay is the place where Ocean Safaris Kayak Adventures begin. We met the staff at about 7:30am. After a quick safety briefing, we are in our kayaks and paddling south pass the Sheraton Hotel. Keep your eyes open! There’s a high chance that you’ll spot a group of dolphins, on this trip. Perhaps even swimming right next to your boat!

Kayak Adventures on the Kona Coast

Not only are the group leaders chill and knowledgeable of the area, but they are all lifeguard certified. I was told that they are called on to offer additional water safety support for the IronMan Championship.  That offers peace of mind because I’m not the strongest of swimmers. Haha!

After about 40 minutes of paddling and sightseeing, we arrive at this cool sea cave tucked away just beyond a rocky shore. “Hello-ooo-oo-oo!” (That’s supposed to be my voice echoing in the cave. Lol).

Snorkel Kona waters
Snorkeling session included in an Ocean Kayak Adventure.

After checking out the cave, one of the guides tied all of the kayaks together and anchored them so they don’t drift away as we snorkeled.  One of the other guides proceeded to hand out snorkel gear to the members of the group.  We were able to explore the clear waters, at a very laid back pace.  At no point did the trip ever feel rushed.  After all of that paddling and swimming, I was feeling bit on the hungry side.   We climbed out of the water and set up to have some snacks.  Yes, they brought snacks!  In addition to handing out bags of chips, and bottled waters, they also carved up a nice refreshing pineapple, on the spot.

Kona cliff dive on Kayak Adventure
Ocean Safaris Kayak Adventure includes an opportunity to cliff dive!

So now that we took care of those hunger pangs, and we’re sitting on a 25′ cliff with nice 70-degree water below us- what to do next?  Jump! Big fun!  Haha!

What a great way to explore this beautiful Bay with cool people.  Once you’ve booked with them, and you need transportation to and from, schedule a ride with me!

I hope to see you in the Kona sunshine!

Things to consider for this trip:

  • Prepare for everything you have to get wet. I recommend placing your cell phone in a water-proof case, a ziplock baggy, or perhaps just leave it in your vehicle.
  • The crew will provide you with snorkel gear if you need it, but I would bring my own. You can order a set for under $25.00 at AmazonSnorkel Sets

 

Lava Rocks, Ocean, Sunshine, and Goats!

Hualālai, Kohala, Kona, Hawaii
Hualālai volcano on the Kohala-Coast

Hawai’i Island, more commonly referred to as “The Big Island”, is a magical and wonderful place!   Boasting 4 of the 5 major climate zones, and 8 of the 13 sub-zones. On the leeward side of the island is the spectacular Kohala-Coast.  Classified as dry semi-arid (steppe), and dry arid (desert), South Kohala is the hottest area of the island.

The South Kohala-Coast is the home to vast fields of lava rock; kiawe and palm trees; pristine aqua and deep blue waters; and Billy goats.  Yup, Billy Goats! Keep an eye out while driving  Route 19 (Queen Ka’ahumanu Hwy), to or from Kona Airport, and your chances are pretty good that you may spot one.  The Kohala-Coast is also the location of some of the most luxurious hotels in the State.

Goats in grass

Nestled in the middle of lava fields, these resort developments offer a stark difference to the desert like, surrounding area.  Like an oasis of palm tree-lined streets, meticulously manicured lawns and world-class golf courses crafted streams and cascading mini waterfalls, with various shops, restaurants, hotels, and vacation rentals.

On a clear day, you’ll be able to see Maui’s mighty Haleakala smiling at you from across the ocean.  Approximately 11.5 miles north of Kona International Airport, there’s a Scenic Overlook. From there you can, safely, take in the view of the ocean, fields of lava rock, as well as neighboring Maui Island.

IMG_1700

There are many taxi-cab and airport shuttle companies in Kona. All provide service to this area.  If you want to ensure a comfortable, and safe commute with a knowledgeable, and conscientious driver, please book your Kona-Kohala transportation needs with D The Driver today!   Call D The Driver if you need a Kona Taxi ride to or from the Kona International Airport!

The Sun sets in Kona
When the sun sets in Kona, it commands attention.

 

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