Transportation in Hawaii

A Look at Hawaii Car Rental, The Bus, Our Cool Trolleys, Taxis, and Fun Mopeds.

Should I get a Hawaii car rental? Can I ride the bus? Is it safe to ride a moped?

With all the incredible things to see and do in Hawaii, you are probably wondering what are your options for getting around in Hawaii.

I can't give you a one-size-fits-all answer here because of so many variables, but I'll do my best to explain the different modes of transportation in Hawaii.

Hawaii Car Rental

Hawaii car rentals are among the cheapest anywhere, so if driving is an option for you, I would definitely recommend a Hawaii car rental.

Just to give you an example, I have rented a compact car for only $105/week which came out to about $140 for the week after the fees and taxes (explained below).

However, if renting a car is not an option for you for whatever reason (international license issues, DO NOT LIKE OR WANT TO DRIVE), there are many other options like guided tours, and the other options below.

Oahu is the one island where you don't really need a Hawaii car rental to get around.

On any of the outer islands (Kauai, Maui, Big Island, Molokai, and Lanai), I would recommend getting a Hawaii car rental if possible.

With the exception of Waikiki (where there are many one way streets), the roads are not that complicated so even if you get lost, it will be easy to find your way back. Besides, it's not like you can drive to another state...

All the major car rental companies service Hawaii, but the ones I have found to have the best rates are Alamo, Budget, and National.

One thing I have noticed about Hawaii car rental rates is that they are very unpredictable. One company can rent the same category of car for much less than others...and the same company can change their rates on the same vehicle dramatically in a matter of days. These rate changes can be due to group bookings from conventions or other large groups.

So to really get the best rate on a Hawaii car rental, you need to check the rate often and book when you do find a good rate before it is gone. Nothing is more stressful than not having a reservation and watching the rates go up and up.

You can do this yourself, of course, or you can enlist the help of a good Hawaii Travel Agent who knows what a good rate is. Also, if you combine air, room, and car in any combination, you can get a better Hawaii car rental rate. If you do decide to get a Hawaii car rental, here are some things to keep in mind...

  • Some hotels and condos (especially in Waikiki on Oahu) will charge you anywhere from $10-$20/per day to park your car there.
  • Traffic can be horrendous on Oahu and pretty slow during certain parts of the day on the outer islands as well.
  • Many great places to eat are not going to be within walking distance of your hotel and a cab will easily cost you $15-$20 one way.
  • Hawaii car rentals have a surcharge of $3.00/day besides the state tax (4%) and an additional charge if the rental facility is actually at the airport (meaning you don't have to catch a shuttle).
  • Motorists here are extremely courteous and laid back so...
  • Don't use your horn unless it's absolutely necessary or you will get some nasty looks.
  • If someone lets you change lanes, merge into traffic, or make a turn in front of them, it is expected that you wave in thanks (with the traditional shaka sign of course..:)).
  • People do not observe the "slower traffic to the right" rule, so don't tailgate someone and expect them to move.

Remember, slow down and're in paradise.

The Bus

On Oahu, the public bus system is quite extensive. It is also the most economical mode of transportation in Hawaii.

"TheBus" was named "America's Best Transit System" in 2000-2001 by the American Public Transportation Association. Their website,, provides schedule and fare information.(tel 808 848-5555)

UPDATE--As of July 1, 2007, Maui has announced a new bus schedule that is run by Roberts Hawaii, a tour operator in Hawaii. I would love to hear feedback from anyone who has used this system.

Schedules and routes of the Maui bus system can be viewed at

On Kauai and the Big Island, the bus systems are very limited. They are geared for the local residents and do not go to many of the places a visitor would want to go.

However, they may be of certain use to you. The website for the Big Island bus system is Kauai does not have a website for their bus system (tells you how limited it is) so you have to call (808) 241-6410.

Waikiki Trolley

Waikiki Trolley in Hawaii

This is one of the coolest modes of transportation in Hawaii...but it is only found on Oahu as the name implies. It is a great way to get around Waikiki and the surrounding area. It is also a great change of pace to your Hawaii car rental.

The Waikiki Trolley is an open-air trolley that seats 34 people and provides narraration along the way. There are three routes or lines that serve attractions such as Iolani Palace, the State Capitol, King Kamehameha's Statue, Aloha Tower, Ward Centre, Diamond Head, and Sea Life Park.

They offer one day passes that let you jump on and off as many times as you wish costing $25 for adults and $12 for children ages 4-11. They also offer a four day pass costing $45 for adults and $18 for children ages 4-11.

I think this is a great way to see the atttractions that are close to Waikiki. Mainly,

  • Iolani Palace
  • the State Capitol
  • King Kamehameha's Statue
  • the Mission House Museum
  • Chinatown
  • Aloha Tower
  • and the Hawaii Maritime Museum.

Parking can be a problem at most of these places, and the cost of the trolley is much cheaper than taking a guided tour of these attractions.

Also, it is a great way to go shopping or out to eat at places like Aloha Tower, Ward Centre, and Ala Moana Shopping Center.

Check out their website,, for more information or call them at (800)824-8804.


All the taxi cab companies offer island wide 24-hour service. Many of the drivers are multilingual and vehicles range from automobiles to vans to limos.

If you have never ridden in a limo and really feel the urge, you will probably spot more here than you've ever seen. Most short trips around town will cost at least $20 plus tip.

Motorcycles and Mopeds

Don't want a Hawaii car rental?  Try a moped!

There are many places where you can rent motorcycles or mopeds. If you've always dreamed of riding along a beautiful coastline with the wind in your hair, this is the time to do it.

Motorcycles can be rented on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island. Rentals are not currenly available on Molokai and Lanai.

Mopeds can be rented on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, the Big Island, and Molokai. They make the most sense on Oahu and Molokai. There are only a few spots on Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island where I would suggest riding them...namely within the resort areas.

Just a word of caution...Mopeds are really fun but remember to be very careful. As a general rule of thumb, try to stay where the traffic is going 30 miles an hour or less. I've seen too many accidents where mopeds went where they should not have.

Just remember, whatever mode of transportaion in Hawaii you choose, whether it is a Hawaii car rental or city bus, it is probably going to be at a slower pace than what you're used to.

Relax and enjoy yourself!

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