You’re all set to go on your Hawaiian holiday and say aloha to Honolulu, but there’s still a nagging worry. “How will I get from the airport to my hotel and then to all the places I want to visit? Can I use Uber?”
You can use Uber in Honolulu, Hawaii, and almost everywhere else on Oahu island. Uber is a cost-effective way to visit the many tourist sites in and around Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki. However, it becomes less reliable as you move further out to Oahu’s North Shore.
In the rest of this article, I’ll explain why you should consider using Uber in Honolulu, the places Uber can take you to, and how it stacks up against other modes of transport. I’ll also touch on the different kinds of vehicles Uber offers and how safe the ride-hailing service is.
Why Use Uber in Honolulu
When I travel out of my home city, my choice of transport usually depends on a few factors: the places I want to go to and the time and budget at my disposal.
That said, I’ll want to experience as much of the destination as possible, and I’ll likely have limited time to achieve that. So, I usually end up choosing the fastest mode of transport as long as it’s not terribly expensive.
If you’re like me, then you will find Uber a great way to travel in and around Honolulu. It will take you from point A to point B as fast as, or faster than, other available modes of transport without burning a big hole in your pocket.
Places Where You Can Use Uber in Honolulu
Your Hawaiian vacation will start with your arrival at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. You can use your Uber app right away: to get a ride to your accommodation.
At the airport, there are dedicated ride-hailing pickup (and drop-off) locations at both Terminals 1 and 2. It’s hard to miss them; just follow the “Ride Share” signs inside the terminals and at the curbside.
With wait times of just five to 10 minutes, Uber is one of the fastest ways to get from the airport to Downtown Honolulu and the beach resort of Waikiki. If you’re staying in that area, Uber can provide you with fast connections to must-see places like Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, Manoa Falls, and the Ala Moana open-air shopping center.
Should you plan to hop to other Hawaiian islands, do note that Uber’s availability varies from island to island. Uber is available in the well-populated areas of Big Island (Hawaii), Maui, and Mokolai, scarce in Kauai, and non-existent in Lanai.
How Uber Stacks Up Against Other Transport Options in Honolulu
Now, let’s look at some of the other transport options in Honolulu and how Uber stacks up against them.
Lyft and Holoholo (a Local Ride-Hailing App)
They work the same way as Uber: with an app that you must download on your smartphone. Their fares tend to be slightly higher than Uber’s, but an apple-to-apple comparison is difficult because of surge pricing.
Uber and Lyft practice surge pricing, which means their fares can fluctuate in tune with the demand at any given time. During peak times, their fares can surge as much as 50%. Holoholo follows a “fair pricing” policy solely based on the distance covered.
Although ride-hailing is becoming ubiquitous in Honolulu, quite a few taxis remain on the roads. Indeed, some people still like the ease of hailing a cab without having to gingerly tap their location and destination information into a phone, and then wait for their ride to show up.
Cost-wise, taxis are generally about 40% more expensive than Uber.
There’s much to be said for the convenience of having a car at your disposal round the clock. If you have a packed itinerary every day, renting a vehicle may be a better option, as separate Uber rides to each location can add up to quite a bit.
However, if you visit only a few nearby places daily, the car will mostly remain idle. Apart from the rental, you must also factor in the prohibitive parking fees at tourist sites and shopping malls in Honolulu.
A rental car is also the more practical option if you’re heading to places like the Waimea Valley on Oahu’s North Shore, a region of historical and cultural significance that is also home to a tropical rainforest.
Even if you can go with Uber to the valley, you will be hard-pressed to find a ride back to your hotel because of poor data coverage in the area.
TheBus in Oahu is perhaps the most cost-effective way to tour the island, but you’ll have to factor in more time for the rides and familiarise yourself with its many stops, routes, and schedules. Most buses go through Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, and some will take you as far as the North Shore.
The fare is $3 per person for 2.5 hours with unlimited transfers, and there’s a daily cap of $7.50, after which TheBus rides are free for the rest of the day.
Uber Vehicle Options in Honolulu
Uber offers a choice of vehicles in Honolulu, catering to the varying needs of its customers. The options include:
- UberX: For up to four passengers
- Comfort: Has extra legroom
- UberXL: For up to 6 passengers
- Premier: For premium rides with highly-rated drivers
- Uber Assist: For people needing assistance, such as the elderly, wheelchair users, and those with visual or hearing impairments
- Uber Green: An electric or hybrid car for riders concerned about their carbon footprint
- Uber Pet: for riders traveling with pets
- Uber Military: For members of the U.S Armed Forces, exclusively for rides to and from military bases
However, do note that some of these vehicles require advance reservations. You can reserve any type of vehicle up to a month ahead.
Is It Safe to Ride Uber in Honolulu?
It is safe to ride Uber in Honolulu, which is generally considered a safe city. The Uber app contains several features and tools to ensure rider safety. Riders can use the app to verify that they are getting into the right vehicle and send text messages to 911 to call for help during the ride.
Uber drivers are appointed after background checks, and the cars have GPS devices that enable any vehicle to be tracked down if the rider calls for assistance. So Uber in Honolulu is as safe as it gets.
As always with Uber and Lyft, riders should be aware of safety. Remember, Uber drivers are just regular people like you and me. Though there are background checks to become a driver, there is no guarantee the driver is safe or will act respectfully.
If you ride alone especially, you need to be aware of a few key safety concerns. Cutter Law in California has created this helpful guide to rideshare safety that is a must-read if you ride alone or if you have students/children using rideshare services.
Uber offers safe rides in different types of vehicles to get around Honolulu, Waikiki, and surrounding areas.
As the largest ride-hailing company with a 70% market share in the U.S., Uber’s app is probably already on your phone. And there’s no reason not to take advantage of its convenience to get the most out of your Hawaiian holiday.
- Uber: Honolulu: Get a Ride. Travel. Explore.
- GoHawaii.com: The Hawaiian Islands
- Love O’ahu: The Best Way to Get Around On Oahu (Bus, Car, Taxi, Trolley, Etc.)
- Waikiki Beach Stays: Uber, Lyft & Holoholo on Oahu
- Best of Oahu: Oahu Bus
- Travel+Leisure: There’s a New Way to Get Around Hawaii Without Having to Rent a Car
- CNET: Uber vs. Lyft: We compare the two ride-hailing apps
- Moovit: TheBus, Honolulu – bus Times, Routes & Updates