Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, with no shortage of picturesque views, lush landscapes, and crystal-clear waters. So when you find yourself in the Aloha State, the last thing you should do is stay in your hotel room. Thankfully, getting around Hawaii is pretty easy, with a number of options available for every kind of traveler.
The most convenient way to get around Hawaii is by renting a car, especially if you are planning on going on adventure trips and have no problem navigating. However, car rentals can be a bit expensive. You can also rent a bicycle, moped or motorcycle, RV truck, or use trolleys (Waikiki) and buses.
Don’t know which you should use? Further in this article, I will discuss all transportation options in Hawaii, as well as how to stay safe and keep costs at a minimum, whichever transportation option you choose.
1. Rent a Car
The most convenient and definitely the most common way to get around Hawaii is by renting a car. It’s ideal if you are traveling with a large group or with your family since planning the transportation for a large group of people can be stressful if you don’t have a vehicle you can use whenever you need it.
If you want to arrange things beforehand, you can book a car rental in advance through a travel agency so that you don’t have to look for a car when you land. That way, you don’t waste precious time looking for a car and go straight to exploring the island.
Pro tip: When renting a car, always go for a four-wheel drive. While most roads in main cities are smooth and paved, there still are plenty of rough roads in Hawaii. You can take 4WDs anywhere, no matter the terrain, which makes them ideal for those who are looking to go exploring nature trails, hiking spots, and even campgrounds.
How to Rent a Car
Renting a car in Hawaii is pretty straightforward and quick. You only need the following:
- Valid driver’s license from your home country.
- ID card with your picture and birth date (you need to be at least 21 years old).
You usually don’t need to pay upfront when renting a car, and if you won’t be needing the vehicle right away, you can simply make a reservation without having to pay any fees. Car rental rates, however, are quite steep in Hawaii. The average cost of a car rental service is $157 per day, although you can rent a small car for around $40 per day.
Also, remember to keep your seatbelt fastened while driving around Hawaii to avoid getting fined. Authorities are quite strict on road safety, so make sure to follow all the laws!
Pros and Cons
Car rentals are the most common transportation option among tourists in Hawaii, but that doesn’t mean it will work for you. Here are the pros and cons of car rentals to help you weigh whether renting a car is worth it:
- Flexible. You can take it anywhere, anytime you want.
- Quick to process. You can pick a car and take it with you in just a few minutes.
- Great for travelers with kids. Less hassle, especially when there are small kids in tow.
- Storage space. You can keep valuables in your car while you go swimming or hiking.
- Expensive. Given the average rate, you could be spending over a thousand dollars just on a car rental for a one-week Hawaii trip. Don’t forget you’ll also need to spend on fuel.
- Disputes regarding damages may arise. You need to be extra careful when renting a car because some companies may charge you for damages that you didn’t cause.
2. Rent a Bicycle
If you’re traveling alone or with a partner, you can opt to rent a bicycle instead. Not only is it much cheaper, but it’s also a convenient way to go around a Hawaiian island. As compared to driving a car, going around on a bicycle is a better way to take in the island vibe–plus, you also get to exercise as you go exploring!
How To Rent a Bicycle
For those who want big savings, renting a bicycle is a great option. On average, bike rental costs $25 a day. That’s a fraction of what you would spend on a rental car! If you think this is the option for you, you will need an ID card.
If you’re below 16 years old, you will be provided with a helmet, which you need to wear while driving. Make sure you don’t forget your helmet because you will be fined if you fail to wear one on the road.
Pros and Cons
With amazing views everywhere, Hawaii is a wonderful place to bike in. Cycling is also becoming a huge sport in the country, both among locals and tourists. But will it work for you? Let’s look at the pros and cons of going around Hawaii on a bike.
- Very cheap. Rental costs are very inexpensive, plus you don’t have to purchase fuel.
- Easy to maneuver in heavy traffic. Hawaii is notorious for bad traffic, especially during peak hours in the morning and evening. But when you’re on two wheels, it’s much easier (and quicker) to navigate.
- You get to enjoy the scenery. Yes, you can see the beauty around you when driving a car, but there’s a different closeness to nature that you get to experience when you’re on a bike as compared to a motorized vehicle.
- Not ideal for families. If you have kids in tow, renting a bike is not the best option.
- No storage space. A bicycle is fine if you can fit your stuff in your backpack, but not when you need to bring lots of things along (such as a tent and other equipment).
- Not for long distances. If you’re going to travel long distances, riding a bike can be exhausting.
3. Rent a Motorcycle or Moped
If you want to travel long distances without getting tired of pedaling while also keeping costs low, you can rent a moped or a motorcycle instead. These are great for couples too because you can rent single or two-passenger mopeds.
Also, you don’t have to worry about reckless drivers because Hawaiians are mild-mannered and easygoing folk who are not aggressive on the road. It’s also uncommon to see motorists who speed or go beyond speed limits.
How To Rent a Motorcycle or Moped
To rent a motorcycle, scooter, or moped, you’ll need the following:
- Valid driver’s license from your home country.
- ID card (You should be at least 16 years old to rent a moped and at least 18 years old to rent a motorcycle).
Under Hawaiian law, all motorists below the age of 18 are required to wear helmets while driving. Bear this in mind to avoid any fines.
Pros and Cons
If you’re looking for speed, motorcycles are your best bet, although you have to be responsible when driving and remember not to go over the established speed limits (You will be fined if you go over 80 mph).
Let’s look at other pros and cons of renting motorcycles and mopeds:
- Easy to maneuver in traffic. Just like bikes, motorcycles and mopeds are easier to navigate in heavy traffic because of their slimmer bodies.
- Fuel-efficient. You don’t have to spend as much on fuel as compared to rental cars.
- You can go on motorcycle tours. Guided motorcycle tours are a great way to explore Hawaii.
- Space for passengers. You can accommodate passengers, making them great for couples and families.
- You can go to hiking trails and other remote locations. Motorcycles are great if you want to go on adventures like hiking, as they can access even remote areas that aren’t accessible using public transportation.
- Safety risk. People driving motorcycles are at a higher risk of getting into vehicular accidents.
- You’ll be exposed to the elements. It’s common to experience sudden rainfalls in Hawaii, even in the summer. If you choose a motorcycle or moped, you may have to wait until the rain lets up before going on your way.
- Not very common. Unlike car rentals, it’s far less common to rent motorcycles or mopeds in Hawaii. You will typically only find them in resorts.
- Rates can be steep. Perhaps because they’re pretty rare, renting a motorcycle or scooter can be expensive, and rates tend to vary depending on where you’re renting from.
4. Ride a Bus
If you want a hassle-free way of getting around Hawaii, you can opt to use the public bus system instead. No need to rent transportation or allocate a budget for fuel. Also, all major islands in Hawaii have bus systems that you can use to go from town to town and even to some beaches.
Pros and Cons
Using public transportation is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Hawaii life. It’s not only the cheapest mode of transportation, but it’s also great for mingling with locals and even making friends during your commute.
However, I’ll let you decide whether riding a bus will work for you:
- It’s the cheapest mode of transportation. A one-way bus ride typically costs only a little over $2. If you want to save even more, you can also avail of all-day bus passes, which typically cost about $5.
- There are regular trips. While schedules vary from island to island, trips are pretty regular, which means you can always catch one.
- No driving involved. If you don’t know how to drive or simply don’t want to drive, then you can sit back, relax, and wait to reach your destination.
- You have to wait. While there are regular trip schedules, you can’t be as spontaneous as you’d like if you choose to go around by bus. You will need to arrange your activities with trip schedules in mind.
- You won’t be able to access every tourist spot by bus. If you want to go on an adventure, like mountain climbing, hiking, and camping, you may be disappointed because buses can’t access many of these destinations.
5. Book a Taxi
Another convenient way to go around Hawaii is by booking a taxi. With tourism booming in this state, there are plenty of taxi apps that you can use to book a ride, so you won’t have a problem with transportation no matter what time of the day.
Taxis are also pretty inexpensive as compared to renting a car (though much more expensive when compared to riding a bus). The meter usually starts with a flag-down rate of $3, but this tends to vary from island to island. Some taxi companies may also charge for luggage.
Pro tip: If you’re traveling alone, use a taxi app when going around, as these are much safer, especially if you need transportation late at night. They have technology that allows them to track every vehicle, so their company knows exactly where you are when you book a taxi.
Pros and Cons
Here are the pros and cons of booking a taxi to go around Hawaii:
- Readily available. It’s easy to book one using a taxi app.
- You can access even remote destinations. Unlike buses, you can go anywhere when you ride a taxi. You can reach hiking trails, beaches, national parks, and more.
- Comfortable. Depending on where you’re going, you will likely go on some rough roads. Riding a taxi is much more comfortable when passing through bumpy areas as compared to motorcycles.
- There may be additional charges. When flagging down a taxi, make sure to ask about the rate as well as other additional charges before getting in. Some drivers charge more than the flag-down and per-mile rates.
- Long distances can be expensive. Taxi rides are best for short distances, such as when you want to go to a nearby beach or drop by a restaurant in town.
- There are not many taxis around. While you may find plenty of airport taxis or shuttles, you will have a hard time spotting one in the streets.
Transportation is one of the primary costs of your trip, but it’s not the only one. Find out about how much traveling to Hawaii can cost you and how you can reduce your costs in my guide.
There are many ways to go around Hawaii. The mode of transportation you choose depends on your budget and personal preference. I hope that this guide has helped you pick the one that will make your Hawaiian vacation smooth and hassle-free.
- The Travel: How You Can Get Around Hawaii Without Renting a Car
- Love Oahu: The Best Way to Get Around on O’ahu (Bus, Car, Taxi, Trolley, Etc.)
- Car Rental Hawaii: Getting Around Hawaii
- Go Hawaii: Getting Around
- Lonely Planet: How to Get Around Hawaii: Island Hopping and Volcano Spotting
- TripAdvisor: Hawaii Car Rentals
- Hawaii Travel with Kids: The Best Maui Bike Rentals to Explore Maui