Car / Taxi / Bus, Oahu
We've rented a car four times on seven visits to O'ahu and I will say that its a great way to explore the island on your own. I do like to explore as much as I can the other parts of the isalnd and I would recommend that if you are looking into renting a car, do your homework and if at all possible, reserve your car ahead of time especially if you are traveling during peak season. You can find rental car companies in Waikiki if you decide later on to rent a car, but my advice is to rent the car at the airport location, where you will get a more competitive price.
You can find all the major rental car companies which make the prices quite competitive.
The first time we rented a car, the rental company, which I think was Avis, in Waikiki had rates about $30 more per day. We decided to call the airport location and we got better rates.
On my last trip, I made the car rental reservations with a car rental company on line. The rental company was Thrifty, who gave us the best available rate for about $35 including damage waiver protection. It was well worth the added expensive and effort to pick up the car from the rental location at the airport, but we were able to save money while still being able to explore the rest of Oahu at our own pace and leisure.
If you have a favorite rental car company that you prefer, you will definitely find them at the airport. If you didn't make reservations prior to arriving, you can still rent a car if you go to the kiosks at the airport and dial the company on their direct phone line reservation centers.
I've taken a taxi both to and from the Honolulu International Airport on several occasions. On my last trip I noticed that the fares have risen by a few dollars since prior trips.
What I really don't care for is the traffic you encounter no matter what time of day. The taxi ride should take about 30-35 minutes, but more like 45-50 during peak commuting time.
On our most recent trip we paid about $45 plus tip.
On our first trip Oahu in 2012 we only spent three days in Waikiki. Then we flew over to Maui and spent the rest of our vacation on that island. We rented a car in Maui and were able to drive all over the island and see many things that you would miss on a tourist bus. We did not have a car in Oahu. We did a lot of walking. We also took a tour to Pearl Harbor through our hotel and a trip to a luau. When we started planning our second trip to Hawaii and rereading many of our travel guides we realized we missed a real opportunity by not renting a car on Oahu and experiencing the entire island. So we decided that instead of island hopping this time we would spend our entire time in Oahu with a rental car and seek out all of the treasures that Oahu has to offer and not just spend our entire in Waikiki.
Waikiki is wonderful. The beaches are perfect and there is enough there to keep you busy and entertained. But don't miss an opportunity to explore the rest of Oahu. Rent a car!
We ended up with a Mustang convertible. For the week Mark and I were not two middle aged men visiting Hawaii. In our minds we were two kids in a convertible singing surf songs.
My wife arranged transportation to and from Pearl Harbour with this company. They provide airport shuttles and other drop off points as well. We were scheduled to be picked up at 6am from the Hyatt Waikiki. The cost was $18 for the two of us roundtrip. When the driver pulled up and called out our names he gave us a weird look. He said" You know it doesn't open until 8am so why are you getting picked up now?". My wife explained we were told to get there early as the lines get long. This was greated with an eye roll. He then radioed his dispatcher with: "yeah, I told them they are too early but they want to go". Really?! This is how this is beginning.
When we arrived at Pearl Harbour and saw the line of people my wife exclaimed "See there is a line; and I'm glad we are early". He handed us a return ticket for pick up that had the return times posted (11am; 12:30pm, 1:20pm and 4pm). he said there was no need to call as "someone" is always here at these times. I had a bad feeling about that...
So after we toured Pearl Harbour, we headed over to the designated area for pickup around 3:45pm. Another couple was also there waiting for the same company. Well 4pm came and went, my wife called and the dispatcher said they were running late. 4:30 came and went and still no driver. My wife called yet again and was told they were 5 minutes away. so at 4:45pm the driver finally showed up with another co-worker in tow in the front seat. No greeting; no nothing; just handed her our return voucher.
We had to make a "stop" to drop off this additional co-worker of the driver before we made the stops for the other couple at the Hawaiian Village and then ours at the Hyatt. After this experience I will probably not use this company again and definitely will not recommend it.
I have often used taxis to get to and from the airport. Taxis are easy to obtain and there is a well organzed taxi stand right outside of the airport after baggage claim. Rate have varied on each trip but our most recent trip we paid $37 dollars for a one way trip without the tip. Shuttles are a more affordable option but sometimes I just don't want the hassle.
There are many different types of trolley services. Waikiki Trolley offers many types of tours that will take you to many areas of the island.
This particular trolley is called JALPAK original Rainbow Trolley & Rainbow Sky. They were ALL over and they cater to the Japanese tourist who may not speak English.
We do a lot of exploring by walking, yet while exploring Waikiki you will notice loads of different type of transportation, especially the bus services. The city buses we saw everywhere more than others. If you choose to use this service, make sure to check there web site. Lots of extra services they provide is wondeful, especially for people with disabilities called the TheHandi-Van.
Two buses run from the airport to Waikiki. #19 and #20 go from the airport, through town, and into Waikiki. After getting your bags, go to the upper level and the bus will pick you up there. They run at least every half hour (if not more frequently - depending on the time of the day). The fare is $2.00 and it takes about an hour and ten minutes to get to Waikiki from the airport.
There are two buses that will take you on the "Circle Island" route. It goes around the island from the Ala Moana Center, to Haleiwa, the North Shore, Kaneohe, and back in to town. (Or reverse order depending on which bus you take) The route I described is the #52. The #55 follows the opposite route. If you really want to do it, I'd suggest taking the 52 since it will get to more well known spots sooner. The trip takes 3.5 to 4 hours depending on the time of day you go. Can't beat a $2 island tour. :-)
This one is easy. Just take the #5 bus (it starts at the Ala Moana Center on the mauka - that's mountain - side). Ride it all the way to the end and hike up the street the rest of the way. Just keep going straight back and you will get there.
Use "The Bus" for getting around in Waikiki and the Island of Oahu, as driving your own car can end up being a hasle due to trafic and hard to find and expensive parking.
There are frequent routes going allmost anywhere and the cost is $2 per ride, but make sure to ask the driver for a transfer and you can catch another bus within two hours.
A four day pass is available for $20, and may be convenient if you plan to get on and off the bus a lot.
For getting around Honolulu and Waikiki The Bus is the best option, and it takes 1 1/2 - 2 hours to get to the North Shore from Waikiki.
An Oahu Island roundtrip takes around 4 hours.
The airport shuttle is a cheap but not always quick option to and from the airport. Our hotel was able to arrange a shuttle pick up to the airport. Depending on the amount of pickups and your hotel's location ; there could be multiple stops along you way en route to the airport (which can be annoying to say the least). I think the price was $12 but I am unsure since my wife made the arrangements.
Waikiki area isn’t far from the airport and you won’t need a car there, just walk around, there are tourists that only go from their hotels to the beach. But for me is stupid to get stacked here, Oahu island is big and you need many days (maybe weeks) to see every corner.
Here are your options:
1)don’t do anything, book everyday a day tour from a local travel agent! It will cost you a lot but you won’t be stressed about anything and probably a guide will explain what you see.
2)rent a car and feel free to go where the road takes you. The problem with the car is the parking, especially in Waikiki is a huge problem so check the hotel parking, the area around it, how much they charge per night etc I noticed all the major car rental companies at the airport. There are some rental companies at Waikiki too but they charge more. It’s better to reserve your car from home for better rates and just drive it upon your arrival.
3)The good news are that Oahu is the only island in Hawai’i that has a good and reliable bus public system that will take you everywhere if you can plan ahead. What I mean is that you need a map of the bus routes (the hotels and the Info points give them for free) because sometimes you will have to change buses. TheBus is the company that runs the system and we were satisfied enough. The ticket is expensive ($2.50) but you can buy a 4day pass ($25) that will save a lot of dollars if you plan to use it more than 2-3 times per day. You can find the 4day pass in every ABC store (there is one in every corner in Waikiki). Just scratch off any four consecutive days at the back side of the card beginning with the first day of use, don’t forget to scratch the month also. Display the pass to the drivel every time you take the bus. It was really handy because we didn’t have to ask for tickets all the time which is more stressful because you need the exact amount of money for that (drivers don’t carry change).
The bus stops(pic 2) have signs with the routes that stop there but not the direction so it’s better to ask the driver to be sure, they are always smiley and friendly anyway. The buses are wheelchair accessible they can also carry two bicycles for free.
The only problem with the bus is the cold! We felt like we were in Siberia every time we were there, so take something to put over your aloha shirt!
When I usually come to Hawaii I rent a car. Even though my husband has all his family here I dont like depending on anyone for rides. I like getting ready and taking off to wherever I want whenever I want.
I find it very easy to drive in Hawaii and I dont usually get lost. If I do there is always someone there to help me find my way.
Being from LA we drive fast and they really dont in Hawaii. I always have to slow myself down and be at the island pace.
There is traffic here especially during rush hour so just expect it and enjoy the ride.
Also remember to make reservations for a car ahead of time to be on the safe side. I didnt think I would need a car the whole time I was on the island. I rented a car for a few days and made a reservation. When I got to Oahu I realized I would like the car soon and tried to call to get the car sooner. It wasnt available and they had NOTHING available. This is also during summer time.
I found a place around the corner from my hotel and rented a jeep there. It was a shady looking place and the name wasnt a well known reputable company. It was called VIP on Kuhio. They have a few locations around, I dont know if they are all the same. I needed a car desperately so I took the jeel they were offering. I totally regret it. First of all the rag top was a peice of crap. I thought it was going to fly away when we drove on the highway. We literally had to hold on to it as we drove. There was no radio, the car looked like it should have been retired a long time ago. When I went to put gas in it, it didnt even have a gas cap, they had stuffed paper in there. Then to top it off they told me that if there was sand in the car there would be an extra $25 cleaning fee. I didnt notice that in back of the back seat there was already sand. And not my sand by the way. I lasted a few hours with that car and returned it. It had started to rain and the top would not stay on. We got soaked on the Palui lookout area.
So the moral of the story is go ahead rent a car but go with a reputable company and reserve ahead of time.
The bus system in Hawaii is the best bus system in the United States! It is the most efficient and reliable bus system.
Since Hawaii's economy relies mostly on tourism, the government here make sure that the transportation system is excellent. An average of 25,000 tourists use the bus system on a daily basis. The bus is the best way to travel in Hawaii and it is a safe way of venturing the island.
Scenic Bus Ride: Tour the island via TheBus. The four hour trip starts when you take #8, #19, #20, #42 or #58 to Ala Moana Center and transfer to #55 Kane'ohe/Circle Isle #52 Wahiawa/Circle Isle.
The fares (exact change needed)
Children 6 under are free
ages 6 to 17 are $1.00