Car / Taxi / Bus, Oahu
Who needs a car on this island when the bus system is so great and reliable? After trying it once I didn’t even think about using a car instead, although I had this possibility.
Their transfer system is well organized and for just $2 you can go to the other side of the island and back again.
It works very simple, you get on the bus and pay $2 (slide in the machine right next to the bus driver), if you’re planning to go back within next 3 hours or change to another bus line simply ask the driver for a transfer ticket. Once you board the second bus simply give this ticket to the bus driver.
The transfer ticket has time on it, the very top numbers indicate the time by which you must use it. And although it says everywhere that the transfer time is 2 hours, you’ll find out that you have much more time.
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.
Traveling can be exhausting as we all know. I realised that sometimes treating yourself to a bit of luxury can really help the trip to go smoothly. Such was the case with our recent Oahu trip. We knew we were not going to rent a car for this trip, driving in the city of Honolulu and Waikiki can be a nightmare. And we really did not want to wait for a bus or shuttle to take us to our hotel (along with 30 other passengers and their hotel stops) We had little time on this trip and we wanted to make use of it all.
I found a terrific company called, Hawaii Car Service. Not only did they meet us prompty at the airport (our flight was late so they monitored it and arrived to take us over to our hotel.)
They also offered a flower lei service $6.00 a piece versus most other private car companies who were charging $26.00 and up for flower leis!!
Our drivers (to and from) the airport, were most courteous and well versed in how to avoid traffic and get us to our destination.
The cost is moderately expensive but we considered it well worth it as we were able to get to our hotel and back to the airport with ease.
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.
When we headed eaterwards on H-1 and around the eastern shores, we rode for a while on the north shore, but being three days out of the hospital ran out of steam along the way. A good thing to remember is the highway marked H-3. It cuts smack dab through the center of the mountain and offers a breath taking ride. We took it south to Honolulu and back to the hotel for rest.
The net day, wanting to continue the loop around the north side of the island, we conveniently just took H-3 north, and continued where we left off.
One of the best deals anywhere, TheBus will take you around the whole island for $1.50. In fact, on a daily basis, more than 260,000 people use the system's 68 lines and 4,000 bus stops.
TheBus goes almost everywhere almost all the time. The most popular route is no. 8 (Waikiki/Ala Moana), which shuttles people between Waikiki and Ala Moana Center every 10 minutes or so (the ride is 15-20 min.). The no. 19 (Airport/Hickam), no. 20 (Airport/Halawa Gate), no. 47 (Waipahu), and no. 58 (Waikiki/Ala Moana) also cover the same stretch. Waikiki service begins daily at 5am and runs until midnight; buses run about every 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes in the evening.
The Circle Island-North Shore route is no. 52 (Wahiawa/Circle Island); it leaves from Ala Moana Shopping Center every 30 minutes and takes about 4 1/2 hours to circle the island. The Circle Island-South Shore route is no. 55 (Kaneohe/Circle Island) and also leaves Ala Moana every half hour and takes about 3 to 4 1/2 hours to circle the island.
You can buy a Visitors Pass for $15 at any ABC store in Waikiki (ABC stores are literally everywhere in Waikiki). It's good for unlimited rides anywhere on Oahu for 4 days.
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.
Oahu has a really great bus system. I have had friends who came here every year and never rented a car. They saw places we have never seen. Our system is called The Bus, and they have a great website that makes it easy to figure out how to go wherever you want to go.
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!
Driving around O'ahu can be quite frustrating if you have to go to Honolulu during rush hours! The state of Hawaii has a Zipper lane which is open on H1between Waipahu to the Airport on weekdays from about 5:30am till 8:30 am ... unfortunately the speed limit is slower in this lane, and you will need to have at LEAST 3 people in your vehicle ... but this is a solution to our traffic problems here ... along with the shoulder lane being open to traffic during the morning rush hour. It will only take you as far as the Honolulu Int'l Airport, but even that far has been a great help coming from the country side of the island.
We rented a car from Hertz though a package deal on Expedia and it was supposed to be an economy car. I noticed a few days later on Expedia that they were advertising a free upgrade. So I printed out the page and presented this ad everytime I rented a car (Oahu, Kauai and Maui). I am not sure if it was actually valid but 2 out of 3 times (I am assuming the Corolla was NOT an upgrade) I got better cars! Worth a try. Pictured here is the Pontiac Vibe which I fell in love with in Oahu. It was zippy, very economical and plenty of room for body boards, backpacks, luggage, etc. All it was missing was a sunroof. Found out later that it was the same car as a Toyota Matrix. Hmm....maybe it is time to dump the old Subaru.
By the way.....I always seem to get stuck driving when my hubby and I travel.
Pro - cuts out the arguments.
Con - I miss some of the sights.
Anyone else have this problem??!!
If you can't rent your own vehicle, this is a great alternative! Very inexpensive, about $1.50 adult fare will get you ALMOST anywhere on the island of O'ahu. You can get bus schedules from any satellite city hall, or many hotel lobbies, as well as online at their website. The buses are airconditioned and a transfer gets you farther for your buck.
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
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.
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.