Car / Taxi / Bus, Oahu
If you're staying in Waikiki and don't have a rental car, a cheap way to take a tour of the island is to catch the "Circle Island" buses from Ala Moana center. Adult fare is $2.00 and includes 1 transfer. From Waikiki, take the #8, 19, 20, 42, or 58 bus and transfer to the #52 or #55 Circle Island bus at Ala Moana center. The ride takes about 4.5 hours, but will give you a beautiful view of the Windward and North Shore, less touristy parts of the island. A 4 day visitor pass is also available for $20.
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.
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.
The best way to get a true feeling of all Oahu has to offer is to rent a car. Then head away from Honolulu. You can rent a compact car for as little as $116 a week. This is a great rate compared to other cities. HNL is serviced by all the major rental companies. Traffic can be a bear in the city so do be careful. With 3 major highways on Oahu getting around is pretty easy just be sure to get an up to date map
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.
The "Aloha Maps of Hawai'i" is a great free publication that I picked up from a kiosk in the airport terminal. It has road maps that are much more detailed than what you would get from a car rental agency, a nice map of Waikiki, maps of the state's major airports, a listing of beaches with life guards, and driving directions and detailed maps of the resort areas of the islands showing hotel and beach locations. I'd recommend picking one up (especially because its free)!
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.
Hands down, the best way to get around Oahu is with a Jeep!
When the sun is out, the top is down. When the rain comes, the top goes up!
Just enough trunk space for beach necessities & snorkel gear.
You will kick yourself if you do not have a convertible - there is so much to see, and it is best taken in with the top down!
I rented through Thrifty Car Rental - the experience was good, price was fair, and I would use them again!
At the free breakfast, the morning after we arrived we ended purchasing sevral tours. They were reasonable, but we ended buying too many. The tour bus actually picked us up at our hotel.
Next time we go, we will certainly be renting a car and tour on our own.
It's not like if we will get lost.
Worst that can happen, is probably we end up going in circles.
Car Rentals are reasonably economical in Hawaii though gas (petrol) prices are higher than the national average. Budget-Rent-A-Car is one of the best to rent from since they give out a booklet on every rental which contains numerous coupons for '2 for 1' offer. This could add up to considerable savings.
There are also buses that are convenient to see Oahu. Some of these buses serve the local attractions quite well and the frequency is reasonable. The Oahu bus system is called TheBus and the only restriction is that the buses dont allow you to carry heavy luggage.
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.
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.
If you want to go around Oahu and you are really short of time, then you have to rent a car. We rent a compact and it turned to be a Ford Focus. Remember that Hawaii is United States, so compacts are not like in Europe.
On a whole day you can drive all around Oahu and visit the major beaches of the North Shore.
You do not necessarily need to rent a car on Oahu, at least for the majority of your visit. The Waikiki area is easily accessible on foot, and most island attractions, including the USS Arizona Memorial and the Polynesian Cultural Center can be reached via public bus or a hotel shuttle.
I do recommend renting a car for at least one day of your stay so that you can drive up to the North Shore of Oahu. You really must see this area while you're on the island and the best way to do it is by car. Then, you'll have the freedom to stop when and where you want to and set your own pace.
Rental cars are readily available at the airport. There is also a Hertz rental car desk at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.