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Hawaii Transportation And How To Save Your Time And Money


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Aloha travelers,

Hawaii transportation may seem like a boring topic (who wants to read about rental cars when they’re going to Hawaii?), but it’s essential. Everyone is going to have to think about how they’re going to move about in Hawaii at some point – so I hope this Hawaii transportation guide really helps you out.

The Hawaii transportation topics that I’ll cover will be Uber, Lyft, taxis, car rentals, airport pickups, shuttles, buses, bicycles, tours and a few tips that will help you maneuver your way around Hawaii. Let me know if this helps!

Drive safely.

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Hawaii transportation

Need Some Discount Codes?

First time UBER users can use this promo to get a discount. UBER’s promotions are constantly changing, but this way you’ll save a few dollars on the fee.

Want to try LYFT? Here’s another promo for first time LYFT users for a $5 ride credit on their first ride. Don’t mind the “Fah Sai” name for the promo – that’s still me, your local girl Amy.

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Is Uber And Lyft Popular In Hawaii?

As of March 2017, both Uber and Lyft cover Oahu, Maui, the Big Island and Kauai. You’ll usually find more Uber drivers than Lyft drivers available here, but it’s good to keep both apps in hand just in case one happens to be near you. There have been times at the Honolulu Airport where all I see are Uber drivers, but it’s not uncommon to see a Lyft driver near you.

Lyft drivers use to drive around with those bright pink mustaches on their cars, but many drivers dislike attaching that bright pink plushy to their car. Instead, keep your eye out for that bright pink mustache on the dashboard or the black sticker with their logo on the front windshield when meeting up with your Lyft ride.

Ubers and Lyfts are not allowed to pick you up at the Honolulu International airport (HNL) anymore unless they have the correct licensing and permit, which defeats the purpose of getting a “cheaper” ride. You’ll also have to cross the street and walk out of HNL territory with your baggage – a hassle that will cost you an extra 10-15 minutes. Click here to see which Uber vehicles can pick you up at the curb. Both Uber and Lyft can drop you off at the airport.

As for outer island airports, each one has their own policies on pick up and drop off, but it’s a lot easier to get to the right designated meeting point (if any) since all of the other airports are tiny compared to HNL. In fact, you can probably walk the length of these airports in just a few minutes.

In general, using Uber and Lyft is a great choice as long as you’re not traveling from the Honolulu International Airport since the pick up can be a headache.

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Hawaii Transportation – When To Taxi On Oahu

If you have a lot of people in your group and aren’t planning on renting a car, then a taxi may be the best option for your Hawaii transportation when leaving HNL. Uber and Lyft makes life difficult when you’re trying to leave HNL and the shuttle buses charge about $8 per person each way (HNL to Waikiki), which can inflate the price surprisingly fast.

One of the best Hawaii taxi companies is Charley’s Taxi. According to their site, here are their flat rate prices when you book a taxi in advance:

  • Waikiki – $29  (typical meter is $35-38)
  • Aulani – $55 (typical meter: $65-75)
  • UH Manoa – $29 (typical meter: $35)
  • Kakaako – $25 (typical meter: $30)
  • Downtown – $20 (typical meter: $25)

It’s a pretty good deal especially if you’ve got 4-5 people traveling together. You won’t have to wait for the next shuttle and the taxi will take you directly to your hotel without any stops in between. The only limitation is the luggage limit. If your group has heavy suitcases, surfboards, golfing bags or anything else overly large or heavy, you’ll run into a fee for each bag.

Most taxis will stay in the Waikiki area so if you’re flagging one down, you’ll have the best luck in Waikiki. Once you’re out of Waikiki, you’ll see less available taxis. The best taxi strategy is to schedule it in advance so be sure to have your phone handy.

Hawaii Transportation – When To Taxi On The Outer Islands

While there are several taxi companies on the outer islands, it’s better to avoid using taxis for your Hawaii transportation on a day-to-day basis. Unlike Waikiki where it’s possible to spend a whole vacation within the strip, the other islands have attractions that you’ll need to drive out to. I’d only suggest using the taxi for short distances and booking in advance since you probably won’t see any to flag down.

Maui has several high-rated cab companies that can get you where you need to go at any time. From Kahului airport to Lahaina/Kaanapali (West Maui), you can expect to pay from about $65 – $90. From Kahului airport to Kihei/Wailea (South Maui), budget for about $80 – $90. On the Big Island, most visitors fly into the Kona Airport (KOA). From there to Kailua-Kona or the Kohala coast will cost you roughly $30. From Lihue airport on Kauai, Poipu will cost about $50, Hanalei $90, and Kapaa up to $35.

Local Tip: Taxi prices are regulated by the county government so taxi rates will be the same across the board when you get to an island. Choose your taxi company by services since the price will not change.

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Being Picked Up From Honolulu International Airport

Before you disembark from the plane, the pilots or flight attendants will usually tell you which baggage claim you should head to. The baggage claims run from letters A thru H and are inside the airport on the ground floor. From the baggage claim you can walk straight outside to a curb, which is probably the best place for you to wait for your ride. Once you know your baggage claim letter, relay that to your driver and have them meet you in the designated area.

Usually, interisland flights will end up on baggage claims A and B. All other domestic flights will go to C thru H. For international arrivals, you will come out of a separate exit between E and F, or another separate exit at C. If you’re not sure where you are, stand out on the curb and looked for the brightly colored alphabet signs that tell you which section you’re in.

Local Tip: For the outer islands, don’t worry about finding your ride at the airport. These airports are much smaller and you’ll be able to find your driver pretty quickly.

Hawaii transportation
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Renting A Car for Hawaii Transportation

Renting a car in Hawaii is by far one of the most popular choices for Hawaii transportation. It’s affordable, allows a certain amount of flexibility and control over your trip, and is usually quicker than public transportation. The only thing you’ll really have to worry about (on Oahu) is the parking and traffic. These can be huge downers on your vacation but are easily avoided with some careful planning.

While rental cars are a great option for Hawaii transportation, I think there are certain situations where you can reconsider renting a car if you’re in Waikiki/Oahu. Here’s why. If you do decide to rent a car, here’s how you can save a few bucks: If you want to save $48 per week on your rental car, then head to companies that are outside of the airport. If the office is located on airport grounds, they will charge an “airport concession fee”. Hawaii Car Rental explains in perfect detail how you can avoid this consumer trap! It’s so easy, too.

Local Tip: Beware those under 21 – You won’t be able to rent a car in Hawaii – a headache for young honeymooners. And if you’re under 25, expect to pay an “underage” surcharge that ranges from $25-$75 in Hawaii.

Discount Hawaii Car Rental is another site that you should check out for car rental deals.

Hawaii transportation
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The Bus

If you’re staying in Waikiki and plan to use The Bus as your main mode of Hawaii transportation – it’s actually not a bad idea. For those staying in Waikiki, you’ll find plenty to do and see in or near Waikiki. And with Waikiki and Honolulu being such a huge tourist hub, the network of buses available to you is neverending.

One-way fares are $2.75, but if you plan on using the bus 3 times or more (this includes bus transfers), then it’s better to purchase the full-day pass for $5.50.

Bus Systems on the Outer Islands

Maui’s bus system is the best in terms of routes and schedules. While it cannot compete with Oahu’s extensive bus system, the Maui buses offers affordable transportation that stretches all over the island. Be mindful of your time since there are less buses running though.

Kauai also has a pretty good bus system since Kaumualii highway and Kuhio highway go around nearly the whole island. It’s just $2 for a bus ride and $0.50 to ride the shuttle!

Although the Big Island does have a bus system, I’d recommend not relying on it for sightseeing. The buses here are mainly for commuters going to work. Plus, the Big Island involves a lot of driving since the attractions are spread out – renting a car is recommended.

Molokai has a free bus that moves along Molokai’s main road from east to west and back. Reservations are not necessary, just as long as you’re at the bus stop in time.

Lanai does not have a dedicated bus system.

Hawaii transportation
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Renting A Moped

One extremely popular method of transportation on the islands are mopeds. As long as you’re not headed toward the freeway, you’re free to maneuver the islands as you wish. These guys are cheaper than cars, easier to park and fun to drive. There’s nothing like feeling the ocean breeze against your face.

Hawaii Moped is a great choice for Oahu with a great selection of vehicles and services. Check to see if the motor rental company you choose offers islandwide delivery. If so, you won’t have to worry about finding your way to the store to pick up the mopeds.

Hawaii transportation
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Biki Bikes

Here’s a new Hawaii transportation option that’s very budget friendly. Biki bikes are now the hip way to travel Waikiki and the Honolulu area. All you need is your credit card and you’ll be able to ride and enjoy the wonderful tropical weather here in Hawaii. There are several Biki docks located in key points and you won’t have a problem finding one close to where you want to go. Make sure to download the Biki app (Bikeshare Hawaii) where you’ll be able to see maps, Biki docks, how many bikes are available and how many docks are open.

Hawaii transportation

You have 3 choices for Biki traveling. The simplest is for one-time riders who only need 30 minutes or less. Pay $3.50 via credit card and you’re all set. If you plan on using Biki bikes for an extended amount of time, then the $20 for 300 minutes is worth it. The best part is that there’s no time limit so you can use the 300 minutes whenever (just be sure to use the same credit card). If you’ll be in this part of Oahu for longer than a month, you can also check out the Biki website and take a look at their convenient monthly plans.

Victor Wong / Shutterstock.com

Segway Tours To See Everything Near You

What’s really gaining in popularity recently are segway tours. When these first came out, most locals were a little appalled. At first glance, it seemed like a tour that promoted laziness. But as people got used to the idea, the benefits were obvious. With segways, you can explore all of Waikiki without tiring yourself out. On foot, it would probably take you half a day to walk from one end to the other as you explore and check out where everything is. By then you’d be tired, sweaty, and forced to walk back to your hotel.

With segways, you can get a really good look at what’s around in a short amount of time without tiring yourself out. If you have trouble walking long distances, this is definitely something to look into as you can mentally mark places that catch your interest and find them later during your free time. This is a great time saver especially if you’ve only got a limited time in the area.

Hawaii transportation
Theodore Trimmer / Shutterstock.com

The Trolley, Roberts Hawaii And Tours

Waikiki Trolley

The trolleys of Waikiki are an old system that have been around for many years and for good reason. The trolleys are either open-aired or double decker buses and are the most convenient for tourists who need transportation from Waikiki to a number of Oahu attractions including Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor. Plus, they’re fun!

While the city buses are more extensive and cheaper ($5.50 per day), the trolleys will be quicker since the routes are made for tourists. Each stop is a point of interest so there won’t be any time wasted as you move around Honolulu. Even the trolley’s most expensive plan at $63.50 for 7 days comes out to about $9 a day – not a bad trade for saving time, a simpler pick up/drop off schedule and a first-rate view as you ride.

You can check out the trolley packages on their site and don’t miss their tours. Waikiki Trolley is also run by E Noa Tours and they have plenty of tour options for you to browse.

Roberts Hawaii

If using the trolley everyday isn’t in your vacation plans, then maybe Roberts Hawaii is the Hawaii transportation for you. This is a great choice if you plan on doing just 1 or 2 bus tours during your stay. What’s great about Roberts is that many of the bus drivers have been there a loooong time. And the drivers who are chosen for the in-depth tours such as the circle island tour really have the experience and personality for the job. They’re full of history and facts and will keep you busy as they explain each stop and its importance.

Roberts Hawaii also services the other islands and even does airport shuttle pick ups and drop offs. One of my favorite services that they provide is the shuttle to Waikele Premium Outlets – where you can do some serious shopping at discounted prices from top brand stores.

Since Roberts is such a big company, they have connections to almost every tour and activity – which means they provide transportation there. The Roberts Hawaii website is one of the most convenient platforms to go shopping on since you’ll be able to purchase the tour/activity and the transportation together.

Using Tours as your Hawaii Transportation

Another option for any of the islands is to use tours as your mode of Hawaii transportation. While large tour buses like the trolley or Roberts Hawaii will get you to the popular spots around the island, it’s the smaller and private tours that really allow you to explore Hawaii – and there are plenty of them.

Most recently, I went on an Oahu Photography Tour on the North Shore and it was just the tour guide, me and one other girl from Australia. We had loads of fun and our guide was willing to customize our tour based on what type of pictures we wanted to take. That kind of flexibility cannot be found on a big limousine bus. The best thing about these tours is that everything is planned. From lunch stops to bathroom breaks – having a personal guide that’s knowledgeable without worrying about getting lost or where to park your car will take a huge worry off your shoulders.

Browse a variety of private, small or custom tours on Hawaii at Hawaii Activities.

Hawaii transportation

Schedule An Authentic Lei Greeting With Transportation

Finally, if you’re looking for something extra for your transportation from the airport, a lei greeting booked with your transportation would be an awesome surprise. A lot of first-time Hawaii visitors are surprised when they don’t automatically receive a lei upon arrival. These days, you have to purchase a lei greeting in advance in order to receive this traditional gift.

One of the best lei greeting companies out there is LeiGreeting.com. They really put the customer first and assign one greeter per group (instead of one greeter for the whole plane). That way you really get the true one-on-one greeting and they’ll escort and help you get to your driver, rental car, shuttle or wherever you need to go next.

The best part? You can book fancy transportation on their site as well!

Need More Aloha With Love?

Visit the Aloha With Love homepage! There are plenty of resources, posts and tips to help you get started on planning your trip to Hawaii.

Check out Aloha With Tours for all the tours and activities that I personally recommend. I support responsible companies that provide authentic experiences.

Visit Hawaii Activities to see all the tours and activities that Hawaii has to offer.

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