When planning a trip to Hawaii, most people will book their accommodation and airfare and then wonder if they need a rental car. The answer to that question is different for each situation, and depends on a variety of factors. Which island you’ll be on, how many days you’ll actually need to be driving, cost of parking, and which attractions you want to visit should all be factors when deciding on whether to rely on public transportation or to rent a car.
If you find yourself able to take advantage of Hawaii’s bus systems, you will be able to save a bunch on your transportation costs, so here is a breakdown of your options for bus travel in Hawaii for each island:
Bus Travel on Oahu
Oahu has, by far, the most extensive bus system of all the Hawaiian Islands. Cleverly named TheBus, this is an excellent option if you plan ahead a bit. If you are staying in Waikiki, you’ll find yourself quite close to the main bus depot area on the island, located in and around Ala Moana Shopping Center. The main website also includes a bus guide specifically for Waikiki which is a handy pamphlet listing the bus stops, general information, as well as what lines go to which attraction.
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Bus Travel on Maui
Bus service in Maui is relatively new, and most visitors to Maui will choose a rental car for ease of getting around. However, rental cars on Maui are often notoriously expensive, and the public bus system costs only $1.00 per boarding, or $2.00 per day. The Maui Bus services many routes, including Lahaina/Kapalua, Kihei/Wailea, Upcountry, and Central Maui. There is bus service to and from the airport, however, there are restrictions on luggage, so you may want to arrange airport transfers separately. If you plan to get to some of the popular attractions, such as the road to Hana or sunrise at Haleakala, you may want to consider a guided tour or a rental car for the day.
Bus Travel on the Big Island
The Big Island has a public transporation network called the Hele On Bus, which is currently free except for surcharges for luggage, backpacks and bicycles. Because the geography of the Big Island is so spread out, you probably won’t want to rely on this as a means of transportation. It is by far more common to rent a car when visiting the Big Island. To save money or avoid a rental for your entire trip, you may look into hotels that have airport shuttles, and consider using guided tours as a way to get to the attractions you want to visit.
Bus Travel on Kauai
Kauai has a bus system called the Kauai Bus. There is daily (except Sunday and holidays) service from Hanalei to Kekaha, but no airport service and limited service elsewhere. Cost is $2.00 per trip. It makes the most sense when visiting Kauai to rent a car instead of relying on public bus service.
>> If you find yourself on Molokai or Lanai, you will most likely need to rent a car to get around. Even on islands with extensive transport options, most visitors will use a rental car for at least part of their stay.
>> Check out other transportation options in Hawaii.
>> If you have questions or tips, feel free to leave a comment below.