Once you’ve booked your flight to Hawaii and got your accommodation lined up, the next step will often be searching for a good rental car company. While it can get a bit pricey, renting a car in Hawaii can give you flexibility and freedom to see more of the islands and to do so on your own time frame. You can use the widget above to search multiple car rental companies at one time.
On the island of Oahu, there is a great bus system – cleverly called TheBus – which will get you anywhere you want to go. On the other islands, you will need to rent a car for at least part of your visit, if not your whole stay, in order to really explore the attractions which are off the beaten path. On Oahu, if you will be staying mainly around Waikiki Beach, you will probably not need to have a car for your entire stay. In that case, you can just rent a car on the spot for the days you need it, or rely on the Bus to get you around.
If, on the other hand, you want to have any freedom to see attractions or take part in activities that are not within walking distance, you will want to rent a car during your visit to Hawaii. In general, if you find a good deal on a car rental it’s a good idea to book it then as the prices can change frequently. Also keep in mind that people aren’t driving to Hawaii from another state in their rental cars, so there is a relatively limited number of cars available for rent and prices will reflect this. Visitors during the busy season are well-advised to book their rental car in advance to make sure they don’t have to go without one.
Due to the cost of importing fuel, Hawaii does have some of the highest gas prices in the United States. Not only that, but the prices go even higher once you leave the Honolulu area. Keep this in mind when deciding whether you’ll need a compact or gigantic car, as it could mean a huge difference in gasoline expenses.
Helpful tips for car rental in Hawaii:
Book early. As mentioned above, there are a limited number of rentals available and booking in advance ensures that you will be able to get a rental. It also pays to check the rates again as your trip gets closer – sometimes prices fall and you will be able to rebook for a better rate. But don’t delay on your initial reservation or you may be left without a car when you need one.
Consider booking for just the days you need a car. Planning your itinerary in advance (at least loosely) can give you an idea of what days you’ll need a car. You can avoid costly overnight hotel parking fees by returning your car when you don’t need it.
A word on safety. While a vast majority of people in Hawaii are honest, there are thieves that prey on the fact that tourists will leave valuables in their rental cars and parking lots of tourist attractions or hiking spots provide a quick way to hit a bunch of cars at once. Do what the locals do and leave your valuables at home and unlock the doors to your car when you park it. Putting valuables in the trunk seems like a good idea, but often will just result in a broken window. Also keep in mind that that bright red convertible may also scream “tourist” to thieves, even if it looks great in photos. A little common sense goes a long way, and ensures that you enjoy your vacation to the fullest!
>> Decided you don’t need a car after all? There are other options for transportation in Hawaii, so make sure you do your research ahead of time. If you have a question or have a tip to share, feel free to leave a comment below!