Although U.S. rent-a-car prices have fallen from their July 2021 record highs, they are still very high. In December 2022, the average rental car price in the United States was 36% more than in December 2019. Honolulu in Hawaii is one place where rental car prices can feel particularly high.
Honolulu rental prices are high. Many resorts also charge exorbitant parking fees. NerdWallet gathered data from more than 100 U.S. hotel chains for its 2023 Best of Awards to find the best hotel rewards program.
Honolulu’s average hotel parking fee is $46.06 per night. This is behind only New York ($50), and Chicago ($56.
And don’t forget gas. According to AAA data, Hawaii has the highest average gas price in 2023 regardless of fuel type.
You might think about skipping driving on your next Oahu vacation due to the high cost of parking, gas, and renting cars. How realistic is it to travel around Oahu in a rental car?
If you’re willing to walk a bit, wait for a bus, and don’t mind occasionally calling a taxi, then skipping car rental in Honolulu could be a great money-saver. This is how you can get around Honolulu, Oahu, and other destinations without renting a car.
Redfin, an online brokerage for residential real estate, has ranked Honolulu 11th in its latest Transit Score rankings.
TheBus is Oahu’s public bus service. Cash fares cost $3. According to data from TheAmerican Public Transportation Association (a non-profit that represents the interests of public transportation, around 117,000 people ride the bus every weekday. This is roughly one third of Honolulu’s population.
American tourists tend to be less enthusiastic.
According to data from Hawaii Tourism Authority, less than 9% of American tourists traveled out of state to Oahu in 2019. This compares to 27% of European tourists and 18% for Japanese tourists. About 60% of Americans used a car rental, compared to 44% of Europeans, and 22% for Japanese tourists.
Due to the many stops, buses can take twice as long as driving. Buses can sometimes be late or crowded during peak hours. Sometimes, the difference can be negligible and certain routes are well-suited for bus riding.
It takes approximately 25 minutes to travel by express bus from Hilton Waikiki Beach and Iolani Palace, compared to 16 to 17 minutes driving. You will need to pay $4 for parking at Iolani Palace. There is not much parking so it might be worth spending extra time looking for spots.
Google Maps makes navigation of bus routes easy. It also shows up-to-date information accounting delays.
The Waikiki Trolley is a great option if you want to visit several tourist attractions near Honolulu such as Diamond Head, Chinatown, Punchbowl Crater and the Duke Kahanamoku statue. A $75 adult pass for seven days costs $75, while a one-day unlimited adult pass is $55. Trolleys are available every 20 minutes to 90 minutes depending on where they are located.
Routes are designed to be used in tourist-friendly areas so you won’t get lost.
The Waikiki Trolley’s new route revolves around Hawaii’s food scene. It stops at favorite local spots like Leonard’s Bakery and Leonard’s Bakery. Leonard’s Bakery is credited with popularizing malasada (a donut-like dish in Hawaiian cuisine).
Many hotels and tour operators partner with shuttle companies to transport guests to major destinations like the airport. The shuttle cost may be included in the total price, such as Coral Crater Adventure Park. All activities, such as zipline tours and ATV rides, are included in the package. Transportation to and from Waikiki hotels is also included.
Waikiki can be described as a neighborhood in Honolulu.
Sometimes, activity or lodging providers offer shuttle service as an additional fee. Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, in Ko Olina, offers shuttle services for $25 per person. Hele Hele Transportation is the company that provides shuttle service between the resort’s Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye Airport and the resort.
The Polynesian Cultural Center is another popular spot on Oahu. It offers canoe tours and activities, crafts and games, and lessons in cooking and spear-throwing.
You can save time and money by purchasing a round-trip ticket for $26 per person. It allows travelers to be picked up at Waikiki in morning and return approximately 12 hours later. This gives them enough time to enjoy all the activities.
Taxis or rideshares
Holoholo, a local rideshare company in Hawaii, is an alternative to other apps. The Holoholo app allows passengers to request a ride and a driver is assigned within minutes. The fare is displayed in advance as a fixed price and can be paid via the app using a credit card.
It usually costs around $45 to take a ride from Waikiki hotels and the airport to
Bike or walk
You will need to bring good walking shoes as many major hotels are located in areas that are pedestrian-friendly. It’s only a 45-minute walk to Diamond Head from Waikiki hotels.
Many tourist attractions can be found within walking distance of each other. You can find the Hawaii State Capitol, Maunakea Marketplace and the Hawaii State Art Museum all within a short distance of each other.
Biki, the local bike sharing service, is a convenient option to rent a bicycle. There are approximately 1,300 bikes available at 130 self-service “Biki Stops” located throughout downtown Honolulu. These can be accessed through the mobile app. You can either take a 30-minute ride for $4.50 or purchase a bank of 300-minutes (that’s five hours) at $30.
What’s next for Honolulu’s public transit?
The future of public transportation in Hawaii could be even better. The Honolulu Rail Transit Project is in development since years. Trial runs were conducted in August 2022. It is expected to open in 2023. However, tracks around the airport, city center, and station won’t open until 2031.
The Honolulu rail network will feature 21 stations along a 20 mile corridor along the south shore Oahu.
In the future, you won’t need to rent a car on Oahu.
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