Need car in Honolulu?

Aug 13th, 2010, 11:08 PM
Original Poster
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Need car in Honolulu?


I'm planning my first trip to Hawaii (Honolulu), and found a nice package that offers air, hotel and car. After some research, I discovered that Honolulu is congested and that there is good public transit system.

My SO and I abhor the traffic in the S.F. Bay Area and do not necessarily want to spend the 6 days of our vacation being stuck in traffic in a city we don't know.

The package is for 6 nights in Waikiki, at a central hotel. Is it absolutely necessary to get a rental car or can we walk/rent bikes and rely on public transit systems?

Any help you provide will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!!
aggiealum2 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 11:19 PM
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You can get around Honolulu using the bus, but if you want to see the rest of the island you really need a car. And you will be missing out on a lot if you don't see the rest of O`ahu.
aloha is offline  
Aug 14th, 2010, 07:20 AM
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Waikiki is compact. You can walk most places. I agree w/ Aloha that you should drive around the island. The north shore is very pretty, especially around Waimea Bay and the drive on H3 from Honolulu to the east coast and on up past Chinaman's Hat is spectacular.

Have a great trip.
hmmm is offline  
Aug 14th, 2010, 07:48 AM
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Agree with both the above replies -- not only to see the north shore and cut across the island, but also to go to Kailua and Lanikai on the east shore. I guess you could get there on public transit -- never tried it (never will!)
sf7307 is online now  
Aug 14th, 2010, 09:00 AM
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The hotels have a fairly high charge to park cars, so if this fee is not included in your package rate, I would seriously question whether you want to rent one.
Placename is offline  
Aug 14th, 2010, 09:50 AM
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Traffic in Honolulu is not near as bad as San Francisco.

Outside of Honolulu, Oahu is rural.

You can see Oahu much better with a car. Use it as much as possible. You won't need it in Waikiki.

You will waste hours of precious vacation time trying to take public transportation.
dusty56438 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2010, 05:43 PM
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We usually just rent a car for one day and drive around the island.
carolyn is offline  
Aug 14th, 2010, 06:08 PM
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I second Carolyn's comment. I've always used the bus system, which I think is quite good. I did rent a car once to go to Kailua.
Pegontheroad is online now  
Aug 14th, 2010, 06:49 PM
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These are examples of time lost taking the bus:

Diamond Head:

5 minutes each way by car. You park inside the crater at the trailhead.

30 minutes each way by bus. Drops you off outside the crater adding 1/2 mile each way to the hike.

Lost time 1 1/2 hours

USS Arizona Memorial:

30 minutes each way by car.

1 hour 15 minutes each way by bus.

Lost time 1 1/2 hours

National Cemetery of the Pacific:

25 minutes each way by car. In 15 minutes you can drive around inside the crater to all of the highlights including parking near the lookout.

45 minutes each way by bus. The bus drops you off 1/2 mile from the visitors center. Then you spend 1 1/2 hours walking to the same points that you can drive to in 15 minutes.

Lost time 2 1/2 hours

You've lost 5 1/2 hours just in those 3 attractions.

With a car, you can easily go from one attraction to another.

With a bus you have to backtrack to either downtown Honolulu or Ala Moana Center to transfer to get to another attraction.

If you rent a car for one day, you will be stopping for 5 minutes at each beach, attraction along the way, instead of taking time to really enjoy the beach or attraction.

You can drive to nice waterfalls & other hikes & have time to see them.

Take my advice & rent a car & get out & see the island.

Lots of info:

For a free Oahu brochure:

dusty56438 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2010, 08:07 PM
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Posts: 28
Thank you all for your respnses.

As the package does not include parking costs, I am beginning to think that perhaps we should rent a car for part of the time. The question is for how long...

We will be two blocks from Waikiki beach at the Aqua Aloha Surf and Spa. What is witin walking or biking distance? (My SO and I are recreational riders, easiy handling 10-20 miles on gentle slopes or flat terrain.) How biker friendly is Honolulu? Can we bike to see the USS Arizona, the Pacific Cultural Cemter for example? Thanks in advance.
aggiealum2 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2010, 09:00 PM
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If your hotel is on the Diamond Head end of Waikiki, you can park at Aston Waikiki Banyan for $10/day. You don't need to stay in that hotel to get that rate.

You can park along Ala Wai Blvd for free. Open 24 hours/day except Monday & Friday mornings 8:30am - noon for street cleaning. May be difficult top find parking after 4pm.

Forget trying to bike around Oahu. There are some areas that are biker friendly but not the entire island. Honolulu definitely is not biker friendly.

It takes an hour to drive to Polynesian Cultural Center. Probably 4-5 hours each way by bike. Plus PCC is best if you stay for the evening show. That does not get over until 9pm or so.

Rent the car.
dusty56438 is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 05:19 PM
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You can take bikes around the island on the bus for free. The buses have a rack in front of the bus. I think it holds two bikes.

Oahu bike map:

Kailua/Lanikai is OK for bike. They plan to have a new program renting bikes there.

Some of the North Shore is OK for bikes. There is a bike path that goes from Sunset Beach to Waimea Bay. Also a bike lane on the highway. It takes two hours to get to the North Shore by bus.

But, my suggestion still is to rent a car.
dusty56438 is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 10:54 PM
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Thanks for the tips to the bike routes...Yes, Honolulu is not bike friendly..I'm sure we will be renting a car for part if not all of our vacations!

aggiealum2 is offline  
Aug 17th, 2010, 10:33 AM
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If you have a decent price with the package... I'd take it & just suck it up & pay parking. By the time you consider getting from and back to the airport, I think it's worth having it for your entire stay (not to drive around IN Waikiki but Hononlulu and outside the city around the island).
suze is online now  
Aug 29th, 2010, 11:26 AM
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You might also want to look at renting a condo instead of a hotel room. Condos are more likely to come with parking (and also a fridge, microwave, etc.) and, from my experience, were cheaper and still in a great location in Waikiki. Condos generally rent by the week so that could work for you. There are individuals renting their condos online but I went through a property management company and that worked out well. Hotels may charge $30 per day for parking and it might be slow to access your car.

If you just want to hang at the beach or shop, you won't need a car. If you want to see the island, you'll want the rental. I used to live in SF and, trust me, the public transportation system here doesn't compare. The bus system coverage is impressively comprehensive but there is no subway or streetcar system. Plus, SF is so compact, it is much easier to get around. Buses stuck in traffic and stopping every other block are wicked slow.

With a car you can stop at the scenic overlooks and beaches along the way, cover more of the island, and waste less time. Rental car prices are actually competitive here (cheaper than I've experienced some other places) so if you get a place where you aren't paying a lot to park, it's a good deal.

As the others have said, if you just have the car for one day you'll be running around instead of taking time to enjoy the trip plus you'll have little car use vs the time spent at the rental car desk. The North Shore, USS Arizona (and the rest of Pearl Harbor), the windward side of the island, the incredible views from the Pali (the cliffs), most of the other scenic locations (other than Waikiki and the historic sites downtown) are best reached by car or tour bus.

Another thing to consider is the fact that you will pay $30+ to take a cab to and from Waikiki. There are some shuttles that are cheaper but here these are huge buses, not supershuttle-sized vans, that take forever to drop you off. If you figure renting a car for the trip will save you $70+ on the trips to/from the airport, the cost of renting a car looks even better.
Aloha_Aloha is offline  
Aug 29th, 2010, 08:13 PM
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Pearl Harbor, Diamondhead and Hanauma Bay are all pretty easy to get to by bus from Waikiki, which is also compact and walkable. In other words: No need for a car there. You'll need one for a day or two to see the rest of the island, but otherwise, you'll be fine without one.
andrews98682 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2010, 11:36 AM
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Here's the good news and bad news from someone who struggled with the same dilemma.
First the bad news - your hotel may charge you as much as $25 a night for garaging your rental.

Now for good news...sort of: There is a bus but it will take you an hour and a half to get to Pearl Harbor and if you want to explore the rest of Oahu, forget it.

Here's my advice. Don't rent a car right away. Ask your hotel about day-long tours of Oahu. There's even a half day tour to Pearl Harbor - It may cost you more than visiting on your own but at least you'll be assured of tickets and get transportation. Now that you've oriented yourself, rent a car at the hotel and get out of Honolulu. The rest of the island is gorgeous.
barron81 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2010, 11:43 AM
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I always just rent a car for 1 or 2 days. There are pick up locations in the Waikiki area, so no need to go all the way back to the airport to get it.
Miramar is offline  
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