Getting Around Honolulu - Oahu

The best way to get around Honolulu and Oahu is by car. And fortunately, the island has some of Hawaii's most reasonable rates for car rentals, particularly at the Honolulu International Airport (HNL). Located on Oahu's south shore, Honolulu Airport is about a 10-minute car ride from the downtown area, and a 20-minute car ride from Waikiki. You can also take the public bus system to many of the best sites, or opt for a scenic tour on the Waikiki Trolley. Taxis are also available, but fares can be pricey.


Unless you plan to hole up in Waikiki, you'll find a rental car a practical necessity. The plus side is rental car rates here are some of the most reasonable in the country. The downside is the treacherous traffic and scarce parking. Rent a car at the airport to get the best deal, and then try to avoid road congestion by driving between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. or after 6 p.m.


Oahu's public bus system is easy to use and, with extensive routes, it covers most of the island. Buses run every day between 4 a.m. and 10 p.m., though some routes stop service earlier in the evening. Plus it's affordable — a one-way adult fare, payable upon boarding, is $2.50. You can also opt for a $25 four-day pass, which you can purchase from an ABC Store (tourist shops in Waikiki and the Ala Moana Center).


The 34-seat, open-air Waikiki Trolley is a fun way to travel around Waikiki and downtown Honolulu, but not necessarily an efficient one. It has stops at key attractions, restaurants, and some hotels, while the driver points out landmarks along the way. You can buy one-, four-, and seven-day passes for between $18 and $65; prices vary by tour type, and there are discounts for children younger than 11 and seniors. You can also save money by purchasing tickets online.


You can eliminate the headache of driving yourself by taking taxis around Honolulu, but be warned: This method is expensive, and you'll most likely have to call ahead. Fares are fixed, so regardless of the cab company or the traffic, you should expect to pay around $30 (not including a 10 to 15 percent tip) to go from the airport to Waikiki or downtown, about $60 to go from the airport to Kailua, and about $80 to go from the airport to the North Shore.

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