Honolulu - Oahu Travel Guide

USA  #1 in Best Hawaiian Islands
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Getting Around Honolulu - Oahu

The best way to get around Oahu is by car. And fortunately, the island has some of Hawaii's most reasonable rates for car rentals, particularly at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL). Located on Oahu's south shore, the airport is conveniently situated about 5 miles away from downtown Honolulu and Pearl Harbor attractions like the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. Walking to some locales (think: Waikiki Beach and Ala Moana Center) is another option when staying in Waikiki. You can also take the public bus system or the Waikiki Trolley to get to and from many parts of the island, but these options are slower and may not service some areas. Taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are available as well, but fares can quickly add up.

If you're looking for transportation to or from the airport, check with your hotel; many resorts offer shuttle service at a fraction of the cost of a cab.

Car

Unless you plan to hole up in Waikiki for your whole trip, you'll find a car rental a practical necessity. The plus side is rental car rates here are some of the most reasonable in the country. However, Oahu's roads can get congested (especially during the peak seasons and in tourist areas) and parking is often scarce and expensive. To save some money on your car hire, rent a vehicle at the airport. Also, consider avoiding hotels that charge extra for on-site parking, unless you plan on returning your car before the end of the day. Another tip: Try to stay off the roads during rush hour, which is between 5 and 8 a.m. and from 3 to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays.

On Foot Most of Oahu's top attractions are too far from one another to reach on foot, but walking to the Ala Moana Center and Waikiki Beach is possible when staying in Waikiki. Some sights, such as the Honolulu Museum of Art and Iolani Palace, are also within walking distance of each other. To get to more remote attractions and areas outside of Honolulu, you'll need to rely on your own set of wheels or public or private transportation services.

Bus

Oahu's public bus system – TheBus – is easy to use and covers most of the island thanks to its extensive routes. Hours vary by line, but buses generally run every 15 or 30 minutes. Exact route hours are available on the Routes & Timetables page of TheBus website. Attractions accessible by bus include Koko Crater Trail, Kailua Beach Park and Shangri La.

One-way adult fares, payable upon boarding, cost $2.75 per person, while children 6 through 17 can ride for $1.25 each. Discounted rates are also available for travelers ages 65 and older. One-day passes, which are sold by bus drivers, are offered as well for $2 to $5.50 per person.

Trolley

Waikiki Trolley is a fun way to travel around Waikiki and downtown Honolulu, but not necessarily an efficient one. This hop-on, hop-off trolley and double-decker bus system has five lines that stop by the Ala Moana Center, Diamond Head State Monument and other key attractions, plus some hotels. Trolley routes generally take 50 minutes to 2 ½ hours to complete, and drivers point out landmarks along the way.

You can buy one-, four- and seven-day passes (which are valid on all lines) on board any trolley or bus for $45 to $70 per adult; reduced rates are available for seniors and children between 3 and 11. You can also save money by purchasing tickets online. Passes that include admission to must-see sights like Iolani Palace and the Honolulu Museum of Art are sold as well. But remember, discounted tickets must be booked at least five days before the first day of use. Also, keep in mind that multiday passes do not need to be used on consecutive days; four-day passes are valid for any four days within a seven-day period, while seven-day passes can be used on any seven days within a 10-day period.

Taxi

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 locally regulated, so regardless of the cab company, you will pay an initial fee of $3.50, plus $5.88 per mile traveled. (Note: Some companies may also offer hourly rates.) Each piece of luggage costs an additional 50 or 60 cents. For trips from the airport to Waikiki or downtown, expect to pay between $40 and $45. Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft also operate on Oahu.

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