Getting Around Kauai
The best way to get around Kauai is in a car – actually, the only way to get around Kauai is in a car. The bus system, though inexpensive, does not cater to tourists. Taxis are virtually nonexistent, though you will see them congregate at Lihue Airport (LIH), which is near the town of Lihue on the southeastern side of Kauai. Many hotels also provide free shuttle service to and from the airport.
There are direct flights into the Lihue Airport from several North American destinations, but many travelers choose to fly through Honolulu International Airport (HNL). If you opt for the layover, try to get a seat on the left side of the plane as you island-hop: You'll have an awesome view of Kauai as you approach the island.
Kauai is meant to be explored; to do so, you'll need a car. You'll find that driving is easy, as there are really only two major highways on the island (Kaumualii and Kuhio Highways). The most important thing to do is reserve your rental car before you depart. Since so many people choose this option for getting around Kauai, rental cars are in very high demand, especially during peak tourism season (winter and summer). So much so that if you travel during peak periods and don't rent a car in advance, it is possible that there may be little to no cars available to rent. And if you are able to snag one last-minute, the prices will most certainly be much higher.
Another tip: check your personal car insurance policy before you arrive. Hawaii is a no-fault state and the agencies will try to sell you collision coverage. Your policy might already cover you when driving elsewhere. Also be aware that driving in Hawaii is much different than in the mainland. Like the culture of Hawaii, driving here is laid-back. The highest speed limit here is 50 mph, with residential areas as low as 10 mph. Honking here as a means of telling someone to hurry up is very frowned upon. Kauaians only honk if there is a hazard ahead.
There is an affordable bus system on Kauai, but it's not really convenient for tourists. Buses do stop near hotel-heavy areas, such as Poipu and Wailua, as well as the airport, but getting to top attractions, including anywhere near the Napali Coast, will be incredibly difficult. Another big drawback is that passengers are not allowed bring suitcases or even large backpacks onboard, so if you are wanting to take the bus to your hotel or even plan a big day at a faraway beach, you may not be able to board due to the luggage restrictions. Still, if you'd like to take the bus at least once, service hours are Monday through Friday 5:27 a.m. to 10:40 p.m. and 6:21 a.m. to 5:50 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays. Fares range from $1 to $2 per passenger.
Taxis are available in Kauai but are fewer and farther between in comparison to more populated islands, such as Oahu. Still, you can find taxis on the island but you're going to have to work harder to get to them by calling and scheduling in advance. Fares here are regulated by the Kauai government so no matter which taxi company you choose to use, all the prices are supposed to be the same. Fares start at $3 for the first tenth mile then becomes an additional $0.30 cents for every tenth mile thereafter. Ride-hailing apps, such as Uber and Lyft, are also available on Kauai.
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