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Worth renting a car?

El Paso, Texas
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Worth renting a car?

Greetings fellow travelers!

It will be my first time traveling to Hawaii and I will be spending 8 days on the beautiful island of O'ahu! Can you recommend renting a car or relying on public transportation/Uber? I am still researching the major areas to see, hike, and dive, but any advice is greatly appreciated.


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1. Re: Worth renting a car?

I would def rent a car, for at least part of your stay. Do the math on whether shuttles/cabs/uber versus a rental and parking fees is a better deal.

Sometimes you can also rent one for only part of the trip, and load" those days with the things that aren't easily accessed otherwise. For example, you could rent a car for the last four days, and do the North Shore, etc then-and have a car to drive yourself to the airport.

Dusty did a great job on the driving tours here:


Edited: 9:25 pm, December 15, 2017
Saint Cloud...
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2. Re: Worth renting a car?

Absolutely rent a car the entire time. You have a chance to get out and explore Oahu at your own leisurely pace!

It is not just about the math. It is also about what you can see and do on Oahu with the additional hours you will save renting a car vs public transportation. It is also about many more stops you can make with a rental car vs public transportation.

Don't try to save $100 or $200 on a $5000 trip by taking public transportation instead of renting a car.

You can get by with renting a car for a couple of days. But with airport transportation, cabs, buses and a car rental for a couple of days, you could have rented a car the entire time.

Read the Top Questions on the right side of the page. They won't show up on many portable devices.

SW gave you a link to driving tours on Oahu.

Kapaa, Hawaii
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3. Re: Worth renting a car?

I always recommend renting a car no matter which island you go to. Unfortunately parking costs are high on Oahu and will recommend at least renting for a few days if the cost is prohibitive. Oahu does have a great mass transit system.

Check out a rental broker like Discount Hawaii Car Rentals or Costco. Usually the cheapest rates around and no money up front. It's a reservation and if you see the price drop before arrival you can reserve at that price and cancel the first reservation.

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4. Re: Worth renting a car?

We go to Oahu every year for at least a week and frequently for 2 weeks.

We rent a car for the days we know we want to go somewhere that we can't walk or don't want to use the bus. We do not rent one and let it sit in the hotel parking lots for $40 a day when we don't need it.

We use the city bus for any trips in the Honolulu area including to Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head.

Honolulu, Hawaii
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5. Re: Worth renting a car?

I would lean towards renting a car, given that you are American and probably accustomed to driving yourself around.

However, playing devils advocate, the are many hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to Oahu and don’t rent a car. Most of the Asian visitors don’t get cars. And I myself ‘staycation’ in Waikiki every year without a car.

You can’t depend on the Bus to get you everywhere on the island, but it can be very useful. Uber and other taxi services are good for the airport and around Waikiki.

The Waikiki Trolley is useful too depending on what you want to do. Around Waikiki and Ala Moana many places are walkable.

Many people without cars take tours around the island. There are pros and cons to this and I think it depends on your own travel style. Drivers from right hand drive countries are sometimes reluctant to get a car. Older people may feel the same.

Redland City...
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6. Re: Worth renting a car?

We just got back yesterday and I would definitely recommend getting a car, but make sure you have a plan of what you would like to do. As previous repliers have said, you don’t want to pay for parking which I believe is expensive - especially in Waikiki. We were in Waikiki for a week and did a one day hire and used the car to get to all the places we wanted to visit - the North Shore, Dole plantation, Hanauma Bay, Waikele Outlets etc - that were too difficult to get using public transport because it would have taken too much time. It was almost like a circle tour of the island. We have teenage kids so we hired a convertible and loved it. We also checked out Diamond Head as we planned to go there using the free hotel shuttle. We noticed there are a lot ofcompanies offering ‘Diamond Head’ tours for a range of prices - $50+ - but we jumped on the shuttle and all we paid was $1 per person entry when we got there, $4 in total for the family. I know that public transport is available there too. We walked a lot in Waikiki and loved it. We would not have used a car for any longer than we had it as everything is close by if you are staying in Waikiki.

Edited: 3:49 pm, December 16, 2017
Oklahoma City...
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7. Re: Worth renting a car?

It is definitely worth renting a car, and I would recommend renting for the entire time if it in the budget. I think the best and most beautiful parts of Oahu are outside on the Honolulu area and it makes me sad when first timers don't get out of the city. I visit Oahu 2-3 times per year because I have family there and on most visits we go to Waikiki once or not at all. It is fun to visit but for me it is best in small doses.

Saint Cloud...
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8. Re: Worth renting a car?

Did you make reservations for lodging yet? Many condos in Waikiki have free parking.

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9. Re: Worth renting a car?

Every poster on these boards told us to rent a car. I am so glad we didn't. The Bus was great. There were plenty of car services: taxis, Lyfts & Ubers. Parking looked like a nightmare.

We did have a rental car 1 day to go to the North Shore but the other day we paid the money to use the PCC premium pick you up & give a grand tour of the whole island which was still cheaper then the daily rental fee plus the daily parking fee. The parking fees were what sold us on not renting a car.

We stayed at HHV & walked most places in Waikiki even 2+ miles to Hau Tree Lanai. It really wasn't much different then walking in any other major city, except the weather & scenery were better. We took The Bus to Diamond Head & Pearl Harbor. Of course we could have gotten there faster if we drove ourselves but then one would have had to pay attention to the road / city traffic rather than just looking around, paying attention to each other & generally being tourist.

If you are the type of person who won't go 500 feet by foot, rent a car & prepare to pay through the nose for parking ($35+ per day, no in & out). Otherwise walk, meander, take in the scenery & use the public transportation icon on any mapping app to make your life easier.

Oahu, Hawaii
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10. Re: Worth renting a car?


I don't mind walking but I'm also the kind of person who would prefer to get out of the city if possible. Many people come here and complain about the crowds and noise and busy-ness of Oahu and then it turns out they never left Waikiki. It's much more of a pain to travel (even with the Bus/uber/etc and then the time spent or the cost paid starts racking up) outside of the city if you don't have a car available.


You don't have to have a car the whole time though I personally would rather err on the side of having one and letting it sit than not having one and wishing I did. If nothing else, I would definitely look into renting one for at least part of the time you're here so you can travel around the island more easily.

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