If you’re staying in Waikiki on your Oahu vacation, then you’re probably wondering if you need a rental car or not. Let me first say that a rental car is not a necessity. You can get around Oahu with public transportation and packaged tours. That being said, there is a certain degree of freedom and flexibility that a rental car offers that you might want to consider. In this article I’ll give you some good food for thought to help you determine if you want to rent a car or not.
Before I dive into the details, I want to make you aware of an option you may not have considered. If you are on the fence about renting a car, then consider renting a car for part of your stay. You can find rental car desks right in Waikiki, there may even be one in your hotel. For example, there’s a Hertz desk at the Hilton Hawaiian. (Here’s a listing of all the Dollar locations in Honolulu and notice that there are locations in Waikiki Beach.)
Now let’s look at the upsides and downsides of renting a car.
Rental Car Pros
- Gives you freedom for getting around to see Oahu, particularly outside of the urban area of Honolulu. Rather than taking a tour bus around the island, you can stop off as many places as your heart desires rather than sticking to a stringent tour schedule. Anytime I’ve been on a tour bus, there are so many times I’d love to stop the bus to take a photo.
- Gives you more privacy as compared to public transportation and tour buses.
- If you are planning several tours, you might save money by renting a car. For example, if you want to take a family of four on the Circle Island Tour, you may end up paying upwards of $200 where as a daily rental car may cost you only $45.
- Gives you a sense of adventure. When I think back to some of my vacations around the world, I often remember the fun and satisfaction in navigating to a special scenic spot. Sometimes the journey is just as good as the destination.
Rental Car Cons
- Driving in Honolulu is like driving in any other city – there’s busy traffic, one-way streets, multiple lanes, etc. You’ll definitely need a good map and do some route planning before you head out on the road. Navigating can add a bit more stress as compared to just hoping on a tour bus.
- Parking at your hotel may cost a small fortune. Expect to pay an average price of about $18 per day. This website lists the Waikiki hotel parking fees. In general, parking in Honolulu can be a royal pain in the you know what and your wallet. So, be sure to check out this previous post on cheap Waikiki parking.
- Bear in mind, that gas prices are a bit higher in Hawaii as compared to the US mainland. Just from my experience, I’d estimate that gas costs about 10% higher in Hawaii.
- Using public transport is better for the environment.
I hope this post has helped you make the decision that’s right for you. If you are wondering what I would do, I’ll tell you. I’d rent a car for at least a day.
Some other articles that you might find interesting are:
- Using Google Transit to help you navigate Oahu’s bus system.
- Will you need a rental car on Maui, Kauai, Big Island, etc.
- 7 tips for saving money or renting a car in Hawaii
If you’ve been to Waikiki before, what did you do? What tips and tricks did you learn? Please share your comments.