We have received comments and questions from several readers who are concerned about driving and parking in Honolulu and more specifically, Honolulu’s tourist center — Waikiki Beach. Navigating Waikiki in a rental car can be intimidating for some folks. I think it all depends on your own driving experiences — if you regularly drive in New York City, Chicago or even any mid-sized city, you probably feel confident about driving anywhere, but many folks visiting Oahu don’t have that “big city driving” experience.
If you are planning a visit or stay in Waikiki during your Oahu vacation, these tips will help you be prepared to driving and park with confidence.
1. Consider whether you need a rental car in Waikiki.
Oahu has Hawaii’s best public transportation system with TheBus. It’s safe, clean and goes near many Oahu attractions. Additionally, many tours provide transportation to and from Waikiki as part of the packaged tour. To help you decide if you do or don’t want to rent a car see our post: Do I need a rental car if I stay in Waikiki Beach?
2. Pre-plan your parking.
Knowing where to park takes quite a bit of uncertainty out of your drive into Waikiki. Some questions you’ll want to consider are:
- If you’re staying in a hotel, does the hotel have a parking garage onsite? How much does the hotel charge for parking?
- Is self-service and/or valet parking offered? What are the charges for each?
- Can you find an inexpensive place to park near your destination in Waikiki?
- If you are staying outside of Waikiki and just visiting Waikiki for shopping and dining, can you find free or cheap parking with validation?
A few minutes spent planning where to park can save you time, trouble and money.
3. Use Google Maps and Street View to get familiar with the territory.
Get customized directions from maps.google.com. Then review the steps and drill down for details.
I’ve created an example driving map starting from the Avis Rent-A-Car location at Honolulu Airport going to Hilton Hawaiian Village at Waikiki Beach. When I switch from the step-by-step driving instructions along with the map to just the map only view, I can use the zoom features to look at images of the streets and turns. For example, I see from the instructions, that I will need to turn from Highway 92 left onto Kahanamoku Street. I can then navigate to see the street view of that turn, which shows me the following image.
From the image, I can start to make mental notes about this intersection. I notice that there’s a traffic light at this intersection and that the street sign is labeled on the traffic light pole.
For more information and instructions on using Google Map’s Street View, see this link.
Time spent virtually navigating your route will give you familiarity and confidence without having to get behind the steering wheel. When you’re exhausted from a long flight, virtually knowing the territory before you get there can be very helpful.
4. Use navigation tools.
There are plenty of good navigation tools to help you find your way in Waikiki. We normally bring a portable GPS. We also used navigation apps on our smartphones. Of course, a backup plan with a human navigator in the passenger’s seat reading printed directions and/or an Oahu map is always helpful — just like the olden days.
5. Drive with Aloha.
It seems that there are certain unwritten driving etiquette rules no matter where you go. See our advice for driving etiquette in Hawaii.
Whether you’re a first-timer to Waikiki or a bit more seasoned, I hope you’ve found some useful tips to make driving and parking in Waikiki easier.
Are there any other Waikiki driving and parking tips you’d like to share?