Rental Car Tips: Navigating Transportation in Hawaii

Properly navigating transportation in Hawaii and its breathtaking landscapes and a myriad of unique points of interest can significantly contribute to your overall time in this tropical paradise. One of the major aspects of transportation involves the necessity of renting a car, as it allows you to fully enjoy the islands’ sights and sounds at your personal discretion. Nevertheless, there are a number of rental car tips and considerations you should keep in mind to make your experience smooth and enjoyable. Whether you wish to book a car in advance, observe local traffic regulations, or familiarize yourself with alternative modes of transportation, these 9 rental car tips will help you better explore Hawaiian transportation, from the streets of Honolulu to the beautiful Maui Road to Hana.

Book in Advance

A technician trick is reserving your rental car early when planning your Hawaii trip. Hawaii is one of the most popular locations due to the scorching summers and all major holidays. Because there is a significant requirement for car rental services, the closer to your vacation, the less likely you will get the type of car you desire in the shortest time. Moreover, the earlier you rent, the better the price you will get.

Moreover, reserving early gives you an opportunity to look through a bunch of deals on rental cars to find the most suitable one. All in good time, it is similar to choosing a seat for a blockbuster film. The earlier you do this, the more options you have. Consequently, this way of thinking not only makes the beginning of the journey to the 50th state a lot calmer but also helps to prevent various undesirable situations and stresses upon your arrival.

  • Secure Availability: Booking in advance guarantees that a rental car will be available for you, especially during busy travel seasons.
  • Better Rates: Early reservations often come with more favorable rates compared to last-minute bookings.
  • More Options: You have a wider selection of vehicle types and features to choose from when you book ahead of time.

Choose the Right Size

Thus, selecting the proper size for your Hawaii rental car is vital to ensure a convenient traveling experience. Factors such as the number of passengers, baggage, and the prevalent activities you anticipate performing throughout your excursion should all be taken into account. In general, a more compact vehicle is a better option because it consumes less gas which can be highly expensive in Hawaii relative to the US mainland. Despite that, when vacationing with your family or a small party of friends, smaller models may appear too constricted for folks.

Furthermore, the size of your rental car might play a role when traveling on some of the Hawaiian roads. All of the main highways are well-designed and highly accessible. However, some of the smaller and more picturesque roads might be more cramped or have more curves to follow. A medium-sized or even a small car could be ideal for easier exploration of some of these areas. 

  • Consider Group Size: Think about how many people will be traveling with you and choose a car size that comfortably accommodates everyone.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Smaller cars are generally more fuel-efficient, helping you save money on gas during your Hawaiian adventures.
  • Road Maneuverability: Assess the types of roads you'll be traveling on – a smaller car may be more suitable for winding or narrower routes.

Check Rental Car Agencies

Thoroughly check the rental car agencies since they are a critical component of an efficient and economical mode of transportation while in Hawaii. Multiple rental car agencies are available in the islands, including international companies such as Hertz and Avis down to local companies. Therefore, one should consider and compare the prices, types of vehicles, and customer feedback to find an affordable company within their budget. While the well-known companies may provide some confidence, the local ones may provide an equal level of professionalism at a more affordable rate.

Apart from the base cost, some rental car agencies may charge extra for insurance, and fuel, and impose penalties. Also, some companies may provide a rental with unlimited mileage or extra drivers at no cost, which can boost the value of your purchase. Finally, online reviews left by previous customers can give you a broad picture of renters’ experience. Typically, they focus on their overall satisfaction, attitude towards customer service, vehicle cleanliness, and the efficiency of the process of taking and returning the car.

  • Compare Prices: Look at the rental rates from different agencies to find the most cost-effective option for your trip.
  • Check Additional Fees: Be aware of any extra charges, such as insurance, fuel fees, or penalties, to avoid surprises in your final bill.
  • Read Reviews: Customer reviews can offer valuable insights into the experiences of other renters, helping you choose a reliable and reputable rental car agency.

Check Rental Car Agencies

Understand Rental Insurance

Meanwhile, when renting a car in Hawaii or elsewhere, it is important to grasp the specifics of insurance. In most cases, agencies offer multiple types of insurance, and I will need to understand their differences, the events they protect from, and the reason to acquire each one. In general, almost all insurance can be divided into three types, which are Collision Damage Waiver, Liability Insurance, and Personal Accident Insurance. The first one covers damages caused to the car the remaining insurance concerns third-party property and people and PAI insures me and my passengers.

Furthermore, you should consult with your car insurance and credit card company on whether the existing coverage will apply to the rental car. Specifically, some car insurance with comprehensive coverage and credit card companies insure rental cars in some circumstances. Therefore, you might not need first-party insurance with the rental agency, although you need to ascertain the extent. If your existing covers cannot cover the risks associated with a rental car, you should consider buying the insurance to avoid the enormous financial commitment in cases of accidents.

  • Knowing Your Current Coverage: Contact your car insurance company and the credit card company to verify whether your current coverage applies to rented cars or if you need rental insurance. 
  • Understanding What the Agency Offers: You should also learn the types of rental insurance that the agency offers and how the policy works to choose a plan with the most beneficial conditions. 
  • Determine Your Needs: Consider your personal situation and how large you want the scope of coverage to be.

Respect Local Traffic Laws

As with anywhere else, every state formulates its laws and rules, among which one should mention Hawaii. Consequently, you should also be acquainted with them in order not to be punished and ensure your safety as well as of other car drivers. Using a handheld phone while driving is completely illegal, so make sure it is nearby before you turn the engine on or use hands-free talking.

The second point of the local traffic rules is no less important than the first one – this is the speed regime. Picturesque Hawaii’s roads can naturally help you accelerate in some way, but you should still follow the inscriptions. You should be especially careful on the winding and narrow sections of the road, which are enough in the island’s areas. In addition, you should always wear a seatbelt: it is not only the law but also the fundamental means of safety in the event of an accident.

  • No Distracted Driving: Hawaii prohibits drivers from using handheld devices, so do not use your phone or leave it out of your reach. 
  • Obey Speed Limit: Hawaii’s roads, including narrow and winding ones, might be quite different from what you are used to, so follow posted speed limits. 
  • Buckle up: Wear your seatbelt when driving, as it is not only a statutory requirement but also a safety when you experience an auto accident.

Plan for Limited Parking

Finally, as beautiful as the islands are, parking lots are often few in number and not all hotels or rental accommodations provide free parking. At least check the parking situation in your neighborhood before going there. Parking lots with additional fees will increase your budget. Thus, finding a hotel suitable for free or economical parking will save you the hassle.

Driving into conventional hotspots, such as Waikiki in Oahu or Lahaina in Maui, can be really crowded, and street parking can be limited. Extensive periods of time and money can be wasted searching for parking. Whenever you can, make use of public transit or a taxi while wandering about cities like these. You may also prevent parking issues by checking for parking lot information before a day trip or an afternoon at a must-see location. Increasing your parking options enables you to focus more on the breathtaking views and incredible cultural sights and less on the exhausting search for a parking space.

  • Look for parking options beforehand: Researchers to explore which parking areas are available and how much it costs to find and pay for parking in researched destinations, particularly in crowded places. 
  • Use the transportation alternative: Researchers looking to stay in town may also consider public transportation or Uber options. 
  • Select parking available accommodations: In addition, consider booking accommodations that include complimentary or relatively inexpensive parking areas to lower extra costs.

Consider an Airport Pickup

Most rental car companies have depots at the major airports, enabling you to get your car as soon as you land. This saves the hassle of finding a means of transport to a rental car lot from the airport. Additionally, it means that you can start your exploration of Hawaii as soon as possible. This is especially good news if you want to tour several places on an island; you can avoid wasting any time during your trip.

An airport pick-up, on the other hand, will have to indicate the preference during a booking. Accordingly, rental car agencies provide clear directions on their counters or kiosks’ location at the airport. Before, make sure that you get familiar with the layout of the facility to save time. Note that such pick-ups are often facilitated in both domestic and international terminals, allowing for a fast switch from the flight to the chosen transport means.

  • Quick Get Go: With an airport pickup, tour Hawaii soon after arriving and without wasting time waiting for another mode of transportation.
  • Busy Rental Car Agencies: Most Hawaiian airports have car renting agencies stationed on the premises. Therefore, finding them means acquiring yours in minutes.
  • Mention in Reservation: When reserving a car, be sure to mention your interest in an airport pickup for your dream vacation in Hawaii.

Consider an Airport Pickup

Explore Public Transportation

Many vacationers choose to rent a car so they can explore the islands on their own. However, public transport in certain areas like Oahu is also available and dependable. TheBus is a large, well-kept bus service that operates across the island, serving many paths and presenting a convenient approach to visiting places without having to be anxious about parking or without having to drive by oneself.

When using public transportation, it is better to get acquainted beforehand with the bus stops, schedule, and fare. This information can be found on the website of the local transit agency or near the bus station. For example, in Oahu, the “TheBus” has daily, weekly, and monthly passes which makes it very convenient for tourists when planning their trip. Moreover, in other cases, individuals can always use taxis or rideshare services when public transportation does not cover some of the necessary destinations. Although on other islands public transit services may not be as vast, it is still an efficient way of traveling around the urban areas which is also environmentally friendly.

  • Cheap: The bus, located in Oahu, is an example of public transportation that is incredibly cheap, especially in metropolitan areas. 
  • Learn the timetable: Before utilizing public transport, learn the bus schedules, locations, and expenses that divide its operations so you can properly plan your journey. 
  • Other: Rideshare and taxi services are also accessible for specific trips if public transportation is inadequate.

Check for Road Conditions

It goes without saying that main highways or popular routes are in decent condition; however, some more distant or underdeveloped regions may have dirt roads or be difficult to cross. In the case of organizing my travel, it would be a great idea to verify road conditions in advance – and a prompt about it is quite relevant in case of choosing non touristy destinations. Local transport authorities, websites or apps offering data on current road status are all useful sources.

Hawaii road conditions can be impacted by multiple factors such as the frequent weather shifts between extreme tropical conditions that turn the roads wet and muddy. Additionally, the local roads often carry sharp turns and steep roadsides due to the specific demography of the islands. Drivers can utilize community services such as the state department to receive notifications about the current state of the roads and decide whether driving there at a given moment is safe.

  • Online resources: check the road conditions through various online resources or mobile applications when planning to go to a specific place. 
  • Local transport authorities: Also contact local transport authorities or visitor centers as these organizations frequently update the monitored and safer road conditions.  
  • Weather conditions: Expect that even the safest-looking roads can be dangerous due to an inability to maintain driving safety in such organizations. Specifically, drivers should keep in mind that roads covered with wetness are typically much riskier in tropical weather conditions with frequent and non-predictable changes.