The most convenient way to get around each island is by car. With a car you can basically go anywhere you want anytime you want. Cars can be picked up at the main airports of each island, as well as various other places throughout the island.
Like hotel rooms and flights, car rental prices fluctuate annually depending on availability. December 15 - 31 is officially high season, during which you can expect car rental prices to double (at least), but prices increase at other times of the year as well, such as the peak of summer (July).
When big Global events happen here, you can expect cars to either double in price overnight or be totally sold out (just about every minivan or passenger van was sold out for at least a month and a half when RIMPAC was being held).
Frequently Asked Questions
What about insurance?
*First and foremost, check beforehand to see if you already have car rental insurance either through your regular car insurance, travel insurance, or even your credit card.
Purchasing extra car rental insurance is optional and must be decided on at the time you collect your vehicle. The cost will vary depending on which company a vehicle is rented through - but you can ballpark the full, cover-everything insurance at about $45/day (about $30/day to cover the rental car and about $15/day to cover any damage you do to anybody else without having to pay a deductible/excess). It's always a good idea to check your own insurance policy to see whether or not you're already covered (you usually are at least up to the value of your own car). Many credit cards also grant you insurance if you use them to pay for a car rental (most rewards cards do, just about every American Visa card does, American Express and Discover Cards - check the Benefits section of your card or just call the phone number on the back and ask them if you get rental insurance).
Finally, if you find out that you indeed have no insurance whatsoever, decide if you even want to add any insurance. There is no requirement to add anything if you just want to take the risk of renting a car without any insurance.
Is somebody going to break into my car on the North Shore/Wherever and steal all my stuff?
Maybe. Who knows? It does occassionally happen but it is rare. And although you're a little bit more of a target if you're driving around in a fancy Mustang convertible or a Jeep, economy cars get broken into sometimes too. Don't leave anything valuable in the car if you can avoid it and if you do, make sure it's out of view. Hawaii's generally a very safe place.
Do cars come with a GPS?
You can rent a GPS along with your car for an additional fee - usually around $13 a day. GPS's also come in various languages. Do you really need one? Not really, but it makes getting around totally brainless.
Got a smart phone but no internet? Download the free offline map app https://maps.me/ while you have wifi and then you'll have a GPS when you don't have any signal on your phone (just make sure you open the app and download the maps while you have a signal).
What things do I need to rent a car?
A few things are required to be able to rent a car:
- Hawaii State Law says that you absolutely, positively need to have your original, valid, government-issued driving license to rent a car. If you are international, the International License is not enough on its own to rent a vehicle. Sorry, not our call. If for any reason you don't have your original license, you're going to need an official, government-issued license (needs some sort of stamp on it, no photocopies).
- You will also need to have a credit card or debit card. If you have a credit card, great, that's all you will need. If the card says "debit" anywhere on it, you will also need your flight itinerary that shows that you are leaving the state (they're looking for a confirmation number - you can even show them on your smartphone).
- The car agencies that we work with also require you to be at least 21 years old to rent a car, though there's an added per day fee if you are under 25 years old (usually $25/day, sorry, also not our call - there are exceptions for active military personnel).
The license, credit card, and reservation must also all be made under the same name. If you are married with the same last name you can typically use either person's credit card.
Is it going to be expensive to rent a car in Hawaii?
Well, it's all relative, really. Hawaii has some of the highest car rental rates in the nation, but it will usually be cheaper to rent a car than to stay in Waikiki (where everything has a built in convenience fee) or to go on a tour ($55/person for the basic sightseeing tour, $99 for the one where you swim with turtles). Also, though car rates may seem exorbitant sometimes, rest assured you'll be getting the best deal available through Shaka Tours. :)
Is there free parking anywhere in Waikiki?
Sure there is. It's highly contested but it's out there. Check our Waikiki Parking Map for an idea of where to park your vehicle.